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When first QB not drafted in top 10, success usually doesn't follow

By Tim Graham

If history is an indicator, then EJ Manuel will have a tough go in the NFL.

Top-notch quarterback metrician Scott Kacsmar has examined what happens after the first one off the draft board is taken outside the top 10 picks -- in other words, the best quarterback of a weak class.

The Buffalo Bills traded back and, with every quarterback available, selected Manuel 16th overall.

Kacsmar's research for shows that nine times since 1967 the first quarterback was drafted outside the top 10 but still in the first round.

Chad Pennington (18th overall in 2000) and Doug Williams (17th in 1978) were the most successful of the lot.

But Williams' biggest triumph, winning Super Bowl MVP, happened after the Washington Redskins made him their backup. Williams went 0-2 as a starter that year and had a career losing record. He posted a 69.4 career passer rating.

The others on Kacsmar's list were Greg Landry (11th in 1968), Jerry Tagge (11th in 1972), Steve Pisarkiewicz (19th in 1977), Marc Wilson (15th in 1980), Dan McGwire (16th in 1991) and Jim Druckenmiller (26th in 1997).

Interesting in Kacsmar's analysis is that when the first quarterback was drafted after the first round -- it has happened five times -- success came more easily. In that group are Danny White, Boomer Esiason, Randall Cunningham, Tom Tupa and Tony Banks.

What the hell does it mean that three of those guys also were college punters? Strange.

But I digress.

Kacsmar writes:

But Manuel is entering a league where expectations are for a rookie quarterback to start on opening day. He really cannot afford to sit for a year or two like Esiason, Cunningham and Pennington did.

Buffalo should be getting a dual-threat quarterback, though Manuel will have to improve his passing as it is not to the level of someone like Robert Griffin III by any means. He is more like Cam Newton, though not as explosive both on the ground and down the field.

Kacsmar also points out that Manuel didn't play in the SEC, which developed the best talent in this year's draft class at 63 players.

Manuel threw an interception on 3.12 percent of his attempts. That's slightly higher than average when compared to the first quarterback drafted in each of the previous dozen classes. The ones who were worse: Matthew Stafford, Vince Young, Carson Palmer and Michael Vick.


2013 draft | EJ Manuel | Vince Young
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |