NFL Draft: Which conference produced most QBs over last 4 years?
There have been 49 quarterbacks taken in the last four NFL Drafts, with some conferences doing better than others. Here is a breakdown:
NFL DRAFT: Comparing top QBs with current recruits
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
1. BIG TEN - 10 QBs
The Big Ten leads all Power Five conferences with 10 quarterbacks drafted in the last four years and Ohio State has the only first-round selection in Dwayne Haskins. Cardale Jones from the Buckeyes was a fourth-round pick. Only Penn State (Trace McSorley and Christian Hackenberg) and Iowa with C.J. Beathard and Jake Rudock had multiple QBs drafted during that stretch. Clayton Thorson from Northwestern, Tanner Lee out of Nebraska, Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld were the others
Out of this group, Hackenberg was the lone five-star and then Haskins and Thorson were the only four-stars. McSorley was ranked as a three-star athlete because few programs were recruiting him as a quarterback.
Farrell’s take: This is a surprising number and there is little star power here although the jury is still out on Haskins. Under Ryan Day, Ohio State will consistently churn out NFL passers and its surprising Jim Harbaugh hasn’t done more. Penn State does a great job with quarterbacks overall and Iowa is good at developing them as well. Justin Fields will be elite out of the conference.
T-2. ACC - 8 QBs
The ACC and the Pac-12 each had eight quarterbacks drafted over the last four years, and the ACC was especially well-represented by first-round selections. Duke’s Daniel Jones, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s DeShaun Watson, all first-round picks, account for half of the league's drafted quarterbacks over this span.
As for the first-round ACC picks, high school rankings varied. Watson was a five-star and the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 class and Jackson was a four-star prospect. But Trubisky was a mid-level three-star and Jones was a two-star recruit.
Farrell’s take: Remember a little over a decade ago when the ACC couldn’t produce a quarterback not named Matt Ryan for a few years? My how things have changed. Clemson will continue to roll them out and Trevor Lawrence will go No. 1 in next year's draft while Sam Howell appears to be next on the horizon. The ACC has some star power to lure potential recruits who want to follow in their path.
T-2. PAC-12 - 8 QBs
Three programs in the Pac-12 have concentrated quarterback talent in the last four drafts with USC (Sam Darnold, Cody Kessler), Cal (Jared Goff, Davis Webb) and Washington State (Gardner Minshew, Luke Falk) having multiple QBs taken. The other two were UCLA’s Josh Rosen in the first round and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan in the fifth.
The three first-rounders from the Pac-12 over the last four years have had various levels of success in the NFL from Goff, who played in the Super Bowl, to Darnold, the starter of the struggling New York Jets and Rosen, who has not won a starting job yet.
As for their rankings, Rosen was a five-star, Goff was a mid-level four and Darnold was a low four-star who some schools recruited to play tight end or other positions early on. Falk joined Washington State as a walk-on and Minshew was a transfer before both put up huge numbers in coach Mike Leach’s offense.
Farrell’s take: Justin Herbert will be another first-rounder for the Pac-12 and the conference has long been known to produce elite quarterbacks because of its wide-open style of play. However, overall talent is down in the conference and it’s getting harder and harder to keep QBs in the league's footprint as evidenced by D.J. Uiagalelei and Bryce Young last season. Who’s next beyond Herbert? That’s hard to say.
4. SEC - 7 QBs
There have been no first-round quarterbacks taken from the SEC over the last four drafts, but that could drastically change this year since LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa are expected to be early selections with Burrow probably going No. 1 overall.
Missouri’s Drew Lock was also the only pick in the last four years that was a second-round pick. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott went in the fourth round, Prescott obviously being the steal of the 2016 draft. Arkansas’ Brandon Allen was a sixth-rounder and LSU’s Danny Etling and Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly went in the seventh.
Lock, Stidham, Allen and Etling were all four-star prospects and so was Kelly in high school but not when he went to junior college and then to Ole Miss.
Farrell’s take: The SEC has never been known for producing NFL quarterbacks at a high rate and many blame the nasty defenses in the conference for ruining many. But that’s not a good excuse and things appear to be changing with Burrow and Tagovailoa expected to go in the top-five picks. Things are on the upswing in the conference when it comes to quarterbacks and there are better coaches in the conference for developing them than in the past.
5. BIG 12 - 5 QBs
There are only five Big 12 quarterbacks who have been drafted in the last four years, but what the conference misses in quantity, it makes up in quality. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield were back-to-back No. 1 overall picks. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes also shot up draft boards and he was a first-rounder, more than backing up his spot and winning a Super Bowl this past season.
Farrell’s take: The Big 12 is a wide-open league that isn't known for defense, so why has it produced so few NFL quarterbacks? First, they have fewer teams than any other Power Five conference and they have teams like Texas, who just aren’t producing them as they have in the past. Oklahoma is carrying the conference and Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, so it is top heavy, but other programs need to step up.
NON-POWER FIVE - 10 QBs
Three non-Power Five quarterbacks were first-rounders in the last four years as Wyoming’s Josh Allen, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch were taken. There were no second- or third-rounders and then Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta was the lone fourth-round selection.
In the fifth round went North Dakota State’s Easton Stick and Western Kentucky’s Mike White. The lone sixth-rounder was Louisiana Tech’s Jeff Driskel and then FIU’s Alex McGough, Toledo’s Logan Woodside and Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty were seventh-round picks.
Driskel was the lone four-star among the group as he signed with Florida before transferring to finish his college career.
Farrell’s take: These are the guys who were either overlooked or transferred into better situations. This number could increase with the transfer portal being such a big part of college football now. I look for more and more non-Power Five quarterbacks to get first-round grades in the next many years starting with Jordan Love in this draft.