Data Points: Patience key with picking QB No. 1

As the NFL Draft approaches (24 days before the first round), much of the talk taking place will be about the viability of taking a quarterback with the top overall pick, a discussion certainly taking place in the Carolina Panthers’ war room.

But there is patience needed in doing so, even with the best quarterback prospects, many of whom have struggled early in their careers. Since the first AFL-NFL draft in 1967, and after the merger in 1970 in the NFL Draft, 18 of the 44 top picks have been quarterbacks. Even the best ones of the bunch, like Peyton Manning (1998) and Terry Bradshaw (1970), had growing pains.

Above are the former top overall picks that have thrown the most interceptions in a single season. At the top sits the ageless Vinny Testaverde, whose cannon for a right arm delivered nearly three times as many interceptions as touchdowns in his second professional season (13 TDs, 35 INTs). But Testaverde, who appears twice, is far from the most surprising name on the list.

The five others all went on to win Super Bowls after their INT-plagued seasons — Peyton Manning (28), Drew Bledsoe (27), Jim Plunkett (25), Terry Bradshaw (25) and Eli Manning (25), although Bledsoe was Tom Brady’s backup when New England won XXXVI.

–Elliot Harrison

Elliot Harrison is a research analyst for NFL RedZone on NFL Network.

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