If you took a bunch of aliens and showed them a NFL game and asked who the most important player on the field is, odds are that the aliens would point to the quarterback. Heck, even Roger Goodell might be able to figure that one out. This importance has typically led to many of them being drafted with the first pick, and sometimes even both of the first two picks.
With Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota going one and two respectively, the 2015 NFL draft marked the fifth time since 1990 that quarterbacks were the first two overall picks. Naturally, this has led to many comparisons between each pair, and like their predecessors, Winston and Mariota will be forever linked by this distinction. Let’s take a look each pair of quarterback draftees and rank each duo.
4. 1993 No. 1 Drew Bledsoe (14 years in the league, 4 Pro Bowls) and No. 2 Rick Mirer (12, 0)
The career of Drew Bledsoe is certainly nothing to laugh at, as the oft forgotten predecessor of Tom Brady does not get the attention he deserves. The gunslinger out of Washington turned around a morbid Patriots team and helped them to a Super Bowl berth in during the 1996 season. While Bledsoe technically has a ring to his name, that title is largely credited with Brady, who forced Bledsoe away from the Patriots where he remained solid in the twilight of his career.
However, Mirer brings this duo down. After a promising rookie campaign, the prospect out of Notre Dame tabbed as the next Joe Montana was far from that, starting sparingly throughout the rest of his career while never appearing in a down in the playoffs.
3. 1999 No. 1 Tim Couch (6, 0) and No. 2 Donovan McNabb (13, 6)
It was hard to pick between 1999 and the 1993, as the best and worst QB were very similar. However, each quarterback in 1999 just barely beats his counterpart. In a McNabb vs. Bledsoe duel, while both led teams to Super Bowls, McNabb gets the nod here with more Pro Bowls and an overall more effective career.
Meanwhile, in the battle of the busts, Mirer was a little bit bustier than Couch. While both had heavily mocked careers, at least Couch started for a team that made the playoffs, which gives him the slighest of edges over Mirer.
2. 2012 No. 1 Andrew Luck (3, 3) and No. 2 Robert Griffin III (3, 1)
After their rookie seasons, it really appeared that this could be the greatest one-two combination by a mile. Sadly, since that hope-filled year, the outcomes have diverged for both. Andrew Luck appears to be the next great quarterback; a can’t miss talent who should be well on his way to perennial Pro Bowl appearances and perhaps a Super Bowl title or two.
Griffin appeared to be on the same path, but the script changed quickly after he tore his ACL. He has never reached that level since his injury, and unfortunately it’s becoming hard to imagine that we will see rookie RG3 re-emerge ever again. However, as Natasha Bedingfield once said, the rest is still unwritten, and these two in a few years could definitely take the top spot away from…
1. 1998 No. 1 Peyton Manning (17, 14) and No. 2 Ryan Leaf (3, 0)
Even though one of these guys has served jail time, the other one, Manning, has done so much so well in his career that he carries this duo to the top, at least for now. Manning, by himself, exceeds what most whole quarterback classes have done combined. No matter how badly Leaf wants to drag this duo down, Manning has more than made up for his forever linked partner to salvage this pairing.
One interesting trend to note between each quarterback pair has been that one has gone on to a successful career, while the other, not so much. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this pattern has been followed for the previous four duos, but here’s to hoping that both from the 2015 version can escape this fate and entertain us on the field and not in the headlines for the distant future.