The 2019 NFL Draft offers another pool of potential franchise quarterbacks. But before we move forward with those prospects, let's look back at groups of the recent vintage. Marc Sessler has updated his rankings of each QB draft class since the turn of the millennium. Last offseason's rankings were certainly altered following a scenery-shifting year.
NOTE: Pro Bowlers are denoted by bold/italics.
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. 217)
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 $31.5 million in guaranteed loot, 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." Only eternal backup Drew Stanton remains from 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: 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)
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. This class lacked a true first-round prospect, while the only second-rounder, Geno Smith, has been an on-field wild card best known for catching a fist to the jaw from his own teammate and backing fringy "flat Earth" theories. Joining Manuel and Smith in the ranks of backup journeymen is Mike Glennon, now onto his fourth team in as many years as a Raiders backup.
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)
Undrafted: Chad Hutchinson, Shaun Hill
The 2002 rep with the most long-term value? Josh McCown, a quality veteran and sometimes-starter currently pondering his playing future at age 39. 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 some flashy moments with the Jaguars, while Shaun Hill -- an undrafted arm -- spent more than a decade 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: 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 current collective bargaining agreement rolling out a much-needed rookie pay scale. 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. Bradford's career might be over due to longterm knee issues, but he sits atop a class sprinkled with career backups -- 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 winding up as a minor leaguer with the Mets.
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), Curis Painter (No. 201)
Undrafted: Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer
I'm tempted to rank this class above the 2006 crop that handed us Jay Cutler and Vince Young, simply because of Matthew Stafford. There's just nothing else happening here, though, unless you're swayed by 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 was fully exposed as a starter by 2011, when Gang Green tried to lean on his arm. 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. After struggling in a rash of starting roles, Brian Hoyer's nine lives as a hot-and-cold journeyman have brought him back to where he started in New England.
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 starts, his 51-51 regular-season record with the Bears is apt. He unfurled plenty of big plays -- some of his throws are 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 were history. Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst were nothing special, but the latter gets points in this space for his flowing mane and ability to snag the songstress Jewel as a paramour.
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)
The fate of this class boils down to the top two picks in the 2015 draft. Jameis Winston of the Bucs and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota enter hyper-critical campaigns with the clubs who drafted them. Winston is coming off a suspension-addled, spotty fourth season, but appears to have the backing of pass-happy new coach Bruce Arians. The injury-prone Mariota threw a paltry 11 touchdowns last autumn and now has ex-Dolphin Ryan Tannehill breathing down his neck. An unlikely scenario 700 days ago, it's possible both Winston and Mariota are looking for new homes come January. Former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian, now tucked away with the Jets, has quickly become a nonentity.
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), JaJuan Seider (No. 205)
Round 7: Tim Rattay (No. 212), Jarious Jackson (No. 214), Joe Hamilton (No. 234)
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, all time -- in six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady. 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 that 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 stretches all over the map with high-profile starters and unforgivable draft mistakes mixed into one chaotic soup. Derek Carr's MVP play from 2016 feels pulled from a million years ago. With the Raiders openly eyeing rookie passers, can Antonio Brown help Carr flip the script under coach Jon Gruden? Jimmy Garoppolo set the Earth on fire in five starts for the Niners in 2017 -- also a million years ago -- but now finds himself returning from a serious knee injury. The Jaguars finally deep-sixed their Blake Bortles Experiment, with the turnover-prone passer now operating as Jared Goff's backup in La La Land. Johnny Manziel remains a haunting, awful quarterback selection by the Browns. Now in Detroit, Tom Savage is onto his fifth team, while AJ McCarron is no longer seen as a starter. Teddy Bridgewater's career was sideswiped by a devastating knee injury, but his comeback continues as a backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans. Just 26, Bridgewater has the talent to become a weekly NFL starter.
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 devastating, 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 has lived up to the pedigree while making Carolina a relevant franchise. His 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 imperfect, but he's led the Bengals to the playoffs five times, while sixth-rounder Tyrod Taylor offers starting experience. Colin Kaepernick's career has 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: 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)
This boils down to how you feel about Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Goff is coming off a troubling, deer-in-headlights Super Bowl start. Wentz has battled injuries in back-to-back seasons, but the Eagles are his team, with Nick Foles landing in Jacksonville. In finer moments, both quarterbacks have doubled as MVP candidates during their young careers. I still believe in Wentz as a possible top-five presence. Dak Prescott has tangibly exceeded his fourth-round pedigree and sits in line for a hefty second contract. Paxton Lynch was a chilling whiff for Denver, while Cody Kessler is embedded as a milquetoast backup in Jacksonville.
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)
Could this group wind up atop the heap? Too early to tell. The future in Cleveland appears bright with Baker Mayfield, who took over the QB1 job in Week 3 and gave the Browns something they lacked for two-plus decades: a whirlwind under center. Mayfield set a league-wide rookie record with 27 touchdowns through the air, while giving Cleveland a confident, aura-shifting leader at the most important position. I'm putting this class above the 2016 crop because I'd have no problem taking Mayfield over Goff or Wentz. In Florham Park, Sam Darnold feels primed for a breakout year under new coach Adam Gase after authoring a string of starry late-season starts as a tough-minded rookie. Lamar Jackson used his dynamic ground artistry to lead the transformed Ravens to the playoffs, while the draft's two Joshes -- Josh Allen and Josh Rosen -- own bright futures in the NFL. The Steelers, meanwhile, are in love with Big Ben backup Mason Rudolph, adding to a class with more potential than any we've seen in years.
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)
Undrafted: Taysom Hill, Nick Mullens
A rising class that could wind up near the top of this list before long. Patrick Mahomes is a raging star as the league's reigning MVP, while Deshaun Watson just earned his first Pro Bowl bid. These are the faces of pro football's future, while Mitchell Trubisky showed moments of promise under Bears coach Matt Nagy. All three tugged their teams into January and should be expected to do the same in 2019. Of the rest, C.J. Beathard has shown the most potential, while Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer loom as developing projects.
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)
Undrafted: Caleb Hanie
The 2008 group gave us Matt Ryan -- two years removed from an MVP campaign -- and Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XLVII with an insane month of pristine postseason play. Flacco is onto his second team in Denver, but both quarterbacks have been durable starters who give their clubs a solution at the most important position in sports. 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 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: David 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)
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 left the game as one of the NFL's most reliable quarterbacks. Two years later, he's quickly become television's premier color analyst. No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer, meanwhile, proved to be well worth the selection, with some of the best work of his 14-year career coming later on with Arizona. Byron Leftwich gave the Jaguars 44 up-and-down starts, while Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman were largely a ponderous annoyance. That said, 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 Michael 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. Brees, meanwhile, serves as a constant reminder that shorter quarterbacks aren't always a minus. In his case, Brees has operated as a top-three superstar ever since 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. Feely is remembered as a mere patch in Miami.
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 pair of long-range starters in Alex Smith and 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. That chance to sit and learn helped Rodgers, who went on to win a Super Bowl and emerge as one of the most talented quarterbacks of all time. With what we know now, Rodgers should have gone ahead of Smith -- and all humans -- but Smith's commendable career record of 94-66-1 is something plenty of passers would die for. The question is whether Smith will ever play again following last autumn's ghastly leg injury. Beyond the big two, this class offered unusual longevity. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a stopgap and Matt Cassel draws snickers, but good luck finding better value from quarterbacks picked in the seventh round. This group also gave us Derek Anderson and the whirlwind known as Kyle Orton. It's crazy to think the Redskins were forced to settle for Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers went to Green Bay.
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)
Undrafted: Case Keenum
Had all gone right, this class had a chance to be remembered as an equal to the all-star cast from 2004 -- maybe even 1983. Andrew Luck was a plug-and-play Pro Bowler who surged back to life last season after missing all of 2017 due to shoulder surgery. Luck still has a shot to finish as one of the game's true greats. A troubling case, Robert Griffin III was the most exciting quarterback in football during his rookie campaign. A knee injury changed his trajectory forever, but Griffin has caught on as a backup in Baltimore. The Redskins missed on RGIII, but ultimately found a starter in the same draft by nabbing Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. Who knew he'd become the prize of free agency in 2018 and Minnesota's hope under center? 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 Trophy in Year 2. Few players in the league are relied on more than Seattle's do-everything starter -- today the richest man in pro football. Toss in Ryan Tannehill and Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles, 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: 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 652 regular-season starts also tell the tale of ironman passers who can be counted on to dress game after game and year after year by their teams. The Chargers and Giants will always be linked together because of the trade that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. The swap worked out for both clubs, while Pittsburgh's Big Ben -- a college quarterback from Miami of Ohio -- has tortured the Browns for selecting tight end Kellen Winslow II sixth overall instead of him. The first round also included a titanic bust in J.P. Losman, but third-rounder Matt Schaub is still active as a low-level backup for the Falcons. Shame to those of you who don't recall the feats of Matt Mauck. If this class came around every year, the league would have too many quality passers.