Bucs and Stacking the Odds on the First Overall Pick as Quarterback

NFL NEWS: Tampa Bay Bucs

Whether or not the Bucs draft FSU’s Jameis Winston as first overall pick, here are some things to keep in mind on the chances of his draft standing and position.

There are 20 quarterbacks selected first overall in NFL draft history since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Eight have been on the winning side of Super Bowls, six have lead their teams to winning the championship, and five have won it multiple times.

Here is the career breakdown of the 20 quarterbacks.

Name Year Drafted Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Playoff Games Started Super Bowl Titles
Terry Bradshaw 1970 51.9 27,989 212 210 19 4
Jim Plunkett 1971 52.5 25,882 164 198 10 2
Steve Bartkowski 1975 55.9 24,124 156 144 4 0
John Elway 1983 56.9 51,475 300 226 21 2
Vinny Testaverde 1987 56.5 46,233 275 267 5 0
Troy Aikman 1989 61.5 32,942 165 141 15 3
Jeff George 1990 57.9 27,602 154 113 3 0
Drew Bledsoe 1993 57.2 44,611 251 206 6 1
Peyton Manning* 1998 65.5 69,691 530 234 24 1
Tim Couch 1999 59.8 11,131 64 67 0 0
Michael Vick* 2001 56.1 22,093 131 87 5 0
David Carr 2002 59.7 14,452 65 71 0 1
Carson Palmer* 2003 62.6 35,365 224 155 2 0
Eli Manning* 2004 59.0 39,755 259 185 11 2
Alex Smith* 2005 60.4 20,858 122 76 3 0
JaMarcus Russell 2007 52.1 4,083 18 23 0 0
Matthew Stafford* 2009 59.6 21,714 131 85 2 0
Sam Bradford* 2010 58.6 11,065 59 38 0 0
Cam Newton* 2011 59.5 14,426 82 54 3 0
Andrew Luck* 2012 58.6 12,957 86 43 6 0
*Active Player


Terry_Bradshaw_SteelersWhen you break down the numbers, the completion percentage averages of the 20 quarterbacks is 58.1. The expectations of quarterbacks of then compared to now are definitely higher when you consider that four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw was accurate only 52 percent of the time. The last first overall pick as QB to go to the Super Bowl in Peyton Manning, is nearly 15 percent better than Bradshaw with a 65.5 percent. Not since the draft class of Eli Manning in 2004 has a quarterback of that status won a Super Bowl. In fact, the last three Super Bowl winners with first overall pick as QB are the Manning brothers (2006, 2007, 2011).

Let’s look at some of the underachievers.

Bucs_David_Carr_2013David Carr and Tim Couch were on par with the others as far as accuracy just falling below 60 percent, but their situations fell on the way side with limited success as the inaugural Houston Texans quarterback and the 1999 re-emergence of the Cleveland Browns.

Carr was 24-56 as Texans starter and never had a winning season. He bounced around with the Carolina Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. He won a ring in 2011 as Eli Manning backup in Super Bowl XLVI, which ironically enough was the only year in his career he never played a single snap in the regular season.

Couch, on the other hand, despite helping to lead the Browns to a playoff appearance in 2002, never played another regular season game following the 2003 season. He did draw interest from multiple teams through 2007 but failed to make the final roster each and every time.

JaMarcus Russell remains the one true anomaly of squandered potential. Russell’s accuracy is barely better than Bradshaw with a 52.1 compared to a 51.9. While Russell only played 31 games and started in 25 with a record of 7-18, Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with a 107-51 record. Maybe who you are surrounded with matters all the much more. Despite tryouts with multiple teams in 2010 and 2013, Russell has still yet found another team.

Sam BradfordSam Bradford never achieved a winning record in his five years with the St. Louis Rams with a 18-30-1 record, but now has a second chance with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles following a trade.

So in observing the trends of first overall picks.

  • You had one decade where a first overall quarterback was pick for all but two years (2006, 2008).
  • About 80 percent of the quarterbacks you can say had successful careers whether if it’s from winning or sustaining numerous seasons within the league.
  • You have about an 85 percent chance they’ll at least be starting a playoff game and a 40 percent chance they can be on the roster to win a Super Bowl.
  • You have a 70 percent chance (or 14 of 20) your quarterback will at least throw for 20,000 yards and more than 100 touchdowns. A 50 percent chance for at least 25,000 yards.
  • Seven quarterbacks exceeded 200 career passing touchdowns and only two have reached 300 and beyond (Elway and P. Manning).
  • Teams with used first overall pick on a quarterback: Indianapolis Colts – 3 (George, P. Manning, Luck), New England Patriots – 2 (Plunkett, Bledsoe), Atlanta Falcons – 2 (Bartkowski, Vick), Pittsburgh Steelers – 1 (Bradshaw), Denver Broncos – 1 (Elway), Dallas Cowboys – 1 (Aikman), New York Giants – 1 (E. Manning), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1 (Testaverde), Cleveland Browns – 1 (Couch), Houston Texans – 1 (Carr), Cincinnati Bengals – 1 (Palmer), San Francisco 49ers – 1 (Smith), Oakland Raiders – 1 (Russell), Detroit Lions – 1 (Stafford), St. Louis Rams – 1 (Bradford), Carolina Panthers – 1 (Newton). This means only half the teams in the league have picked a quarterback as the first overall pick in the draft.

We’ll find out April 30 if the Bucs will join the Falcons and the Patriots as the only franchises to use the first overall pick on a QB twice in their franchise history.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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