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Mortgaging Your Future: Is It Worth The Risk?

It's becoming more apparent that, in order to win consistently in today's NFL, a team must have solid play from the quarterback position. There are many theories, however, on how to go about acquiring a franchise quarterback. 

Following is a list of first round quarterbacks that have started at some point throughout the 2013 NFL season. Included is their draft position and a quick synopsis.

*Underlined players are part of draft day trade.*

*Italicized players are no longer on team that originally drafted them.*

Peyton Manning- Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter. Obviously one of the greatest to play the game. The penultimate franchise quarterback.

Cam Newton-Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter. Good player with extremely high potential. Franchise caliber quarterback

Andrew Luck- Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter. Good player with extremely high potential. Could become one of the "greats". Franchise caliber quarterback.

Matthew Stafford- Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter. Good, yet streaky, player. Franchise caliber quarterback.

Sam Bradford- Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter. Disappointing career. 

Alex Smith- Round 1, Pick 1- Rocky first five seasons. Tiny hands. Solid player. Possibly franchise caliber potential.

Eli Manning-Round 1, Pick 1- Opening day starter, part of very strong QB class. Good player. Franchise caliber quarterback.

Carson Palmer- Round 1, Pick 1- Recorded zero snaps his rookie season. Solid player. Questionable franchise caliber material. 

Robert Griffin III- Round 1, Pick 2- Washington gave away two future first round picks and a second round pick to nab RG3. Solid player with high potential and higher injury risk. Possibly franchise caliber player.


Matt Ryan- Round 1, Pick 3-  Opening day starter. Last of a dying breed of pure pocket passers. Took the league by storm, but it seems the storm has waned. Possible franchise caliber.


Philip Rivers- Round 1, Pick 4- Played in four games throughout first two seasons. Has since become a solid player. Looks like the Hobgoblin.


Mark Sanchez- Round 1, Pick 5- Jets traded first and second round pick plus three players to move up and take Sanchez. Opening day starter. Sanchez has had quite a rocky career and currently finds himself a second string quarterback behind second round rookie Geno Smith. Mediocre player. 


Jake Locker- Round 1, Pick 8- Considered a first round prospect, but saw value drop before draft day. Considered a high value pick at 8. Mediocre player with decent potential.


Ryan Tannehill-Round 1, Pick 8- Opening day starter. Tannehill was considered a raw talent coming into the NFL Draft. Mediocre player with solid potential.


Blaine Gabbert-Round 1, Pick 10-  Opening day starter. The Jaguars swapped first round picks and surrendered their second round pick to move up six places and take Gabbert. Gabbert has been a monumental disappointment and has since lost his starting job to Chud Henne. Poor player.


Ben Roethlisberger- Round 1, Pick 11-  Steelers' plan was to have Roethlisberger wait, but a Week 2 injury to Tommy Maddox changed those plans. Roethlisberger went undefeated in the regular season, led team to AFC Championship. Great player, HOF career. Franchise caliber quarterback.


Jay Cutler- Round 1, Pick 11- The Broncos surrendered their third round pick and swapped first rounders to move up four spots and take Cutler. Cutler has a vast amount of talent but is inconsistent and is known to have a bad personality. Solid player. 

Christian Ponder- Round 1, Pick 12- Considered a reach by all analysts, Ponder's career has been lackluster to say the least. Mediocre player with limited upside. Hot girlfriend wife .


E.J. Manuel- Round 1, Pick 16- The Bills traded down from 8 to 16, picked up a second and seventh round pick, and swapped third rounders. They got the QB they wanted, plus a second round pick, a higher third round pick and a seventh round pick. Manuel is a raw talent with an inconsistent arm, fantastic tangibles and even better intangibles. Opening day starter. Mediocre player with very high potential. Possible franchise caliber quarterback.


Josh Freeman- Round 1, PIck 17- The third QB picked in the 2009 NFL Draft, Freeman was considered by many to have the highest upside but was also the rawest talent. Sat on the bench for half of the season before becoming starter. Mediocre player with high potential.


Joe Flacco- Round 1, Pick 18- Baltimore traded down from 8 to 26, picked up two third round picks and a fourth round pick, then used a third rounder and a sixth rounder to trade back up to 18. They got the QB they wanted, plus an additional third rounder and fourth rounder. Good player with HOF potential. Franchise caliber quarterback.


Brandon Weeden- Round 1, Pick 22- It is widely believed that the Browns FO panicked in their selection of Weeden. He's been a disappointment and has lost his starting job to both Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell this season. Poor player. This GIF explains his entire career.



Aaron Rodgers- Round 1, Pick 24- Rodgers was thought to be the best QB in the draft, yet after Alex Smith was taken first overall, Rodgers saw his stock slide. He was eventually taken at 24 and sat behind Brett Favre for three seasons before becoming the Packers full time starter in 2008. Great player, HOF career. Franchise caliber quarterback.


Jason Campbell- Round 1, Pick 25- The Washington Redskins surrendered a third round pick in 2005, plus future first and fourth round pick to trade back into the first and get Campbell. Mediocre at best. Physically gifted but has never put it together in a full season.  

Drew Brees- Round 1 Pick 32- Technically a second round pick, Brees was taken by the Chargers with the 32nd overall pick. He's gone on to be a fantastic NFL QB. Great player, HOF career. Franchise caliber quarterback.

-Of the first overall picks to start at quarterback this season, none were involved in trades. 

-Of the seven quarterbacks involved in trades, two are no longer starters, two are currently injured, one started the season as a backup, and one is having a down year.

-Flacco could be considered the strongest of the "trade-up" quarterbacks, and he's been largely considered as being a  "lower-tier" elite talent.

-Furthermore, there are 4 first round quarterbacks taken within the last seven years that are no longer on active NFL rosters (Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Jamarcus Russell).

This proves one thing: there's no right way to get a QB, yet there are plenty of wrong ways. You can take the consensus #1 quarterback and get a Peyton Manning, or you can get a Jamarcus Russell. You can trade up and take a top tier guy and end up with either a Joe Flacco or a Blaine Gabbert. You can wait for a quarterback to fall to you and end up with Aaron Rodgers or a Jake Locker. You can take the quarterback with loads of raw athletic talent, coach him up, and get a Jay Cutler or get a Jason Campbell.  All that is guaranteed is that there's no guarantee.

The best way, it would appear, is to ask the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars who their favorites are and then stay as far away from those players as humanly possible.