Aaron Rodgers

Players projected as franchise quarterbacks usually get picked very early in NFL drafts, but there are plenty of starting quarterbacks around the league, still on their original team, that weren’t so highly praised when coming out of college.

The Buffalo Bills general manager said that his team is almost in quarterback purgatory because they aren’t bad enough to get the first few picks in the draft at the moment, which means they have to look for that special player (hinting they probably don’t have one at the moment) among those projected to get drafted a bit later in the draft. Turns out it’s not impossible.

Out of the 32 quarterbacks who’ll start on opening day in the 2015 season, there are 15 who can be considered franchise QBs and are on the same team they started their career with. Six of them were top 4 picks, two more top 15 picks, two others in the second half of the first round and there are four who were either taken in later rounds or even went undrafted.

While not all of them are proven or great, the contracts they got from their teams suggest the management feels they’re worth the risk, unlike a lot of the league’s fan base.

Prizes won through awfulness

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Cam Newton was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, and just got a a 5-year, $103.8 million contract extension.

Eli Manning was the first overall pick in 2004, although the Chargers traded him to the New York Giants after picking him. He’s won two Super Bowls and one SB MVP during his 12 years in New York.

Andrew Luck was the number one overall pick in 2012, and has been everything the Indianapolis Colts hoped he’d be.

Philip Rivers was drafted by the New York Giants, not the San Diego Chargers, but a deal was already made after Manning made it clear that he won’t sign with San Diego. He was the fourth overall pick in 2004.

Matthew Stafford was the first overall pick in 2009 and is signed through the 2017 season.

Matt Ryan was taken third in the 2008 draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He’s been their starter ever since, and agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $103.75 million in 2013.

Got them by being bad, not awful

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Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins. He got a six-year, $95 million deal this offseason, which means they see him as their future. He was the 8th overall pick in 2012.

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers was the 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He recently signed a five-year extension with the team.

Middle of the pack picks

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens has been the starting quarterback for them since being drafted in 2008. The 18th overall pick by then, he is never ranked as one of the best in the league, but he is a Super Bowl MVP and pretty much irreplaceable for the Ravens.

Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for a few years before slowly turning into the best quarterback in the NFL. He was the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft for the Packers, who weren’t in a rush to put him on the field at the time.

A Stretch

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Andy Dalton isn’t exactly what franchise quarterback fantasies are made of, but the Bengals did give him the six-year extension in 2014, which means they think he’s worth it. He was only a second round, 35th overall pick in 2011.

In the same draft, one pick later, the San Francisco 49ers found the man who they seem to be putting all their chips on, Colin Kaepernick, who got a six-year contract extension, worth up to $126 million before last season began, although not with too much guaranteed money, showing the 49ers are skeptical about his ability to be their man for years to come.

Russell Wilson was the 75th overall pick in 2012 by the Seahawks. He’s been to two Super Bowls and victorious in one. After a long negotiation period, he signed a 4-year, $87.6 million contract extension.

Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the 1999 NFL draft. Safe to say that almost no one recognized what was later unleashed by the New England Patriots.

Tony Romo went undrafted in 2003 but things have turned out pretty well for him, starting for the Dallas Cowboys since 2006.

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