You know it’s truly the offseason when the meaningless lists start to emerge. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison dropped one of those lists on Wednesday, ranking the last 50 first overall picks in the NFL draft and the results are mildly surprising.
Of the 50 picks, 21 of them were quarterbacks. Of course, one of those quarterbacks was none other than Matthew Stafford, who came in at 15 on the rankings, the sixth-highest quarterback on the list. Stafford is understandably behind such legendary quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman, but it’s the quarterbacks that he’s ahead of that are more surprising.
Among active quarterbacks, Stafford is listed ahead of Carson Palmer (19), Cam Newton (23), Alex Smith (25), Andrew Luck (26), Sam Bradford (33), Jameis Winston (35) and Jared Goff (50).
Two names behind Stafford stick out: Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. While Stafford has statistics that can easily measure up to both of them, Newton and Luck have the perception of superstardom, while Stafford seemingly still has much more to prove in the eyes of many. Obviously, team success has a little to do with that. Though Newton, to his credit, has an MVP title to his name, and his trek to the Super Bowl in 2015 seemed to cement his place among the NFL’s best modern quarterbacks. But a hugely disappointing 2016 season seems to have knocked him off that pedestal.
Andrew Luck hasn’t quite had the level of postseason success as Newton, but he did make it to the conference championship in 2014. Additionally, Luck inked a mega-deal last offseason, making him the highest paid quarterback in the league. But as Mike Payton pointed out before the 2016 season, despite the additional hype surrounding Luck, he and Stafford were nearly identical quarterbacks statistically. After Stafford’s near MVP-level season in 2016, he has distanced himself from the former Stanford quarterback.
Interestingly enough, Stafford is not the highest ranked Lions No. 1 overall pick in the last 50 years. That honor goes to running back Billy Sims, who placed 13th on the list.