Good quarterbacks are precious commodities in the NFL, so it should come as no surprise that these players are the most highly-coveted draft investments. Historically, the top college quarterbacks are usually targeted first in the NFL draft as teams attempt to resurrect their franchise with a new quarterback that offers hope and promise. Over the last 20 drafts, 75% of the players drafted with the no. 1 overall pick were quarterbacks.
Taking a closer look at these names shows that the Cowboys will play every single one of the last five no. 1 overall picks, four of of which are quarterbacks.
Week 1 - Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
After nine straight losing seasons and struggles finding a franchise quarterback that included failed former no. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, the Rams made a blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans to move up to the top spot of the 2016 NFL Draft. In total, the Rams surrendered six draft picks that included two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and two third-rounders. The Titans, who believed they already had their quarterback of the future after drafting Marcus Mariotta second overall in the previous year’s draft, were willing to give up the top pick and cash in on some hefty draft capital.
Goff struggled his rookie season, but then looked like a rising star after two great years with a quarterback rating over 100, and leading the Rams to the Super Bowl in just his third season. But then things took a turn last season where he threw more interceptions than he had the previous three seasons combined as well as a touchdown total that was his lowest since his rookie season. Goff faced off against the Cowboys last year in a survival game for the Rams, but got trounced 44-21.
Things won’t get any easier for Goff this season as he will be without former first-round picks Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. And considering the NFC West is getting tougher every year, Goff and the Rams should find themselves in a battle in 2020.
Week 4 - Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
If you think the Rams had it tough with nine consecutive losing seasons, then you’re really going to feel bad for the Cleveland Browns. It has been 18 years since the Browns have made the playoffs, and that includes 13 times where they have finished dead last in the AFC North. It was so bad in 2017 that the team lost every one of their games finishing 0-16 on the season.
The upside of having such an atrocious season is that it gave them the top pick in the 2018 where they selected Oklahoma star quarterback Baker Mayfield. The first year with Mayfield, the Browns finished with seven wins and were looking like a team on the up and up; however, they couldn’t build on that trend as they finished 6-10 last year. The Browns even bulked up their offense by trading for Odell Beckham Jr. and a breakout season of second-year running back Nick Chubb. It wasn’t enough though as Mayfield struggled throwing 21 interceptions on the year.
Not only does he have OBJ and Jarvis Landry as weapons, but Cleveland bolstered their tight end group by signing former Falcons Austin Hooper to a big deal. Dan Orlovsky, who knows all things about quarterbacks*, highlights why year three may be a huge season for the former Heisman trophy winner. (* denotes sarcasm)
I’ll say this again @bakermayfield is going to have a big season— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) May 6, 2020
-perfect scheme fit
-fixed the holes/flaws they had at OL
-will play with multiple TE’s on field
-the offensive line will play like an accordion-expanding the passing lanes off PA to help see@GetUpESPN
It will be curious what this year’s version of the Browns look like. Sure, the potential is there, but it was also there last year and they disappointed.
Week 6 - Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals finished with the worst record in the league in 2018 with a 3-13 record, and that was good enough to secure them the no. 1 overall pick in the draft. Just like the year before, another Oklahoma Heisman winner was the team’s selection. Last year with a rookie quarterback at the helm, they improved to 5-11 and showed some nice promise under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Credit the Cardinals organization for putting some nice pieces together around him. Starting with a midseason trade last year that landed them Kenyan Drake, the team may have found themselves a new running back. After wasting away in Miami, Drake was finally utilized as his attempts per game essentially doubled. He strung together some nice games down the stretch, including a two-weak span where he compiled over 300 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
Of course, the biggest get for Arizona was the Jedi mind trick they pulled off on Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texas to steal away three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals are re-loaded and despite missing the playoffs in four straight seasons, this is a team that will show up on Sundays and give opponents trouble.
Week 14 - Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals won the “Tank for Tua” sweepstakes, only as it turned out - it wasn’t the Alabama quarterback who was the coveted prize in this year’s draft. Instead, the National Champion LSU Tigers, led by their emerging star quarterback Joe Burrow garnered all the attention this year.
The Bengals do have some intriguing offensive weapons. Joe Mixon is coming off two straight 1,000+ yard performances. They have a nice duo of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd at wide receiver, and added Clemson’s Tee Higgins in the draft. It’s going to take a while for Burrows to get his feet underneath him to make a real splash in this offense, but there are reasons for the striped cats to be hopeful for the future.
With Burrow now under center, the Bengals decided to save some money and made Andy Dalton a cap casualty. The Cowboys pounced right on that and got themselves an affordable veteran to backup Dak Prescott.
All in all, the Cowboys will actually play the last five no. 1 overall picks in the draft if you count Myles Garrett from the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s definitely a guy worth mentioning as he compiled 13.5 sacks in his second year in the league, and was on pace to eclipse that with 10 sacks through 10 games. Unfortunately, a helmet throwing incident in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers ended his season prematurely.