With the 2014 NFL draft scheduled to take place on May 8th, 2014, most of the focus has been on where Johnny Manziel is going to be drafted. There is an obsession with quarterbacks in the NFL. It is rightly regarded as the most important position in football and the main foundation behind a successful team. Each year teams hope to find the next Peyton Manning or John Elway in the draft. In recent years there have been very good quarterbacks at the top end of the draft like Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Conversely teams can end up drafting players like JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf and send their franchises into a tailspin.
While obtaining a franchise quarterback in the first round can be a good thing, it does not necessarily lead to the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl title. Since 2000, six of the fourteen Super Bowls have been won by quarterbacks selected outside the first round. This trend extends back all the way to 1980, with almost half the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks selected outside the first round. Since 1980, there have been three quarterbacks that have won at least three Super Bowls and two of them were selected outside the first two rounds of the NFL draft with Troy Aikman being the exception. These numbers reveal that finding a quarterback capable of winning a Super Bowl is possible in the later rounds of the draft. This list shows the last ten non-first round quarterbacks to have won a Super Bowl in chronological order. Steve Young was omitted from this list even though he was not a first round pick. That is because Young was a first overall pick in the supplemental draft since he was already playing in the USFL.
10. Joe Theismann – 1982 Season
The Washington Redskins have won three Superbowl titles with three different starting quarterbacks. Two of those quarterbacks were not first round picks, the first of which was Joe Theismann. Theismann was a fourth round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1971 and was the 99th player selected. He played three seasons in the CFL before joining the Redskins in 1974. Theismann went on to play in two Pro Bowls and was the Associated Press MVP in 1983. In 1982, Theismann led the Redskins to their first Superbowl title. The following year he guided the team back to the big game but they were defeated by the Los Angeles Raiders.
9. Joe Montana – 1981, 1984, 1988 and 1989 Seasons
Joe Montana has the joint most Super Bowls for a quarterback in NFL history (along with Terry Bradshaw). He is considered one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in NFL history. He has won three Super Bowl MVP trophies and was the head of the great San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980s. In his four Super Bowl appearances, Montana threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was the Associated Press MVP twice. Yet Montana was only a third round pick out of Notre Dame and was the 82nd player selected in the 1979 NFL draft. Montana led the 49ers to consecutive Super Bowl victories in 1988 and 1989 and the team was on the verge of making their 3rd straight appearance until they were defeated by the New York Giants. The Giants ended up winning the 1990 Super Bowl and were also led by another non-first round quarterback who is next on the list.
8. Jeff Hostetler – 1990 Season
Jeff Hostetler was also a third round draftee and was selected 59th overall by the New York Giants in 1984. Hostetler was a back-up quarterback for the Giants and was on the team that won the 1986 Super Bowl. In seven years with the Giants, Hostetler had only thrown 109 passes. That all changed in 1990 when the Giants incumbent starter Phil Simms was injured late in the season. Hostetler took over and won the 1990 Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills, completing 20 0f 32 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. Hostetler’s resume is not as impressive as most on this list, but he did make the 1994 Pro Bowl as a member of the Los Angeles Raiders and finished his career with a 4-1 playoff record.
7. Mark Rypien – 1991 Season
Mark Rypien won the Super Bowl in 1991 making it four consecutive seasons where a non-first round quarterback won the Super Bowl. Rypien was a sixth round selection of the Washington Redskins in the 1986 draft and was the 146th player selected. Rypien was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Redskins and led the team to a 14-2 regular season record in 1991. He was known for being an extremely accurate deep ball thrower and in 1991, he threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Their season culminated in a 37-24 Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills with Rypien being named the MVP of the game. Rypien who was born in Calgary, Alberta was the first non-American to win the award.
6. Brett Favre – 1996 Season
Brett Favre was a second round selection of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 draft. He was the 33rd overall selection and would go on to be one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks. Favre holds numerous passing records including the all-time records for touchdowns, yards and consecutive starts. He was named MVP three consecutive years between 1995-1997 and led the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowl appearances in that interval. He won the Super Bowl in 1996 and in that game Favre completed 14 of 27 passes for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns and also ran for another score. Despite scoring three touchdowns in the game, Favre was not named MVP of the game, an honor that went to kick returner Desmond Howard. The Packers made a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance the following season before losing to the Denver Broncos.
5. Kurt Warner – 1999 Season
Kurt Warner was not even drafted by an NFL team. Warner instead worked as a stock boy at a grocery store and eventually started playing in the Arena Football league. In 1998, Warner was signed by the St Louis Rams. He would quarterback one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history and be named Associated Press MVP on two occasions. Warner finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals and led the franchise to a Super Bowl where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a last minute drive. That was Warner’ third Super Bowl appearance and second defeat. Warner won the Super Bowl and MVP honors in 1999 when the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans. In 2001, Warner and the Rams were heavy Super Bowl favorites but were upset by another non-first round quarterback, Tom Brady.
4. Tom Brady – 2001, 2003 and 2004 Seasons
Tom Brady‘s accomplishments in the NFL are as impressive as any quarterback in history. He has been named MVP on two occasions. He has started in a record five Super Bowl games with three victories in the big game. Brady was a sixth round selection of the New England Patriots and was the 199th player taken in the 2000 NFL draft. He became a starter due to an injury suffered by Patriots incumbent starter Drew Bledsoe. He led the Patriots to three Super Bowl victories in four seasons between 2001-2004 and led them to an 18-0 record entering Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. He is one of football’s greatest winners and holds the best winning percentage amongst quarterbacks in NFL history.
3. Brad Johnson – 2002 Season
Amidst the New England Patriots winning three titles in four years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rode their great defense to a Super Bowl victory. Their starting quarterback was NFL journeyman, Brad Johnson. Johnson was a 9th round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1994 draft and was the 227th player selected. While the defense received all the plaudits for the Bucs in 2002, Johnson had a fine season and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He led the NFC in passer rating and set a franchise record for lowest interception percentage. Johnson only played one more year with the Bucs before he was released by the team and returned to the Minnesota Vikings.
2. Drew Brees – 2009 Season
In the second round of the 2001 draft, the San Diego Chargers drafted Drew Brees and made him the 32nd overall player selected. Brees had a solid career with the Chargers making one Pro Bowl appearance before being replaced by Philip Rivers. In 2006, he signed a free agent deal with the New Orleans Saints and has proceeded to become one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He has made seven Pro Bowls with the Saints and set numerous passing records. He has also become THE prominent sports figure in New Orleans as the Saints revival helped the city recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, he led the Saints to a franchise best 13-3 record that eventually resulted in them defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.
1. Russell Wilson – 2013 Season
Super Bowl XLVIII was won by quarterback Russell Wilson who is famous for being short and a third round pick. Wilson was the 75th pick of the 2012 draft. In his first two NFL seasons, Wilson has made two Pro Bowls and won a record 24 regular season games. He tied Peyton Manning‘s record for touchdown passes for a rookie with 26 in 2012. In the Super Bowl, Wilson threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns and became the second black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. If his career follows the current trajectory, Wilson has a chance of joining Tom Brady and Joe Montana as one of the multiple Super Bowl winning quarterbacks not drafted in the first round.