Everyone seems to want their team to draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft! It’s the sexy move, but it doesn’t often work out as well as everyone hoped it would. 53 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round since 1997 and below is a list of the 20 biggest busts among them!
Ryan Leaf, San Diego Chargers
JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders
Russell looked like the perfect QB when the Raiders took him #1 overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. He had nice size and a good throwing arm. He wasn’t horrible in 2008 for the Raiders, as he threw 13 TD passes and only 8 interceptions. But less than two years later, he was out of the NFL. Russell played in 31 games (25 starts) in his three years in the NFL (all with the Raiders) and he completed 354 of 680 passes (52.1%) for 52.1% for 4,083 yards with 18 TD passes and 23 interceptions (65.2 QB Rate). He was only 7-18 (28%) as the starting QB of the Raiders.
Akili Smith, Cincinnati Bengals
The 1999 NFL Draft was a rare one as the top three picks were all quarterbacks. The Browns took Tim Couch #1, the Eagles took Donovan McNabb #2 and the Bengals took Akili Smith. Smith was by far the worst QB of this bunch by a gigantic margin! Smith started 11 games in 2000 for the Bengals, but he was pretty awful. He never really earned much of a chance to play the rest of his career. He played in 22 games (17 starts) in his four years with the Bengals and he completed 215 of 461 passes (46.6%) for 2,212 yards with 5 TD passes and 13 interceptions (52.8 QB Rate). The Bengals were only 3-14 (17.6%) in games started at QB by Smith.
Jim Druckenmiller, San Francisco 49ers
Talk about a wasted pick! The 49ers used the #26 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft on Druckenmiller and he only lasted two years with them, making 1 start. He played in 6 games (1 start) with the 49ers and he completed only 21 of 52 passes (40.4%) for 239 yards with 1 TD pass and 4 interceptions (29.2 Rate). The silver lining is that the 49ers won his only start.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Brady Quinn, Cleveland Browns
The Browns never ending search for a franchise QB led to the selection of Brady Quinn with the #22 pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was a local boy that was a Browns’ fan growing up (like Mitch Trubisky). But, Quinn didn’t last too long with the Browns and then the Chiefs. He played in 24 games (20 starts) in his NFL career and he only completed 296 of 550 passes (53.8%) for 3,043 yards with 12 TD passes and 17 interceptions (64.4 QB Rate). Quinn was only 4-16 (20%) as a starting QB in the NFL.
Joey Harrington, Detroit Lions
When the Lions took Joey Harrington with the #3 pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, they thought they had their savior. It didn’t turn out that way as Harrington almost seemed to be color blind on the field, as he led the NFL in interceptions with 22 of them in 2003! The Lions kept him for four years before letting him go. He then played one year with the Dolphins and Falcons, who also found out that he liked throwing to ball to the other team more then theirs. Harrington played in 81 games (76 starts) in his six years in the NFL and he completed 1,424 of 2,538 passes (56.1%) for 14,693 yards with 79 TD passes and 85 interceptions (69.4 QB Rate). Harrington was 26-50 (34.2%) as a starting QB in the NFL.
Cade McNown, Chicago Bears
Cade McNown is the first lefty thrower on this list. The Bears took him with the #12 pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. He didn’t last too long as he was out of the NFL two years later. He played in 25 games (15 starts) in his two years with the Bears and he completed 281 of 515 passes (54.6%) for 3,111 yards with 16 TD passes and 19 interceptions (67.7 QB Rate). He was a miserable 3-12 (20%) as the Bears’ starting QB.
Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Christian Ponder was the #12 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012! He started all 16 games during the regular season in 2012 and he completed 300 of 483 passes (62.1%) for 2,935 yards with 18 TD passes and 12 interceptions (81.2 QB Rate). But, Ponder bowed out of playing in the playoffs due to a bruised elbow (the result was a loss with Joe Webb at QB). That got him into the Vikings’ Dog House and he never got out of it. He has played in 38 games (36 starts) so far in his NFL career and he has completed 632 of 1,057 passes (59.8%) for 6,658 yards with 38 TD passes and 36 interceptions (75.9 QB Rate). He is currently 14-21-1 (40%) as a starting QB in the NFL. He resurfaced last year with the 49ers, but he didn’t play in any games for them.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars used the #10 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft on Gabbert. Gabbert was 5-22 in his three years as the starter for the Jaguars before they gave up on him. He has been with the 49ers for the last three years. Gabbert has played in 43 games (40 starts) in his first six years in the NFL and he has completed 686 of 1,226 passes (56%) for 7,351 yards with 38 TD passes and 37 interceptions (71.5 QB Rating). He is only 9-31 (22.5%) as a starter so far in his career.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Weeden was drafted #22 (same spot as Brady Quinn and Johnny Manziel) by the Cleveland Browns in 2012. Weeden only lasted two years with the Browns in which he was 5-15 as a starter. He has bounced around the league, as he is already on his 3rd team (the Houston Texans). Weeden has played in 34 games (25 starts) in his first four years in the NFL and he has completed 559 of 965 passes (57.9%) for 6,462 yards with 31 TD passes and 30 interceptions (76.0 QB Rate). Weeden is only 6-19 (24%) as a starting QB so far in his NFL career.
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills took E.J. Manuel with the #16 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. They threw him to the wolves as a rookie and he didn’t play that badly. He played in 10 games (all starts) for the Bills in 2013 and he completed 180 of 306 passes (58.8%) for 1,972 yards with 11 TD passes and 9 interceptions (77.7 QB Rate). He lasted four years with the Bills, playing in 28 games (17 starts) in which he completed 319 of 547 passes (58.3%) for 3,502 yards with 19 TD passes and 15 interceptions (77.5 QB Rate). Manuel was 6-11 (35.3%) as the Bills’ starting QB. He signed with the Raiders to back up Derek Carr in 2017.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens used the #19 pick of the 2003 NFL Draft on Boller. Boller led the Ravens to a 9-7 record in 2004, but it would be the only season in which he started more than 9 games in his 9 year NFL career! Boller played in 67 games (47 starts) in his NFL career and he completed 861 of 1,519 passes (56.7%) for 8,931 yards with 48 TD passes and 54 interceptions (69.5 QB Rate). Boller was 20-27 (42.6%) as a starter in his NFL career.
J.P. Losman, Buffalo Bills
The Bills used the #22 pick of the 2004 NFL Draft on Losman. Losman did have one solid year for the Bills, back in 2006 when he led them to a 7-9 record. Losman played in 16 games (all starts) for the Bills in 2006 and he completed 268 of 429 passes (62.5%) for 3,051 yards with 19 TD passes and 14 interceptions (84.9 QB Rate). He was never that good again. Losman played in 45 games (33 starts) in his NFL career and he completed 564 of 952 passes (59.2%) for 6,271 yards with 33 TD passes and 34 interceptions (75.6 QB Rate). Losman was 10-23 (30.3%) as a starter in the NFL.
Patrick Ramsey, Washington Redskins
The Redskins used the #32 pick (the last one in the first round) in the 2002 NFL Draft on Ramsey. Ramsey never could hold onto the starting job in Washington, but he did start 24 games for them. He played in 37 games (24 starts) in his seven years in the NFL and he completed 511 of 913 passes (56%) for 5,930 yards with 35 TD passes and 30 interceptions (74.9 QB Rate). Ramsey was 10-14 (41.7%) as a starting QB in the NFL.
Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos used the #25 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Tebow. Tebow led the Broncos to a 7-4 record in 2011 and he threw for 316 yards in his first playoff game when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers! Tebow played in 35 games (16 starts) in his NFL career and he completed 173 of 361 passes (47.9%) for 2,422 yards with 17 TD passes and 9 interceptions (75.3 QB Rate). Tebow also carried the ball 197 times for 989 yards (5.0 YPC) with 12 TD runs in his NFL career. Tebow wasn’t a very accurate passer in his career, but he was 8-6 (57.1%) as a starter during the regular season.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
The Titans took Locker with the #11 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. Locker was fun to watch as he was a good runner with a cannon for a right arm (despite not being overly accurate). His career was cut way too short due to injury. He played in 30 games (23 starts) in his four years with the Titans and he completed 408 of 709 passes (57.5%) for 4,967 yards with 27 TD passes and 22 interceptions (79.0 QB Rate). Locker also carried the ball 95 times for 644 yards (6.8 YPC) with 5 TD runs in his career. He was 9-14 (39.1%) as a starter with the Titans.
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans
The Titans used the #3 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft on Vince Young. Young was a Pro Bowler in his rookie year (2006) and again in 2009. He came in with a lot of hype and he was semi-productive before letting off the field stuff get in his way and pretty much end his career. Young played in 60 games (50 starts) in his six years in the NFL and he completed 755 of 1,304 passes (57.9%) for 8,964 yards with 46 TD passes and 51 interceptions (74.4 QB Rating). Young also carried the ball 282 times for 1,459 yards (5.2 ypc) with 12 TD runs in his career. Young was 31-19 (62%) as a starting QB in the NFL.
David Carr, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans took David Carr #1 overall in 2002, their first year in franchise history. They threw Carr to the wolves and he was sacked an amazing 76 times (led the league) in 2002. The beatings continued in 2004 (49 sacks) and 2005 (68 sacks), as Carr led the league those two years too. Carr did lead the league in completion percentage in 2006 (68.3%)! Carr played in 94 games (79 starts) in his 10 years in the NFL and he completed 1,353 of 2,267 passes (59.7%) for 14,452 yards with 65 TD passes and 71 interceptions (74.9 QB Rating). Carr was 23-56 (29.1%) as a starting QB in the NFL.