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Finding the quarterback of the future in the 2023 draft

Rick Mirer Seahawks

It’s July, the month training camp starts for teams across the NFL, and the quarterback position for the Seattle Seahawks remains just Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason. It’s a far cry from the past decade, when fans of the Hawks looked forward to the dawn of a new season knowing that as long as Russell Wilson was under center the team had a puncher’s chance.

Wilson, however, is no longer a high flyer for the Hawks and is saddled up to ride for the Denver Broncos, while Seattle has Charles Cross, Boye Mafe and four picks in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. With Jacob Eason the only quarterback on the roster currently signed past the 2022 season, looking to the 2023 draft to find a franchise quarterback doesn’t seem to be all that unlikely of an outcome.

So, what is the probability that building a quality roster for 2022 and then plugging in a potential franchise quarterback courtesy of the 2023 draft leads to success? It’s difficult to properly evaluate how well built any particular roster may be, but what can be evaluated is how well young quarterbacks led their teams when given a chance. Thus, here is a comprehensive list of the 82 first round quarterbacks drafted in the three decades between 1992 and 2021.

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Joe Flacco
  • Andrew Luck
  • Matt Ryan
  • Mac Jones
  • Robert Griffin III
  • Mark Sanchez
  • Vince Young
  • Sam Bradford
  • Kerry Collins
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Carson Wentz
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Justin Herbert
  • Lamar Jackson
  • Baker Mayfield
  • Rick Mirer
  • Cam Newton
  • Carson Palmer
  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Jameis Winston
  • Josh Allen
  • Drew Bledsoe
  • Kyle Boller
  • Byron Leftwich
  • Kyler Murray
  • Brandon Weeden
  • David Carr
  • Sam Darnold
  • Blaine Gabbert
  • Matt Leinart
  • EJ Manuel
  • Mitchell Trubisky
  • Blake Bortles
  • Josh Freeman
  • Joey Harrington
  • Daniel Jones
  • Trevor Lawrence
  • Ryan Leaf
  • Peyton Manning
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Josh Rosen
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Zach Wilson
  • Joe Burrow
  • Jason Campbell
  • Tim Couch
  • Jay Cutler
  • Justin Fields
  • Rex Grossman
  • Dwayne Haskins
  • Donovan McNabb
  • Steve McNair
  • Cade McNown
  • Christian Ponder
  • Patrick Ramsey
  • Alex Smith
  • Matthew Stafford
  • Jim Druckenmiller
  • David Klingler
  • Trey Lance
  • Paxton Lynch
  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Eli Manning
  • Heath Shuler
  • Akili Smith
  • Tim Tebow
  • Michael Vick
  • Dave Brown
  • Daunte Culpepper
  • Trent Dilfer
  • Jared Goff
  • J.P. Losman
  • Jordan Love
  • Tommy Maddox
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Chad Pennington
  • Brady Quinn
  • Philip Rivers
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • JaMarcus Russell
  • Jake Locker

That’s quite a list, as it’s filled with some very good quarterbacks, like Mahomes and Peyton, and some who fall on the other side of the spectrum like JaMarcus Russell and Josh Rosen. This is not an exercise in evaluating the careers of quarterbacks, however, it’s specifically looking at the ability of those quarterbacks to step in and perform as rookies. So, from those 82 first round quarterbacks, here’s the complete list of them who stepped in and won eight or more games during their rookie season.

  • Ben Roethlisberger (13)
  • Joe Flacco (11)
  • Andrew Luck (11)
  • Matt Ryan (11)
  • Mac Jones (10)
  • Robert Griffin III (9)
  • Mark Sanchez (8)
  • Vince Young (8)

And that’s it. Just 8 of 82 (9.75%) first round quarterbacks selected between 1992 and 2021 were able to deliver eight or more wins for their team as a rookie.

Now, it’s certainly true to say that a quarterback drafted in the top five is likely a very different prospect than one taken late in the first round. There’s no realistic way to argue that a prospect like Jordan Love or Paxton Lynch is anywhere near the quality of a top five prospect like a Manning or Bledsoe or Mirer or Leaf. So, limiting things only to quarterbacks taken in the top ten, 52 of the 82 quarterbacks listed above were selected in the top ten, and of those taken in the top ten, those who quarterbacked their team to eight or more wins as a rookie include:

  • Andrew Luck (11)
  • Matt Ryan (11)
  • Robert Griffin III (9)
  • Mark Sanchez (8)
  • Vince Young (8)

That’s 5 of 52 (9.62%), which is almost identical to the results for quarterbacks taken in the first round overall.

Where things get interesting, however, is to look at the quarterbacks who were selected in the middle of the round. Specifically, of the 82 first round quarterbacks in the sample, 14 were selected between pick 11 and pick 20, and 3 of the 14 (21.43%) led their team to eight or more wins during their rookie season.

That, of course, would seem to be a small level of evidence that it’s better to have a roster that delivered a middling season and then plug in a quarterback who may be a step below the top prospects than it is to have a roster that earns a top five pick and then plug in the top quarterback prospect.

From there, however, it leads to the question of whether or not the Seahawks will be able to deliver on the field in such a manner during the 2022 season that they can avoid earning a top ten pick. They face a rough schedule and there are more questions than answers on both sides of the ball at this point as they look to implement a new scheme on defense while getting away from Russ ball on offense. And if they’re unable to avoid a 2022 season that does indeed lead to a top ten selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the logical next question becomes whether Pete Carroll and John Schneider have the leeway to draft and start a rookie quarterback in 2023.