How Have 1st-Round QBs Performed Together in the Past?

How Have 1st-Round QBs Performed Together in the Past?

The Baker Mayfield trade saga has finally reached a conclusion as the Browns dealt him to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional Day 3 selection. Mayfield, who was introduced in Carolina on Tuesday, will now join Sam Darnold in competing for the starting job — they happened to be the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

The last time two quarterbacks from the same draft class (with both players picked inside the top three) played on the same team was in 1980 when the Oakland Raiders had Jim Plunkett (No. 1) and Dan Pastorini (No. 3) from the 1971 NFL Draft. So to say that it’s rare to see two quarterbacks like Mayfield and Darnold paired together is quite the understatement. 

But how often are first-round quarterbacks paired together if we remove the qualifier of the same draft class and both needing to be top three picks? And what has the teams' overall success looked like when that occurs?

Average Statistics of Teams with Two 1st-Round QBs Since 2011 (Significant playing time*)

No. of TeamsOverall RecordPlayoff AppearanceAvg, RecordAvg. Scoring Rank
17121-15257-9**19th***
*Significant playing time defined as either 5 games played or 2 games started by both QBs
**Average losses rounded up from 8.94 to 9 losses
***Average offense scoring rank rounded up from 18.52 to 19th rank


Since 2011, there have been 17 instances when two first-round quarterbacks have been on the same team with both playing significant snaps. Those 17 teams have combined for a record of 121-152 with five playoff appearances and an average record of 7-9. 

It’s worth noting that a “significant amount of playing time” is defined as at least two games started by each quarterback or five total appearances. But needless to say, most teams that have two first-round picks at quarterback on the same roster haven’t had a ton of success. 

BetCarolina.com utilized ProFootballReference.com to gather all teams that had two or more first-round quarterbacks on their roster for a season. Once determining the 17 teams, the statistics of record and offensive scoring rank were averaged across the teams.

Last 5 Teams With Two 1st Round QBs

TeamQB No. 1QB No. 2RecordScoring Rank
2021 PanthersSam Darnold
(2018 No. 3)
Cam Newton
(2011 No. 1)
5-1229th
2020 WashingtonDwayne Haskins
(2019 No. 15)
Alex Smith
(2005 No. 1)
7-925th
2020 JetsSam Darnold
(2018 No. 3)
Joe Flacco
(2008 No. 18)
2-1432nd
2019 TitansRyan Tannehill
(2012 No. 8)
Marcus Mariota
(2015 No. 2)
9-710th
2019 GiantsEli Manning (2004 No. 1)Daniel Jones
(2019 No. 6)
4-1218th

It Happened in Carolina in 2021

The last time it happened was in 2021 with the Carolina Panthers as they had Darnold (No. 3 in 2018) and Cam Newton (No. 1 in 2011). Darnold started 11 games for the Panthers, while Newton signed with the team later in the season and started five games. Together, they had a record of 4-12 and combined to throw only 13 touchdowns. 

This will be the third time Darnold has been paired with another first-round pick at quarterback. The first time it happened was in 2020 when the Jets signed Joe Flacco (No. 18 in the 2008 NFL Draft). However, that was more to help Darnold’s development rather than for Flacco to be a direct competitor. 

The team that has had the most success with two former first-round picks at quarterback over the last decade was the Tennessee Titans back in 2019. After drafting Marcus Mariota at No. 2 in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Titans gave up two Day 3 picks for Ryan Tannehill (No. 8 in 2012). Mariota started the first six games of the season, going 2-4 as the starter. They eventually benched him for Tannehill, who led the Titans to a 7-3 record and to the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs.

Teams Searching for QBs

Historically, teams that have two or more first-round quarterbacks on their roster haven't fared well because they are usually disappointed with the quarterback play and that's why they are creating a quarterback competition.

But it has proven to work in the past with other teams, such as the 2019 Titans or even the 1989 49ers with Joe Montana and Steve Young. 

Will the Panthers have the same kind of success with Mayfield and Darnold? They certainly hope so. But NFL history has proven that, more often than not, it is unlikely to yield positive results.

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Author

Marcus Mosher covers the NFL, NFL Draft and NFL news for BetCarolina.com. The managing editor of The Raiders Wire, Marcus is also a contributor to The Athletic DFW, Pro Football Weekly and FanSided, and previously wrote for FanRag Sports. He hosts Locked On Cowboys Podcast.

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