First-round QBs still rule starting ranks

First-round quarterbacks don’t always work out, but most teams have one as their projected starter.

Apparently when Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is asked to answer questions at a breakfast meeting in Florida, he passes the salt around.

The offensive line has no excuse. Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson need to step it up. Who needs Mike Wallace? Cordarrelle Patterson is in make-or-break mode. The defense isn’t nearly as good as its press clippings and/or tweets.

To look at things, you would think the Vikings were 5-11, not 11-5 and the team to finally knock the crown off the Packers.

While Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman aren’t going to show their hand for draft preparation, one thing that seems clear is that the Vikings aren’t interested in drafting a quarterback early. They’re putting their faith that Bridgewater, as a first-round draft pick (even if it’s the last pick of the first round) was selected to be the man for years to come. The Vikings only danced into that potential minefield three times in franchise history prior to cutting a deal with Seattle to draft Teddy.

Tommy Kramer and Daunte Culpepper were first-rounders that worked out. They never led their teams to Super Bowls, but when they were on the field, Vikings fans had realistic reason to believe the team would win.

Christian Ponder? Not so much.

It’s a gamble every franchise takes. When they hit, they hit big. When they fail, they fail big. The Manning family has a shop teacher’s handful of championship rings. JaMarcus Russell is the answer to a trivia question – unfortunately it was who pulled back the public curtain on the Jolly Rancher-cough syrup-Purple Drank connection? Cleveland has taken a quarterback in the first round of the last two even-year drafts and, despite signing RG3, it would appear they’re hoping the third time is the charm.

As things currently stand with the projected quarterbacks on the top line of NFL depth charts, more teams have quarterbacks they didn’t draft in the first round – either they have a QB drafted outside the first round or their projected current quarterback didn’t pan out in his original home.

There are a total of 14 teams that drafted quarterbacks that are still at the helm of their current teams – Atlanta (Matt Ryan), Baltimore (Joe Flacco), Carolina (Cam Newton), Detroit (Matthew Stafford), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), Indianapolis (Andrew Luck), Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), Miami (Ryan Tannehill), Minnesota (Bridgewater), New York Giants (Eli Manning), Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger), San Diego (Philip Rivers), Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston), Tennessee (Marcus Mariota).

Of that list, it would appear the only two names that are question marks are Bridgewater and Tannehill.

Eighteen teams are starting quarterbacks that either they didn’t draft or were drafted outside of the first round – Arizona (Carson Palmer), Buffalo (Tyrod Taylor), Chicago (Jay Cutler), Cincinnati (Andy Dalton), Cleveland (Robert Griffin III), Dallas (Tony Romo), Denver (Mark Sanchez), Houston (Brock Osweiler), Kansas City (Alex Smith), Los Angeles (Nick Foles), New England (Tom Brady), New Orleans (Drew Brees), New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith), Oakland (Derek Carr), Philadelphia (Sam Bradford), Seattle (Russell Wilson), San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick) and Washington (Kirk Cousins).

The reality of the situation in the NFL is that 21 teams, or two-thirds of the teams in the league, are planning to starting a quarterback drafted in the first round at some point (players listed include their current team and, if applicable, the team that drafted them. It’s a long list of players – Palmer (Arizona/Cincinnati), Ryan (Atlanta), Flacco (Baltimore), Newton (Carolina), Cutler (Chicago/Denver), Griffin (Cleveland/Washington), Sanchez (Denver/NY Jets), Stafford (Detroit), Rodgers (Green Bay), Osweiler (Houston/Denver), Luck (Indianapolis), Bortles (Jacksonville), Smith (Kansas City/San Francisco), Tannehill (Miami), Bridgewater (Minnesota), Manning (NY Giants), Bradford (Philadelphia/St. Louis), Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh), Rivers (San Diego), Winston (Tampa Bay), Mariota (Tennessee).

Just as daunting is that eight quarterbacks were the first overall pick in the draft – Palmer (Arizona), Newton (Carolina), Stafford (Detroit), Luck (Indianapolis), Smith (Kansas City), Manning (NY Giants), Bradford (Philadelphia), Winston (Tampa Bay).

Like a hefty percentage of teams in the NFL, the Vikings have put their faith in a quarterback drafted in the first round in hopes of hitting big on a young talent they expect to bring them to a Lombardi Trophy. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s a time-honored plan that is likely going to add Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to its fraternity next month, with the expectation of big things coming down the line.

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