Brett Favre. Steve McNair. Kurt Warner. Drew Brees. These are just some of the quarterbacks that, within the past 10 years, were the incumbent starting quarterback when their respective teams spent a Top 10 pick on a so-called "franchise" quarterback. That, to us, makes them considered "replacement-level" at one point or another during their illustrious careers.
Between those four players - there are 10 more that fit the aforementioned description - we're talking about six league MVP awards, 23 Pro Bowl appearances, two Offensive Players of the Year, one Comeback Player of the Year, two Super Bowl MVPs and three championship rings. That's a lot of hardware for guys that, once upon a time, were unceremoniously replaced by their teams.
Here's the kicker: Ryan Fitzpatrick compares favorably to every single one of them when viewed through the lens of incumbent quarterbacks dealing with - or in Fitzpatrick's case, possibly dealing with - a Top 10 pick at his position the following season. It's pretty easy to argue that if the Buffalo Bills draft a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick on April 28, Fitzpatrick's 2010 campaign will have been the best effort for an incumbent quarterback replaced by a rook in the last decade.
Consider the fact that of the 14 incumbent quarterbacks met with Top 10 picks, only two - Fitzpatrick and Favre - threw more than 20 touchdowns. Fitzpatrick's 23-to-15 TD-to-INT ratio rates, by a considerable margin, as the best (and most productive) among the group. He's one of five that threw for 3,000 yards or more.
What does this mean? Absolutely nothing in terms of how Fitzpatrick is evaluated by the Bills, nor as a predictor for future success. It simply means that from a statistical standpoint, the Bills have the most difficult justification for taking a quarterback in the Top 10 than any team in the last decade with that "franchise" need.
Here are Fitzpatrick's numbers compared with the 14 "replacement-level" quarterbacks in the last 10 years. Note: 15 quarterbacks have been Top 10 picks in that time frame, but the expansion Houston Texans did not have an incumbent when they drafted David Carr in 2002.
|Marc Bulger||2009||Rams||9||56.7||1,469||5||6||Sam Bradford|
|Dan Orlovsky||2008||Lions||10||56.1||1,616||8||8||Matthew Stafford|
|Brett Favre||2008||Jets||16||65.7||3,472||22||22||Mark Sanchez|
|Joey Harrington||2007||Falcons||12||61.8||2,215||7||8||Matt Ryan|
|Andrew Walter||2006||Raiders||12||53.3||1,677||3||13||JaMarcus Russell|
|Steve McNair||2005||Titans||14||61.3||3,161||16||11||Vince Young|
|Kurt Warner||2005||Cardinals||10||64.5||2,713||11||9||Matt Leinart|
|Tim Rattay||2004||49ers||9||60.9||2,169||10||10||Alex Smith|
|Kerry Collins||2003||Giants||13||56.8||3,110||13||16||Eli Manning|
|Drew Brees||2003||Chargers||11||57.6||2,108||11||15||Philip Rivers|
|Jon Kitna||2002||Bengals||14||62.2||3,178||16||16||Carson Palmer|
|Charlie Batch||2001||Lions||10||58.1||2,392||12||12||Joey Harrington|
|Chris Chandler||2000||Falcons||14||58.0||2,236||10||12||Michael Vick|