This year marks the 10th anniversary of the quarterback class of 2007, which will be remembered as one of the worst in NFL history. Eleven quarterbacks were selected. Only one finished his career with a winning record (Drew Stanton), and only one finished with at least 10 wins as a starter (Trent Edwards).
Russell won the Raiders over with his Sugar Bowl MVP performance for LSU and size, but a holdout into the start of the NFL season foreshadowed future struggles. He lasted two seasons as a starter before being benched.
The Raiders released Russell in 2010, and although he made multiple comeback attempts, he never made it back into the league. He is considered one of the biggest busts among No. 1 picks in NFL history.
“When you went down to the pro day and you watched him work out, and you watched the players around him before he worked out, and how they responded to him, it was very obvious that this guy is a natural leader.”
-- Raiders coach Lane Kiffin on JaMarcus Russell
Quinn won awards as the nation’s top quarterback at Notre Dame, and there were great expectations for him as a pro that ultimately went unfulfilled. Quinn was so highly regarded by some that it was thought he could go No. 1 in the draft. But his stock dropped a bit. The concerns were warranted. In 24 games, he completed 54 percent of his passes, with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He currently works as a football broadcaster.
"This is the day that is probably going to go down as the day the fortune of the Browns turn[s]. If we are able to do it, this is going to be one of those steppingstone days."
-- Browns GM Phil Savage after selecting tackle Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn in the first round
After the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to clear out the starting position, Kolb’s pro career looked as if it was going to take off when he threw for more than 300 yards in each of his first two starts. But a concussion suffered in the 2010 season opener was the first of three that would lead to the end of his NFL career in 2014.
“What I saw in Kevin was somebody that was in complete control of his offensive scheme. I didn't care as much about the offensive scheme he was running other than he did it very well. I liked the way he was wired, his mobility and his movement in the pocket. I think he's a good, solid person, and I think you can see he has good, solid leadership qualities.”
-- Andy Reid on Kevin Kolb
Beck was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award out of BYU, but he could never duplicate his collegiate success in the NFL, going 0-7 with the Dolphins, Ravens, Redskins and Titans. His career ended after a brief stint in the CFL in 2014.
Stanton is the most successful of the bunch, with an 8-5 record as a starter, including a win last year for the Cardinals over the 49ers in which he threw for two touchdowns. He was a hyped standout at Michigan State whose play didn’t quite match the hype. But he’s the last man standing. Every other quarterback in this draft was done throwing passes by the end of the 2012 season.
Drafted out of Stanford, Edwards made 33 starts over five seasons, including 14 for the Bills in 2008. He eventually lost his job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2010 and made one start the rest of his career (with the Jaguars). He threw his last two passes as a backup with the Eagles in 2012.
Stanback, a star quarterback at Washington, never played that position in the NFL. He spent time with the Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks, Giants and Jaguars, making five catches in 12 games. His final NFL game was in 2009, but he hunted around the league until just before the 2013 season.
Rowe was picked out of Nevada but couldn’t get on the field for the three teams he played for -- the Bengals, Seahawks and Patriots -- the last of which cut him in 2010.
Smith won the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State in 2006 but was not viewed highly as a prospect due to his lack of size. He made eight starts between the Ravens and 49ers but was out of the NFL at the end of the 2010 season. He played in both the United League and the CFL (for the Montreal Alouettes). His career ended during the 2014 season.
Palmer, the younger brother of Carson Palmer, bounced around as a backup for six NFL teams from 2007 to 2014 after a successful career at UTEP. He threw 18 total passes with two interceptions. He has since become a quarterback coach, training (among others) Clemson’s DeShaun Watson.
Thigpen, then the top quarterback at Coastal Carolina, was picked by the Vikings, then claimed off waivers by the Chiefs. In 2008, injuries led to his making 11 starts with the Chiefs, but things didn’t go well. He went 1-10 as a starter. He made one start in the next five seasons, losing it with the Dolphins in 2010. His last NFL appearance came in 2012, though he was briefly with the Browns in 2014.
What could have been
In the case of each of the first three quarterbacks, the player drafted immediately afterward made a significant impact. Calvin Johnson was the No. 2 pick by the Lions after Russell. His career ended with 83 touchdown receptions (22nd all-time). Dwayne Bowe was selected 23rd overall by the Chiefs, one spot behind Quinn. He currently has 44 touchdown receptions in a largely successful career. Defensive back Eric Weddle, taken 37th overall, one spot after Kolb, was a nine-year starter and four-time Pro Bowler.
The ugly numbers
The Elias Sports Bureau notes that excluding the 2012 to 2016 draft classes (for small sample size):
The 2007 draft class of quarterbacks made 139 starts, the fewest by a draft class since 1996 (115).
The class's 47 wins are the fewest since the NFL and AFL started their common draft in 1967. Next fewest: 48 in 1996.
Pro Football Reference has an approximate value stat that measures a player's overall worth. Russell finished his career with an approximate value of 6. The only QB taken No. 1 overall in the common draft era (since 1967) with a lower draft value is Jared Goff (minus-2), whose career began last season.
Russell and Quinn were each their team’s primary starter for two years. There were 71 players selected in this draft that were their team’s primary starter at a position for more than two years.
It is a very reasonable argument to say that nine-year running back Ahmad Bradshaw had a more successful career than any of the quarterbacks selected in that draft (most notably those in the top 100). Bradshaw was selected 250th by the Giants in a draft that lasted 255 picks.