By Paul Wanecski
The Buffalo Bills are staring at a problem at the Quarterback position. It seems eminent that they will trade up in the draft into the top 5 picks but how far will they really need to go? Reviewing recent history, lets look at the best quarterbacks ever drafted by selection and see if the Bills can afford to wait to get their guy or if they need to rocket to into the top 2 selections.
The idea here is simple; looking at quarterbacks by draft selection since the 1983 NFL draft. We will review who else was picked in that spot in other years. Some players (we will use Carson Wentz as an example) simply don’t have enough time in the NFL to have determined if they are the greatest quarterback drafted in the slot, but again, all is up for debate.
1st Overall- Peyton Manning – Little surprise here. Since 1983, Peyton outranks all other QBs taken at the first overall spot. He continues to be the measuring stick of what a QB taken at the first overall spot should be. This one was easy.
2nd Overall- Donovan McNabb – Alright, this one is a tough sell. QBs have gone fast and furious in the top 3 selections in recent years, however, Mariota and Wentz simply don’t have enough time to say that they are going to be better than Donovan McNabb was. McNabb is clearly a far drop off from Manning and believe it or not, even picked in the 2nd spot, he was still not the first QB off the board. He was drafted after Tim Couch.
3rd Overall- Matt Ryan – Steve McNair was also drafted in the 3rd overall spot but we have to give this one to Matty Ice but that isn’t without a solid case for McNair. Yes, he has been inconsistent. Ryan was also the first QB off the board in his draft and I think Atlanta will tell you he has been worth it even given his faults.
4th Overall- Philip Rivers – He is the lone wolf here. Rivers was the second QB off the board behind Eli Manning. Rivers has had a very solid NFL career and will garner Hall of Fame support after he retires.
5th Overall- Mark Sanchez – Yes, believe it or not, Mark Sanchez is the best QB taken at the 5th selection since 1983. His only other real competition was Kerry Collins. I know this is very debatable but when you step back and look, would you really have wanted either knowing what you know now? Sanchez was selected behind Matthew Stafford
6th Overall- Trent Dilfer – He has a Super Bowl ring and David Klingler (also drafted 6th overall) does not. It isn’t really that big a debate. It hurts to read but it’s the truth. Dilfer was draft behind Heath Shuler
7th Overall- Byron Leftwich – Yeah, so this list went downhill fast, didn’t it? In the 7th spot it was between Leftwich and Andre Ware. While Ware has a Heisman Trophy to his name, Leftwich was simply the more successful NFL player. Leftwich was drafted behind Carson Palmer.
8th Overall- Ryan Tannehill – Again, this is not a joke. Would you rather give this to Jake Locker, because that is your only other option at this point. Tannehill was a member of the Andrew Luck and RGIII draft, being third off the board.
9th Overall – No One – Literally no one. The last QB selected 9th overall was Marty Dormes in 1969 by the San Diego Chargers.
10th Overall – Blaine Gabbert – It is between him and Matt Leinart, so what would you do? Gabbert has at least been able to stay in the league. He was also a member of the Cam Newton, Jake Locker draft, falling third in that order.
As you can see, if you want to go up in the draft, you need to go WAY up. Most of these quarterbacks were the second ones off the board, so this isn’t a testament to telling you the Buffalo Bills need to trade all the way to the first selection…but you can see what waiting looks like.