Looking back at late-round QBs

May, 19, 2014
May 19
4:53
PM ET
What kind of NFL career will newly signed quarterback Tom Savage have?

Will it be comparable to Steve Stenstrom or David Garrard? Danny Wuerffel or Aaron Brooks? Sage Rosenfels or Kyle Orton?

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
AP Photo/Pat SullivanThe Texans are hoping Tom Savage can beat the odds and become a long-term answer at quarterback.
To make a somewhat educated guess, you have to look back over the last 20 drafts (not including the one conducted earlier this month).

The latter name in the three comparisons above is obviously preferable, but the chances of that happening are low. There were 28 quarterbacks drafted in the fourth round from 1994 to 2013. Only nine were able to start at least 10 games and only six were able to become the starting quarterback or start at least 16 games.

That means only 21 percent of the quarterbacks drafted started what amounts to a full season in the NFL. That is a low number until you remember it’s the fourth round, which is traditionally not a place teams find quality starting quarterbacks.

There are obviously exceptions, such as Garrard, Brooks and Orton, all of whom became multiyear starters. Other fourth-round picks over that span that started at least 16 games were Danny Kanell, Seneca Wallace and Rob Johnson.

It’s interesting to note that there are also six sixth-round quarterbacks that have gone on to start at least 16 games in their careers. It’s a pretty good group, too: Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Jim Miller, Bruce Gradkowski, and Derek Anderson. It’s obviously skewed by Brady, but Hasselbeck, Bulger and Miller combined to lead their teams to the playoffs nine times and one Super Bowl.

Seventeen of the 135 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 4-7 from 1994-2013 went on to start at least 16 games in their careers. In addition to the previously named players, that group includes Gus Frerotte, A.J. Feeley, Matt Cassel, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

None of that will be any help to receiver Andre Johnson, who less than a week after the Texans took Savage in the fourth round said he wondered if Houston was still the place for him. It's obvious he's unhappy with the quarterback position, especially after seeing the Jacksonville Jaguars take Blake Bortles No. 3 overall, the Cleveland Browns trade up four spots to take Johnny Manziel at No. 22, and the Minnesota Vikings trade back into the first round to take Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick.

Houston had the 33rd overall selection.

But it’s interesting to look back because it shows that while it’s unlikely, it is possible to find very good -- and possibly even great -- quarterbacks in the fourth round or later. The Texans are hoping they did.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.