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Andy Richardson

Quarterback draft-day trades

Historically, some first-round action

It's an exciting year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye seem slated to be the top 3 picks, and 2 or even 3 others (J.J. McCarthy, pictured, Bo Nix, Michael Penix) might be selected in the first round. And there will probably be some trades.

That's how things have worked out over the past 20 years, with at least one first-round trade involving a passer in 16 of those 20 drafts -- 25 total quarterback trades in the first round those years.

The bad news for teams considering such a move over the next two months is that the hit rate on those Day 1 deals has been relatively poor. There have been some big hits (Patrick Mahomes), but a lot more misses.

By my count, 9 of the 25 trades were successful. And I think I'm being fairly generous, calling the trade-ups for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz hits, since their teams did get to the Super Bowl in their tenures (Wentz deserves a lot of the credit for the year Doug Pederson's team won). I also called Deshaun Watson a hit; obviously things later soured, but he was a good pick. Mark Sanchez is trickier, with the Jets getting to two AFC Championship games with him, but they won more than 8 games with him just once and he was gone after four seasons.

In the table below, I've put the names of the quarterbacks I'm calling hits in bold. I believe 16 of 25 (about two-thirds) would not be considered successful trades by the teams that made them, at least so far (Bryce Young might still be fine, but for the purposes of this table I'm calling him a miss, especially since that trade up cost the Panthers the No. 1 overall pick this year).

Bottom line for teams considering trading up to draft a quarterback, tread carefully. There aren't a lot of sure things out there.

QB TRADES IN ROUND 1 OF NFL DRAFT, 2004-2023
DraftQB trades in 1st roundResult
2004Giants and Chargers swap Eli Manning, Philip Rivers; Bills trade up for J.P. LosmanManning and Rivers worked out, Losman flopped
2006Broncos trade up for Jay CutlerHad his moments, but uneven career
2007Browns trade up for Brady QuinnDidn't work out
2008Ravens trade up for Joe FlaccoRavens perennial playoff team and won Super Bowl LXVII
2009Jets trade up for Mark Sanchez, Bucs trade up for Josh FreemanSome team success for Jets, but short-lived; Freeman washed out
2010Broncos trade up for Tim TebowSome early success but not sustained
2011Jaguars trade up for Blaine GabbertJourneyman backup
2012Washington trades up for Robert Griffin IIIOutstanding rookie season, but injuries derailed career
2013Bills trade back, select EJ ManuelDidn't work out
2014Browns trade up for Johnny Manziel, Vikings trade up for Teddy BridgewaterManziel washed out quickly; Bridgewater decent starter for multiple teams
2016Rams trade up for Jared Goff, Eagles trade up for Carson WentzBoth teams to Super Bowls with those quarterbacks (more or less; Foles finished what Wentz started)
2017Bears trade up to ensure they get Mitchell Trubisky, Kansas City trades up for Patrick Mahomes, Houston trades up for Deshaun WatsonA miss, a hit, and a mixed bag
2018Jets trade up for Sam Darnold, Bills trade up for Josh Allen, Ravens trade up for Lamar JacksonTwo out of three ain't bad?
2020Packers trade up for Jordan LoveLooked bad initially, but Love very good in 2023
202149ers trade up for Trey Lance, Bears trade up for Justin FieldsLance now backup in Dallas; Fields given away to Pittsburgh
2023Panthers trade up for Bryce YoungDisappointing so far

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