Here’s a ranking of all 55 quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL draft since the start of the BCS era. The criteria include both on-field performance and draft status. At the bottom of the list–the busts–draft status matters more because none of those players panned out or had great seasons. The bigger busts are the ones that required more investment and had more expectation. Toward the top of the list, performance mattered way more than what part of the first round a player was picked.
55. Ryan Leaf (No. 2, Chargers, 1998) — Known almost as well as a pain killer addict as the San Diego Chargers former quarterback, Leaf’s career was over in three seasons.
54. JaMarcus Russell (No. 1, Raiders, 2007) — Russell managed to stick around for 31 games instead of Leaf’s 25. Also, Russell admitted he was addicted to codeine, a painkiller. That’s a sad parallel with Leaf.
53. Akili Smith (No. 3, Bengals, 1999) — This guy was truly horrific. He had six touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rushing) in 22 games.
52. Tim Couch (No. 1, Browns, 1999) — He’s the guy atop the infamous and viral jersey, which listed the Browns’ failed quarterbacks. Fittingly, he’s the headliner. He’s probably the worst pick in the history of Cleveland’s sad franchise.
51. Brady Quinn (No. 22, Cleveland, 2007) — Also on that infamous jersey. Also a terrible pick.
50. Matt Leinart (No. 10, Cardinals, 2006) — Even more so than his USC teammate Reggie Bush, Leinart was a much better college player than he was a pro.
49. Johnny Manziel (No. 22, Browns, 2014) — Yes, another Browns quarterback. At least, they don’t have the worst quarterback on this list.
48. Paxton Lynch (No. 26, Broncos, 2016) — He’s not out of the league — yet. But the Broncos may draft a quarterback at No. 5 overall. They also signed Case Keenum. They have zero respect for Lynch, who has four unimpressive starts to his name.
47. EJ Manuel (No. 16, Bills 2013) — At the time, this pick made little sense. It still doesn’t.
46. Christian Ponder (No. 12, Vikings, 2011) — In his final years in the league, he went three seasons with three different teams without recording a single statistic. Not great.
45. Cade McNown (No. 12, Bears, 1999) — Who? The quarterback busts of the late 1990s didn’t even have the luxury of inflated passing statistics like the busts which have come later. McNown averaged 170.6 passing yards per start.
44. Joey Harrington (No. 3, Lions, 2002) — It’s too bad Twitter didn’t exist when Harrington entered the league, because folks with egg avatars would’ve gone to town.
43. David Carr (No. 1, Texans, 2002) — He was always a bad pro quarterback. But somehow, he played in the NFL until he was 33.
42. Jake Locker (No. 8, Titans, 2011) — He retired at a time when he looked like a career backup.
41. Blaine Gabbert (No. 10, Jaguars, 2011) — He had two games in 2017 when he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. It was truly shocking.
40. Kyle Boller (No. 18, Ravens, 2003) — He and his rocket arm started 55 Ravens’ games, the second-most in franchise history. What a waste.
39. Tim Tebow (No. 25, Broncos, 2010) — He’ll always have this throw.
38. Byron Leftwich (No. 7, Jaguars, 2003) — His touchdown-to-interception radio is pretty good (58:42). But he averaged fewer than one passing touchdown per game. 60 games, 58 passing touchdowns.
37. Rex Grossman (No. 22, Bears, 2003) — He’s the worst first-rounder quarterback to make it to the Super Bowl. Gross, man.
36. Patrick Ramsey (No. 32, Redskins, 2002) — Carr, Harrington and Ramsey? The 2002 class stunk.
35. Brandon Weeden (No. 22, Browns, 2012) — He’s a shockingly bad quarterback, who has somehow survived six seemingly long years in the NFL (and counting).
34. J.P. Losman (No. 22, Bills, 2004) — He always felt a little hapless in the pocket — and that’s not what you want in quarterback.
33. Robert Griffin III (No. 2, Redskins, 2012) — The breakable man’s incredible rookie season only gets him so far.
32. Josh Freeman (No. 17, Buccaneers, 2009) — I’m a firm believer Freeman didn’t get the chances he was due in the NFL. He’s strikes me as player who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
31. Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, Vikings, 2014) — A surprisingly average quarterback, who may never get the chance to prove himself after his devastating knee injury.