Find Your Franchise Quarterback, Part 1 (2012-2014)

This is Part 1 of a series of rambling posts intended to answer the question, “What happens when an NFL team tries to find its franchise quarterback?”  For background, read the introduction.


Blake Bortles, 3rd overall – Jacksonville

Poor Blake Bortles is the guy that triggered this whole thing. In response to Eric’s (@illustr8r‘s) tweet that “If he’s the guy, he’s the guy regardless of draft position.” I wrote,

There isn’t much more to say about it other than MAYBE you want to give Bortles a 4th year. I guess the Jaguars have to, but they must be thinking by now that they’ve made a huge mistake. Bortles was dead last in QBR as a rookie, improved to 24th in his second year, but was 28th in 2016. He may yet figure it all out, but the investment of the third overall pick has netted the Jaguars no gains in the win column.

Result: 3 seasons as starter, 0 playoff appearances

Johnny Manziel, 22nd overall – Cleveland

Manziel is no longer in the National Football League.

Result: 0 seasons as starter, 0 playoff appearances

Teddy Bridgewater, 32nd overall – Minnesota

As a 32nd overall pick and the third quarterback chosen in this draft, it’s somewhat of a stretch to call his situation one of “finding your quarterback”. But the Vikings did trade up into this slot to get him, so I do count this as a case of identifying your potential franchise quarterback and making sure you get him. Bridgewater by the numbers was playing passably well in his second year and led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2015. His grade is incomplete due to the injury he suffered prior to the 2016 season.

Result: 2 seasons as starter, 1 playoff appearance (0-1)


E.J. Manuel, 16th overall – Buffalo

2013 was a terrible draft for quarterbacks. Buffalo traded down and took Manuel. He started for the Bills as a rookie but by the next season he was benched for Kyle Orton. He has been pretty much mothballed ever since, making spot starts here and there that have served to only remind everyone that he’s not even backup material.

Result: 1 seasons as starter, 0 playoff appearances.


Andrew Luck, 1st overall – Indianapolis

There was an Andrew Luck in this draft! The Colts took him, and he took what remained of the Peyton Manning-era Colts to the playoffs in his first three seasons. However, since then they’ve gone 8-8 in the last two years. So: memo to all the crappy teams out there. Even if there IS an Andrew Luck in a draft class, your team will still suck if you don’t surround him with talent.

Result: 5 seasons as starter, 3 playoff appearances (3-3)

Robert Griffin III, 2nd overall – Washington

The Redskins gave up an absolute load to take Griffin at number two. They certainly identified their Franchise Quarterback and did what it took to get him. The Maizeball brother lit the league on fire as a rookie but got injured, fell out of favor in Washington, tried to resurrect his career with the Browns, suffered another injury, &c &c.  By the way, if you’re keeping track, this is the second guy on this list who’s started at quarterback for the Browns that they’ve needed to replace.

Result: 2 seasons as starter, 1 playoff appearance (0-1)

Ryan Tannehill, 8th overall – Miami 

After Bortles, Tannehill is my second go-to case study for the “Find your Quarterback” game so many NFL teams have to play. The Dolphins were coming off a couple of 7-win seasons of Chad Henne followed by a 6-win campaign with backup Matt Moore filling in after a season-ending injury to Henne. These and several seasons of mediocre quarterbacking prior to that stretch led the Dolphins to take Tannehill early in the first round. Both Tannehill and the Dolphins have been consistently below average since. In 2016 the Dolphins made their first playoff appearance with Tannehill as starter, although, he suffered a knee injury late in the season that kept him out of their wild card game against the Steelers. While he had career highs in completion percentage (67.1), yards per attempt (7.7), and passer rating (93.5), he found himself 24th out of 30 qualified players in QBR. I see Tannehill as occupying what I call the Alex Smith tier; you’d need to put together an absolute monster of a supporting cast around the guy, otherwise you may make some noise here and there, but will ultimately be exposed as fraudulent.

Result: 5 seasons as starter, 1 playoff appearance (0-1)

Brandon Weeden, 22nd overall – Cleveland

Weeden, otherwise known as “the key acquisition in the Julio Jones trade,” is now 33(!) years old. He is not long for this league.

Result: 1 seasons as starter, 0 playoff appearances

Final Results from ’12-’14:

8 quarterbacks taken in the first round. 1.5 legitimate NFL starters (Luck, half of Tannehill). 1 (Manziel) no longer in the league and 2 on their way out (Manuel, Weeden)


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