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Random Thoughts from a Wasted Mind

Dale looks at the history of first-round QB selections... <BR><P><I> invites fans to serve as commentators if they feel they have something to say and can say it well on a weekly basis. Think you have what it takes? Use the <A HREF="">Contact Us</A> link to ask us about it!</I></P>

Should the Browns take a QB at 3?

In 1999 the Browns stated that it was a tough decision on what quarterback to take with the number one pick of the draft. They had the pick narrowed down between Tim Couch and Akili Smith. Smith is across the pond throwing pigskins around in an attempt to rejuvenate his career. Couch is laying pool side with his Playmate by his side icing a bum arm wondering if he'll ever have a career. With that fresh on my wasted mind I say, "No QB with number 3."

But after I took my medication I thought maybe I should have some facts to back up this random thought. I believe the best place to start this informational search is to take a look at how last year's twelve Playoff quarterbacks came to lead their perspective teams.

Tom Brady - New England Patriots - 2004 Quarterback Rating 92.6 in 16 games

Brady was drafted in the sixth round in 2000 by the Patriots. He replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe in the second game in 2001 and the rest is history. In his four years as the starter he has three Super Bowl rings.

Donavan McNabb - Philadelphia Eagles - 2004 Quarterback Rating 104.7 in 15 games

McNabb was drafted in the first round in1999. He was the second overall pick in the draft behind Tim Couch. He became the Eagles starter in the middle of the 1999 season and has stayed in place except during injuries. The Eagles were 5-11 in 1999, but the worst record they've posted since was 11-5 in both 2000 and 2001.

Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers - 2004 Quarterback Rating 98.1 in 14 games

Pittsburgh drafted Roethlisberger in the first round in 2004. He came in for the injured Tommy Maddox in the second game of the season against Baltimore. He was the starter in all but the last game of the season when he sat to rest in preparation for the Playoffs.

Michael Vick - Atlanta Falcons - 2004 Quarterback Rating 78.1 in 15 games

Vick was drafted by the Falcons with the overall number one pick in 2001. He started only two games that year but became the incumbent starter in 2002 barring games that he was sidelined by injuries. He led his team to the Playoffs in 2002 and 2004. He missed most of the 2003 season due to an injury and the Falcons did not make the Playoffs.

Daunte Culpepper - Minnesota Vikings - 2004 Quarterback Rating 110.9 in 16 games

Culpepper was drafted in the first round in1999 by Minnesota. He played in one game in his rookie year and became the Vikings embedded starter in 2000. The Vikings had their best year with Culpepper under center in 2000 when they posted a 11-5 record. This was also Dennis Green's last year as head coach. Since then the Vikings and Culpepper have been up and down. But 2004 was Culpepper's best year as a pro. Staying healthy the entire season he completed 69.2% of his throws for 4717 yards. He threw for 39 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions.

Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts - 2004 Quarterback Rating 121.1 in 16 games

The Colts selected Manning with the first overall pick of the 1998 draft. He started the first game of his rookie year and hasn't missed a start since. He had a rocky rookie season guiding the Colts to only three wins. The 2001 season was the only other losing season the Colts have had with Manning as the signal caller. They went 6-10 for the year. He threw for 49 touchdowns in 2004 breaking Dan Marino's record. Arguably he may be the best quarterback in the NFL, but like Marino he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring.

Chad Pennington - New York Jets - 2004 Quarterback Rating 91.0 in 13 games

Pennington was taken in the first round of the 2000 draft by the Jets. The coaching staff eased him into the starting spot. It wasn't until the 2002 season that Pennington became the guy playing in15 games and starting 12. His quarterback rating for the year was 104.2 which is also his career best as a starter. In 2003 and 2004 he has struggled through injuries. The team also struggled in 2003 posting a 6-10 record. Pennington and company rebounded in 2004 with a 10-6 record and would have made it to the AFC Championship game if kicker Doug Brien had been more accurate in Pittsburgh.

Marc Bulger - St. Louis Rams - 2004 Quarterback Rating 93.7 in 14 games

Marc Bulger was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 draft by the New Orleans Saints. Bulger was cut by the Saints and spent time on the Atlanta Falcons' and St. Louis Rams' practice squads. He was officially signed to the Rams' roster in January 2001. He sat behind Kurt Warner in 2001. In 2002 he got his chance in the sixth game of the season filling in for the injured Warner. The Rams were 0-5 at the time but finished the season 7-9. They won every game that Bulger started and finished. Bulger went on to start 15 games in 2003 and 14 games in 2004. But in 2004 he no longer had to look over his shoulder. Warner had packed his bags and moved to the Big Apple.

Drew Brees - San Diego Chargers - 2004 Quarterback Rating 104.8 in 15 games

In 2004 the Chargers drafted Eli Manning with the first overall pick of the draft. They then traded him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers the fourth overall pick. Rivers was to replace Drew Brees whom the Chargers selected in the second round in 2001. Brees responded to the competition by having his best year as a Charger. He threw 27 touchdown strikes with only 7 interceptions. His performance earned him the "AP Comeback Player of the Year" award and a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Matt Hasselbeck - Seattle Seahawks - 2004 Quarterback Rating 83.1 in 14 games

Hasselbeck was drafted in the sixth round by the Green Bay Packers in 1998. He backed up iron man Brett Farve so he didn't see much playing time with Green Bay. He was traded to Seattle in 2001. He shared starting time with Trent Dilfer in 2001. Hasselbeck became the starter in 2002 replacing the injury plagued Dilfer. Hasselbeck has appeared in the post season in 2003 and 2004 but has yet to win a play-off game. Notably he has never had a quarterback rating of 90.0 or above.

Jake Plummer - Denver Broncos - 2004 Quarterback Rating 84.5 in 16 games

Plummer was selected in the second round of the 1997 draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He played six years in the desert leading the Cards to the playoffs in 1998 which was also the only winning season he enjoyed there. The Broncos signed Plummer as a free agent in 2003. Plummer and the Broncos made it to the Playoffs in 2003 and 2004 with a 10-6 record both years. They also lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wildcard Game in each of those years.

Brett Farve - Green Bay Packers - 2004 Quarterback Rating 92.4 in 16 games

Farve was drafted in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons early in the second round. The only action he saw with the Falcons was when head coach Jerry Glanville would make pregame bets with any takers that Farve could throw a ball into the upper deck of the stadium. The next year Farve was traded to Green Bay for one of the Packers first round picks. He was scurried into the starting line-up when Don"Magic Man" Majkowski injured his leg against the Cincinnati Bengals in the third game of the 1992 season. Farve led the Packers to a 24-23 comeback victory. The rest is history. Brett Farve will have a bronze bust with his name enshrined in Canton five years after he retires.

Six of the twelve quarterbacks were taken in the first round. Three were selected in the second round. Three were taken in the sixth round. It appears from these facts that a team has a better chance to make the playoffs with a quarterback taken in the first round or second round.

It has also been said that there have been more first round quarterback busts then stars. So I set out to see if the statement held any water. Here is a look at all the quarterbacks taken in the first round for the past ten years. Please note that I included every team that the player signed with even if they didn't make the team or play a down.


Steve McNair
Houston Oilers / Tennessee Titans (1995-current)

  • 117 career starts
  • 59.3 career completion percentage
  • 83.4 career quarterback rating
  • 5-3 in Playoff appearances
  • 0-1 Super Bowl appearances
  • 1 time Pro-Bowler
  • 2003 Co-MVP with Peyton Manning

It took McNair awhile to get started but once he did he has done some amazing things with both his arm and his legs. He is a definite star in the League.

Kerry Collins
Carolina Panthers (1995-98)
New Orleans Saints (1998)
New York Giants (1999-2003)
Oakland Raiders (2004-current)

  • 130 career starts
  • 55.9 career completion percentage
  • 73.3 career quarterback rating
  • 4-2 in Playoff appearances
  • 0-1 in Super Bowl appearances
  • 1 time Pro-Bowler

Once Collins got his head screwed on straight, he was able to turn around his career. I would consider him a star though he hasn't shone of late. Having Randy Moss as a target may make 2005 a special year for him.




Jim Druckenmiller
San Francisco 49ers (1997-98 )
Miami Dolphins (1999)
Indianapolis Colts (2003)

  • 1 career start and only played in 6 games
  • 40.4 career completion percentage
  • 29.2 career quarterback rating
  • 1 touchdown pass

Bust with a capital B.


Peyton Manning
Indianapolis Colts (1998-current)

  • 112 career starts
  • 63.5 career completion percentage
  • 92.3 career quarterback rating
  • 3-5 in Playoff appearances
  • 5 time Pro-Bowler
  • 2003 Co-MVP with Steve McNair
  • 2004 MVP

Manning is Hall of Fame material. He may end up with no Super Bowl wins. His window of opportunity closes a little bit each year.

Ryan Leaf
San Diego Chargers (1998-2000)
Dallas Cowboys (2001)
Seattle Seahawks (2002)

  • 21 career starts
  • 48.4 career completion percentage
  • 50.0 career quarterback rating
  • 14 touchdowns passes and 36 interceptions

Ryan Leaf's career was a horror story.


Tim Couch
Cleveland Browns (1999-2003)
Green Bay Packers (2004)

  • 59 career starts
  • 59.8 career completion percentage
  • 75.1 career quarterback rating

Couch was a bust on a team that got busted up quite frequently. Had he had a good team around him who knows - he could have been a star. But I have a gut feeling (stole the phrase from Butch) he would have been an average quarterback no matter what.

Donovan McNabb
Philadelphia Eagles (1999-current)

  • 79 career starts
  • 58.3 career completion percentage
  • 83.9 career quarterback rating
  • 7-4 in Playoff appearances
  • 0-1 in Super Bowl appearances
  • 5 time Pro-Bowler

The Browns weren't even considering McNabb. He has been on a team with a strong supporting cast. He also has had the luxury to be in one offensive scheme which has accelerated his stardom. But make no mistake about it, this guy is the real deal.

Akili Smith
Cincinnati Bengals (1999-2002)
Green Bay Packers (2003)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Current)

  • 17 career starts
  • 46.6 career completion percentage
  • 52.8 career quarterback rating

I don't care how many touchdowns Akili throws in NFL Europe. I will be shocked to see him ever leading an NFL team again.

Daunte Culpepper
Minnesota Vikings (1999-current)

  • 73 career starts
  • 64.4 career completion percentage
  • 93.2 career quarterback rating
  • 2-2 in Playoff appearances
  • 3 time Pro-Bowler

Culpepper is one huge star. There has been some question whether his stats will falter without Randy Moss as a target. I think he will become an even bigger star now that the media, when covering the Vikings, will no longer focus on Moss and his antics.

Cade McNown
Chicago Bears (1999-2000)

  • 15 career starts
    54.6 career completion percentage
    67.7 career quarterback rating

Cade who? He found out quickly that the NFL stands for "not for long."


Chad Pennington
New York Jets (2000-current)

  • 34 career starts
  • 65.8 career completion percentage
  • 93.7 career quarterback rating
  • 2-2 in Playoff appearances

Pennington has three tips completed on his star. It will take a few more healthy seasons to get the other two. He has the ability to carry his team when needed.


Michael Vick
Atlanta Falcons (2001-current)

  • 36 career starts
  • 53.6 career completion percentage
  • 76.9 career quarterback rating
  • 2-2 in Playoff appearances
  • 2 time Pro-Bowler

Vick is a great athlete who is working on becoming a great quarterback. Is he a star? Two Pro Bowls in four years, I would say so.


David Carr
Houston Texans (2002-current)

  • 43 career starts
  • 56.8 career completion percentage
  • 72.5 career quarterback rating

Has the potential to be a star. I think he will reach his potential.

Joey Harrington
Detroit Lions (2002-current)

  • 44 career starts
  • 54.2 career completion percentage
  • 67.2 career quarterback rating

The Lions are very close to giving up on Harrington. Looks like he may be on the road to Bustville. Though he may be one of these guys that ends up on a different team and excels.

Patrick Ramsey
Washington Redskins (2002-current)

  • 23 career starts
  • 55.6 career completion percentage
  • 74.4 career quarterback rating

Ramsey has had Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs as a head coach in his short NFL career. Talk about coaching philosophies at different ends of the spectrum, I'm surprised Ramsey's head isn't spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. The verdict is still out on him. What he does this year will be a good indication on what road he is on.


Carson Palmer
Cincinnati Bengals (2003-current)
  • 13 career starts
  • 60.9 career completion percentage
  • 77.3 career quarterback rating

I hate to say this. Palmer has star written all over him.

Bryan Leftwich
Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-current)

  • 27 career starts
  • 58.6 career completion percentage
  • 77.8 career quarterback rating

Leftwich has a big heart. He has a knack for producing wins on days that his stats aren't there. I am still on the fence in deciding if he has what it takes to be a star.

Kyle Boller
Baltimore Ravens (2003-current)

  • 25 career starts
  • 54.4 career completion percentage
  • 68.1 career quarterback rating

Boller hasn't had many targets to throw to other than Patrick Hape. That has changed with the signing of Derrick Mason. This year should tell the tale.

Rex Grossman
Chicago Bears (2003-current)

  • 6 career starts
  • 54.5 career completion percentage
  • 71.1 career quarterback rating

Grossman has had two offensive coordinators in two years along with injuries. The fans in Chicago must certainly think he is a bust and the fans rule.


Eli Manning
New York Giants (2004-current)

  • 7 career starts
  • 48.2 career completion percentage
  • 55.4 career quarterback rating

Manning has the gene pool to be a star. Did Eli give the Giants the best chance to win last year? No, but his draft status made it hard for Tom Coughlin to leave him on the bench. He may end up a star but the odds are against it.

Philip Rivers
San Diego Chargers (2004-current)

  • 0 career starts
  • 5-8 for 33 yards in 2 games
  • 0 touchdown passes

When will we see Philip Rivers play? That is the $40.5 million question.

Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-current)

  • 13 career starts
  • 66.4 career completion percentage
  • 98.1 career quarterback rating
  • 1-1 in Playoff appearances
  • 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year

Big Ben sure did set the bar high for rookie quarterbacks. He also set the bar high for himself. I don't think he will be a one hit wonder but I foresee a sophomore slump. But, he played like a star last year.

J. P. Losman
Buffalo Bills (2004-current)

  • 0 career starts
  • 3-5 for 32 yards in 4 games
  • 0 touchdown passes and 1 interception

I guess the Bills have asked their crystal ball and found out that Losman is a star. He will have the peace of mind that his back-up Kelly Holcomb feels comfortable in the back up role.

There have been twenty-three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. There have been eight stars, six busts, one on the way to being a bust and eight that can go either way.

So there you have it. A week's worth of sleepless nights of analytical research and I am no closer to a clear-cut answer. It does appear that in today's NFL, teams are more likely to be successful when they draft the right quarterback in the first round. The question in this year's NFL Draft for the Browns is, is either Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith the right guy?

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