First Round QBs: Pressure To Perform

NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Quarterback Sam Bradford of the Oklahoma Sooners holds up a St. Louis Rams jersey after he was picked number 1 overall by the Rams during the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

As we head into the Conference Championships this weekend, I heard a stat today that got me thinking.  All of the QBs left in the playoffs this season were 1st round draft picks.  How many times has that happened before?  A quick look tells you that this is the first time it has ever happened.  I looked back to 2000 to check out the break downand found out that there has always been at least 1 first round pick playing this weekend.

My question to you is, what is fair to expect of a first round quarterback?  Should that person turn around a franchise?  Do they have to make the playoffs consistently?  Win in the playoffs?  Win a Super Bowl?  With all the money currently spent on 1st round QBs, isn't it fair to expect immediate results?

44 teams have played this weekend (including this year) since 2000 and 25 of them had 1st round QBs leading them.  Of the other 19 teams, 6 had 2nd round picks, 2 had 4th round picks, 7 had 6th round picks, 1 had a 9th round pick and 3 had Undrafted Free Agents.  Only 4 first round picks took their team to more than one Championship game.  Can you name them before the jump?

  1. Donovan McNabb with 5
  2. Ben Roethlisberger with 4
  3. Peyton Manning with 3
  4. Mark Sanchez with 2

The surprising members of this list are QBs like Rex Grossman, Kerry Collins and Trent Dilfer.  I had to say to myself, were they really first round picks?

With only 4 of 15 QBs on the list having repeat trips to the Conference Championships, I have to ask do we expect too much of the first round quarterbacks?  The QBs with the most success have been the one with a team around them.  McNabb had the late, great Jim Johnson, Big Ben has the LeBeau defense and Sanchize has Rex's help to get his foot in the door.  

QBs like Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford are recent first round draft picks that have not yet pushed their way into the playoffs and both look like they are required to turn an entire franchise around.  That's a lot to put on someone in their 20s. They may be successful, but what is success for a first round QB?  These numbers seem to say that without a strong team builder around them, one trip to a conference championship is SUCCESS.

While you can't argue with the numbers that say to take a QB in the first round, fans need to temper some of their expectations on first round QBs.  Somewhere between 5 and 7 of the first ten teams selecting could use a new QB.  Cam Newton, Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett may be the answer at QB, but each of those teams better not stop there.  Football is a team game.

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