What do Jeff Christenson, Babe Laufenberg, Reggie Collier, Gary Kubiak, Tom Ramsey and Bruce Mathison have in common with John Elway, Todd Blackridge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino?
They were the next six quarterbacks chosen in the 1983 National Football League Draft after Elway, Blackridge, Kelly, Eason, O’Brien and Marino were selected in the first round. No quarterback was chosen after the Miami Dolphins took Marino with the 27th pick until Christenson was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round with the 137th pick in the draft.
What can we learn from this information?
Well, why it is fashionable to point out that Joe Montana wasn’t selected until the third round, the San Francisco 49ers tabbed him with the 82nd pick in the 1979 draft, and Tom Brady lasted until the sixth round, chosen by the New England Patriots with the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, most often the scouts get it right.
Now, there are often some unsubstantiated claims about certain players that taint their viability on draft day. In 1983, there was a rumor that Marino had a drug problem, it is not verified that the Dolphins planted the story, but they certainly were the team that benefited from the false claim. Without that story circulating, we could have expected Marino would not have been the last of the six first round quarterbacks chosen that year.
This year, recent reports have Ohio State’s quarterback Justin Fields battling epilepsy. This is not a false rumor and has been confirmed by Fields who has battled it since a child and has managed it to where episodes are less frequent and it has never affected his play on the field. Still, the news may cool the 49ers prospects of drafting him with the third pick in the draft and shift their thinking to Alabama’s Mac Jones.
In 1998, troubling personal reports about the questionable conduct of Marshall Wide Receiver Randy Moss had him slip to a later than anticipated first round choice. Then, Dennis Green, the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, went with what he saw on film and discarded the negative media stories to select Moss with the 21st pick in the first round.
Three of the first 25 players chosen in the first round in 1998 earned a bust in Canton, those Hall of Fame entrants were Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Moss.
In other words, teams are cautioned against overreaching to late news reports that dampen the enthusiasm they once had for a gifted athlete.
It is expected five quarterbacks will be selected in the first round in this year’s draft. Trevor Lawrence will go first to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it is expected the New York Jets will take Zach Wilson with the second pick.
The 49ers third pick in the draft is less certain, with any of the remaining “big three” a possible choice. That list includes Fields, Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
So, will the scouting departments that spend a first round choice on a quarterback this year get it right?
In 1983, three Hall of Fame signal callers went in the first round, but they were not the first three picked. Elway was the first choice, but the other two Hall of Fame members, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, were selected third and sixth among quarterbacks in that first round.
So, put these five in your order, Lawrence, Wilson, Jones, Fields and Lance, and see if you outdo those that are paid to get it right.