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QB dept. : " ranking 10 yrs of 1st-round QBs " .... mark is # ~ ~ ~


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Draft a mixed bag for top 10 quarterbacks

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will likely become the first quarterbacks to be selected with the top two picks in the draft since 1998 and ’99. We know how the Manning-Leaf debate turned out in ’98.

Here's a look at how top-10 QB selections have fared from 1999 to 2011, with a verdict on each :

Tim Couch, Cleveland Browns, No. 1 overall. It’s always tough to be the face of an expansion franchise, and Couch didn’t have much help developing the natural skills he had coming out of Kentucky. As a rookie, he was sacked 56 times, and the hits kept on coming through 59 starts in just five seasons. Poor.

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, No. 2 overall. Some Eagles fans were pulling for their team to draft running back Ricky Williams instead. Others were disappointed that he couldn’t quite deliver a Super Bowl ring. But six Pro Bowls, five NFC championship game trips and one Super Bowl appearance in 11 years in Philly still look pretty good. Good.

Akili Smith, Cincinnati Bengals, No. 3 overall. The Bengals went for the flash Smith showed in one full season at Oregon, but his four-year NFL stint was merely a flicker. He lost 14 of his 17 career starts, with just five touchdown passes to show for it. Poor.

— Akili Smith makes SN's draft bust hall of shame


Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons, No. 1 overall. In six years in Atlanta, he provided plenty of passing and rushing thrills before his off-field troubles cost him two prime seasons. But in his 30s, he has developed into a better, smarter all-around quarterback with the Eagles. Good.


David Carr, Houston Texans, No. 1 overall. Starting as a rookie for an expansion franchise, he was sacked a record 76 times, and although Carr hung tough, there was no significant improvement in his five years with the team. He earned a Super Bowl ring last season with the Giants as the backup to Eli Manning. Fair.

Joey Harrington, Detroit Lions, No. 3 overall. Harrington’s issues stemmed from indecisiveness and inconsistency. He never had the supporting cast to help him grow, and after the Dolphins and Falcons each gave him one-year shots, he was out of the league by 2008. Fair.


Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals, No. 1 overall. He was solid in his first four seasons in Cincinnati (two Pro Bowls), but he had a potentially career-ending knee injury in a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2005 season and his efficiency has never returned. In his first full season as with the Oakland Raiders, Palmer will try to shake off his recent struggles with interceptions and prove he was worth what they gave up (a 2012 first-round pick and a second-round pick next year) to acquire him. Good.

Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 7 overall. He turned into a good Super Bowl-winning backup with the Steelers, but his chances to succeed as a starter in Jacksonville were derailed by significant ankle injuries. His other real shot to stick as a No. 1 in Tampa Bay two years ago ended with an elbow injury. Fair.


Eli Manning, San Diego Chargers, No. 1 overall. Manning didn’t play a down for the Chargers, but he steadily developed into an elite passer and leader for the Giants. He has won two Super Bowls. Excellent.

Philip Rivers, New York Giants, No. 4 overall. There’s no doubt he has been one of the league’s most prolific big-play passers in his six years as the Chargers’ starter—four of those have ended with the Pro Bowl. But San Diego is still looking for a Super Bowl. Excellent.


Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers, No. 1 overall. In his first five seasons, Smith was put through the wringer with coaches and offensive coordinators who didn’t quite understand how to best use his abilities as a spread-option quarterback. Jim Harbaugh was the right person to mold a more mature Smith into an efficient winner, and in 2012, he’ll have his best receiving corps yet. Good.


Vince Young, Tennessee Titans, No. 3 overall. He used his mobility and moxie to help the Titans grind out victories, earning Sporting News' rookie of the year and comeback player of the year honors (2009). All that was outweighed, however, by issues with coach Jeff Fisher and interception slumps and injuries (quadriceps, knee, thumb). Fair.

Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals, No. 10 overall. The man Young outdueled in a memorable 2006 Rose Bowl had a similar roller-coaster experience with his first NFL team. Leinart had the challenge of trying to displace Kurt Warner, and it was met with shaky play and injuries that frustrated his coaches. He was released by the Cardinals in 2010; he joined the Texans as a backup. Poor.


JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders, No. 1 overall. Russell has become a cautionary tale for general managers falling in love with size (6-6, 265 pounds) and arm strength without accounting for the more important ingredients needed to be a franchise passer. Russell was cut before the 2010 season and hasn’t played in the NFL since. Poor.


Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, No. 3 overall. From his first NFL pass — a 62-yard touchdown — it was clear Ryan would be a solid starter. It’s easy to forget he’s still improving as the team has upgraded the skill talent around him. He has yet to reach his prime. Good.


Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, No. 1 overall. He started as a rookie, and then made an exceptional comeback from right shoulder surgery last season. Armed with Calvin Johnson as his go-to receiver, Stafford is set to take his place among the game’s elite. Good.

wavey.gif Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, No. 5 overall. Expectations are high because he plays in New York. They became higher after he helped the Jets make playoff runs in his first two seasons. The touchdowns are there, but as he attempts to raise his leadership profile, he must lower his interceptions. Good.


Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, No. 1 overall. Bradford has taken a beating behind bad pass protection, and he hasn’t gotten much help from his receivers. Year 3 will be a big one as he works with his third offensive coordinator and second head coach. Fair.


Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, No. 1 overall. The Panthers implemented an offense tailored to Newton’s talents, immediately taking advantage of his strong arm on deep out routes and strong body as a red zone runner. His first season — during which he broke the record for passing yards by a rookie — gives him promise to be the next great one. Good.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans, No. 8 overall. Getting extensive action in three games, Locker showed off the arm and athleticism that helped him become a high pick. He also had a good start as a decision-maker, with four total touchdowns to no interceptions. Fair.

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 10 overall. Through his 14 rookie starts, Gabbert was limited in his development, and his play-calling and receivers didn’t help much. He also struggled in the face of pressure, taking 40 sacks. The Jaguars are hoping a new coaching staff and new wideouts Lee Evans and Laurent Robinson will be a big help. Poor.

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