The 2023 NFL Draft offers yet another pool of potential franchise quarterbacks. Before we welcome those prospects into the club, let's take stock of where we stand today. Marc Sessler has once again updated his rankings of each QB draft class that has entered the NFL since the turn of the millennium. Last offseason's rankings have been altered to reflect a scenery-shifting 2022 campaign.
NOTE: Pro Bowlers are denoted by an asterisk (*).
Round 1: JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall), Brady Quinn (No. 22)
Round 2: Kevin Kolb (No. 36), John Beck (No. 40), Drew Stanton (No. 43)
Round 3: Trent Edwards (No. 92)
Round 4: Isaiah Stanback (No. 103)
Round 5: Jeff Rowe (No. 151), Troy Smith (No. 174)
Round 6: Jordan Palmer (No. 205)
Round 7: Tyler Thigpen (No. 2017)
Notable undrafted: Matt Moore
We begin our journey in grim territory. The 2007 NFL Draft was "headlined" by JaMarcus Russell, arguably the most severe quarterback bust of all time and a first-overall whiff who set the Raiders back years. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound LSU star produced a grotesque 7-18 mark as a starter and finished 2009 -- his final year in the league -- as the worst passer in football. Russell netted $39.4 million, while the Raiders, in return, were handed a raging headache. Same goes for the Browns, who reached for Brady Quinn at No. 22, only to turn around three years later and trade him to the Broncos for fullback Peyton Hillis -- who at least managed to sneak onto the cover of Madden. Career backup Drew Stanton is one of the few to earn points inside a flatlining class that handed us John Beck, Trent Edwards and the overhyped Kevin Kolb. High-level busts and zero reliable starters make this the worst crop of them all.
Round 1: David Carr (No. 1), Joey Harrington (No. 3), Patrick Ramsey (No. 32)
Round 3: Josh McCown (No. 81)
Round 4: David Garrard* (No. 108), Rohan Davey (No. 117)
Round 5: Randy Fasani (No. 137), Kurt Kittner (No. 158), Brandon Doman (No. 163), Craig Nall (No. 164)
Round 6: J.T. O'Sullivan (No. 186), Steve Bellisari (No. 205)
Round 7: Seth Burford (No. 216), Jeff Kelly (No. 232), Ronald Curry (No. 235), Wes Pate (No. 236)
Notable undrafted: Shaun Hill, Chad Hutchinson
Best in show? I side with Josh McCown, the enduring and fun-to-watch sometimes starter who might wind up as a head coach someday. While David Carr never lived up to the status of being the No. 1 overall pick, his situation reminds me of what happened to Tim Couch in Cleveland: a young quarterback tossed into the fire on a wanting expansion team struggling to find its way. David Garrard produced a flock of flashy moments with the Jaguars, while Shaun Hill -- an undrafted arm -- spent 15 years in the league. This class was also yanked to Earth by two first-round nightmares, Detroit's Joey Harrington and Washington's Patrick Ramsey, who combined for a 28-51 record with the teams that mistakenly chose them. For diehards, this class also gifted us with undrafted mystery Chad Hutchinson.
Round 1: EJ Manuel (No. 16)
Round 2: Geno Smith* (No. 39)
Round 3: Mike Glennon (No. 73)
Round 4: Matt Barkley (No. 98), Ryan Nassib (No. 110), Tyler Wilson (No. 112), Landry Jones (No. 115)
Round 7: Brad Sorensen (No. 221), Zac Dysert (No. 234), B.J. Daniels (No. 237), Sean Renfree (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Matt McGloin
Teams were surprised when the Bills reached for EJ Manuel with the 16th overall selection. Seen by most as a project with potential, the Florida State product was a turnover-prone flop in Buffalo -- a player Doug Marrone replaced with Kyle Orton before Rex Ryan signed Tyrod Taylor, to avoid leaning on Manuel.
No first-round love poems here, but second-rounder Geno Smith is one of football's better tales. Seen a year ago as a post-Russell Wilson patch in Seattle, the ex-washout went on to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors (and his first career Pro Bowl nod) as one of the NFC's most reliable arms. That alone can't rocket this class up the list, but Geno stands out from an otherwise putrid crop.
Round 1: Sam Bradford (No. 1), Tim Tebow (No. 25)
Round 2: Jimmy Clausen (No. 48)
Round 3: Colt McCoy (No. 85)
Round 4: Mike Kafka (No. 122)
Round 5: John Skelton (No. 155), Jonathan Crompton (No. 168)
Round 6: Rusty Smith (No. 176), Dan LeFevour (No. 181), Joe Webb (No. 199), Tony Pike (No. 204)
Round 7: Levi Brown (No. 209), Sean Canfield (No. 239), Zac Robinson (No. 250)
You could argue that Sam Bradford was a major factor in the institution of a much-needed rookie pay scale in 2011. Bradford's six-year, $78 million rookie contract came packed with an outrageous $50 million in guarantees. As an unconvincing Offensive Rookie of the Year winner, the snakebitten signal-caller missed 25 games over his final two seasons in St. Louis due to a string of disastrous injuries.
Long-term knee issues undid his career, but Bradford sits atop a class sprinkled with career backups -- hard-working Colt McCoy and out-of-the-league Jimmy Clausen -- and one memorable first-round reach in Tim Tebow, who operated as a worldwide sensation during a magical run with the Broncos in 2011 before flaming out entirely and eventually doing a stint in the minor leagues with the Mets.
Round 1: Vince Young* (No. 3), Matt Leinart (No. 10), Jay Cutler* (No. 11)
Round 2: Kellen Clemens (No. 49), Tarvaris Jackson (No. 64)
Round 3: Charlie Whitehurst (No. 81), Brodie Croyle (No. 85)
Round 4: Brad Smith (No. 103)
Round 5: Ingle Martin (No. 148), Omar Jacobs (No. 164)
Round 6: Reggie McNeal (No. 193), Bruce Gradkowski (No. 194)
Round 7: D.J. Shockley (No. 223)
This class boils down to what you think about Jay Cutler. While the strong-armed passer logged 153 total starts, his 51-51 regular-season mark with the Bears is apt. He unfurled plenty of big plays -- some of his throws were pure beauty -- but we'd struggle to come up with Cutler's top-five list of inspiring come-from-behind victories. He never came close to morphing into a transcendent player at the position, but he soldiered on long after fellow first-rounders Vince Young and Matt Leinart faded. Charlie Whitehurst was nothing special, but he gets points in this space for his flowing mane and ability to snag the songstress Jewel as a paramour in the mid-'10s.
Round 1: Jameis Winston* (No. 1), Marcus Mariota (No. 2)
Round 3: Garrett Grayson (No. 75), Sean Mannion (No. 89)
Round 4: Bryce Petty (No. 103)
Round 5: Brett Hundley (No. 147)
Round 7: Trevor Siemian (No. 250)
After melting away in Tampa, Jameis Winston is now set to back up Derek Carr in New Orleans.
Stung by too many late-game gaffes, Marcus Mariota played himself out of a starting role in Atlanta before weirdly leaving the team after being benched. He's an interesting choice to back up Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia, but you don't want him taking meaningful snaps. The rest of this group is a bland and muddled mess.
After opening the year as Mitch Trubisky's backup, Kenny Pickett was thrust into a starting role by Week 5 and never let go. Despite throwing just seven touchdowns, the rookie showed tangible growth and displayed a knack for edgy, late-game marches. He's Pittsburgh's unquestioned future at the position. Atlanta says the same about Desmond Ridder, but the Falcons sure vibe as a fit for Lamar Jackson. Malik Willis is raw to the core, prompting the coaching staff to opt for Josh Dobbs when Ryan Tannehill was lost to injury. Bailey Zappe emerged as a fan favorite. Skylar Thompson threw 45 passes in a playoff game (completing just 18 of them). And Brock Purdy nearly altered pro football forever with a magical Niners run cut short by injury in the NFC title game. Where this class ranks a year from now depends largely on the version of Purdy we get next autumn.
Round 1: Matthew Stafford* (No. 1), Mark Sanchez (No. 5), Josh Freeman (No. 17)
Round 2: Pat White (No. 44)
Round 4: Stephen McGee (No. 101)
Round 5: Rhett Bomar (No. 151), Nate Davis (No. 171)
Round 6: Tom Brandstater (No. 174), Mike Teel (No. 178), Keith Null (No. 196), Curtis Painter (No. 201)
Notable undrafted: Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer
Beyond Super Bowl-winning Matthew Stafford, there's nothing else happening here save for the early career success of Mark Sanchez. He generated a handful of special moments during back-to-back trips to the AFC title game with the Jets, but he was fully exposed as a starter by 2011. Josh Freeman was a wayward first-round flameout, while the Dolphins whiffed by using the 44th pick on Pat White, who never started a game for Miami -- or anyone -- under center. Chase Daniel earns points for hanging around. Meanwhile, Brian Hoyer's still chugging as a backup in Vegas.
Round 1: Kyler Murray* (No. 1), Daniel Jones (No. 6), Dwayne Haskins (No. 15)
Round 2: Drew Lock (No. 42)
Round 3: Will Grier (No. 100)
Round 4: Ryan Finley (No. 104), Jarrett Stidham (No. 133)
Round 5: Easton Stick (No. 166), Clayton Thorson (No. 167)
Round 6: Gardner Minshew (No. 178), Trace McSorley (No. 197)
Notable undrafted: David Blough, Devlin Hodges
Kyler Murray brought good vibes to Arizona as a rookie, flashing his powerful arm and jitterbug mobility. His late-season swoon in 2021 -- capped by a hideous playoff performance and public demands for a new deal -- left Cardinals faithful piqued. Last year didn't help as Murray's frustrating campaign was cut short by a torn ACL. It's unclear when Kyler will return for a Cardinals team saddled with one of the NFC's grisliest rosters.
Daniel Jones is coming off a career year that earned him a surprising amount of money. A danger on the ground who produced his best work through the air, Big Blue's starter sits in hopeful territory with QB-whispering Brian Daboll at the wheel.
Drew Lock is backup fodder. Jarrett Stidham, too. Same goes for Gardner Minshew, but he's a spicier option, sporting a 44:15 touchdown-to-pick ratio. We lost Dwayne Haskins far too soon in last year's fatal tragedy.
Round 1: Chad Pennington (No. 18)
Round 3: Giovanni Carmazzi (No. 65), Chris Redman (No. 75)
Round 5: Tee Martin (No. 163)
Round 6: Marc Bulger* (No. 168), Spergon Wynn (No. 183), Tom Brady* (No. 199), Todd Husak (No. 202), Ja'Juan Seider (No. 205)
Round 7: Tim Rattay (No. 212), Jarious Jackson (No. 214), Joe Hamilton (No. 234)
Notable undrafted: Doug Johnson, Billy Volek
You could argue this group should rank higher ... or much lower. While it's littered with nonsensical names who barely made a blip on the radar, the 2000 class also boasts the greatest quarterback of the 21st century -- and, for me, ever -- in seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady. It's completely surreal that he floated to Tampa at age 43 to lift another Lombardi. With Brady retiring "for good" in February after 23 seasons, Sundays won't be the same.
Chad Pennington is lost in Tommy's shadow, but the group's only first-rounder was a rare find for the Jets and produced nicely for most of his 11-year career. An anonymous sixth-rounder, Marc Bulger went on to start 95 games for the post-Kurt Warner Rams over eight seasons. It's incredible the 49ers made Giovanni Carmazzi the second quarterback off the board with Brady -- a Bay Area resident -- still available, but the blame falls on every single team in the NFL who failed to recognize what the future Patriots star would become. Pennington, Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Bulger and Spergon Wynn all found homes before fate intervened to pair TB12 with Bill Belichick.
Round 1: Blake Bortles (No. 3), Johnny Manziel (No. 22), Teddy Bridgewater* (No. 32)
Round 2: Derek Carr* (No. 36), Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 62)
Round 4: Logan Thomas (No. 120), Tom Savage (No. 135)
Round 5: Aaron Murray (No. 163), AJ McCarron (No. 164)
Round 6: Zach Mettenberger (No. 178), David Fales (No. 183), Keith Wenning (No. 194), Tajh Boyd (No. 213), Garrett Gilbert (No. 214)
This class dots the spectrum, with high-profile starters and unforgivable draft mistakes mixed into one chaotic soup.
Derek Carr is suddenly a Saint after being shoved aside by the Raiders organization. He deserved better, but Carr remains a middle-tier guy bound to frustrate as often as he delights. Jimmy Garoppolo takes his place in Vegas as a high-quality teammate, so-so signal-caller and likely bridge player as Josh McDaniel potentially looks to groom a rookie.
Blake Bortles fizzled out in Jacksonville, while Johnny Manziel remains a haunting quarterback selection by the Browns. Taken 10 picks later, Teddy Bridgewater had his career sideswiped by a devastating knee injury before emerging as a journeyman with upside.
The Class of 2021 looms as a potential climber for years to come.
Free from Urban Meyer's reign of terror, Trevor Lawrence flowered under the watch of Doug Pederson. As the autumn of 2022 wore on, Lawrence's inconsistencies were replaced by reliable big-boy throws, heightened decision-making and a knack for blasting opponents on the ground with his massive 6-foot-6 frame. He has the makings of a top-five passer.
Despite a bare-cupboard roster, Justin Fields dropped jaws with his dominating on-field spellcasting. He single-handedly wrecked defenses with his feet and grew as a passer. Fields is the most exciting prospect Chicago's possessed in eons.
Mac Jones deserves a comprehensive mulligan after the Patriots irresponsibly damaged his growth inside a lost offense run by defensive-minded Matt Patricia. With better coaching, Jones checks out as a mostly reliable starter.
Trey Lance's career is a confusing, injury-ravaged mystery. Displaced by the legend of Brock Purdy, Lance appears to be trade bait. Zach Wilson appears to be one of the bigger quarterback busts of the century. If the Jets have their way, nobody will see Wilson take a meaningful snap for another two years. After making 25 starts for the Texans, Davis Mills now fades into the woodwork, with Houston destined to grab an arm in the draft.
Round 1: Jared Goff* (No. 1), Carson Wentz* (No. 2), Paxton Lynch (No. 26)
Round 2: Christian Hackenberg (No. 51)
Round 3: Jacoby Brissett (No. 91), Cody Kessler (No. 93)
Round 4: Connor Cook (No. 100), Dak Prescott* (No. 135), Cardale Jones (No. 139)
Round 5: Kevin Hogan (No. 162)
Round 6: Nate Sudfeld (No. 187), Jake Rudock (No. 191), Brandon Allen (No. 201), Jeff Driskel (No. 207)
Round 7: Brandon Doughty (No. 223)
First-overall pick Jared Goff authored a troubling, deer-in-headlights Super Bowl start and underwhelmed for a Rams team that shipped him off to Detroit. Instead of withering away, though, Goff in '22 churned out his best tape yet with 29 touchdowns to just seven picks for a lovable Lions bunch.
Second-overall pick Carson Wentz fell apart in Philly before fizzling out in Indy and Washington. He was never the same after a 2017 knee injury wiped out an MVP-level campaign for the Eagles. No longer seen as a starter, Wentz is currently without work.
Dak Prescott has massively exceeded his fourth-round pedigree and deserved that big second contract from Dallas. He's the best of the bunch with star-level traits -- save for back-to-back meltdowns in January.
Paxton Lynch was a chilling whiff for Denver, while Cody Kessler never materialized.
Round 1: Cam Newton* (No. 1), Jake Locker (No. 8), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10), Christian Ponder (No. 12)
Round 2: Andy Dalton* (No. 35), Colin Kaepernick (No. 36)
Round 3: Ryan Mallett (No. 74)
Round 5: Ricky Stanzi (No. 135), T.J. Yates (No. 152), Nathan Enderle (No. 160)
Round 6: Tyrod Taylor* (No. 180)
Round 7: Greg McElroy (No. 208)
Supplemental draft: Terrelle Pryor (Round 3)
Another class littered with starting talent and franchise-altering busts. Back in 2011, the Panthers wisely ignored their selection of Jimmy Clausen the previous April, going all in on Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the draft. With an MVP award and Super Bowl appearance under his belt, Newton largely met expectations while making the Panthers a relevant franchise. That all feels Old Testament after Carolina kicked Cam to the curb, leaving Newton to toil in New England in 2020 before (weirdly) returning to a fading Panthers squad in 2021. He's open to backup work, but Superman's cape was stolen years ago.
Ace Boogie's success is offset by a trio of first-round whiffs -- Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder -- that would be enough to shuttle this class down the list if it weren't for the supporting cast. Andy Dalton is no Joe Burrow, but he gave the Bengals nearly a decade's worth of perfectly average performances. Tyrod Taylor offers starting experience, but anyone asking him to do it again rests in hot water. Colin Kaepernick's career morphed into a radioactive talking point, but he brought the Niners within one completed pass of a Super Bowl title and was seen by many as the most exciting quarterback in football for a two-season stretch.
Round 1: Matt Ryan* (No. 3), Joe Flacco (No. 18)
Round 2: Brian Brohm (No. 56), Chad Henne (No. 57)
Round 3: Kevin O'Connell (No. 94)
Round 5: John David Booty (No. 137), Dennis Dixon (No. 156), Josh Johnson (No. 160), Erik Ainge (No. 162)
Round 6: Colt Brennan (No. 186), Andre' Woodson (No. 198)
Round 7: Matt Flynn (No. 209), Alex Brink (No. 223)
Notable undrafted: Caleb Hanie
The 2008 group gave us one-time MVP Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title after a month-plus of pristine postseason play. Both players appear near the end in 2023. The names lack sizzle from there, with Chad Henne underwhelming as a starter and Brian Brohm serving as a second-round disappointment. Matt Flynn offered hopeful moments, but he failed to become a QB1.
Round 1: Carson Palmer* (No. 1), Byron Leftwich (No. 7), Kyle Boller (No. 19), Rex Grossman (No. 22)
Round 3: Dave Ragone (No. 88), Chris Simms (No. 97)
Round 4: Seneca Wallace (No. 110)
Round 5: Brian St. Pierre (No. 163)
Round 6: Drew Henson (No. 192), Brooks Bollinger (No. 200), Kliff Kingsbury (No. 201)
Round 7: Gibran Hamdan (No. 232), Ken Dorsey (No. 241)
Notable undrafted: Tony Romo*
The best passer in this class wasn't even drafted. Tony Romo was brought to Dallas when former Cowboys assistant Sean Payton pitched him to Bill Parcells. The rest is history, with Romo taking the starting job from Drew Bledsoe in 2006 and never looking back. Heavily critiqued early in his career for the occasional high-profile gaffe, Romo ultimately retired as one of the NFL's most reliable quarterbacks -- and now he's one of television's premier color analysts. No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer proved to be well worth the selection, which was made by the Bengals, though some of the best work of his 14-year career came later on with Arizona. Byron Leftwich gave the Jaguars 44 up-and-down starts, while Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman were largely annoying. Still, Grossman is the only passer from this class to start on the game's biggest stage, helping guide Chicago to Super Bowl XLI, where the Bears were blown to pieces by Peyton Manning's Colts.
Round 1: Michael Vick* (No. 1)
Round 2: Drew Brees* (No. 32), Quincy Carter (No. 53), Marques Tuiasosopo (No. 59)
Round 4: Chris Weinke (No. 106), Sage Rosenfels (No. 109), Jesse Palmer (No. 125)
Round 5: Mike McMahon (No. 149), A.J. Feeley (No. 155)
Round 6: Josh Booty (No. 172), Josh Heupel (No. 177)
Both Mike Vick and Drew Brees changed perceptions of how the position could -- and should -- be played. Vick's rare scampering ability and off-the-charts athleticism refocused the league on the potential of running quarterbacks. It's impossible not to wonder how Vick's career would've progressed without his dog-fighting scandal and subsequent prison stint -- though he did make one more Pro Bowl with Philly in 2010. The now-retired Brees, meanwhile, served as a constant reminder that height-challenged quarterbacks aren't always a minus. In his case, Brees operated as a top-tier superstar after he landed with the Saints in 2006, winning a storybook Super Bowl for New Orleans and making that offense a treat to watch every fall. He's an easy Hall of Fame selection and an icon under center. The class had its issues, too, with second-rounders Quincy Carter and Marques Tuiasosopo fading fast. Chris Weinke doesn't help, finishing with a 2-18 record as a starter, while A.J. Feeley is remembered as a mere patch in Miami.
Round 1: Andrew Luck* (No. 1), Robert Griffin III* (No. 2), Ryan Tannehill* (No. 8), Brandon Weeden (No. 22)
Round 2: Brock Osweiler (No. 57)
Round 3: Russell Wilson* (No. 75), Nick Foles* (No. 88)
Round 4: Kirk Cousins* (No. 102)
Round 6: Ryan Lindley (No. 185)
Round 7: B.J. Coleman (No. 243), Chandler Harnish (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Case Keenum
Had all gone right, this class might be remembered as an equal to the all-star cast from 2004 -- maybe even 1983. Andrew Luck is a Hall of Fame talent who won't reach Canton after his stunning retirement in 2019. A troubling case, Robert Griffin III was the most exciting quarterback in football during his rookie campaign -- before a knee injury changed his path forever. Washington found RGIII's replacement in that same draft by nabbing Kirk Cousins. Who knew he'd become the prize of free agency in 2018 and Minnesota's current starter? In Round 3, the Seahawks altered their franchise by taking a chance on Russell Wilson. Dinged by some for his diminutive stature, Wilson won the starting job in his first training camp and hoisted the Lombardi in Year 2. His much-ballyhooed arrival in Denver landed with a thud as Wilson appeared lost at sea in a Broncos uniform. If Sean Payton can't turn him around, Wilson's career appears to be in trouble. Toss in Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles and 2019 Comeback Player of the Year honoree Ryan Tannehill, and this emerges as a wildly productive class, even amid the wreckage of Griffin, ultra-bust Brandon Weeden and the underwhelming Brock Osweiler.
Round 1: Alex Smith* (No. 1), Aaron Rodgers* (No. 24), Jason Campbell (No. 25)
Round 3: Charlie Frye (No. 67), Andrew Walter (No. 69), David Greene (No. 85)
Round 4: Kyle Orton (No. 106), Stefan LeFors (No. 121)
Round 5: Dan Orlovsky (No. 145), Adrian McPherson (No. 152)
Round 6: Derek Anderson* (No. 213)
Round 7: James Kilian (No. 229), Matt Cassel* (No. 230), Ryan Fitzpatrick (No. 250)
The first round produced a long-range starter in Alex Smith and one of football's burning suns in four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers. We all know how Rodgers fumed while watching 21 teams (the Vikings and Cowboys each picked twice in the top 23) pass him by before the Packers added him to a roster already equipped with Brett Favre under center. The chance to sit and learn helped Rodgers, who went on to win a Super Bowl and emerge as a lock for Canton. With what we know now, Rodgers should have gone ahead of Smith -- and all other humans in the 2005 draft -- but Smith earns points for a 99-67-1 mark under center.
Beyond the big two, this class offered unusual longevity. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a pure delight, pairing with Matt Cassel as two of the more productive seventh-rounders in memory. This group also gave us Derek Anderson and the whirlwind known as Kyle Orton. It's crazy to think Washington was forced to settle for Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers went to Green Bay.
It's worth noting the Jets -- angling to make Rodgers their starter -- didn't own a first-round pick in that year's draft.
Round 1: Baker Mayfield (No. 1), Sam Darnold (No. 3), Josh Allen* (No. 7), Josh Rosen (No. 10), Lamar Jackson* (No. 32)
Round 3: Mason Rudolph (No. 76)
Round 4: Kyle Lauletta (No. 108)
Round 5: Mike White (No. 171)
Round 6: Luke Falk (No. 199), Tanner Lee (No. 203)
Round 7: Danny Etling (No. 219), Alex McGough (No. 220), Logan Woodside (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Kyle Allen
Pro football awaits the fate of Lamar Jackson. He's a former MVP and one of the game's most electric operators, but it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where the franchise-tagged Jackson refuses to play in 2023. If he mends fences with the Ravens, expect a more balanced offense under Todd Monken after run-happy Greg Roman decided to step away. Lamar's durability is a talking point -- and the Ravens have struggled in January -- but defensive coordinators know what Jackson presents: a major headache on turf.
Josh Allen is one of football's most watchable forces of nature and an evergreen MVP candidate. You accept the occasional gaffe because nobody else can take over a game with Allen's brand of flair. He showed Buffalo's locker room -- and the entire world -- who he was last season, playing through injuries and helping rally the city when safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football. The thrilling lobs and jaw-dropping dashes make Allen a rarity, but his leadership looms large for a Super Bowl-or-bust Bills operation.
Baker Mayfield's better moments (he helped Cleveland to its first playoff win since 1994 and set a league-wide rookie record with 27 touchdowns, since broken by Justin Herbert) gave way to chaos as the Browns dumped him for Deshaun Watson. Spiraling out in Carolina before a brighter stint with the Rams, Mayfield is suddenly on his fourth team in 13 months after Tampa grabbed him as its presumed Week 1 starter.
Fellow first-round flop Sam Darnold helped his uneven career with a swath of solid tape in Carolina. He's now under the watch of Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco with a chance for meaningful snaps if Brock Purdy's return is delayed. Rosen is the less-fortunate Josh on this list, reduced to nothing more than backup fodder.
Round 1: Mitchell Trubisky* (No. 2), Patrick Mahomes* (No. 10), Deshaun Watson* (No. 12)
Round 2: DeShone Kizer (No. 52)
Round 3: Davis Webb (No. 87), C.J. Beathard (No. 104)
Round 4: Joshua Dobbs (No. 135)
Round 5: Nathan Peterman (No. 171)
Round 6: Brad Kaaya (No. 215)
Round 7: Chad Kelly (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Taysom Hill, Nick Mullens
Bears fans won't soon forget ex-general manager Ryan Pace trading up for hot-and-mostly-cold Mitchell Trubisky while Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went overlooked. Mahomes rides a trajectory to become the finest player of his generation. Already a two-time MVP with a pair of Lombardis, the bucket list is thinning. We're so accustomed to perfection from Mahomes that his heroics from a year ago -- seamlessly conducting sweet music with a reimagined offense -- leave him somehow underrated.
Watson is a Pro Bowl talent whose serious off-the-field issues didn't stop the Browns from handing him more guaranteed money than any quarterback in history. Following his 11-game suspension, Watson hit the field as a hyper-rusty version of the player we once knew. He's under considerable pressure to operate as a top-five quarterback in 2023. Don't hold your breath.
I like Taysom Hill more as a gadget-magician than a starting quarterback, but Sean Payton would happily author a book of sea poems about the man after their time together in New Orleans.
Round 1: Joe Burrow* (No. 1), Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5), Justin Herbert* (No. 6), Jordan Love (No. 26)
Round 3: Jalen Hurts* (No. 53)
Round 4: Jacob Eason (No. 122), James Morgan (No. 125)
Round 5: Jake Fromm (No. 167)
Round 6: Jake Luton (No. 189)
Round 7: Cole McDonald (No. 224), Ben DiNucci (No. 231), Tommy Stevens (No. 240), Nate Stanley (No. 244)
Boasting a lineup of franchise centerpieces, the Class of 2020 houses the rare DNA to wind up as the greatest group we've ever seen. After tugging the long-lost Bengals to Super Bowl LVI, Joe Burrow doubled down last autumn to craft a brilliant 40-touchdown campaign en route to another AFC title game appearance. He arrived as an old-school, unflappable warrior set to change Cincinnati forever.
In this space a year ago, I asked if Hurts could do enough to keep the Eagles from seeking another starter. He checked that box with authority, playing at an MVP level from wire to wire and altering how we see the position with his mix of big-money throws and on-the-ground wonder -- all leading to a huge and well-deserved payday. Hurts grew as much as any quarterback league-wide in 2022, and his ceiling remains an utter mystery.
Equipped with a dazzling rocket for an arm, ideal size and fiery toughness, Justin Herbert is everything we fantasize about under center. He played through obvious pain inside a banged-up Chargers offense, but the hope is that new play-caller Kellen Moore can help Herbert to new heights come September. Tua Tagovailoa caught fire in his third season, spinning magic with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle under first-year coach Mike McDaniel. Repeated concussions, though, cast concern over his long-term viability.
If Jordan Love becomes a reliable starter for the Packers in a post-Aaron Rodgers universe, this gaggle of precious arms looms as the stuff of dreams.
Round 1: Eli Manning* (No. 1), Philip Rivers* (No. 4), Ben Roethlisberger* (No. 11), J.P. Losman (No. 22)
Round 3: Matt Schaub* (No. 90)
Round 4: Luke McCown (No. 106)
Round 5: Craig Krenzel (No. 148)
Round 6: Andy Hall (No. 185), Josh Harris (No. 187), Jim Sorgi (No. 193), Jeff Smoker (No. 201)
Round 7: John Navarre (No. 202), Cody Pickett (No. 217), Casey Bramlet (No. 218), Matt Mauck (No. 225), B.J. Symons (No. 248), Bradlee Van Pelt (No. 250)
The gold standard for quarterback classes of the 21st century. The 2004 collection of signal-callers boasts four Super Bowl wins, while the group's big three -- Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger -- can all make cases for the Hall of Fame. The trio's 721 regular-season starts also tell the tale of ironman passers counted on to dress game after game and year after year by their respective teams. The Chargers and Giants will always be linked because of the draft-day trade that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. Deep history today, though, with Eli dipped in retirement and Rivers calling it quits in 2020 after a one-year stint with the Colts. Of the group, Big Ben put together the finest career before bowing out last offseason in time for Pittsburgh to draft Kenny Pickett. The first round also included a titanic bust in J.P. Losman, but third-rounder Matt Schaub beat the odds to play for 17 seasons. Shame on those of you who don't recall the feats of Matt Mauck. If this class came around every year, the league would be turning signal-callers away at the door.