Fourteen years before the Jets selected Sanchez out of Southern Cal, the Carolina Panthers selected Kerry Collins with the fifth overall pick. Like Sanchez, Collins struggled in key areas. With the Panthers, Collins’s highest completion percentage was a meager 56, while Sanchez’s best with the Jets was 56.7 percent. In 1997 Collins led the league with 21 interceptions, whereas Sanchez was second in the league in 2009 with 20 and fifth in 2011 with 18. Both players were frequent fumblers, often among the worst offenders in the league.
In Collins’s fourth season, the team placed him on waivers. He finished the year in New Orleans. After the season the Giants acquired him. A year later Collins had repaired his career to the point that he aided the Giants to a 12-4 record and a Super Bowl berth. In that championship game, Collins faced off against the Baltimore Ravens and their quarterback Trent Dilfer.
Like Collins and Sanchez, Dilfer was a top pick (sixth over all in 1994) who struggled with his original team. Dilfer spent six seasons with Tampa Bay, and although he made the Pro Bowl in his fourth year, he was a below average quarterback for the other five seasons. The Ravens acquired him in his seventh season, and he became their starter for that championship season.
Dilfer would eventually play for Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco, while Collins had stops in Oakland, Tennessee and Indianapolis. It is unclear whether Collins and Dilfer profited from a new organization, lowered expectations, or an extra dose of humility.