Comparing Ryan Fitzpatrick To "Replacement-Level" Quarterbacks

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.

Name YR Team GP Comp% Yards TD INT Draft Pick
Ryan Fitzpatrick 2010 Bills 13 57.8 3,000 23 15
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
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