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Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Updated: April 17, 5:48 PM ET
Ten years of first-round quarterbacks

By Peter Lawrence-Riddell

Memo to the teams in the first round of the NFL draft: Beware of quarterbacks.

With three quarterbacks certain to go in the first round and a number of other first-round possibilities, we decided to look back at the 19 quarterbacks selected in the first round from 1992-2001 -- it's too early to call any of the quarterbacks selected last year successes or busts

There have been some very good first-round quarterbacks since 1992 -- Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair -- and a host of other soild signal callers. However, the number of busts is astounding. Dave Klinger, Jim Druckenmiller, Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Cade McNown have combined for just 67 career touchdown passes while throwing 126 interceptions.

So is it worth drafting a quarterback in the first round? Manning, McNabb and company show that it clearly can be. However, the number of busts indicates that any team in the market for a quarterback should use their first-round pick with caution.

1992 draft
David Klingler (Bengals) Dave Brown (Giants) Tommy Maddox (Broncos)
Years: 92-97
Games: 33
Stats: 389-718, 3,994 yds.
16 TDs, 21 INTs

Notes: After putting up prolific numbers in college in Houston's Run-and-Shoot offense, Klingler had the misfortune of being drafted by the Bengals. Like many, that was too much for him to overcome.
Years: 92-02
Games: 73
Stats: 10,248 yds. passing
44 TDs, 58 INTs

Notes: Selected in the 1992 supplemental draft, Brown cost the Giants a first-round pick in the 1993 draft. A starter for three seasons and part of a fourth in New York (1994-1997), Brown's career in N.Y. was disappointing.
Years: 92-95, 01-present
Games: 68
Stats: 324-550, 3,938 yds.
27 TDs, 31 INTs Notes: What a long strange trip Maddox's career has been. Maddox has gone all the way from a first-round bust out of the league for five seasons to the Steelers' current starting QB.

1993 draft
Drew Bledsoe (Patriots) Rick Mirer (Seahawks)
Years: 93-present
Games: 140
Stats: 34,016 yds. passing
190 TDs, 153 INTs

Notes: A starter almost instantly in New England, Bledsoe basically lived up to the lofty status of being the No. 1 pick. Career in New England was rocky at times and ended before last season with his trade to Buffalo.
Years: 93-present
Games: 73
Stats: 10,702 yds. passing
47 TDs, 71 INTs

Notes: Heading into the 1993 draft, Bledsoe and Mirer were neck-and-neck for the No. 1 overall pick. Mirer was arguably better as a rookie. However, while Bledsoe has been a solid starter his whole career, Mirer has essentially been a journeyman.

1994 draft
Heath Shuler (Redskins) Trent Dilfer (Bucs)
Years: 94-97
Games: 29
Stats: 292-593, 3,691 yds.
15 TDs, 33 INTs

Notes: Struggled with Redskins, losing his job to Gus Frerotte, who was selected in the same draft as Shuler only 194 picks later. A foot injury forced his retirement after one season with the Saints.
Years: 94-present
Games: 103
Stats: 1418-2554, 16,667 yds.
93 TDs, 101 INTs

Notes: Struggled with the Bucs after being selected No. 6 overall. While Dilfer hasn't lived up to his high draft spot, he has won a Super Bowl and has been a solid NFL QB.

1995 draft
Steve McNair (Oilers/Titans) Kerry Collins (Panthers)
Years: 95-present
Games: 103
Stats: 1634-2780, 19,422 yds.
108 TDs, 76 INTs

Notes: After drafting McNair out of Alcorn State, the Titans took their time developing him into an NFL starter. McNair didn't take over the fulltime job until his third season, but he's been a franchise QB ever since.
Years: 95-present
Games: 110
Stats: 1951-3504, 23,273 yds.
119 TDs, 118 INTs

Notes: After a tumultuous four-year run in Carolina (and a little in New Orleans), Collins settled down and found a place in New York, where he has been a solid starter for the Giants.

1997 draft
Jim Druckenmiller (49ers)
Years: 97-99
Games: 6
Stats: 21-52, 239 yds., 1 TD, 4 INTs
Notes: Only quarterback selected in the 1997 draft (No. 26 overall), Druckenmiller was supposed to be groomed to replace Steve Young. However, he only played in six games for the 49ers and was dealt to Miami. Out of the league for the last three seasons, Druckenmiller signed with the Colts this offseason as their No. 3 QB.

1998 draft
Peyton Manning (Colts) Ryan Leaf (Chargers)
Years: 98-present
Games: 80
Stats: 1749-2817, 20,618 yds.
138 TDs, 100 INTs

Notes: While there might have been some debate between Manning and Leaf heading into the draft, the Colts clearly made the right choice. Manning has started every game of every season he's been in the NFL. Biggest knock is 0-3 playoff record.
Years: 98-02
Games: 25
Stats: 317-655, 3,666 yds.
14 TDs, 36 INTs

Notes: The poster child for first-round busts. Considered by many a better prospect than Manning, the Chargers traded up to draft Leaf and then gave him a $31.25 million deal. Bad on the field, Leaf was a constant distraction in the locker room.

1999 draft
Tim Couch (Browns) Donovan McNabb (Eagles)
Years: 99-present
Games: 52
Stats: 905-1511, 9,812 yds.
57 TDs, 61 INTs

Notes: A solid NFL quarterback, Couch hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Could lose his starting job to Kelly Holcomb this year.
Years: 99-present
Games: 54
Stats: 932-1639, 9,835 yds.
71 TDs, 38 INTs

Notes: So far, the best NFL career out of the five first-round QBs 1999. Has led the Eagles to the playoffs each of the last three season and the NFC title game the last two.

Akili Smith (Bengals) Daunte Culpepper (Vikings) Cade McNown (Bears)
Years: 99-present
Games: 22
Stats: 215-461, 2,212 yds.
5 TDs, 13 INTs
Notes: Another quarterback flameout in Cincinnati. Smith started four games as a rookie and 11 in his second season (2001), but has only two starts since and is now backing up Jon Kitna.
Years: 99-present
Games: 44
Stats: 865-1389, 10,402 yds.
65 TDs, 52 INTs
Notes: After a tremendous season in 2000 (3,937 yds., 33 TDs), Culpepper's performance -- and the Vikings' as well -- has been up-and-down the last two years. Will be an NFL starter for a long time.
Years: 99-present
Games: 25
Stats: 281-515, 3,111 yds.
16 TDs, 18 INTs
Notes: McNown's tenure in Chicago was marred by a lack of maturity. He was booed by fans and disliked by teammates. Traded to Miami and then to San Francisco, McNown hasn't played in a game since 2000.

2000 draft
Chad Pennington (Jets)
Years: 00-present
Games: 20
Stats: 287-424, 3,279 yds., 24 TDs, 6 INTs
Notes: The Jets took their time with Pennington, waiting more than two years before giving him a start and it paid off. Pennington led the NFL in passer rating (104.2) and was 8-4 as a starter after taking over in Week 5.

2001 draft
Michael Vick (Falcons)
Years: 01-present
Games: 23
Stats: 281-534, 3,721 yds., 18 TDs, 11 INTs
Notes: Atlanta traded up to No. 1 to select Vick in the 2001 draft and he has been everything they could have hoped for. After playing sparingly in his rookie season, Vick emerged as a star last year, leading the Falcons to the playoffs.

Peter Lawrence-Riddell is the NFL editor for