Tonight, in the Big Easy, we get to see the National Football League’s version of a sure thing in action when first pick in the draft Trevor Lawrence attempts to put his first points on the scoreboard as a starting pro quarterback.
It is his second game in search of those initial points.
In fact, there are no ‘sure things’ in the NFL when it comes to drafting a QB. Three times in recent years clubs have spent the first pick in the draft in search of a signal caller and come up with rolling snake eyes. JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch and David Carr all came into the league with first pick in the draft status, and none of them went on to lead a winning season.
Some will contend that picking any quarterback in the draft is a crapshoot, while I have been involved in the game I have seen three players that ranked highest on performance and character references live up to expectations. The trio of John Elway (1983), Peyton Manning (1998) and Andrew Luck (2012) were first picks in the draft and all went on to prove their worth. Elway and Manning earned multiple Super Bowl wins and Luck seemingly was on a similar path before injuries prematurally ended his playing days.
What did Elway, Manning and Luck have in common?
I have long held the belief that upbringing, parents influence, is as important for a quarterback as a strong arm and quick release. Elway’s Dad, Jack, was a college football coach and had a strong family bond with John’s mother. Both Manning and Luck had father’s who played professional sports and solid family values. Archie Manning was a quarterback in the NFL and is still married to Peyton’s Mom. Oliver Luck played quarterback in the NFL and instilled solid values with wife Kathy.
Doing research on the importance of family values and the strength of character developed by young men in strong households reveals that quarterbacks drafted other than with the first pick, even out of the first round, have flourished in the league. A pair of third round choices, Joe Montana and Russell Wilson, have gone on to enjoy great careers and benefited from solid family guidance. Tom Brady was a sixth round choice, but it may be vital in his development to know how solid of a family he had growing up in Northern California.
While it seems wolves can raise successful NFL linebackers, the task of running a team from behind center requires a different level of leadership seemingly most gain from a solid family core. Following this theory to the end, I was concerned when my research led me to examine Ryan Leaf’s roots.
Leaf was considered the second best quarterback in the 1998 draft, some had him projected as better than the player picked before him, Peyton Manning. But, few players in history had a more severe drop from expectations to reality than did Leaf as a pick of the San Diego Chargers. He was horrible both on and off the field and had a myriad of personnel problems during and after his brief playing career.
Turns out, Leaf had a great family to begin his quest … it just didn’t work out initially. Fortunately, Leaf’s present day activities appear on a better path.
Great parents don't always result in great quarterbacks, but it sure seems to help.
While Trevor Lawrence will be looking for his first points on the field tonight, he scored long ago with solid family values and by all accounts great parents, Amanda and Jeremy. While Lawrence’s father didn’t play football professionally, he did hire a professional quarterback coach for Trevor when he was in the eighth grade.
There is nothing in his resume that would seem to detract from the possibility of Lawrence joining the likes of Elway, Manning and Luck in football success. That goes deeper than simply athletic talent; it tracks back to a solid family core.