Drafting a quarterback in the first round is the NFL’s biggest crapshoot

We’re going to see at least four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft this week, and inevitably at least a couple of them will bust.

This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact grounded in truth.

The big picture: Since the 2000 NFL Draft, a stunning 56 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round. Of that total, significantly less than half have proved unworthy of the draft slot, as we’re about to show you.

Totally worth it: Here’s a look at the ones we can objectively state have lived up to their hype by turning into legitimate NFL stars.

  • Michael Vick (No. 1 overall in 2001)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (No. 11 overall in 2004)
  • Philip Rivers (No. 4 overall in 2004)
  • Eli Manning (No. 1 overall in 2004)
  • Aaron Rodgers (No. 24 overall in 2005)
  • Matt Ryan (No. 3 overall in 2008)
  • Joe Flacco (No. 18 overall in 2008)
  • Matthew Stafford (No. 1 overall in 2009)
  • Cam Newton (No. 1 overall in 2011)
  • Andrew Luck (No. 1 overall in 2012)
  • Carson Wentz (No. 2 overall in 2016)
  • Patrick Mahomes (No. 10 overall in 2017)
  • Deshaun Watson (No. 12 overall in 2017)
  • Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall in 2018)

The jury is still out on Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins. But it’s worth pointing out that Haskins appears to be on the outs already in Washington, and Jones was a veritable turnover machine last year as a rookie in the Big Apple.

Folks, that’s just 14 quarterbacks out of 56 total who went from first-round pick to veritable superstar, and even that’s debatable when you’re talking about a guy like Wentz, who’s struggled with injuries.

The kids are alright: Now let’s take a look at first-round quarterbacks since 2000 that didn’t become superstars but who had (or are having) solid careers.

  • Chad Pennington (No. 18 overall in 2000)
  • Carson Palmer (No. 1 overall in 2003)
  • Byron Leftwich (No. 7 overall in 2003)
  • Alex Smith (No. 1 overall in 2005
  • Jason Campbell (No. 25 overall in 2005)
  • Jay Cutler (No. 11 overall in 2006)
  • Sam Bradford (No. 1 overall in 2010)
  • Ryan Tannehill (No. 8 overall in 2012)
  • Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32 overall in 2014)
  • Jameis Winston (No. 1 overall in 2015)
  • Marcus Mariota (No. 2 overall in 2015)
  • Jared Goff (No. 1 overall in 2016)
  • Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall in 2018)
  • Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall in 2018)
  • Josh Allen (No. 7 overall in 2018)

It’s anyone’s guess if the likes of Goff, Mayfield, Darnold and Allen can make the leap into superstar territory in the next few years, or whether they will fall off the map like so many other top quarterbacks have done. Then there’s Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, who have already lost their chance to lead the franchises that drafted them.

Even counting them among this group of “solid” starters, we’re still looking at 15 total.

That means that, out of the 56 first-round quarterbacks who have been selected in the first round since 2000, 29 of them (just over half) have been able to (arguably) turn into decent starters.

Bust or thereabouts: Now let’s take a look at the quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2000 who have either turned into busts (many of whom were the worst quarterback in franchise history for their respective teams) or who appear to be headed toward that distinction.

  • David Carr (No. 1 overall in 2002)
  • Joey Harrington (No. 3 overall in 2002)
  • Patrick Ramsey (No. 32 overall in 2002)
  • Kyle Boller (No. 19 overall in 2003)
  • Rex Grossman (No. 22 overall in 2003)
  • J.P. Losman (No. 2 overall in 2004)
  • Vince Young (No. 3 overall in 2006)
  • Matt Leinart (No. 10 overall in 2006)
  • JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall in 2007)
  • Brady Quinn (No. 22 overall in 2007)
  • Mark Sanchez (No. 5 overall in 2009)
  • Josh Freeman (No. 17 overall in 2009)
  • Tim Tebow (No. 25 overall in 2010)
  • Jake Locker (No. 8 overall in 2011)
  • Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 overall in 2011)
  • Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall in 2011)
  • Robert Griffin III (No. 2 overall in 2012)
  • Brandon Weeden (No. 22 overall in 2012)
  • EJ Manuel (No. 16 overall in 2013)
  • Blake Bortles (No. 3 overall in 2014)
  • Johnny Manziel (No. 22 overall in 2014)
  • Paxton Lynch (No. 26 overall in 2016)
  • Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 overall in 2017)
  • Josh Rosen (No. 10 overall in 2018)

Clearly, it’s not easy to pick a winner when you’re looking at quarterbacks in the first round of any draft.

The bottom line: This year’s draft will likely see Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love selected in the first round. There’s a chance other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts could end up being selected in the bottom half of Round 1 as well.

Every single one of them has the potential to turn into an NFL star. And every single one of them could also bust big time — including Burrow, who has drawn comparisons to Andrew Luck as the most pro-ready quarterback in years.

It’s a total crapshoot. And that’s the truth.