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NFL draft: Ranking all 24 quarterback classes since 2000

The 2024 NFL Draft offers yet another pool of potential franchise quarterbacks. Before we welcome those prospects into the club, let's take stock of where we stand today. Marc Sessler has once again updated his rankings of each QB draft class that has entered the NFL since the turn of the millennium. Last offseason's rankings have been altered to reflect a scenery-shifting 2023 campaign.

NOTE: Pro Bowlers are denoted by an asterisk (*).

24) 2007

Round 1: JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall), Brady Quinn (No. 22)
Round 2: Kevin Kolb (No. 36), John Beck (No. 40), Drew Stanton (No. 43)
Round 3: Trent Edwards (No. 92)
Round 4: Isaiah Stanback (No. 103)
Round 5: Jeff Rowe (No. 151), Troy Smith (No. 174)
Round 6: Jordan Palmer (No. 205)
Round 7: Tyler Thigpen (No. 2017)
Notable undrafted: Matt Moore

We begin our journey in grim territory. The 2007 NFL Draft was "headlined" by JaMarcus Russell, arguably the most severe quarterback bust of all time and a first-overall whiff who set the Raiders back years. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound LSU star produced a grotesque 7-18 mark as a starter and finished 2009 -- his final year in the league -- as the worst passer in football. Russell netted $39.4 million, while the Raiders, in return, were handed a raging headache. Ugly vibes for the Browns, too, who reached for Brady Quinn at No. 22, only to turn around three years later and trade him to the Broncos for fullback Peyton Hillis -- who at least managed to sneak onto the cover of Madden. Career backup Drew Stanton is one of the few to earn points inside a flatlining class that handed us John Beck, Trent Edwards and the overhyped Kevin Kolb. High-level busts and zero reliable starters make this the worst crop of them all.

23) 2002

Round 1: David Carr (No. 1), Joey Harrington (No. 3), Patrick Ramsey (No. 32)
Round 3: Josh McCown (No. 81)
Round 4: David Garrard* (No. 108), Rohan Davey (No. 117)
Round 5: Randy Fasani (No. 137), Kurt Kittner (No. 158), Brandon Doman (No. 163), Craig Nall (No. 164)
Round 6: J.T. O'Sullivan (No. 186), Steve Bellisari (No. 205)
Round 7: Seth Burford (No. 216), Jeff Kelly (No. 232), Ronald Curry (No. 235), Wes Pate (No. 236)
Notable undrafted: Shaun Hill, Chad Hutchinson

Best in show? I side with Josh McCown, the enduring and fun-to-watch sometimes starter who might wind up as a head coach someday. While David Carr never lived up to the status of being the No. 1 overall pick, his situation reminds me of what happened to Tim Couch in Cleveland: a young quarterback tossed into the fire on a wanting expansion team struggling to find its way. David Garrard produced a flock of flashy moments with the Jaguars, while Shaun Hill -- an undrafted arm -- spent 15 years in the league. This class was also yanked to Earth by two first-round nightmares, Detroit's Joey Harrington and Washington's Patrick Ramsey, who combined for a 28-51 record with the teams that mistakenly chose them. For diehards, this class gifted us with undrafted mystery Chad Hutchinson.

22) 2013

Round 1: EJ Manuel (No. 16)
Round 2: Geno Smith* (No. 39)
Round 3: Mike Glennon (No. 73)
Round 4: Matt Barkley (No. 98), Ryan Nassib (No. 110), Tyler Wilson (No. 112), Landry Jones (No. 115)
Round 7: Brad Sorensen (No. 221), Zac Dysert (No. 234), B.J. Daniels (No. 237), Sean Renfree (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Matt McGloin

Teams were surprised when the Bills reached for EJ Manuel with the 16th overall selection. Seen by most as a project with potential, the Florida State product was a turnover-prone flop in Buffalo -- a player Doug Marrone replaced with Kyle Orton before Rex Ryan signed Tyrod Taylor, to avoid leaning on Manuel.

No first-round love poems here, but second-rounder Geno Smith is one of football's better tales. Tabbed as a post-Russell Wilson patch in Seattle, the ex-washout went on to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors (and his first career Pro Bowl nod) in 2022, then made the Pro Bowl again in 2023. That alone can't rocket this class up the list, but Geno stands out from an otherwise putrid crop.

21) 2010

Round 1: Sam Bradford (No. 1), Tim Tebow (No. 25)
Round 2: Jimmy Clausen (No. 48)
Round 3: Colt McCoy (No. 85)
Round 4: Mike Kafka (No. 122)
Round 5: John Skelton (No. 155), Jonathan Crompton (No. 168)
Round 6: Rusty Smith (No. 176), Dan LeFevour (No. 181), Joe Webb (No. 199), Tony Pike (No. 204)
Round 7: Levi Brown (No. 209), Sean Canfield (No. 239), Zac Robinson (No. 250)

You could argue that Sam Bradford was a major factor in the institution of a much-needed rookie pay scale in 2011. Bradford's six-year, $78 million rookie contract came packed with an outrageous $50 million in guarantees. As an unconvincing Offensive Rookie of the Year winner, the snakebitten signal-caller missed 25 games over his final two seasons in St. Louis due to a string of disastrous injuries.

Long-term knee issues undid his career, but Bradford sits atop a class sprinkled with career backups -- hard-working Colt McCoy and the hyper-vanilla Jimmy Clausen -- and one memorable first-round reach in Tim Tebow, who operated as a worldwide sensation during a magical run with the Broncos in 2011 before flaming out entirely and eventually doing a stint in the minor leagues with the Mets.

20) 2006

Round 1: Vince Young* (No. 3), Matt Leinart (No. 10), Jay Cutler* (No. 11)
Round 2: Kellen Clemens (No. 49), Tarvaris Jackson (No. 64)
Round 3: Charlie Whitehurst (No. 81), Brodie Croyle (No. 85)
Round 4: Brad Smith (No. 103)
Round 5: Ingle Martin (No. 148), Omar Jacobs (No. 164)
Round 6: Reggie McNeal (No. 193), Bruce Gradkowski (No. 194)
Round 7: D.J. Shockley (No. 223)

This class boils down to what you think about Jay Cutler. While the strong-armed passer logged 153 total starts, his 51-51 regular-season mark with the Bears is apt. He unfurled plenty of big plays -- some of his throws were pure beauty -- but we'd struggle to come up with Cutler's top-five list of inspiring come-from-behind victories. He never came close to morphing into a transcendent player at the position, but he soldiered on long after fellow first-rounders Vince Young and Matt Leinart faded. Charlie Whitehurst was nothing special, but he gets points in this space for his flowing mane and ability to snag the songstress Jewel as a paramour in the mid-'10s.

19) 2015

Round 1: Jameis Winston* (No. 1), Marcus Mariota (No. 2)
Round 3: Garrett Grayson (No. 75), Sean Mannion (No. 89)
Round 4: Bryce Petty (No. 103)
Round 5: Brett Hundley (No. 147)
Round 7: Trevor Siemian (No. 250)

After melting away in Tampa and toiling away in NOLA, Jameis Winston is now set to back up Deshaun Watson in Cleveland.

Marcus Mariota never matched the hype. Onto his fifth team, he'll now join forces with whomever the Commanders grab in the draft. The rest of this group is a bland and muddled mess.

18) 2022

Round 1: Kenny Pickett (No. 20)
Round 3: Desmond Ridder (No. 74), Malik Willis (No. 86), Matt Corral (No. 94)
Round 4: Bailey Zappe (No. 137)
Round 5: Sam Howell (No. 144)
Round 7: Chris Oladokun (No. 241), Skylar Thompson (No. 247), Brock Purdy* (No. 262)
Notable undrafted: Anthony Brown

This gaggle of arms doubles as a reminder of how quickly it all moves: Kenny Pickett's stint as King of the Steelers was over by lunchtime. Same goes for Desmond Ridder in Atlanta. Malik Willis looms as an afterthought. Bailey Zappe, too. I like Sam Howell more than anyone above, but the Commanders shipped him to Seattle in March without hesitation. Not all is lost, though, with Brock Purdy stringing together two magical campaigns and falling a whisker short of lifting the Lombardi as San Francisco's storybook hero.

17) 2021

Round 1: Trevor Lawrence* (No. 1), Zach Wilson (No. 2), Trey Lance (No. 3), Justin Fields (No. 11), Mac Jones* (No. 15)
Round 2: Kyle Trask (No. 64)
Round 3: Kellen Mond (No. 66), Davis Mills (No. 67)
Round 4: Ian Book (No. 133)
Round 6: Sam Ehlinger (No. 218)

The Class of 2021 sits in flux.

Free from Urban Meyer's reign of terror, Trevor Lawrence flowered under the watch of Doug Pederson in 2022. Inconsistencies were replaced by reliable big-boy throws, heightened decision-making and a knack for blasting opponents on the ground with his massive 6-foot-6 frame. His 2023 tape was less showy, but squint just right, and you can see the makings of a top-10 passer.

A year ago, I wrote that Justin Fields was "the most exciting prospect Chicago's possessed in eons." Now he's in Pittsburgh.

After a star-crossed start in Foxborough, Mac Jones was dealt to Jacksonville to back up our friend above, Mr. Lawrence.

Trey Lance was traded from San Francisco to Dallas, Zach Wilson appears to be one of the bigger quarterback busts of the century and Davis Mills fades into the woodwork in Houston. Rough-and-tumble territory.

16) 2014

Round 1: Blake Bortles (No. 3), Johnny Manziel (No. 22), Teddy Bridgewater* (No. 32)
Round 2: Derek Carr* (No. 36), Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 62)
Round 4: Logan Thomas (No. 120), Tom Savage (No. 135)
Round 5: Aaron Murray (No. 163), AJ McCarron (No. 164)
Round 6: Zach Mettenberger (No. 178), David Fales (No. 183), Keith Wenning (No. 194), Tajh Boyd (No. 213), Garrett Gilbert (No. 214)

This class dots the spectrum, with high-profile starters and unforgivable draft mistakes mixed into one chaotic soup.

Derek Carr is a Saint after being shoved aside by the Raiders organization. He deserved better, but Carr remains a middle-tier guy bound to frustrate as often as he delights. Jimmy Garoppolo is on his fourth team and fading -- but still dreamy.

Blake Bortles fizzled out in Jacksonville, while Johnny Manziel remains a haunting quarterback selection by the Browns. Taken 10 picks later, Teddy Bridgewater had his career sideswiped by a devastating knee injury before emerging as a journeyman with upside. Now he's a high school coach.

15) 2009

Round 1: Matthew Stafford* (No. 1), Mark Sanchez (No. 5), Josh Freeman (No. 17)
Round 2: Pat White (No. 44)
Round 4: Stephen McGee (No. 101)
Round 5: Rhett Bomar (No. 151), Nate Davis (No. 171)
Round 6: Tom Brandstater (No. 174), Mike Teel (No. 178), Keith Null (No. 196), Curtis Painter (No. 201)
Notable undrafted: Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer

Beyond Super Bowl-winning Matthew Stafford, there's nothing else happening here save for the early career success of Mark Sanchez. He generated a handful of special moments during back-to-back trips to the AFC title game with the Jets but was fully exposed as a starter by 2011. Josh Freeman was a wayward first-round flameout, while the Dolphins whiffed by using the 44th pick on Pat White, who never started a game for Miami -- or anyone -- under center. Chase Daniel earns points for hanging around through the 2022 season, while Brian Hoyer's just a phone call away.

14) 2019

Round 1: Kyler Murray* (No. 1), Daniel Jones (No. 6), Dwayne Haskins (No. 15)
Round 2: Drew Lock (No. 42)
Round 3: Will Grier (No. 100)
Round 4: Ryan Finley (No. 104), Jarrett Stidham (No. 133)
Round 5: Easton Stick (No. 166), Clayton Thorson (No. 167)
Round 6: Gardner Minshew* (No. 178), Trace McSorley (No. 197)
Notable undrafted: David Blough, Devlin Hodges

Kyler Murray brought good vibes to Arizona as a rookie, flashing his powerful arm and jitterbug mobility. His late-season swoon in 2021 -- capped by a hideous playoff performance and public demands for a new deal -- left Cardinals faithful piqued. A torn ACL late in the 2022 campaign didn't help, but Kyler looked the part down the stretch last season. He'll run the show again for a rebuilding Cardinals roster.

Daniel Jones notched a career year in 2022 -- earning a king’s ransom -- but tumbled back to Earth in 2023. He rests on the hot seat in New York.

Drew Lock is backup fodder. Jarrett Stidham, too. Same goes for Gardner Minshew, but he's a spicier fringe starter sporting a 59:24 touchdown-to-pick ratio. We lost Dwayne Haskins far too soon.

13) 2023

Round 1: Bryce Young (No. 1), C.J. Stroud* (No. 2), Anthony Richardson (No. 4)
Round 2: Will Levis (No. 33)
Round 3: Hendon Hooker (No. 68)
Round 4: Jake Haener (No. 127), Stetson Bennett (No. 128), Aidan O'Connell (No. 135)
Round 5: Clayton Tune (No. 139), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (No. 140), Sean Clifford (No. 149), Jaren Hall (No. 164)
Round 6: Tanner McKee (No. 188)
Round 7: Max Duggan (No. 239)
Notable undrafted: Tyson Bagent, Tommy DeVito

Massive TBDs.

Bryce Young suffered through an ugly rookie campaign on a ghastly Panthers squad. I'm tempted to data-wipe the entire dark dream, but he put a ton of rough tape out there. Fingers crossed that new Carolina front man Dave Canales can help Young develop quickly.

Anthony Richardson flashed glorious playmaking ability for the Colts, but a concussion and season-ending AC sprain leave him with an incomplete mark. He's one of the AFC's most exciting what-might-be figures entering the new campaign.

Both Carolina and the Colts likely turned green watching C.J. Stroud transform into a legitimate MVP candidate months into his NFL career. Attached to the white-hot Texans, Stroud can do it all, whipping 23 touchdowns to just five picks as a newbie. With Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon added to Houston's laundry list of weapons, Stroud finds himself in prime position to push this organization to the brink.

Aidan O'Connell and Dorian Thompson-Robinson went to battle in the regular season. Clayton Tune, too. Hendon Hooker's on hold as long as Jared Goff runs the show in Detroit. This class, though, houses genuine promise -- and evidence that its lead horse might be a centerpiece for years to come.

12) 2000

Round 1: Chad Pennington (No. 18)
Round 3: Giovanni Carmazzi (No. 65), Chris Redman (No. 75)
Round 5: Tee Martin (No. 163)
Round 6: Marc Bulger* (No. 168), Spergon Wynn (No. 183), Tom Brady* (No. 199), Todd Husak (No. 202), Ja'Juan Seider (No. 205)
Round 7: Tim Rattay (No. 212), Jarious Jackson (No. 214), Joe Hamilton (No. 234)
Notable undrafted: Doug Johnson, Billy Volek

You could argue this group should rank higher ... or much lower. While it's littered with nonsensical names who barely made a blip on the radar, the 2000 class also boasts the greatest quarterback of the 21st century -- and, for me, ever -- in seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady. It's surreal that he floated to Tampa at age 43 to win it all. Next task: Create FOX-based Sunday intrigue from the announcer's booth.

Chad Pennington is lost in Tommy's shadow, but the group's only first-rounder was a rare find for the Jets and produced nicely for most of his 11-year career. An anonymous sixth-rounder, Marc Bulger went on to start 95 games for the post-Kurt Warner Rams over eight seasons. It's incredible the 49ers made Giovanni Carmazzi the second quarterback off the board with Brady -- a Bay Area resident -- still available, but the blame falls on every single team in the NFL who failed to recognize what the future Patriots star would become. Pennington, Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Bulger and Spergon Wynn all found homes before fate intervened to pair TB12 with Bill Belichick.

11) 2016

Round 1: Jared Goff* (No. 1), Carson Wentz* (No. 2), Paxton Lynch (No. 26)
Round 2: Christian Hackenberg (No. 51)
Round 3: Jacoby Brissett (No. 91), Cody Kessler (No. 93)
Round 4: Connor Cook (No. 100), Dak Prescott* (No. 135), Cardale Jones (No. 139)
Round 5: Kevin Hogan (No. 162)
Round 6: Nate Sudfeld (No. 187), Jake Rudock (No. 191), Brandon Allen (No. 201), Jeff Driskel (No. 207)
Round 7: Brandon Doughty (No. 223)

First overall pick Jared Goff authored a troubling, deer-in-headlights Super Bowl start and underwhelmed for a Rams team that shipped him off to Detroit. Instead of withering away, though, Goff has churned out his best tape yet for the Lions; in 2023, he helped lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and to the NFC title game for the first time since 1991.

Second overall pick Carson Wentz fell apart in Philly before fizzling out in Indy and Washington. He was never the same after a 2017 knee injury wiped out an MVP-level campaign for the Eagles. No longer seen as a starter, Wentz sits behind Patrick Mahomes in Chiefs Land.

Dak Prescott has massively exceeded his fourth-round pedigree and deserved that big second contract from Dallas. He's the best of the bunch with star-level traits -- until January hits. Will he re-up with the 'Boys again after this season or be wearing a different uniform in 2025?

Jacoby Brissett is a top-shelf backup who can win games as a starter. Paxton Lynch was a chilling whiff for Denver, while Cody Kessler never materialized.

10) 2011

Round 1: Cam Newton* (No. 1), Jake Locker (No. 8), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10), Christian Ponder (No. 12)
Round 2: Andy Dalton* (No. 35), Colin Kaepernick (No. 36)
Round 3: Ryan Mallett (No. 74)
Round 5: Ricky Stanzi (No. 135), T.J. Yates (No. 152), Nathan Enderle (No. 160)
Round 6: Tyrod Taylor* (No. 180)
Round 7: Greg McElroy (No. 208)
Supplemental draft: Terrelle Pryor (Round 3)

Another class littered with starting talent and franchise-altering busts. Back in 2011, the Panthers wisely ignored their selection of Jimmy Clausen the previous April, going all in on Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the draft. With an MVP award and Super Bowl appearance under his belt, Newton largely met expectations while making the Panthers a relevant franchise. That all feels Old Testament after Carolina kicked Cam to the curb, leaving Newton to toil in New England in 2020 before (weirdly) returning to a fading Panthers squad in 2021.

Ace Boogie's success is offset by a trio of first-round whiffs -- Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder -- that would be enough to shuttle this class down the list if it weren't for the supporting cast. Andy Dalton is no Joe Burrow, but he gave the Bengals nearly a decade's worth of perfectly average performances. Tyrod Taylor offers starting experience, but a lack of durability has unspooled too many adventures. Colin Kaepernick's career morphed into a radioactive talking point, but he brought the Niners within one completed pass of a Super Bowl title and was seen by many as the most exciting quarterback in football for a two-season stretch.

9) 2008

Round 1: Matt Ryan* (No. 3), Joe Flacco (No. 18)
Round 2: Brian Brohm (No. 56), Chad Henne (No. 57)
Round 3: Kevin O'Connell (No. 94)
Round 5: John David Booty (No. 137), Dennis Dixon (No. 156), Josh Johnson (No. 160), Erik Ainge (No. 162)
Round 6: Colt Brennan (No. 186), Andre' Woodson (No. 198)
Round 7: Matt Flynn (No. 209), Alex Brink (No. 223)
Notable undrafted: Caleb Hanie

The 2008 group gave us one-time MVP Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title after a month-plus of pristine postseason play. Ryan became an announcer, while Flacco returned to the field -- in Cleveland of all places -- to author one of the more unpredictable Comeback Player of the Year campaigns around. The names lack sizzle from there, with Chad Henne underwhelming as a starter and Brian Brohm serving as a second-round disappointment. Matt Flynn offered hopeful moments, but he failed to become a QB1.

8) 2003

Round 1: Carson Palmer* (No. 1), Byron Leftwich (No. 7), Kyle Boller (No. 19), Rex Grossman (No. 22)
Round 3: Dave Ragone (No. 88), Chris Simms (No. 97)
Round 4: Seneca Wallace (No. 110)
Round 5: Brian St. Pierre (No. 163)
Round 6: Drew Henson (No. 192), Brooks Bollinger (No. 200), Kliff Kingsbury (No. 201)
Round 7: Gibran Hamdan (No. 232), Ken Dorsey (No. 241)
Notable undrafted: Tony Romo*

The best passer in this class wasn't even drafted. Tony Romo was brought to Dallas when former Cowboys assistant Sean Payton pitched him to Bill Parcells. The rest is history, with Romo taking the starting job from Drew Bledsoe in 2006 and never looking back. Heavily critiqued early in his career for the occasional high-profile gaffe, Romo ultimately retired as one of the NFL's most reliable quarterbacks -- and now he's a Sunday fixture on CBS. No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer proved to be well worth the selection, which was made by the Bengals, though some of the best work of his 14-year career came later on with Arizona. Byron Leftwich gave the Jaguars 44 up-and-down starts, while Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman were largely annoying. Still, Grossman is the only passer from this class to start on the game's biggest stage, helping guide Chicago to Super Bowl XLI, where the Bears were steamrolled by Peyton Manning's Colts.

7) 2001

Round 1: Michael Vick* (No. 1)
Round 2: Drew Brees* (No. 32), Quincy Carter (No. 53), Marques Tuiasosopo (No. 59)
Round 4: Chris Weinke (No. 106), Sage Rosenfels (No. 109), Jesse Palmer (No. 125)
Round 5: Mike McMahon (No. 149), A.J. Feeley (No. 155)
Round 6: Josh Booty (No. 172), Josh Heupel (No. 177)

Both Mike Vick and Drew Brees changed perceptions of how the position could -- and should -- be played. Vick's rare scampering ability and off-the-charts athleticism refocused the league on the potential of running quarterbacks. It's impossible not to wonder how Vick's career would have progressed without his dog-fighting scandal and subsequent prison stint -- though he did make one more Pro Bowl with Philly in 2010. Brees, meanwhile, served as a constant reminder that height-challenged quarterbacks aren't always a minus. In his case, Brees operated as a top-tier superstar after he landed with the Saints in 2006, winning a storybook Super Bowl for New Orleans and making that offense a treat to watch every fall. He's an easy Hall of Fame selection and an icon under center. The class had its issues, too, with second-rounders Quincy Carter and Marques Tuiasosopo fading fast. Chris Weinke doesn't help, finishing with a 2-18 record as a starter, while A.J. Feeley is remembered as a mere patch in Miami.

6) 2012

Round 1: Andrew Luck* (No. 1), Robert Griffin III* (No. 2), Ryan Tannehill* (No. 8), Brandon Weeden (No. 22)
Round 2: Brock Osweiler (No. 57)
Round 3: Russell Wilson* (No. 75), Nick Foles* (No. 88)
Round 4: Kirk Cousins* (No. 102)
Round 6: Ryan Lindley (No. 185)
Round 7: B.J. Coleman (No. 243), Chandler Harnish (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Case Keenum

Had all gone right, this class might be remembered as an equal to the all-star cast from 2004 -- maybe even 1983. Andrew Luck is a Hall of Fame talent who won't reach Canton after his stunning retirement in 2019. A troubling case, Robert Griffin III was the most exciting quarterback in football during his rookie campaign -- before a knee injury changed his path forever. Washington found RGIII's replacement in that same draft by nabbing Kirk Cousins. Who knew he'd become the prize of free agency in 2018 and again in 2024? In Round 3, the Seahawks altered their franchise by taking a chance on Russell Wilson. Dinged by some for his diminutive stature, Wilson won the starting job in his first training camp and hoisted the Lombardi in Year 2. His much-ballyhooed arrival in Denver landed with a thud as Wilson appeared lost at sea in a Broncos uniform. Two years later, he headed to Pittsburgh for a song. Toss in Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles and 2019 Comeback Player of the Year honoree Ryan Tannehill, and this emerges as a wildly productive class, even amid the wreckage of Griffin, ultra-bust Brandon Weeden and the underwhelming Brock Osweiler.

5) 2005

Round 1: Alex Smith* (No. 1), Aaron Rodgers* (No. 24), Jason Campbell (No. 25)
Round 3: Charlie Frye (No. 67), Andrew Walter (No. 69), David Greene (No. 85)
Round 4: Kyle Orton (No. 106), Stefan LeFors (No. 121)
Round 5: Dan Orlovsky (No. 145), Adrian McPherson (No. 152)
Round 6: Derek Anderson* (No. 213)
Round 7: James Kilian (No. 229), Matt Cassel* (No. 230), Ryan Fitzpatrick (No. 250)

The first round produced a long-range starter in Alex Smith and one of football's burning suns in four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers. We all know how Rodgers fumed while watching 21 teams (the Vikings and Cowboys each picked twice in the top 23) pass him by before the Packers added him to a roster already equipped with Brett Favre under center. The chance to sit and learn helped Rodgers, who went on to win a Super Bowl and emerge as a lock for Canton. With what we know now, Rodgers should have gone ahead of Smith -- and all other humans in the 2005 draft -- but Smith earns points for a 99-67-1 mark under center.

Beyond the big two, this class offered unusual longevity. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a pure delight, pairing with Matt Cassel to become two of the more productive seventh-rounders in memory. This group also gave us Derek Anderson and the whirlwind known as Kyle Orton. It's crazy to think Washington was forced to settle for Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers went to Green Bay.

It's worth noting the Jets -- now praying Rodgers can save the day after a lost 2023 -- didn't own a first-round pick in that year's draft.

4) 2018

Round 1: Baker Mayfield (No. 1), Sam Darnold (No. 3), Josh Allen* (No. 7), Josh Rosen (No. 10), Lamar Jackson* (No. 32)
Round 3: Mason Rudolph (No. 76)
Round 4: Kyle Lauletta (No. 108)
Round 5: Mike White (No. 171)
Round 6: Luke Falk (No. 199), Tanner Lee (No. 203)
Round 7: Danny Etling (No. 219), Alex McGough (No. 220), Logan Woodside (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Kyle Allen

Lamar Jackson is a two-time MVP and one of the more fascinating athletes on the planet. He bounced back from two injury-rocked campaigns to thrive in a Todd Monken-run offense in 2023. His résumé glistens -- he represents a major headache to defensive coordinators everywhere -- but Lamar's story feels incomplete minus a deep postseason journey ending in glory.

Josh Allen is one of football's most watchable forces of nature and an evergreen MVP candidate. You accept the occasional gaffe because nobody else can take over a game with Allen's brand of flair. The vise has tightened on the Bills after they traded away Stefon Diggs, but Allen's thrilling lobs and jaw-dropping dashes make Buffalo a contender still.

Baker Mayfield's better moments (he helped Cleveland to its first playoff win since 1994 and set a league-wide rookie record at the time with 27 touchdown passes) gave way to chaos as the Browns dumped him for Deshaun Watson. Spiraling out in Carolina before a brighter stint with the Rams, Mayfield is back in business after a high-quality campaign in Tampa.

Sam Darnold has believers around the league, including Kevin O'Connell, who trusts the former first-rounder enough to make starts for the Vikings until their rookie-to-be-named takes over.

Rosen is the less-fortunate Josh on this list, reduced to a memory in NFL lore.

3) 2017

Round 1: Mitchell Trubisky* (No. 2), Patrick Mahomes* (No. 10), Deshaun Watson* (No. 12)
Round 2: DeShone Kizer (No. 52)
Round 3: Davis Webb (No. 87), C.J. Beathard (No. 104)
Round 4: Joshua Dobbs (No. 135)
Round 5: Nathan Peterman (No. 171)
Round 6: Brad Kaaya (No. 215)
Round 7: Chad Kelly (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Taysom Hill, Nick Mullens

Bears fans won't soon forget ex-general manager Ryan Pace trading up for hot-and-mostly-cold Mitchell Trubisky while Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went overlooked. Mahomes remains on a trajectory to become the finest player of his generation. He's already a two-time MVP with a trio of Lombardis; his bucket list is thinning. We're so accustomed to perfection from Mahomes that his heroics over the past two years -- seamlessly conducting sweet music with limited weaponry -- leave him somehow underrated.

Mahomes is enough to tug this class into the upper worlds.

Watson is a theoretical Pro Bowl talent (last nod was in 2020) whose serious off-the-field issues didn't stop the Browns from handing him more guaranteed money than any quarterback in history. Following his 11-game suspension in 2022, Watson hit the field as a hyper-rusty version of the player we once knew. Injuries and iffy play made 2023 a problematic picture. He's under considerable pressure to operate as a top-five quarterback in 2024. Don't hold your breath.

Joshua Dobbs lifted himself into Nick Mullens territory last season, providing enough gritty play -- while changing teams two times -- to show why he remains employed, even if he and Mullens both ultimately failed to make up for the loss of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Taysom Hill looms as a better gadget-magician than starting quarterback, but Sean Payton would happily author a book of sea poems about the man after their time together in New Orleans.

2) 2020

Round 1: Joe Burrow* (No. 1), Tua Tagovailoa* (No. 5), Justin Herbert* (No. 6), Jordan Love (No. 26)
Round 3: Jalen Hurts* (No. 53)
Round 4: Jacob Eason (No. 122), James Morgan (No. 125)
Round 5: Jake Fromm (No. 167)
Round 6: Jake Luton (No. 189)
Round 7: Cole McDonald (No. 224), Ben DiNucci (No. 231), Tommy Stevens (No. 240), Nate Stanley (No. 244)

Boasting a lineup of franchise centerpieces, the Class of 2020 houses the rare DNA to wind up as the greatest group we've ever seen. After tugging the long-lost Bengals to Super Bowl LVI, Joe Burrow doubled down in 2022 to craft a brilliant 40-touchdown campaign en route to another AFC title game appearance. Last autumn was dashed by injury, but Burrow's as an old-school, unflappable warrior set to change Cincinnati forever.

I haven't lost faith in Hurts. He played at an MVP level two seasons ago and brought the Eagles to the brink of a championship. Last year's team implosion wasn't on Hurts alone -- some of his better performances were hidden in defeat -- but it forces him to double down and show us his true power come September. His ceiling remains a mystery.

Equipped with a dazzling rocket for an arm, ideal size and fiery toughness, Justin Herbert is everything we fantasize about under center. After a string of chaotic seasons under the previous regime, Herbert wakes to a new dawn under Jim Harbaugh.

Tua Tagovailoa has been a statistical wonder, spinning magic with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle under coach Mike McDaniel. He's a polarizing operator who looks like an MVP candidate to some while causing a wandering eye in others.

Here's what I wrote a year ago: "If Jordan Love becomes a reliable starter for the Packers in a post-Aaron Rodgers universe, this gaggle of precious arms looms as the stuff of dreams." Love proceeded to go 9-8 and win a playoff game.

1) 2004

Round 1: Eli Manning* (No. 1), Philip Rivers* (No. 4), Ben Roethlisberger* (No. 11), J.P. Losman (No. 22)
Round 3: Matt Schaub* (No. 90)
Round 4: Luke McCown (No. 106)
Round 5: Craig Krenzel (No. 148)
Round 6: Andy Hall (No. 185), Josh Harris (No. 187), Jim Sorgi (No. 193), Jeff Smoker (No. 201)
Round 7: John Navarre (No. 202), Cody Pickett (No. 217), Casey Bramlet (No. 218), Matt Mauck (No. 225), B.J. Symons (No. 248), Bradlee Van Pelt (No. 250)

The gold standard for quarterback classes of the 21st century. The 2004 collection of signal-callers boasts four Super Bowl wins, while the group's big three -- Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger -- can all make cases for the Hall of Fame. The trio's 721 regular-season starts also tell the tale of ironman passers counted on to dress game after game and year after year by their respective teams. The Chargers and Giants will always be linked because of the draft-day trade that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. Deep history today, though, with Eli dipped in retirement and Rivers calling it quits in 2020 after a one-year stint with the Colts. Of the group, Big Ben put together the finest career before hanging it up in 2021. The first round also included a titanic bust in J.P. Losman, but third-rounder Matt Schaub beat the odds to play for 17 seasons. Shame on those of you who don't recall the feats of Matt Mauck. If this class came around every year, the league would be turning signal-callers away at the door.

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