This is a bit off-topic, but it’s something I put together this morning:
I had started an argument that the Bills erred in not finding a replacement for Jim Kelly sooner, and being left with Todd Collins. But in researching my point, I looked and discovered a huge gap in QB talent in the mid-90s. Following 1989, that saw Troy Aikman launch his career, you have:
1990: Jeff George and Neil O’Donnell battle it out for the top of the class. Andre Ware is a first rounder. And Scott Mitchell and John Friez round out the best of this yera. So O’Donnell is the only one who made the playoffs with the team that drafted him, but hardly was more than a serviceable backup for most of his career.
1991: Dan McGuire and Todd Marinovich are the only first rounders. There’s a certain Brett Favre in there, but the rest of the class is topped by Scott Zolak and Browning Nagle. Nagle seems like the only non-Favre to even start a whole season.
1992: Klinger and Maddox are first rounders. The best QB in this draft is Brad Johnson. After that, you have Maddox, Jeff Blake, and Ty Detmer. Johnson got his team to the playoffs in ’96 and ’97, making him the best draft pick, so far, of the ’90s.
1993: A talented draft, this one produced Drew Bledsoe, Trent Green, Elvis Grbac, and Mark Brunell. Brunell was shipped out to Jacksonville in a couple of years. Trent Green never managed a down with his draftee’d Chargers, and Elvis Grbac is the definitional journeyman. Still, three current starters is pretty impressive, even if none are on anything better than their third team.
1994: Health Schuler and Trent Dilfer are the only ones drafted before the 4th round. Jim Miller and Gus Frerotte are the best I can do after that. Ugly.
1995: Steve McNair might be the best drafted QB of the era. Kerry Collins has been serivceable, and even managed the playoffs for Carolina. After that, it gets sketchier – Todd Collins is still in the league, Kordell Stewart has been exciting at times, that Rob Johnson is the best you can do after that is statement enough.
1996: Tony Banks was the first QB taken, in the second round. He was also the best – beating out, um, Bobby Hoying? Danny Kannell?
1997: Jim Drunkenmiller in the first. Jake Plummer was a solid pick, but after that, Danny Wuerrfel and Koy Detmer are the best ’97 had to offer.
1998: Finally, Peyton Manning comes out, the first unquestionable hall of famer since Aikman. His classmates? Ryan Leaf, Charlie Batch, and Brian Griese. And a 6th round afterthought named Matt Hasselbeck. Still about the best class yet.
1999: The famed QB class of ’99. McNabb and Culpepper, along with Aaron Brooks are passable. Cade McNown, Tim Couch, and Akili Smith leave this one unsettled.
Only by 2000 does the tide begin to turn again, with Brady, Bulger, and Pennington. But what happened in the 90s that caused this catastrophic run on QBs? Favre is the only real star from 1990-1992, 1993 was a bumper crop of journeymen, and Steve McNair is the only legit QB until Peyton Manning.
Take a look at the passing leaders from 1997-2001, and this is reflected: It remains full of old timers (Kelly, Moon, Marino, Young, Elway) before sliding into journeymen – Grbac, Beurlein, George, etc.)
1998-99 are the turning point.