The 2014 NFL draft is approaching and there has been constant chatter regarding the many quarterbacks who are projected to be first or second round picks. Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and even lesser known Jimmy Garoppolo have all received plenty of pre-draft coverage, but history makes a case for players in the rounds that might follow.
In 1955, Johnny Unitas was picked in the 9th round of the draft, while Bart Starr had to wait for the 17th round to get selected by Green Bay. Joe Namath rocked the whole nation as an 18th round selection of the New York Jets in 1965. Roger Staubach was the the Heisman Trophy winner in 1963 and still had to wait until the 10th round to start his prolific career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Throughout history there have been quarterbacks who have made an impact in the NFL after getting passed over in the first two rounds of the draft. Questions about size, athleticism, college credentials and even arm strength have been some of the primary reasons why promising quarterbacks often slip. As the current draft approaches, it is time to take a look at the current NFL quarterbacks who have defied skepticism about their credentials, and make a case for looking a little deeper in the upcoming draft.
The legendary Tom Brady had to battle questions about his body and lack of athleticism, while the super athletic Russell Wilson was not thought to be the right NFL height. Whatever the case, many quarterbacks have achieved various levels of success in the NFL after waiting to see their names come up in positions where players often fight just to make the team.
The following is a list of the 10 best quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL who were not picked in the first two rounds. The listed teams are those that the players were members of in 2013, with the salaries they were paid.
10. Derek Anderson: 6th Round, 2005 Draft – Carolina Panthers ($555,000)
Remember Derek Anderson and the season he had for the Cleveland Browns in 2007? If you do not, you might not be alone. Anderson was the talk around town in Cleveland following his Pro Bowl season in 2007 in which he passed for 3,787 yards, while connecting on 29 touchdown passes. Anderson quickly made his presence known with a five touchdown, 121.0 passer rating in his first game as a starter for the Browns.
Since that magical season in 2007, Anderson has battled concussions and inconsistent play that have prevented him from returning to Pro Bowl form. He is now backing up Cam Newton inCarolina with all his promise he attained as a Brown quickly becoming a part of the past.
9. Colt McCoy: 3rd Round, 2010 Draft – San Francisco 49ers ($1,445,625)
Colt McCoy made a name for himself at the University of Texas where he accounted for 132 touchdowns in his four year collegiate career. McCoy had the knack of making good things happen by using his legs to extend plays, which is now starting to be highly coveted in the NFL. He started thirteen games for the Cleveland Browns in 2011, passing for 2,733 yards with 14 touchdowns. A little on the short side for an NFL quarterback at 6’1″, McCoy has had difficulty finding his way back on the field once again.
McCoy’s plight only makes some draftniks wonder if Johnny Manziel will suffer a similar fate. After a magical career in college football with a major program like Texas, McCoy now finds himself on the 49ers roster as a serviceable backup for Colin Kaepernick from relatively unknown Nevada Reno.
8. Mike Glennon – 3rd Round, 2013 Draft – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($564,375)
Mike Glennon still has plenty to prove after a rookie season with the Buccaneers where he started in 13 games and passed for 2,608 yards. Glennon was unspectacular, but did manage to throw 19 touchdown passes versus only 10 interceptions, which were pretty decent numbers for a rookie quarterback. His 83.9 passer rating was also something to note, however, Glennon’s inability to make big plays seemed to overshadow his consistency on paper.
Three and outs, and check downs will only get you so far in this league. Just ask Alex Smith, who was unceremoniously dumped by the San Francisco 49ers after leading them to an NFC Championship game. Glennon has to start making some big plays, extending drives and winning games if he wants to remain a starter in Tampa Bay and a member of this list.
7. Kyle Orton – 4th Round, 2005 Draft – Dallas Cowboys ($1,967,500)
Despite passing for 3,802 yards as a member of the Denver Broncos in 2009, Kyle Orton has had a hard time securing a spot as a starter. In the last four seasons, Orton has only started in nine NFL games. He managed to put in a memorable performance in 2013, starting for an injured Tony Romo for the Dallas Cowboys, passing for 358 yards with 2 touchdowns, in a critical loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that ended the Cowboys season. Many still thought that he played well enough to win the game.
Orton proved he still has the skills to play in the NFL with his performance in week 17 against the Eagles. With Romo coming back healthy, he is once again looking to resume his role of coming off the bench. On the right team, in the right situation, Orton could probably still do a whole lot more.
6. Ryan Fitzpatrick – 7th Round, 2005 Draft – Tennessee Titans ($2,375,000)
It is a wonder that Ryan Fitzpatrick is still in the league. The Harvard graduate was only one of two players ever who earned a perfect score of 48 on the pre-draft Wonderlich intelligence test. Instead of using his mind, Fitzpatrick has used his arm to pass for 16,790 yards and 106 touchdowns as a quarterback in the NFL. He is best known for his four seasons in Buffalo where he passed for over 11,000 yards and had 80 touchdown passes (2009-2012).
Ryan recently filled in at Tennessee (2013) for the injured Jake Locker and managed to pass for 2,454 yards, while starting nine games. He has proven to be a capable starter in this league, heading into his 10th NFL season. Not a bad career for a 7th round pick.
5. Matt Cassel – 7th Round, 2005 Draft – Minnesota Vikings ($3,700,000)
Matt Cassel had two memorable seasons, as a New England Patriot in 2008, and a Kansas City Chief in 2010. In 2008, Cassel found himself at the helm of the Patriots following an injury to starter Tom Brady in the first game of the season. He finished the season with 3,693 yards passing and a quarterback rating of 89.4, while making a name for himself throughout the league. Two seasons later with the Chiefs, Cassel passed for 3,116 yards with 27 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions, earning a quarterback rating of 93.0. In the last three years, Cassel has only started in twenty three games, losing much of that early steam.
Cassel played a significant role in all of the five Viking’s victories in 2013, earning him a new 2-year, $10 million contract. He is a proven starter who happened to have a bad season in 2012 with the Chiefs, when he threw 12 interceptions, had only 6 touchdowns, and lost 7 fumbles, while starting in only nine games.
4.Matt Schaub – 3rd Round, 2005 Draft – Houston Texans ($10,750,000)
Matt Schaub has passed for 24,254 yards in his 10-year NFL career. Schaub’s position as signal caller for the Houson Texans is tenuous at best, even though he owns a 89.8 career quarterback rating to go along with a 64.0% completion percentage, and 130 career touchdown passes. Schaub has been to two Pro Bowls and even led the NFL in passing yards with 4,770 in 2009. These are pretty impressive statistics for a guy who isn’t sure if he will even be starting in 2014.
Schaub had a tendency for throwing ill-advised passes in 2013 with an NFL record four games in a row of throwing at least one pick-six (interception returned for a touchdown). The talent laden Houston Texans disappointed all in 2013 with a dismal 2-14 record and much of the blame pointed Schaub’s way. His career numbers still put him near the top of this list.
3. Nick Foles – 3rd Round, 2011 Draft – Philadelphia Eagles ($655,880)
Many wonder how much of the Eagles’ success in 2013 can be attributed to Nick Foles or the offense that new head coach Chip Kelly brought into Philadelphia. All Foles did was post a quarterback rating of 119.2 (third best in NFL history), with a NFL record touchdown to interception ratio of 27 to 2. Foles also tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a game against the Oakland Raiders. He ended his second NFL season with a Pro Bowl selection to go along with 2,891 yards passing and his ridiculous quarterback rating.
Foles was initially never considered a perfect fit for Kelly’s offensive attack, but he has played himself into the position and has achieved results. This has left the talented Michael Vick looking for another place to call home.
2. Russell Wilson – 3rd Round, 2011 Draft – Seattle Seahawks ($681,085)
You can argue that the Seattle Seahawks win by virtue of their stingy defense and you will probably be more than half right. Regardless, Russell Wilson has quietly posted back to back seasons with a quarterback rating above 100, and has accounted for over 7,000 yards in total offense in his 32 NFL starts. In leading the Seahawks to their Super Bowl crown earlier this year, Wilson passed for 3,357 yards and ran for 539 yards, accounting for 27 total touchdowns against only 9 interceptions. Not bad at all for a guy who doesn’t even measure up to six feet.
Wilson has the determination and skills to continue to achieve success, but his work in the film room and in the community has been more than an added plus. Doing things the right way, Wilson will be in for a big payday once his rookie contract expires in a couple of years. Until then, look for the bargain-priced Wilson to continue to have success in Seattle where his contract will continue to surround him with good players until it comes time to get paid what he is truly worth.
1. Tom Brady – 6th Round, 2000 Draft – New England Patriots ($13,800,000)
Tom Brady has been on a tear ever since taking over the helm of the Patriots from the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001. Easily the best 6th round draft choice of all-time, Brady has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, while earning Pro Bowl recognition nine times. Brady has passed for 49,149 yards to go along with 359 touchdowns with only 134 interceptions. In 2007, Brady had a mind boggling 50 touchdown passes with only 8 interceptions, 4,806 yards passing, and a sizzling 117.2 quarterback rating. His play has earned him the recognition as the unforgettable face of the Patriots franchise and one of the league’s most popular stars.
Brady’s value to the league and Patriots organization was evident in 2013. Losing three of his top receiving targets from 2012, Brady still managed to lead the Patriots to a division title and 12-4 record. After waiting for 198 players to get selected in 2000, Brady continues to amaze.
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