From the first twenty, I count four long-term starters and one guy, Jimmy Garoppolo, who may still become a long-term starter. I’m not counting Chad Henne. So let’s look at the situation surrounding each of those four in-depth to see if there is anything that we can learn about what external factors could lead to Lock becoming our QB of the future. The supposition here is that he has the internal factors that are necessary (athleticism, intelligence, leadership and perseverance).
Some might not remember but Brees was drafted by the Chargers in the 2000 NFL draft. The Chargers were coming off of a 1-15 season where their lone win was a one-point win over a Chiefs team that finished 7-9. They had three different QBs start games for them in 2000: Ryan Leaf (9 games), Jim Harbaugh (5 games), and Moses Moreno (2 games). As a team they finished with 19 TD passes and 30 interceptions. Sadly, they only had the second worst QB play in the league that year. Cincinnati had worse. The Chargers had a QB rating as a team of 61.8. The Bengals had a rating of 52.0. While the Chargers at least got 19 TD passes, the Bengals finished the season with an astounding 6 total TD passes. Fourteen NFL QBs have matched that in one game. So the 2001 draft had many teams needing QBs with not many QBs in the draft. The Chargers, who had the number one overall pick, could have taken Michael Vick at #1 and solved their QB problem, but they chose to trade back with the Falcons.
Apr 20, 2001: Chargers traded 2001 1st round pick (1st overall, Michael Vick) to Falcons for Tim Dwight, 2001 1st round pick (5th overall, LaDainian Tomlinson), 2001 3rd round pick (67th overall, Tay Cody) and 2002 2nd round pick (48th overall, Reche Caldwell)
Michael Vick would be the only QB taken in the 31 pick first round. Drew Brees would be the 32nd overall pick (first pick in round 2), but the Chargers would not rush him. Instead of throwing Drew Brees into the fire in 2001, they went out and acquired journeyman veteran QB, Doug Flutie, who would start all sixteen games for the Chargers. 39-year old Flutie led them to a 5-11 record in what would be his final year as a starting NFL QB. Brees would appear in one game - a loss to KC where the Chargers were down 19 at the half. The Chargers would end up losing by 5. Brees would take over as the starter in 2002 and Flutie stayed on as the veteran back-up and mentor. Flutie was with the Chargers from 2001-2004, but rarely appeared in games. Brees would go on to lead the Chargers to an 11-4 record in 2004 (and a playoff berth - OT loss to the Jets).
You could argue that Drew Brees would have been an elite NFL QB without getting a year to sit and learn. SI’s Time Layden does so here. So maybe Brees, who is small for an NFL QB, is not the right historical comparison for Drew Lock (6-4, 225 lbs). So let’s look at our next second round success story.
Brees has made his own legacy with the same combination of talent and hard work as Manning and Brady.
Long before he became a political lightning-rod, Colin Kaepernick was a relatively established NFL starting QB who was a dangerously close to joining the list of Super Bowl winning QBs. Kaepenrick was drafted in 2011 by the 49ers with the 36th overall pick (one pick after our next QB, Andy Dalton). The 2010 49ers finished the season 6-10, narrowly missing the playoffs (not joking) in what could have been the weakest division in NFL history (the 7-9 Seahawks won the division on a tie-breaker over the 7-9 Rams). The 49ers had recently hired Jim Harbaugh as their head coach, who brought Vic Fangio with him as the defensive coordinator and Ed Donatell as the defensive backs coach. The 2011 49ers would also have Geep Chryst as their QB coach. Chryst was the Broncos TE coach in 2017.
The 2010 49ers had three QBs throw passes for them, former #1 overall pick, Alex Smith; Troy Smith (no relation) and Carr (the elder - aka David). Alex Smith had been a disappointment having only started 16 games once in the six seasons since he was drafted and never leading the 49ers to a winning season. Unfortunately for the 49ers, 2011 was a bad draft to need a QB. The Panthers had the #1 overall pick and did not want to trade down since they had their eyes and hearts set on Cam Newton. The 49ers had the 7th overall pick, but chose to pass on Jake Locker, Blain Gabbert and Christian Ponder (which all seem very smart in retrospect) in favor of Aldon Smith (which was an elite edge defender, but also not rowing with both oars in the water).
The 49ers did not have another pick until the 45th pick and they were were worried about a team taking their high value target in the second round so they traded with Denver
Apr 29, 2011: Broncos traded 2011 2nd round pick (36th overall, Colin Kaepernick) to 49ers for 2011 2nd round pick (45th overall, Rahim Moore), 2011 4th round pick (108th overall, Quinton Carter) and 2011 5th round pick (141st overall subsequently traded, D.J. Williams)
No, not THAT D.J. Williams. This is the other D.J. Williams, who played TE. The 49ers moved up nine spots in the second round to get Kaepernick much like the Broncos did this year with Drew Lock.
The 2011 49ers were a much different team than the 2010 49ers mostly because of the new coaching staff. They would finish the season 13-3 largely on the strength of Vic Fangio’s defense which was arguably the best in the league. Alex Smith would start all 16 games for them and Kaepernick would get a chance to sit and learn. He would throw all of 5 passes as a rookie. Alex Smith was the perfect QB for that defense in that he was an elite game manager, only turning the ball over 8 times (5 INTs, 3 fumbles lost) in 16 starts. However, his limitations would ostensibly lead to the 49ers losing in the NFC championship game in 2011. They lost the eventual Super Bowl Champion Giants.
2012 would be a different story as Kaepernick would replace the concussed Smith in game nine (which ended in 24 all tie with the Rams). Kaepernick would then take over as the starting QB and lead the 49ers to a 5-2 record in the final seven regular season games, despite Alex Smith being healthy enough to play in many of them. The 2012 49ers would finish 11-4-1 and have the #3 seed in the NFC. Harbaugh would make the decision to start Kaepernick instead of Smith in the playoffs and Kaepernick would lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl largely on the strength (again) of Vic Fangio’s defense. The 49ers would lose by three, 34-31, in the Super Bowl and the 49ers would be comfortable enough with Kaepernick at QB to trade Smith to the Chiefs in the off-season.
I have no doubt that Kaepernick benefiting from sitting for a year in the NFL as he was far from a polished QB coming out of Nevada.
Andy Dalton was taken with the 35th pick in the 2011 NFL draft by the Bengals. The 2010 Bengals finished the season 4-12, just like the 2010 Broncos. They had Carson Palmer starting 16 games for them but throwing 26 TD and 20 INTs. As bad as that might sound now, that was middle-of-the-pack QB production for the 2010 NFL. There were 14 NFL teams that got worse QB play in 2010 than the Bengals (I intentionally switched to the “e” here). One of those teams was Oakland, who traded for Carson Palmer clearing the way for Dalton to be the day one starter as a rookie in 2011. Carson Palmer trade details below:
The Bengals turned an waning Carson Palmer into two high value picks. Palmer would flounder for two years in Oakland starting 9 games in 2011 and 15 games in 2012 before moving on to Arizona where he finished his NFL career.
Andy Dalton would lead the Bengals to a winning season (9-7) and playoff berth as a rookie being named to the Pro-Bowl in the process. The future looked bright for Dalton, but he has never been able to win a playoff game (0-4) and has only been able to keep his team close in one of those four playoff losses. During his career he has thrown one playoff touchdown and six playoff interceptions. Dalton’s playoff failures, however, have not been enough for the Bengals to use a high draft pick on a QB since Dalton. Ryan Finley with the 104th picks this year was the highest pick that they have used on a QB since drafting Dalton. Both Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock were there for them to take at 11 had they chosen to do so. Instead they chose to provide Dalton with some protection by drafting Jonah Williams, OG, with the 11th pick. So for now, the Bengals are still saying they are comfortable with Dalton.
One of the reasons that Dalton was not considered a first round QB in 2011 was his physical limitations (and that he was a “system” QB). Drew Lock does not have those physical limitations and Drew is expected to not have to play much (if at all) as a rookie. So Dalton is probably not a good historical comparison.
Jimmy was drafted by the Patriots with the 62nd pick of the 2014 draft. The Patriots were coming off a season where they were defeated by the Broncos in the AFCC with their offense being held to 16 points (3 points at the half) by a largely depleted 2013 Broncos defense (no Von Miller or Chris Harris or Rahim Moore and Champ Bailey, who was a shell of his former self, starting). Brady looked human in that AFCC, overthrowing open receivers and looking like, maybe at the age of 37, Father Time had finally caught him. New England had been drafting QBs with an eye on the post-Brady future having drafted Kevin O’Connell in the 3rd round of 2008 (94th pick) and Ryan Mallett in the 3rd round of 2011 (74th pick), but Jimmy Garoppolo seemed like a reach with the 62nd pick. Jimmy G. played at Eastern Illinois, which is an FCS school that plays in the Ohio Valley conference which is know more for basketball than football. That being said, they liked what they saw of him and decided that they could develop him into an NFL QB given that there would be little to no pressure on him immediately.
The 2014 Patriots were their normal boring selves going 12-4. Tom Brady played at an elite level again throwing 33 TDs with only 9 INTs in the regular season as the evil empire notched another Super Bowl victory. Jimmy got to spend most of the year holding a clipboard and learning from Brady, getting to throw a total of 27 passes at the end of blow-out victories. 2015 would be another boring 12-4 year for the evil empire with Jimmy G getting even more time holding a clipboard as he threw exactly four passes. Br*dy was still playing at an elite level and the QB future for New England still seemed far away. Despite that, the 2015 season ended in the same place for the P*ts as the 2013 season, in Denver in the AFCC. This time Tom Terrific and his merry band of cohorts were able to muster 18 points in their losing effort, but Brady looked again looked human throwing two picks and generally being held in check. Admittedly it was against the No Fly Zone, which made all QBs look human.
Then Brady got suspended for 4 games and things changed. This was going to be Jimmy’s time to shine, except the P*ts had drafted another QB in the 3rd round in 2016, Jacoby Brissett, with the 91st overall pick. Jimmy was supposed to get all four starts for the suspended Brady, but he got hurt - not before leading the team to two wins while throwing 4 TDs with 0 INTs in his two starts. The rookie, Brissett, was able to lead the P*ts to one victory and one loss but he looked like a significantly worse QB than Jimmy G. in his two starts.
Those two starts and the shine from them allowed the P*ts to trade Jimmy G. to the 49ers for a second round pick (which ended up being the 43rd overall pick). Oddly enough the P*ts were also able to trade Brissett away to the Luckless Colts for WR Phillip Dorsett.
Jimmy G. has not been able to stay healthy starting only eight games in two seasons as QB1 for the 49ers. So technically he has yet to become a long-term NFL starter, but I decided to include him here because his story is interesting and he was a second round pick at QB.
Another QB that we know well, because he plays for our division rivals the
Oakland Las Vegas San Diego Reno Oakland Raiders, is Derek Carr (aka Carr, the younger). Derek was selected by the ghost of Al Davis with the 36th pick of the 2014 draft. The Raiders had crap for QBs in the 2013 season with a combination of Terrelle Pryor (9 starts - so bad they converted him to WR), Matt McGloin (6 starts) and Matt (you remember me from my days as Aaron Rodger’s backup) Flynn (1 start). Those three led the team to a 4-12 record so the Raiders were definitely looking for a QB heading into the 2014 draft. The Raiders had the 5th overall pick but chose to go with Khalil Mack over a QB (Bortles was already off the board). They passed on Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, but at 36 they had their choice between Carr and Jimmy G. and chose Carr who played for BCS-level Fresno St.
Being a second round pick Carr was not immediately handed the reins as QB1, but he quickly won them in training camp and ended up starting 16 games as rookie for the 2014 Raiders who fired head coach Dennis Allen 4 games into the season and finished 3-13. Carr improved fairly dramatically in his second year as a starter, almost leading the Raiders to a winning record (they finished 7-9) and earning a Pro-Bowl nod in the process. 2016 would mark his high point in the NFL (assuming he is on the decline). He would lead the Raiders to a 12-3 record before breaking his leg and watching helplessly on the sidelines in the wild-card round while his backup, Connor Cook, almost single-handedly lost the game for Oakland. Carr would lead the Oakland to a 6-9 record in 2017 and a 4-12 record in 2018.
While Oakland’s draft was less laughable in 2019 than it normally is, they didn’t spend much of their copious draft capital on offense getting a RB (Josh Jacobs) with the 24th pick, a TE (Foster Moreau) with the 124th pick and a WR (Hunter Renfrow) with the 149th pick. So, yeah, they didn’t take a QB when they had plenty of opportunity to take one this year, but it would not surprise me in the least if they tank the 2019 season in the hopes of getting Tu’a Tagliavoa with the first pick in the 2020 draft.
Which QB’s career do you think Drew Lock’s career will most resemble?
This poll is closed
Colin Kaepernick (the football career part)
Some other QB who was taken in the second round this century (e.g. Brock Osweiler or Gino Smith)
Some other QB who was drafted NOT in the second round