A look back at the characteristics of teams that draft Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (2024)

What’s the secret to drafting an elite quarterback? Or, maybe, more accurately, what’s the special sauce that makes a young quarterback great? Between drafting, grooming, coaching, and good fortune, there’s a wide array of variables that go into shaping the most successful quarterbacks in the league.

In this piece, I’m going to aggregate a range of information that I think might provide some insight into what that “special sauce” (or sauces) looks like, in the hopes of shaping Washington’s situation this season and beyond. Some of those variables Adam Peters and his staff can control. Others (e.g., team quality before the player’s arrival), he cannot.

So, grab a warm cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s take a journey down memory lane.

The subjects of this article will be quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl over the course of the past two decades (2004-2023). Those include:

  • Tom Brady (5 wins over this timeframe)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (2)
  • Peyton Manning (2)
  • Eli Manning (2)
  • Drew Brees
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Joe Flacco
  • Russell Wilson
  • Nick Foles
  • Patrick Mahomes (3)
  • Matt Stafford

Lots of criticisms - many legitimate - can be leveled against an analysis of this sort: 1) It’s a small sample size; 2) Super Bowl wins are rare events that require a lot of things to go right; 3) QBs don’t win Super Bowls by themselves. All of these things are true, but let’s see what we find.

Tom Brady

Drafted by (Year): New England Patriots (2000)

Draft Position: Round 6, pick 199

Age at Draft: 22

College Starts: 29

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 8-8

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 9-7

Won Super Bowls With:

  • Patriots
  • Buccaneers

First Season Situation:

When Brady was drafted in 2000, the Patriots were still helmed by Super Bowl losing quarterback Drew Bledsoe. During his rookie season, Brady sat on the bench behind Bledsoe, John Friesz, and Michael Bishop, and completed a single pass in relief against the Lions. By the end of that season, he was QB2.

Even so, it would take a serious injury to Bledsoe in the second game of the 2001 season for Brady to get his break. Later that season, Brady would become the youngest quarterback (24.5) to ever win a Super Bowl, his first of seven.

Ben Roethlisberger

Drafted by (Year): Pittsburgh Steelers (2004)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 11

Age at Draft: 22

College Starts: 38

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 6-10

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 10-5-1

Won Super Bowls With:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers

First Season Situation:

Roethlisberger started the season as QB3, behind Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch. Batch was injured in the pre-season, elevating Ben to QB2, but Maddox would start the season for the Steelers. As was the case with Brady, Big Ben got his chance to play when the starter went down with injury. Maddox went down in the second game of the season and Ben would proceed to go 13-0 as a starter in the regular season.

He took the Steelers to the AFC Championship, where they would lose to the Patriots. But they would be back. The following season, the Steelers would beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and Roethlisberger would claim the title of youngest QB (23) to win a Super Bowl from Brady.

Peyton Manning

Drafted by (Year): Indianapolis Colts (1998)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 1

Age at Draft: 22

College Starts: 45

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 3-13

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 3-13

Won Super Bowls With:

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Denver Broncos

First Season Situation:

Unlike the first two QBs on this list, Manning was the starter out of the gate....and his team was terrible. The Colts finished 3-13 during his rookie season, though Manning set five different rookie passing records. The Colts would make the playoffs - and win a Super Bowl (2006) - in eleven of their next 12 seasons, however.

Eli Manning

Drafted by (Year): San Diego Chargers (2004); As most know, this was a very strange situation. Manning was immediately traded to the New York Giants.

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 1

Age at Draft: 23

College Starts: 43

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: (Giants) 4-12

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: (Giants) 10-6

Won Super Bowls With:

  • New York Giants

First Season Situation:

Kurt Warner began the 2004 season as the Giants’ starter, and would helm the team for the first nine games. He would eventually be benched for Manning, and Eli would finish the season with a 1-6 record. Manning would begin the 2005 season as the undisputed starter and the Giants would end up going 11-5 and losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Drew Brees

Drafted by (Year): San Diego Chargers (2001)

Draft Position: Round 2, pick 32

Age at Draft: 22

College Starts: 41

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 1-15

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 8-8

Won Super Bowl With:

  • New Orleans Saints

First Season Situation:

From my vantage point, Brees has one of the most interesting quarterback trajectories in recent NFL history. Taken with the first pick in the second round - in a draft where the Chargers traded #1 overall to the Falcons in order for them to pick Michael Vick - Brees sat all 16 games of his rookie season behind starter Doug Flutie.

He was named the starter over Flutie at the beginning of the 2002 season and started all 16 games for the Chargers. In 2003, he would lose his starting job to Flutie again, though he would win it back in 2004, despite the drafting of Philip Rivers.

Brees would leave for New Orleans in free agency in 2006.

Aaron Rodgers

Drafted by (Year): Green Bay Packers (2005)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 24

Age at Draft: 21

College Starts: 25

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 10-6

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 10-6

Won Super Bowl With:

  • Green Bay Packers

First Season Situation:

Rodgers was famously drafted into one of the best situations imaginable. At the time, the Packers were still helmed by a relatively vibrant Brett Favre, who had won a Super Bowl for the franchise in 1996.

Rodgers essentially sat behind Favre for two and a half years, before finally stepping in when Favre went down with injury in November 2007. That said, head coach Mike McCarthy, who was hired in 2006, placed Rodgers in a targeted “Quarterback School” for six hours a day, several days a week, intentionally grooming him as an eventual replacement for Favre. The torch would formally be handed off to Rodgers in 2008.

Joe Flacco

Drafted by (Year): Baltimore Ravens (2008)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 18

Age at Draft: 23

College Starts: 22

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 5-11

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 13-3

Won Super Bowl With:

  • Baltimore Ravens

First Season Situation:

I hadn’t remembered it - if I had ever known it - but the draft acquisition of Flacco was quite similar to the later drafting of Lamar Jackson. The Ravens initially traded back from #8 and then up from #26 to select Flacco in 2008.

Flacco was the game one starter in 2008, but that wasn’t by design. Like several QBs on this list, he got his first start when the QBs in front of him, Kyle Boller and Troy Smith, went down with sickness and injury. The Ravens would go 11-5 that season and lose in the AFC Championship game to the Steelers.

Russell Wilson

Drafted by (Year): Seattle Seahawks (2012)

Draft Position: Round 3, pick 75

Age at Draft: 23

College Starts: 50

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 7-9

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 7-9

Won Super Bowl With:

  • Seattle Seahawks

First Season Situation:

Despite the fact that the Seahawks had signed veteran Matt Flynn to a large deal before the 2012 season, Wilson was able to beat out Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting role to begin the season. The Seahawks would go 11-5 during his rookie season and lose in the division round of the playoffs.

Nick Foles

Drafted by (Year): Philadelphia Eagles (2012)

Draft Position: Round 3, pick 88

Age at Draft: 23

College Starts: 36

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 8-8

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 10-6

Won Super Bowl With:

  • Philadelphia Eagles

First Season Situation:

Foles is an outlier on this list in that he’s the only QB who won his Super Bowl primarily in relief. In 2012, Mike Vick was the Eagles starter, and Foles would only get the chance to play once Vick went down with a concussion mid-season. He would spend the next several seasons, bouncing around between the Eagles and the Rams, before eventually returning to Philadelphia in 2017 as Carson Wentz’s back-up. The rest, as they say, is history.

Patrick Mahomes

Drafted by (Year): Kansas City Chiefs (2017)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 10

Age at Draft: 21

College Starts: 32

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 12-4

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 11-5

Won Super Bowls With:

  • Kansas City Chiefs

First Season Situation:

Mahomes sat nearly all of his rookie season behind starter Alex Smith. Once the Chiefs had secured a playoff berth, in late December, the Chiefs decided to give Smith a rest and let Mahomes start the final game of the season, which he helped the team win 27-24.

Smith would be traded to the Redskins the following season, and Mahomes would officially begin his reign of terror on the rest of the NFL.

Matthew Stafford

Drafted by (Year): Detroit Lions (2009)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 1

Age at Draft: 21

College Starts: 39

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 0-16

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 7-9

Won Super Bowl With:

  • Los Angeles Rams

First Season Situation:

Stafford won the Lions’ starting quarterback position out of the gate in 2009. The Lions would go 2-8 with Stafford at the helm that season, and he would go on IR late in the year with a knee injury.

Stafford’s 2010 season was primarily lost to injury as well, this time to his throwing shoulder. The Lions would go 1-3 in his starts and finish the season 6-10.

Parting Thoughts

That’s a lot to digest, and an illustrious group to consider. I’ll leave most of my editorializing for the comments’ section below, but I’ll mention a few things here that stand out to me. They may be relevant, or they may not be:

  • In only one of these cases (Peyton Manning) was a player drafted onto a team that was terrible two years before he was drafted. And in that case, even with one of the greatest QBs of all time, it took his team 8 years to win a Super Bowl. To me, this trend signals that the deck is very stacked against any QB coming onto a truly wretched franchise. That’s not earth-shattering, but I’m not sure it’s always fully appreciated.
  • The corollary to that is that top quarterbacks coming onto solid teams - even ones that weren’t great the year before they were drafted, can win - even Super Bowls - very quickly.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how many of these quarterbacks sat significantly before they were full-time starters: Brady, Eli, Brees, Rodgers, Foles and Mahomes. That’s six of eleven of this group (55%).
  • Of those who sat, Mahomes and Rodgers were 21 at the time of drafting, Brady and Brees were 22, and Foles and Eli were 23. Of those who did not sit, Stafford was the only 21 year old who started out of the gate.
  • Three of these QBs: Brees, Foles, and Stafford would need to leave the franchises that drafted them in order to win Super Bowls. Though, of course, Foles would come back.

What other trends do you see? I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments.

As a refresher, here is Washington’s status on these parameters as things currently stand:

Drafted by (Year): Washington (2024)

Draft Position: Round 1, pick 2

Team Record in the Season before Drafted: 4-13

Team Record two Seasons before Drafted: 8-8-1


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A look back at the characteristics of teams that draft Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (2024)


Who are the winningest quarterbacks in the Super Bowl? ›

Tom Brady's seven Super Bowl wins are the most among any quarterbacks – and all players – in NFL history. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are both tied for second all-time among starting quarterbacks with four Super Bowl victories.

Who is the lowest drafted quarterback to win a Super Bowl? ›

Lowest-drafted QB to start Super Bowl

The mark currently belongs to Brad Johnson, who was the 227th pick in the ninth round of the 1992 NFL Draft, and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers. Of course, I can't forget to mention two undrafted QBs have started a Super Bowl, Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme.

Has an undrafted QB ever won a Super Bowl? ›

Warner helped lead the Rams to a championship, defeating the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. In the victory, he threw two touchdowns and had 414 passing yards, a record at the time. He is the only undrafted quarterback to win a Super Bowl, the only undrafted player to be named NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP.

Which numbers was worn by the most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks? ›

Quarterback jersey number with the most Super Bowl wins

Almost one-third of all Super Bowls have been awarded to teams with a quarterback wearing No. 12.

Who is the best QB in the Super Bowl? ›

Ranking Super Bowl's 20 best QBs: Patrick Mahomes near top after third MVP win following Super Bowl 58 victory
  • Joe Namath. ...
  • Peyton Manning. ...
  • John Elway. 2-3 record. ...
  • Troy Aikman. 3-0 record. ...
  • Terry Bradshaw. 4-0 Super Bowl record. ...
  • Patrick Mahomes. 3-1 record. ...
  • Joe Montana. 4-0 Super Bowl record. ...
  • Tom Brady. 7-3 Super Bowl record.
Feb 12, 2024

Who won 3 Super Bowls in a row? ›

Has a Team Won 3 Straight Super Bowls? No team has ever won three straight Super Bowls.

Who is Mr. Irrelevant 2024? ›

The emergence of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has made the Mr. Irrelevant pick in the NFL draft relevant for bettors. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Purdy has led the 49ers to the NFC Conference Championship Game and a Super Bowl appearance.

Has a first round QB ever won a Super Bowl? ›

1 picks: Manning defeated Cam Newton, the 2011 top pick by Carolina, after the 2015 season. Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick of the Lions in 2009, was traded to the Rams in 2021 and won a Super Bowl in his first season as their starter by defeating Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick of the Bengals in 2020.

Who was the Mr. Irrelevant quarterback in the Super Bowl? ›

When teams selected the NFL stars of the future in the 2022 draft, no one wanted to go anywhere near Brock Purdy – and it was hard to blame them.

What QB has never lost a Super Bowl? ›

Zeke Bratkowski

Who is the youngest QB with two Super Bowl wins? ›

Now 43 years old, Brady set the record as the youngest quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls at 26 years and 182 days of age after the Patriots' victory in 2004.

Has Mr. Irrelevant ever won MVP? ›

If he had won, Purdy would have been the first “Mr. Irrelevant” to win MVP. He would have passed Tom Brady as the lowest drafted player in the modern NFL era to win the award, according to Sporting News. But he wouldn't have been the lowest drafted player to win MVP.

Who broke their leg in Super Bowl 23? ›

At the time of his retirement, his 34 sacks were the fourth highest in franchise history. Krumrie is perhaps remembered most for the severely broken leg he suffered during Super Bowl XXIII where the Bengals played the San Francisco 49ers.

Has a running quarterback ever won a Super Bowl? ›

Since the inception of the Super Bowl in 1967, there has not been a quarterback who was known for his running abilities to win the championship.

What QB has won 3 Super Bowls? ›

Which NFL Quarterbacks Have Won At Least 3 Super Bowls?
  • Patrick Mahomes. Super Bowl Wins: 3 (LIV, LVII, LVIII) ...
  • Tom Brady. Super Bowl Wins: 7 (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII, LV) ...
  • Joe Montana. Super Bowl Wins: 4 (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV) ...
  • Terry Bradshaw. ...
  • Troy Aikman. ...
  • Patrick Mahomes. ...
  • Tom Brady.

Who are the winningest quarterbacks in the NFL? ›

Tom Brady holds the record for the most regular season wins with 251. Brady also holds the record for the most postseason wins with 35. Aaron Rodgers leads active players with 148 regular season wins. Patrick Mahomes leads active players with 15 postseason wins.

Which two starting quarterbacks have won Super Bowls with more than one team? ›

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the only starting quarterbacks to have won Super Bowls for two NFL teams, while Craig Morton and Kurt Warner are the only other quarterbacks to have started for a second team.


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