The 5: Most recent QBs selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft
A common theme has emerged as of late when looking at most of the recent mock drafts out there.
Ever since his favorable measurements at the NFL Combine, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has become the overwhelming favorite for who the Cardinals will take with the first pick in this April’s NFL Draft. This is despite the fact that the team still has Josh Rosen, last year’s No. 10 overall pick, on the roster.
It remains to be seen whether the Cardinals will pull the trigger on Murray, but in the case that they do, it may be worthwhile to go back and look at some of the more recent examples of signal-callers taken at the top draft spot.
Here are the last five quarterbacks picked at No. 1 overall, and how their careers have gone so far:
2018: Baker Mayfield – Browns
Mayfield, Murray’s former college teammate at Oklahoma, was the most recent QB taken with the first pick in the draft, and his rookie year went about as well as the Browns could’ve hoped.
Mayfield took over for Tyrod Taylor during the middle of Cleveland’s Week 3 game against the Jets last year and quickly led them to their first win in 635 days. He looked a little shaky in his first few starts, but he improved mightily after the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley following their loss in Week 8.
From that point on, Mayfield completed at least 65 percent of his passes in six of his last eight games and threw at least three touchdowns in four of those games. He finished the season with 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 3,725 passing yards and a completion percentage of 63.8 percent.
Most importantly, though, Mayfield was a key contributor in the Browns’ quick turnaround. The Browns had a 7-7 record in games that Mayfield played in after not winning a single game the year prior, and the rookie QB was able to engineer three fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives during his time at the helm.
The Browns look to be on the upswing, and their selection of Mayfield last year is a big reason why.
2016: Jared Goff – Rams
Heading into the 2016 draft, the Rams wanted to do two things: find their franchise QB and make a big splash as their first move after heading back to Los Angeles. As a result, they traded up from the No. 15 pick all the way to the top, where they selected Goff out of California.
The hype around Goff and the Rams was real, but for a while, the pick looked to be a complete disaster. Goff lost all seven games he started during his rookie year and finished the season with an abysmal completion percentage of 54.6 percent to go along with just five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Things all changed the following season, though. The Rams hired offensive mastermind Sean McVay in place of Jeff Fisher, surrounded Goff with weapons such as Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, and shored up a notoriously shaky offensive line with veterans such as Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan.
The results soon followed, as Goff quickly blossomed into one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, averaging 4,246 yards, 30 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 63.6 percent over the last two years. He made the Pro Bowl in both seasons, and led the Rams to a 24-7 regular season record and a berth in Super Bowl LIII, albeit a losing one.
Despite this loss, the Rams are still in a great position moving forward, and Goff looks ready to take another step up the quarterback ladder in 2019.
2015: Jameis Winston – Buccaneers
The Buccaneers headed into the 2015 draft with a huge hole at quarterback and had their choice of two Heisman winners in Florida State’s Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota with the No. 1 pick. They ultimately went with Winston despite his numerous off-the-field issues at Florida State, and the results have been very hit or miss.
Winston made the Pro Bowl his rookie season by throwing for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns, but has seemingly plateaued in his three seasons since. His yardage and touchdown numbers have still there for the most part (his 4,090 passing yards and 28 touchdowns ranked twelfth and seventh respectively in 2016), but his 58 interceptions and 38 fumbles since his debut prove that he has been one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the entire league.
Next season might be Winston’s best chance to fulfill his potential, as the Buccaneers brought in his longtime mentor and former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to be their head coach. Arians has a history of working well with quarterbacks, so if Winston can’t show improvements under him, he may be looking for a job somewhere else.
2012: Andrew Luck – Colts
Luck was lauded as one of the best college quarterback prospects of all time when he entered the 2012 draft out of Stanford, so it was a no-brainer for the Colts to pick him at No. 1 overall as Peyton Manning’s successor.
Luck has lived up to his lofty expectations for the most part, as has become one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks during his time in the league. In his six seasons, Luck has posted averages of 3,945 passing yards and 29 touchdowns per year and has made four Pro Bowls in that span.
Luck missed all of 2017 with a shoulder injury but didn’t miss a beat in his return to action in 2018. He threw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns, which both ranked top five in the NFL, and led the Colts back to the playoffs for the fourth time in his career.
Now that Luck is back, the Colts are back to being contenders in the AFC and look set-up for the immediate future.
2011: Cam Newton – Panthers
Perhaps no quarterback has in the league has been more polarizing than Newton ever since he was drafted with the first pick out of Auburn in 2011.
Overall, he has been what the Panthers had hoped he would be, but the way he has gotten there has been a roller coaster to say the least.
Some of Newton’s seasons, like his 2015 campaign where he took home 48 of 50 votes for NFL MVP and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, have been downright brilliant. Others, like his 2016 season where he completed a lackluster 53 percent of his passes and threw only 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, have been less than ideal. This inconsistency has been present in Carolina’s records over this time, as they have alternated winning and losing records for the last seven seasons.
All in all, a career with season averages of 3,559 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 60 percent to go along with three playoff appearances is nothing to scoff at. The Panthers have to feel good about their choice, and if Newton can move past the shoulder issues that hampered him last year and find more consistency in his play, they may like it even more.