As soon as April arrives and March Madness is over, the sports conversations often turn towards the NFL Draft.
My father-in-law had probably every draft book from every single year, but my favorite will always be the 1998 draft book. On the first page, Mel Kiper, Jr., wrote a column about why Ryan Leaf was going to be a better NFL quarterback than Peyton Manning, and why Leaf would have a longer and more illustrious career.
If you don't know what happened to Ryan Leaf, you have to Google it. Last I heard he was being arrested again or, perhaps, coaching high school football.
It always makes me think, drafting quarterbacks early in the draft is a risky business.
The 2021 NFL Draft will be no different.
With a slew of teams in need of life support at the QB position, and with some strong prospects, there could be as many as five quarterbacks selected in the top 10 picks of this year's draft.
The last three No. 1 picks have been signal-callers: Joe Burrow in 2020, Kyler Murray in 2019 and Baker Mayfield in 2018. In total, there have been 25 quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall with the expectation to lead their team to the Super Bowl.
How many of those 25 have? Seven did. Two more started in Super Bowls later in the their careers — with other teams — and six have won a Super Bowl.
Among those were Peyton Manning (a 2-time Super Bowl champion), John Elway (2 SB titles), Terry Bradshaw (4 championships), Troy Aikman (3 titles), Eli Manning (2 SB wins) and Jim Plunkett. Plunkett was drafted by New England but won the Lombardi trophy, twice, with Oakland.
Cam Newton led Carolina to the Super Bowl, but lost to Manning and the Broncos in the 2015 championship game.
Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is just about a unanimous choice to become the 26th QB selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft. Lawrence has only lost three games since he became the starter of his high school team, and all of those losses came in the postseason: his final prep game after winning two state titles, the 2019 NCAA National Championship to Burrow and LSU, and the 2020 Sugar Bowl to Ohio State, led by fellow draftee Justin Fields.
Fields is expected to be taken No. 8 in a mock draft I recently saw. There were two others "selected" between Lawrence and Fields.
BYU's Zach Wilson and North Dakota State's Trey Lance are in the mix and mocked up to go 2-3 behind Lawrence. Alabama's Mac Jones is being talked about as a top 10 prospect, as well.
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is listed as sixth on the depth chart at his position.
If history proves to be true, and of course hindsight is 20/20, only a few of this year's QB class will have long, distinguished careers in the NFL. Seeing into the future of these young men's careers is often blurry.
In 2005, Alex Smith was selected No. 1 overall, and Aaron Rodgers was taken with the 24th pick. In 2001, Michael Vick was the top pick at QB, and Drew Brees was the 32nd overall pick. In 1999, Tim Couch was take No. 1 over second pick Donovan McNabb. But the worst No. 1 pick used on a quarterback goes to JaMarcus Russell in 2007; Russell only played three years of his initial 6-year, $68 million contract.
Of course, there will be busts at every position, but quarterbacks seem to carry the torch for riskiest prospects.