As Jets May Miss Out on Trevor Lawrence Does Drafting a QB With the No.1 Pick Really Work?

After being on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the last 13 consecutive weeks, the New York Jets pulled off arguably the upset of the season on Sunday, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 at SoFi Stadium in California.

If the result complicates the Rams' quest to win the NFC West as they drop to 9-5, it could potentially shape the future of both the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With their first win of the season, Gang Green improved to 1-13, meaning they now share the worst record in the NFL with the Jaguars. Crucially, however, Jacksonville holds the tiebreaker by virtue of having played easier opponents than the Jets, and would land the first overall pick in next year's draft should both franchises finish 1-15.

The Jets, meanwhile, would become only the second team in NFL history to miss out on the first selection in the draft after winning just once in 16 weeks after the Carolina Panthers in 2002, a year in which the first overall pick was reserved to the Houston Texans who were making their debut in the league.

More significantly, by missing out on the No. 1 pick, the Jets will in all likelihood wave goodbye to their hopes of landing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the latest generational talent set to come off college football's conveyor belt and the man almost everyone connected with the Jets has long imagined as the face of the franchise.

Lawrence has won 32 of the 33 games he's played in three seasons at Clemson— the only defeat came against LSU in the College Football Playoff national championship game in January—and with the Tigers ranked at No. 2 in the final CFP rankings of the year, he could well become a national champion for the second time in three years in just over a month.

It would be a major surprise were Lawrence not to be the first player off the board at next year's draft and while the Clemson star will almost certainly improve whichever team ends up drafting him, history shows it is incredibly difficult for quarterbacks—even those selected with the first overall pick—to turn struggling franchises into winners.

In the Super Bowl era, 25 quarterbacks have been drafted with the first overall pick and only Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning have won football's most coveted prize with the franchises that selected them—the younger of the Manning brothers was technically drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers, but the franchise had already reached an agreement to trade him to the New York Giants.

Since the elder Manning was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft, 16 quarterbacks have had the honor of being the first players called by the league commissioner on draft night.

Of those, only the Manning brothers have won the Super Bowl with the teams that drafted them—David Carr, who was selected by the Texans with the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, was Eli Manning's back-up when the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI.

Aside from the trio, Cam Newton and Jared Goff are the only other two quarterbacks to have made it to the Super Bowl with the teams they made their NFL debuts with.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers waves to the fans as he walks off the field after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 34-10 in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 19 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jared C. Tilton/Getty

When the numbers are crunched, the 16 quarterbacks selected with the first overall pick after the elder Manning have a combined career record of 762-777-8. In percentage terms, that works out to a rather average 0.492.

In fact, of the quarterbacks selected at No. 1 after Manning, only Newton, Goff, Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield have a winning record.

The sample size for Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow—the first overall picks over the last three years—is obviously relatively small and there are other mitigating factors to consider, such as the injuries that severely hampered Tim Couch and Sam Bradford's careers.

Even when those factors are accounted for, however, the winning percentage speaks volumes for the degree of difficulty rookie quarterbacks face.

The struggles aren't necessarily surprising as by definition teams that pick first were the worst franchises in the NFL the previous season, but underline the importance of an adequate supporting cast.

Mayfield and Murray have already turned their franchises into playoff contenders, and Burrow showed promising signs before his debut season was curtailed by a serious injury.

If the first overall pick may not be a cure-all, picking in the first round has paid off more often than not.

Of the 22 quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl since Manning was selected in 1998, nine were drafted between picks No. 1 and No. 32—Elway, both Manning brothers, Trent Dilfer, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Patrick Mahomes.

Tom Brady, of course, is the glaring exception to the trend, winning a record six Super Bowls after being selected with the 199th overall pick by the New England Patriots.

Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, the league's most two recent MVPs, were both selected in the first round, as was Josh Allen, whose transformation this season is one of the reasons behind the Buffalo Bills' first AFC East title since 1995.

On the other hand, the Jets are all too aware of the potential pitfalls and the jury is still out on Sam Darnold, whom they selected with third overall pick two years ago—the same can be said of Mitchell Trubisky, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins.

Should Lawrence transform the Jaguars' fortunes as Elway did with the Broncos and Manning did in Indianapolis, the Week 15 win in Los Angeles will be a sliding doors moment that could haunt the Jets for a long time.

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