Cowboys Trivia: History of Quarterbacks at Fourth Overall

Boredom can make you do some crazy things. In my boredom, I decided to go back, draft by draft, and look at the history of quarterbacks drafted at number 4 overall. What I found was pretty interesting.

The fourth overall pick has a very selective history with quarterbacks. I posed the question on Twitter asking how many quarterbacks you think have been drafted fourth overall, and then asked to name them. This being a question I didn’t expect anyone to get anywhere near being able to answer.

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Why? Well, because this is a pretty obscure statistic, and there have only been three quarterbacks selected fourth overall since the 1966 merger.


If the Cowboys select a quarterback at fourth overall, that would be the fourth quarterback selected there in over 38 years. That is pretty astounding.

Can you name those quarterbacks?

The most recent, Philip Rivers in 2004 by the New York Giants. Rivers was almost instantly traded and has put together a pretty good career with the San Diego Chargers.

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Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1984 and Art Schlichter.

Schlichter played three season for the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts. Schlichter was supposed to be the starting quarterback, but lost his job to Mike Pagel.

Schlichter’s NFL career was short as he struggled with gambling addiction and the legal issues that arose from it.

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Before that, you have to go even further back, to 1967 and Bob Griese.

Griese played 14 seasons for the Miami Dolphins, making the playoffs in seven of them. Griese led the Dolphins to three Super Bowls, winning two of them.

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There have been 38 quarterbacks selected during the same time span before the fourth overall pick. In only 19 drafts has a quarterback not been taken before the fourth overall pick. From 2001-2012 a quarterback had been taken top three in every single draft.

What this tells me is that a quarterback worth the overall pick falling to fourth overall pick rarely happens. It seems like something happens in the top three that gets a good quarterback taken. The 1982 draft is the only NFL draft where the first quarterback taken went fourth overall.

This year’s draft may be a unique circumstance. The teams picking top-three don’t necessarily have a tremendous need at quarterback, other than Cleveland. This draft most closely resembles the 2004 draft. Eli Manning was the first quarterback selected, with Philip Rivers being the second at fourth overall. I can see this happening where Cleveland takes their guy and the Cowboys have their choice between the other two top quarterbacks.

Philip Rivers has a pretty shocking similarity to the Carson Wentz story. Rivers was a guy who soared up draft boards, just like Wentz is.

History repeats itself, and history says either that the quarterbacks will go before the Cowboys get to choose, or that they may have to go for someone who soared up draft boards.

What do you think?


Written by Nick Cocchiaro

I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content.

I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!


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