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Deshaun Watson going 12th in his draft class is part of a trend that should have NFL teams thinking.
Deshaun Watson going 12th in his draft class is part of a trend that should have NFL teams thinking.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

Current QB Landscape Shows Notion of NFL Tanking Is Ludicrous

I'm fairly certaIn most Houston Texan fans realize how fortunate we are to have Deshaun Watson as our starting quarterback in this city. If you were here for David Carr, the last season of Matt Schaub, or any of the seasons involving Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler, or Tom Savage, then you know and you feel it acutely every Sunday. Deshaun is special, and will only get better.

But take a look around the league, and see how some teams are having to adapt to poor choices at staffing the QB room, or choices that looked good for a while, but through injury or underperformance, they're either stuck with bloated contracts or excruciating long-term decisions. The craziest thing about the QB landscape around the NFL is that some of the biggest QB question marks and gut punches involve players taken with one of the first two picks in their respective draft.

Consider the following list of quarterbacks taken with either the first or second overall selection since 2010. All of them have fallen out of favor for one reason or another with their team or, in some cases, the entire league:

SAM BRADFORD, 2010, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS:
Retired
2019 RECORD: N/A
Bradford has finally run out of teams that he can dupe into paying him eight figures to stink as their starting QB. He finished his career with a 34-48-1 record, and LOTS of injuries.

CAM NEWTON, 2011, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS:
 Injury
2019 RECORD: 0-2
Newton has missed nearly the entire season with various ailments, and the team has actually played decently under Kyle Allen. Newton has one year left on his deal with Carolina with no guaranteed money left.

ANDREW LUCK, 2012, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Retired
2019 RECORD: N/A
Luck retired before the season after tiring of all the injuries caused by horrible offensive lines early in his career.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III, 2012, 2nd overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Underperforming
2019 RECORD: 0-0
Griffin is backing up the current favorite to win league MVP. To his credit, he's settled into a backup role better than most former Heisman winner, NFL Rookie of the Year types would.

JAMEIS WINSTON, 2015, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Inconsistent
2019 RECORD: 4-7
Winston is on pace to throw for nearly 5,000 yards. He also leads the league in interceptions. His contract situation after the season (he's a free agent) will be fascinating. Does Bruce Arians feel there is a better solution out there than a possibly more developed Winston?

MARCUS MARIOTA, 2015, 2nd overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Underperforming
2019 RECORD: 2-4
The Titans are now a playoff dark horse since benching Mariota, going 4-1 under Ryan Tannehill. I'm anxious to see what the league thinks of Mariota this offseason when he hits free agency.

JARED GOFF, 2016, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Inconsistent
2019 RECORD: 6-5
Goff has regressed from his NFC title winning season last year to a QB that is right at the line of "barely average." His passer rating has plummeted 20 points from last season.

CARSON WENTZ, 2016, 2nd overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Inconsistent
2019 RECORD: 5-6
Did you know that, other than his near MVP season in 2017, when Nick Foles took over for Wentz and won a Super Bowl, that Carson Wentz's record as a starting QB in 2016, 2018, and 2019 is just 17-21?

MITCHELL TRUBISKY, 2017, 2nd overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Underperformance
2019 RECORD: 5-5
Trubisky has regressed in his third year. It doesn't help him that Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went eight and ten picks later, respectively.

BAKER MAYFIELD, 2018, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Inconsistent
2019 RECORD: 5-6
To Mayfield's credit, the Browns have won three in a row, and he seems to have been humbled a little bit from an off season where people were touting him a short-list MVP candidate.

KYLER MURRAY, 2019, 1st overall
OUT OF FAVOR STATUS: Inconsistent
2019 RECORD: 3-7-1
Murray is in his rookie year, so inconsistency is acceptable. I'm more excited for the Murray Era than I thought I would be. Still, he hasn't really won much yet.

So these high picks guys have a combined record of 30-42-1, with an average draft slot of 1.36 overall.  Man, it almost makes teams tanking to position themselves for a high draft pick seem a little silly, if not reckless. But wait, there's more! Well, can I interest you in some more anti-tanking fodder? Here are the top ten quarterbacks on the board for the NFL's MVP award heading into this past weekend's games, and where THEY were taken in the draft:

LAMAR JACKSON, BAL
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +125
2018 RECORD: 9-2

SELECTED: 2018, 1st round, 32nd overall

RUSSELL WILSON, SEA
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +200
2019 RECORD: 9-2
SELECTED: 2012, 3rd round, 75th overall

AARON RODGERS, GB
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +1200
2019 RECORD: 8-3
SELECTED: 2005, 1st round, 25th overall

DESHAUN WATSON, HOU
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +1200
2019 RECORD: 7-4
SELECTED: 2017, 1st round, 12th overall

PATRICK MAHOMES, KC
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +1200
2019 RECORD: 6-3
SELECTED: 2017, 1st round, 10th overall

DAK PRSCOTT, DAL
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +1400
2019 RECORD: 6-5
SELECTED: 2016, 4th round, 135th overall

JIMMY GAROPPOLO, SF
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +2500
2019 RECORD: 10-1
SELECTED: 2014, 2nd round, 62nd overall

KIRK COUSINS, MIN
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +3300
2019 RECORD: 8-3
SELECTED: 2012, 4th round, 102nd overall

DREW BREES, NOLA
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +5000
2019 RECORD: 4-2
SELECTED: 2001, 2nd round, 32nd overall

TOM BRADY, NE
MVP ODDS, WEEK 13: +5000
2019 RECORD: 10-1
SELECTED: 2000, 6th round, 199th overall

The record for these ten guys is 77-26, with an average draft slot of 68.4. So tank away, Dolphins (and Bengals, and whoever else). History shows it doesn't really work.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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