Lower-round QBs face long odds to make it in NFL

Mon May 3 4:47pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

In this Jan. 1, 2021, file photo, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) throws a pass in the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Alabama in Arlington, Texas. Perhaps the best-known collegian selected in the fourth round Saturday was Book. And Book went somewhere with a QB opening: New Orleans, which saw career passing leader Drew Brees retire. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman, File)


In this March 5, 2021, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond watches the competition at a mini combine organized by House of Athlete in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Minnesota Vikings have drafted Mond, with their first of four third-round picks in the NFL football draft. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)


The five teams that took quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft head into the offseason program full of optimism that they have found the franchise cornerstone that will lead to great success for the next decade.

History indicates that at least a couple of those teams will be looking for new answers sooner than they hoped with the hit rate on successful first-round quarterbacks being no better than a coin toss, something the New York Jets know all too well after taking Zach Wilson second overall just three years after making Sam Darnold the third overall pick.

The chances that the five teams that selected quarterbacks after round one found a keeper is considerably smaller based on the recent track records of those picks.

The days of first-round snubs going onto superstar careers such as Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, or becoming solid long-term starters such as Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Green and Mark Brunell are a thing of the past.

Since a stretch in 2011-12 when Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins and Colin Kaepernick fashioned successful careers after being passed over in round one, only a rare few have made it since.

Of the 70 quarterbacks taken after round 1 from 2013-20, including 26 who went in rounds two through four, only Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo have become successful starters.

The jury is still out on a few others such as Jalen Hurts, picked in the second round last year by Philadelphia, and 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock in Denver, but that history doesn't bode well for this year's class.

Five quarterbacks were drafted after the first round this year, matching the fewest taken after round one in the common draft era that started in 1967. As more teams elevate quarterbacks up their draft boards to take them in the first round, the quality in the later rounds has dropped.

There was speculation that a record-tying six quarterbacks could go in the first round this year with Trevor Lawrence, Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones near locks. The next to go off the board ended up being Florida's Kyle Trask, who went to Tampa Bay with the final pick of the second round.

Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Stanford's Davis Mills then went to Minnesota and Houston respectively with back-to-back picks early in the third round, Notre Dame's Ian Book went to New Orleans in the fourth and Indianapolis took Sam Ehlinger out of Texas in the sixth round.

With the possible exception of Mills who could be rushed into play depending on the status of Deshaun Watson with the Texans, the other young quarterbacks are behind entrenched veterans and will be given time to develop.

''This is a great place for a quarterback to come and be groomed,'' said Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht, who won the Super Bowl last season with Tom Brady. ''To be playing with the G.O.A.T. and you have some great, great coaching.''

Trask, who started 22 games in college, will get to watch the 43-year-old Brady and learn from coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Assistants Clyde Christensen and Tom Moore, who have helped develop several young passers in their decades in the league, also will provide a big help.

Mond has much more college experience than Trask with 44 starts at Texas A&M, but will have time in Minnesota to learn behind Kirk Cousins, who is under contract for two more seasons.

''With a young guy you try to track that as they come out whether they're spiraling up or spiraling down and we felt he was on the right trajectory and has a lot of upside to develop,'' general manager Rick Spielman said.

Mills might not get the luxury of waiting depending on how Watson's situation in Houston plays out. Watson's future with the team is in question after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them. Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, leaving his future with the team up in the air.

Even before all that Watson had been unhappy with the direction of the team and requested a trade earlier this year.

The Texans also have Tyrod Taylor and general manager Nick Caserio says he and first-year coach David Culley will see how things play out before determining how quickly Mills plays.

''It's not going to be what I think or my decision or what David (Culley) thinks,'' Caserio said. ''It's going to be the players are ultimately going to determine who plays, what their role is, and how big or small that is.''

Book joins a crowded quarterback competition in New Orleans as the Saints try to replace Brees. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are contending for the starting role and coach Sean Payton said it ''would be a little bit of a jump'' for Book to join that mix.

But Book has plenty of experience after starting 35 games at Notre Dame.

''We're not going to ever put a ceiling on what we think a player might be able to do,'' Payton said.

Ehlinger was picked by the Colts a year after they took developmental quarterback Jacob Eason in the fourth round. Eason didn't play as a rookie and the two will compete for the backup spot behind Carson Wentz, who was acquired in a trade from Philadelphia earlier in the offseason.

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

Interview with a Champ

Player Notes
Chad Kelly May 10 11:10pm ET

The Green Bay Packers will bring in quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert to this weekend's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Benkert went undrafted out of Virginia and spent the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mainly on the practice squad. Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, was taken with the final pick of the 2017 draft by the Denver Broncos, but he washed out of Denver after two seasons. He's been with the Indianapolis Colts the last two years but was released. Both players could become camp arms with upside further down the depth chart if they sign in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love, last year's first-round pick, are the only signal-callers currently on the roster.

From RotoBaller

Davis Mills May 10 11:10pm ET

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said there is no pressure for rookie quarterback Davis Mills to perform in a hurry despite the turmoil surrounding Deshaun Watson and more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. "No different than any other player," Caserio said of the timeline of bringing along the first-year signal-caller. "Bring him in, teach him our system, teach him our terminology, take it one step at a time." It's unclear what will happen with Watson as the legal proceedings play out, but the Texans weren't looking to trade him, despite his public request, before his legal issues arose. Since then, trade chatter surrounding Watson has quieted down. The three-time Pro Bowler could remain with the Texans in 2021, but wherever he's playing, he could be facing a lengthy suspension as well.

From RotoBaller

Nate Orchard May 10 4:13pm ET

Tennessee Titans TE Parker Hesse, LB Matthew Orzech and LB Nate Orchard were waived Monday, May 10.

From TheHuddle

Chad Kelly May 10 3:33pm ET

Free-agent QB Kurt Benkert (Falcons) and QB Chad Kelly (Colts) will participate in the Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources.

From TheHuddle

Dede Westbrook May 10 2:33pm ET

Free-agent WR Dede Westbrook (Jaguars) has had preliminary conversations with the Cincinnati Bengals.

From TheHuddle

Curtis Samuel May 10 2:10pm ET

The Washington Football Team signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal this offseason, reuniting him with head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner from their time together with the Carolina Panthers. Rivera drafted Samuel in 2017, and Turner was the quarterbacks coach in Carolina from 2018-2019. "You can do a lot of different things with him," Turner said. "He's only 24 years old, I think he's just scratching the surface on what he's capable of." Samuel broke out in 2020, catching a career-high 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns, adding 200 rushing yards and two more TDs. Samuel will be the No. 2 behind Terry McLaurin and will be an ideal fit for this offense. He'll be a low-end WR2 with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him passes.

From RotoBaller

Christian Covington May 10 2:00pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers signed free-agent defensive tackle Christian Covington to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to his agent. Covington was a sixth-round pick by the Houston Texans out of Rice in 2015. He's also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals in his six NFL seasons. Covington started 14 of the 16 games he played in for the Bengals last season and was on the field for 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The 27-year-old had 39 tackles (14 solo) and one QB hit. In his NFL career, Covington has 132 tackles (15 for loss), 20 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and 8.5 sacks in 82 games (29 starts).

From RotoBaller

Tamba Hali May 10 2:00pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs signed former linebacker Tamba Hali to a one-day contract on Monday so he can officially retire with the organization. The six-time Pro Bowler played with the Chiefs for his entire 12-year career. The 37-year-old last played in the NFL in 2017, but he made the Pro Bowl with Kansas City in five straight seasons from 2011 to 2015. He was the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft and finished his illustrious career with 596 tackles (105 for loss), 159 QB hits, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), 16 passes defensed, 33 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and 89.5 sacks in 177 regular season games (157 starts).

From RotoBaller

Jordyn Brooks May 10 1:50pm ET

Ex-Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin has drawn interest from multiple teams and should find a home soon, according to sources informed of the situation. The fifth-rounder in 2018 appeared in 46 games for the Seahawks, recording one sack, six QB hits and 25 tackles. Griffin's twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, signed a big deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. The twins played together at UCF and in Seattle, so Griffin may be looking to join his brother in Jacksonville. His new club could be looking at him as a full-time pass-rusher after he played off the ball in Seattle. The 25-year-old became the odd-man out in Seattle after the team added Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven to the position in recent seasons.

From RotoBaller

Carson Wentz May 10 1:40pm ET

Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher is signing a one-year, $9.4 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 will now be quarterback Carson Wentz's blind-side protector in 2021. The 30-year-old tore his right Achilles before the Super Bowl last year and was cut by KC. The Colts won't rush Fisher back, though, so there's a chance that he's not ready to play until early October. Coming out of this year's NFL draft, the left tackle position was still a big area of need for the Colts, but this signing takes care of that and makes their offensive line even more elite. It's excellent news as Wentz tries to bounce back from a disastrous final season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. It's also great news for second-year running back Jonathan Taylor.

From RotoBaller

Antwaun Woods May 10 1:40pm ET

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, who was waived last week, is visiting the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. Woods, a former undrafted free agent out of USC, played two seasons with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Cowboys in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 310-pounder has recorded 83 tackles (25 solo), four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one pass defensed and two fumble recoveries in 40 career games (32 starts) with the Titans and Cowboys. Woods helped spark Dallas' midseason improvement on defense last year when he was moved into the starting lineup, and he finished with 23 tackles (seven solo), one sack and two QB pressures in 14 games (seven starts) in 2020. He'd be a rotational nose tackle for Indy if he were to sign.

From RotoBaller

Tamba Hali May 10 1:13pm ET

Free-agent LB Tamba Hali (Chiefs) signed a one-day contract with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, May 10, so he can retire as a member of the organization.

From TheHuddle

Christian Covington May 10 1:13pm ET

Free-agent DE Christian Covington (Bengals) agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Chargers Monday, May 10. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Blaine Gabbert May 10 12:33pm ET

Free-agent QB Blaine Gabbert (Buccaneers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, May 10.

From TheHuddle

Aaron Rodgers May 10 11:33am ET

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could realistically land with the Denver Broncos, who have the second-most salary cap space in football.

Fantasy Spin: Rodgers' fantasy value will be about the same wherever he calls signals next season. Denver's thin air can be brutal on a body, and Rodgers has a lengthy injury history. That would be the only concern for the upper-middle QB1.

From TheHuddle

Cole Beasley May 9 11:33pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley leads all receivers with 180 catches over the last three seasons while lined up in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Lockett May 9 11:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett has amassed 31 catches of at least 15 yards out of the slot since the start of the 2019 season - tied for the most in the NFL over that span - according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle