Marcus Mariota's position in the 2015 draft has fluctuated amongst pundits, but there is pretty much no question that he will be taken in the first round. While we always seem to assume that first round draft picks will fulfill their potential, the recent history of Pac-12 quarterbacks taken in the first round is not encouraging.
Here is how they stack up.
1. Aaron Rodgers - Cal - 2005 24th by Green Bay
Rodgers is the easy choice here and amongst the best quarterbacks to ever come out of the Pac-12. A Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP, two MVP awards and countless yards, touchdowns and wins, Rodgers is going to go down as an all-time great. Imagine how many Super Bowls the 49ers would have won the past decade had they picked Rodgers first overall instead of Alex Smith.
2. Andrew Luck - Stanford - 2012 1st by Indianapolis
Luck has only been in the league a few seasons, but he is already the easy choice for second. A testament to just how good Luck is that I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up overtaking Rodgers in the long run. He has been one of those rare players taken first overall that has not been the least bit disappointing.
3. Carson Palmer - USC - 2003 1st by Cincinnati
Kind of a drop off here, but maybe not as much as you think. People forget that Palmer was actually really good early in his career winning an AFC Player of the Year, going to two Pro Bowls and leading a hapless franchise to the playoffs. He has battled injuries and thrown a good amount of interceptions, but he has still had a career that is pretty good for a quarterback and the only QB in his draft class I might take over him is Tony Romo.
4. Mark Sanchez - USC - 2009 5th by Jets
Okay, here is where the real big drop off is. He showed some promise early in his career and managed to quarterback two-straight teams that made the AFC Championship, but he was always a cog at best in those seasons. I think Sanchez will have a decent career as a back-up, but that's a disappointment for a player taken fifth in the draft. Showing how rare good NFL quarterbacks are though, Sanchez is still probably the unquestioned second-best QB in his draft class after Matthew Stafford who went first.
5. Kyle Boller - Cal - 2003 19th by Baltimore
Boller was the initial leader of Cal's resurgence and worked it into becoming an unexpected first round draft pick. The Ravens gave Boller a shot and he had some unremarkable seasons, but ultimately faded away as a back-up. Still, after Palmer and Romo, Boller is probably the best QB in that class.
6. Joey Harrington - Oregon - 2002 3rd by Detroit
Harrington got a shot with the Lions, but only had one season where he had more touchdowns than interceptions and never won more than six games in a season.
7. Jake Locker - Washington - 2011 8th by Tennessee
Locker recently made headlines for retiring at 26 after a short, injury-filled career full of losing. Locker wasn't terrible with the Titans, but always seemed to get hurt when he started to play well.
8. Matt Leinart - USC - 2006 10th by Arizona
Leinart's NFL career is kind of a punchline. He was only in the league for a handful of seasons and never threw for more than 700 yards of two touchdowns in any season in his career.
9. Cade McNown - UCLA - 1999 12th by Chicago
McNown set records and won big at UCLA, but had a very forgettable NFL career in which he threw just 16 touchdowns to 19 interceptions and was out of the league pretty quickly.
10. Akili Smith - Oregon - 1999 3rd by Cincinnati
Ryan Leaf may be much more notorious, but Smith is in the same ballpark level of bust. He barely started a season of games and threw more than twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns in his brief NFL career.
11. Ryan Leaf - Washington State - 1998 2nd by San Diego
We all know the story.