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Quarterbacks Are Draft Key, Even As History Says Some Fail

Cardinals waiting to see if a QB indeed goes No. 2 ahead of their No. 3 pick

What the Cardinals might do at No. 3 in the draft seems built on if -- or if not -- quarterbacks go No. 1 and No. 2. That's not a surprise. And as the draft gets closer, the narrative again shifts, about whether the Texans at No. 2 might not take a QB, or that many of the QBs are worth moving up for. Is it real or smokescreen? No way to really know right now.

But as the Cardinals wait to see how this plays out and how it might impact their pick, what's happening in their NFC West backyard is a reminder how imprecise this whole QB projection really is. The 49ers are reportedly shopping Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in 2021 and their QB of the future who has barely played yet already seems to have run out of chances. Everyone knows that Brock Purdy, 2022's Mr. Irrelevant as the last pick in the draft, played well enough to earn the starter job after being passed on many many times by every team in the league.

Oh, and the 49ers current expected starter? Sam Darnold. Sure, he was the No. 3 pick overall. But he's on his third team, two others deciding he wasn't good enough.

No one knows how Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis -- generally considered the top four QBs in this class -- will turn out. But history says at least two will wash out, if not more. You can't know which. That is the risk every team must take. A look at just the last five seasons of drafting quarterbacks in the top 10, which as you can see, has provided mixed results:

Table inside Article
Year Name Pick Team Current team
2022 NONE
2021 Trevor Lawrence 1 Jaguars Jaguars
2021 Zach Wilson 2 Jets Jets
2021 Trey Lance 3 49ers 49ers
2020 Joe Burrow 1 Bengals Bengals
2020 Tua Tagovailoa 5 Dolphins Dolphins
2020 Justin Herbert 6 Chargers Chargers
2019 Kyler Murray 1 Cardinals Cardinals
2019 Daniel Jones 6 Giants Giants
2018 Baker Mayfield 1 Browns Buccaneers
2018 Sam Darnold 3 Jets 49ers
2018 Josh Allen 7 Bills Bills
2018 Josh Rosen 10 Cardinals None
2017 Mitch Trubisky 2 Bears Steelers
2017 Patrick Mahomes 10 Chiefs Chiefs

All this is to say it would be understandable if a team decided -- with the quarterbacks they were looking at left on the board -- not to take one. (Whether the Texans, who have Davis Mills as their other option, truly can do that is up to them.) The feeling at this point is that Bryce Young will be the Panthers' pick at 1. Then the eyes will be on No. 2 and the Texans (or if they trade, another team) and whether a QB is the pick.

If it is, Will Anderson is there for the taking. If it isn't, there are still teams that might want to move up to get a QB and get the Cardinals some extra picks. Regardless, it's a risk for a QB, and every team without a QB must make it at some point.

From left, Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young.
From left, Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young.