Only 1 QB taken in first 2 rounds of NFL draft for just 3rd time in the past 30 years

When only one quarterback went in the first round of the NFL draft, it seemed plausible that there would be a run on QBs early in the second round. There are a few teams that can use a developmental quarterback and a second-round price isn't overwhelming.

Then quarterback-needy teams started passing on quarterbacks again.

Multiple teams who could have used a Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder or Matt Corral passed on quarterbacks, opting for linebackers from Montana State and offensive linemen from Central Michigan instead. There wasn't a single quarterback taken in the second round, an indictment of a QB class that was considered below average coming in. It was just the third time in the past 30 years (1996, 2000) that only one quarterback was drafted in the first two rounds, according to ESPN. The drought ended in the third round, when the Atlanta Falcons took Cincinnati's Ridder with the 74th pick

On Thursday, Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback taken in the first round. He went to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 20th pick. That was the latest the first quarterback in a draft has been taken since 1997.

The Falcons, who have Marcus Mariota as their starting quarterback, traded up to the 38th pick. It seemed like an aggressive move to go get a quarterback. Instead, they took Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie. They'd have another chance later in the second round to take any quarterback in the class other than Pickett. And they'd pass on QBs again later in the second round.

The Seattle Seahawks had two picks at No. 40 and 41 and a serious need at quarterback. They took Minnesota linebacker Boye Mafe with the first of those two picks, which was acquired from the Denver Broncos in the Russell Wilson trade. Then the Seahawks, who have Drew Lock as a potential starter, took running back Kenneth Walker III with the second of those picks.

For the Seahawks, who believe in running the ball above all else, taking a running back over a quarterback was on brand. But it probably said more about this quarterback class and how NFL teams viewed it.

Desmond Ridder of the Cincinnati Bearcats and many other quarterbacks had a long wait until they heard their names called during the NFL draft. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Desmond Ridder of the Cincinnati Bearcats and many other quarterbacks had a long wait until they heard their names called during the NFL draft. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions could use a developmental quarterback behind Jared Goff. They took Kentucky edge defender Josh Paschal with the 46th pick, over all of the available quarterbacks. Then came the New Orleans Saints, who could look for a new quarterback to develop behind Jameis Winston. Many mock drafts had the Saints taking a QB in the first round, though they passed on Thursday night. Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor was the Saints' pick at No. 49.

Even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with retired-then-unretired Tom Brady at quarterback, might have taken a shot on a quarterback in the second round. They moved up in a trade to No. 57 overall and then took Central Michigan tackle Luck Goedeke.

The Falcons went back on the clock and took Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen.

Near the end of the second round ended ESPN showed a graphic of Mel Kiper Jr.'s top available players. Three of the four were quarterbacks. None were taken in the final five picks, all owned by teams that didn't need a quarterback.

Coming into the draft, everyone knew it wasn't a sexy quarterback class. Nobody could have foreseen only one being taken in the first two rounds, however.