- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely draft Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota with the No. 1 overall pick. So how does this type of thing usually work out? We continue our countdown of the 18 quarterbacks who were drafted with the top selection over the past 40 years.
Steve Bartkowski, 1975, Atlanta Falcons
After leading the nation in passing in his final year at California, Bartkowski was drafted ahead of Walter Payton and he came to Atlanta with an interesting side story. He was the first client of Leigh Steinberg, who would end up becoming one of the most powerful agents ever.
Bartkowski wasn’t surrounded by a wealth of talent in Atlanta, but he still became a reasonably productive quarterback while playing for the Falcons through 1985. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and led the league in passing touchdowns in 1980 with 31.
Bartkowski only had a winning record as the starter in two of seasons in Atlanta (1978 and 1980). But contrary to popular fan reaction, Bartkowski rarely was hit with blame for the Falcons’ woes. Fans were bright enough to realize that Bartkowski was a solid quarterback who happened to be on some very bad teams.
Bartkowski finished his career with one lackluster season in St. Louis in 1986. He would be remembered as the best quarterback in Atlanta history until Michael Vick came along with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft.
Final analysis: Good pick.
Bartkowski was a decent quarterback on some very bad Atlanta Falcons teams.