As we prepare for Foles Fever to descend on Washington this
Sunday, it would be wise to consider the somewhat long odds Nick Foles faces if
he is to become a fulltime starting quarterback in the NFL. After all, there
are not many chosen in the third round of the draft or beyond who go on to
have successful careers.
For your consideration, Eagles’ third-string QB Trent
Edwards is a former third-round pick once handed the keys to a franchise.
Three-and-a-half years and 32 starts later, the Stanford grad was traded to
Jacksonville, then spent the 2011 season out of football altogether after he failed to make the Raiders. I repeat, the Raiders.
Okay, so Edwards was handed the keys in Buffalo, which is
not so much the Cadillac of franchises as it is the 15-year-old Corolla with the dent in the
fender. Then again, the Eagles are likely headed for a trip to the body shop
The point is, third rounders are long shots to become
productive signal callers who lead long careers. However, it can be done
though. There are currently six starting quarterbacks in the league who were
selected after the 64th pick, but we’ve gotta tell you, the list is
a bit of a mixed bag.
Russell Wilson: 3rd
Round, 75th Overall – 2012
Chosen 13 picks ahead of Foles, Wilson beat out free agent
Matt Flynn for the job in training camp, and has the Seahawks out to a 6-4 record. Much of
the credit for that goes to the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense, but the undersized
Wilson (5-11) has been smart with the football, completing 62% of his passes
while limiting his interceptions to 8. Wilson is mobile, which adds another
dimension to his game, and were it not for his small stature, might have gone
higher in the draft. The jury is out on how high the ceiling is, but so far, so
good in Seattle.
Matt Schaub: 3rd
Round, 90th Overall – 2004
The Falcons selected Schaub the season after Vick missed
most of the year with a broken leg, recognizing even then that freewheeling
style would get any quarterback hurt. Schaub wound up starting two games in
three seasons for Atlanta, but those 161 pass attempts were enough to convince
the Texans to trade a pair of second round picks to acquire the backup. Now in
his sixth season with Houston, Schaub has a pair of 4,000-yard campaigns under
his belt, but those are the only two full seasons he’s played thanks to
injuries. At 31 years old, and with a dominant rushing attack and defense to
fall back on, the Virginia product has fallen more into a game manager role,
but is still more than capable of leading the attack.
Tom Brady: 6th
Round, 199th Overall – 2000
A man who needs no introduction, Brady is a seven-time Pro
Bowler, two-time league MVP, and three-time Super Bowl champion with the New
England Patriots. He’s led the NFL in passing yards twice, touchdown passes
three times, and is still going strong at 35. Obviously, nobody saw any of it
coming when he left Michigan, and none of it may have ever happened at all were
it not for an injury to Drew Bledsoe in 2001. Comparing just about anybody in
any situation to Brady would be foolish.
Matt Cassel: 7th
Round, 230th Overall – 2005
Cassel famously never started a game at USC, which is enough
to make anybody wonder why the Patriots took him in the first place. Apparently
it was so they could fleece the Chiefs a few years down the road. Cassel earned
himself a trip to the Pro Bowl when Brady was knocked out for a year, throwing for
3,600 yards and 21 touchdowns, which of course was back when Randy Moss was
still a beast. Kansas City then sent the 34th overall pick to New
England the following offseason to acquire Cassel, and it’s been all downhill
since. Cassel has become just as turnover-prone as Vick, producing 21 so far in
2012, and he would have lost his job by now to Brady Quinn of all people were
it not for a concussion. Can be hidden in an offense loaded with playmakers,
but is no substitute for a franchise quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 7th
Round, 250th Overall – 2005
A bit of an incredible story, Fitzpatrick is a Harvard grad
playing in the NFL. Originally taken by the St. Louis Rams, Fitz saw some
playing time in his rookie season as the organization was beginning to crumble.
He handled himself well all things considered, but didn’t get another opportunity
until he went to Cincinnati. Wound up starting 12 games for the Bengals in ’08,
showing signs of improvement. Fitzpatrick left for Buffalo as a free agent in the offseason, where he’s made the best use of his education yet: convincing somebody to
make him a franchise quarterback. Fitzpatrick threw for over 3,800 yards last
season, but also led the league with 23 picks. He’s having another up-and-down
season for the Bills, and has a 20-37-1 record all-time. Granted Fitz has only
played for bad teams, but we’ve more than likely witnessed his ceiling.
Tony Romo: Undrafted Free
You don’t see many of these floating around. Romo came all
the way from being an undrafted rookie out of Eastern Illinois to becoming the
starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He entered training camp that year
as the third-string quarterback because at the time the organization was floundering
with Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. Romo then spent some time behind Vinny
Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe before finally seizing the job in ’06. As we can
all attest, Romo has been able to put up some excellent numbers to his credit,
but hasn’t been able to win many big games, and the Cowboys always seem to be
Of course, while there are six of these mid-to-late-round
picks playing in the NFL today, there are innumerable more who never make it,
never even get their opportunity, names you might not even recognize. Aside from Brady, which simply wouldn’t be
fair, probably the best case scenario here for comparison’s sake would be
Schaub. But as you can see, even some of the guys that have managed to cling to
their jobs aren’t exactly the caliber of quarterback fans will be hoping for from Foles.
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