Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces E.J. Manuel as the number sixteen overall pick to the Buffalo Bills during the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s flash back to 2013. If you told the New York Jets that Geno Smith would be the best quarterback in that NFL Draft class, they would probably take it. Who could have predicted what a low bar that turned out to be?

Smith’s late-career breakthrough season in 2022 for the Seattle Seahawks saved that class from total embarrassment. His Pro Bowl berth marked the only one for the 11 quarterbacks picked ten years ago. It’s a persistent reminder of how flawed and wildly unscientific the evaluation process is at the most important position in sports.

To be fair, 2013 wasn’t expected to be a great class. Only one quarterback was a first-round pick. But even when you factor in low expectations, it’s still amazing.

How many of these guys do you remember?

  • EJ Manuel, Florida State, first round (16th overall) to the Buffalo Bills
  • Geno Smith, West Virginia, second round (39th) to the New York Jets
  • Mike Glennon, N.C. State, third round (73) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Matt Barkley, USC, fourth round (98) to the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Ryan Nassib, Syracuse, fourth round (110) to the New York Giants
  • Tyler Wilson, Arkansas, fourth round (112) to the Oakland Raiders
  • Landry Jones, Oklahoma, fourth round (115) to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Brad Sorensen, Southern Utah, seventh round (221) to the San Diego Chargers
  • Zac Dysert, Miami of Ohio, seventh round (234) to the Denver Broncos
  • B. J. Daniels, South Florida, seventh round (237) to the San Francisco 49ers
  • Sean Renfree, Duke, seventh round (249) to the Atlanta Falcons

What a rogues’ gallery. Their combined record as starters is 39-73. The only one with a winning record is Jones (3-2!). Four never threw an NFL pass. Three never appeared in a game. Manuel retired at the age of 29. Only two are currently on NFL rosters. Barkley, who has been with the Bills for over two seasons, hasn’t played since 2020.

Glennon, a free agent, is always available. He’s the second-best quarterback from the 2013 class, which is quite the backhanded compliment. Glennon enjoyed a promising rookie season with the Buccaneers (19 touchdown passes to nine interceptions) and was named to the Pro Football Writer’s Association’s All-Rookie Team.

Since then, it has been all downhill (28 TDs, 26 INTs, 2-16 record). Yet astonishingly, he keeps getting jobs. Over the past six years, he’s been on six different teams. The most clear-cut sign that Glennon is done was a disastrous outing for the New York Giants in January 2022, when he went 4-for-11 for 24 yards with two interceptions in a 29-3 loss to the Chicago Bears.

And yet, when the Miami Dolphins were ravished by injuries last season, they signed Glennon before their regular-season finale.

Was 2013 the worst quarterback class ever? No.

Most people would put 2007 at the top of the list. You’re not going to beat a draft that featured JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall) and Brady Quinn (No. 22 overall). Two big names from big schools who were big busts. They combined for a total of 45 NFL starts.

The draft is a gamble. Last year, some believed that the 2022 quarterback draft class might rival 2013. That’s why only one was taken in the first round. However, three rookies looked promising. The last two QBs picked in the draft started playoff games.

Kenny Pickett (first round, 20th overall) overcame struggles to finish strong for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bailey Zappe (fourth round, 137) played so well for the New England Patriots that he’ll compete with Mac Jones for the starting job in 2023. Brock Purdy (seventh round, 262) was third in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and Mr. Irrelevant led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship Game. Add Skylar Thompson (seventh round, 247) to the mix if you want. He was forced into playoff action due to injuries to Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) and Teddy Bridgewater (broken finger).

Even if the Class of 2022 doesn’t produce a star, Smith is living proof that you should never give up on your dream. He was Comeback Player of the Year last season at the age of 32 and was rewarded with a lucrative contract.

It’s a heartwarming story from the otherwise forgettable Class of 2013.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.