According to most NFL draft boards, former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky is the clear No. 1 signal caller in April's NFL Draft.
Is Trubisky truly ready, though? These aren't the old days anymore. When a quarterback is taken in the first round, he's almost always expected to start immediately. He's thrown into the fire, usually on a bad team with very little help around him, and expected to revitalize a franchise.
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ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper has always been high on Trubisky, but doesn't think he's ready right now. On Kiper's radio show last week, he said he has strongly advised Trubisky to groom his skill set by playing another season in college, and then he would be prepared for the jump to the NFL. Instead, the UNC star decided to declare now and his future has more question marks than answers. Here's Kipers evaluation of Trubisky from a month ago.
While some rookie QB's find instant success, many falter. In the last 11 NFL Drafts, there have been 29 quarterbacks selected in the first round. Last season, Jared Goff entered early as an underclassmen. Carson Wentz, a fifth-year senior, went right behind him. Paxton Lynch went a little bit later to the Broncos. The season before, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the first round quarterbacks to get their names called. Winston an underclassmen, Mariota a senior.
While the jury is still out on those five, there is concrete evidence surrounding the other 24 quarterbacks selected in the first round since 2005.
Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck have panned out fairly well. The second tier of Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler have flashed at times, but have one playoff win between the three. That's 325 NFL starts between Stafford, Tannehil and Cutler, and just one playoff win.
There's no magic formula to figuring out if a college player will pan out at the next level, but the success rate is pretty darn low for most quarterbacks who leave early.
|QB||Year Drafted||Games Started||QB Rating||Current Status|
|Vince Young||2006||50||74.4||Out of NFL|
|Matt Leinart||2006||18||70.2||Out of NFL|
|JaMarcus Russell||2007||25||65.2||Out of NFL|
|Brady Quinn||2007||20||64.4||Out of NFL|
|Mark Sanchez||2009||72||73.9||Cowboys 3rd string|
|Josh Freeman||2009||61||77.6||Out of NFL|
|Tim Tebow||2010||16||79.3||Trying baseball|
|Jake Locker||2011||23||79.0||Out of NFL|
|Christain Ponder||2011||36||75.9||49ers backup|
|Blaine Gabbert||2011||40||71.5||Also 49ers backup|
|Brandon Weeden||2012||25||76.0||Texans backup|
So these are just the notable first-round quarterbacks selected from 2006 to 2012 who simply didn't pan out. Let's not forget about those who have been selected from 2013-2016, either. EJ Manuel and Johnny Manziel immediately come to mind.
Oh, it's fair to mention Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 overall pick from 2012 who has struggled to regain the success he found in Year 1 with the Washington Redskins.
Let's not forget the hype surrounding many of these quarterbacks in the months and weeks leading up to their respective drafts.
This was a real Sports Illustrated cover in 2011:
2011 Sports Illustrated NFL draft preview… "Jake Locker? Cam Newton? Blaine Gabbert? Toughest Call In Football!" pic.twitter.com/JNYipnQ3pu
— Pat Phelan (@StaxThaRapper) January 25, 2016
No, you're eyes aren't playing tricks on you. That's Locker, Gabbert and Cam Newton and words that read "toughest call in football."
Just another reminder of how unpredictable the NFL Draft process can be, and how hard it is for college quarterbacks to find success at the next level.
So what about Trubisky? Clemson's Deshaun Watson caught eyes delivering a stellar postseason performance in the College Football Playoff, but Trubisky is still garnering the hype as the top QB prospect from the 2016 class.
This is a guy who had just his 14th college start in the 2016 season finale against Stanford in the Sun Bowl.
This is a guy who has never played in a high-pressure situation like the College Football Playoff.
This is a guy who played in a quarterback-friendly system, often keying in on his first read, a far cry from most NFL offenses.
A deep study into Trubisky's skill set and decision making certainly raises a few red flags.
— Rob Rang (@RobRang) December 30, 2016
The play below is just one small example from the Sun Bowl, but it's a fairly routine read for a quarterback.
As CBS Sports NFL talent evaluator Rob Rang points out, Trubisky doesn't account for Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd, who follows the UNC's QB's eyes the entire play. Lloyd is in great position playing as a robber safety and jumps the route.
Easy interception, Trubisky never saw it coming.
Let's make sure we are abundantly clear. Trubisky clearly has a ton of talent and could very well find immediate success in the NFL.
There are so many factors in play. Will the Cleveland Browns bring him in with the No. 1 overall pick? Will there be any supporting cast around him?
Maybe Trubisky falls in the draft and and hops on an established squad which would bode well for him.
The numbers suggest Trubisky could have a major uphill climb, but until next fall, we can only speculate.
The draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia. Cleveland owns the No. 1 pick — and No. 12 — with the 49ers, Bears, Jaguars and Titans rounding out the Top 5.