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How LSU and UNC QBs have fared in NFL since 2000

The New England Patriots will have a chance to select one of the top quarterbacks with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. With USC’s Caleb Williams almost certainly set to be picked first, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and/or UNC’s Drake Maye will be available when the Pats are on the clock.

If you ask our Phil Perry, the Patriots can ill afford to pass on a QB at No. 3 even with wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. — a potentially generational talent — as an option. Perry prefers Daniels to Maye, but adding either prospect would inspire hope in a QB room that currently consists of Jacoby Brissett, Bailey Zappe, and Nathan Rourke.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Daniels or Maye will pan out. The bust rate for first-round quarterbacks is high. Not to mention, few QBs from LSU or UNC have enjoyed exceptional NFL careers.

For reference, here’s a look at how quarterbacks from LSU and UNC have fared in the NFL since 2000.

Rohan Davey, LSU

2002 NFL Draft: Round 4, Pick 117 by New England Patriots

As a senior in 2001, Davey earned second-team All-SEC honors and helped the Tigers to their first SEC Championship since 1988. The Patriots took notice, selecting him in the fourth round of the 2002 draft.

Davey joined a New England team that was fresh off its first Super Bowl title. As Tom Brady’s backup, Davey didn’t see the field often during his three seasons in Foxboro. He made seven appearances, completing eight of his 19 passes for 88 yards.

After his third season with the Patriots, Davey left the NFL for the Arena Football League.

Matt Mauck, LSU

2004 NFL Draft: Round 7, Pick 225 by Denver Broncos

Mauck’s first taste of action at LSU was the 2001 SEC Championship game, when he replaced an injured Davey and led the Tigers to an unexpected comeback victory over Tennessee. After Davey was drafted by the Patriots, Mauck took over as the starter in 2002 and impressed until a foot injury ended his season. In 2003, he returned to lead LSU to another SEC title and a BCS national championship.

That success didn’t translate to the NFL. Mauck appeared in only two games (one start), both for the Tennessee Titans in 2005. He completed 15 of is 27 passes for zero touchdowns and an INT.

JaMarcus Russell, LSU

2007 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 1 by Oakland Raiders

Russell’s successful LSU career and remarkable arm strength made him the first overall selection in the 2007 draft. Before the 2007 NFL season, the Raiders signed him to a six-year contract worth up to $68 million.

His career only lasted three seasons, making him one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. Russell completed only 52.1 percent of his passes with 4,083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs in 31 games from 2007-09.

Matt Flynn, LSU

2008 NFL Draft: Round 7, Pick 209 by Green Bay Packers

Flynn served as Russell’s backup at LSU until his senior season in 2007, when he led the Tigers to an SEC title (though he didn’t play in the game due to injury) and the BCS National Championship.

As Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay, Flynn started six games over six seasons (two separate stints) and went 3-3. He also spent a year in Oakland and Seattle as a backup.

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T.J. Yates, UNC

2011 NFL Draft: Round 5, Pick 152 by Houston Texans

Yates briefly held UNC records for career (9,377) and single-season (3,418) passing yards. Sam Howell eventually broke the career passing yard record and Mitchell Trubisky set the new single-season record in 2016. Maye broke Trubisky’s record in 2022.

Primarily a backup during his seven-year NFL career, Yates finished with 2,057 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 22 games (10 starts). He went 4-6 in his career as a starter with each of those starts coming for Houston. He also spent one season with the Miami Dolphins (2016). and another with the Atlanta Falcons (2014).

Today, Yates serves as Atlanta’s quarterbacks coach.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU

2014 NFL Draft: Round 6, Pick 178 by Tennessee Titans

Mettenberger shined as LSU’s starter in 2012 and 2013, becoming the first Tigers QB to throw for 2,500 or more yards in back-to-back seasons. The sixth-round selection made 10 starts under center for the Tennessee Titans, losing all of them. He spent 2017 with the Pittsburgh Steelers but did not appear in a regular-season game.

Mitchell Trubisky, UNC

2017 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 2 by Chicago Bears

Trubisky was third-team All-ACC during his stellar 2016 season with the Tar Heels. His impressive campaign made him the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, the highest pick used on a UNC player since the Carolina Panthers selected defensive end Julius Peppers with the second overall pick in 2001.

In his rookie year, Trubisky posted a 4-8 record as Chicago’s starter. His first full season as a starting signal-caller in 2018 remains his best as a pro as he threw for 3,223 yards (66.6 completion percentage), 24 touchdowns, and interceptions en route to an 11-3 record and his only Pro Bowl nod.

Trubisky spent four seasons with the Bears before joining the Buffalo Bills as Josh Allen’s backup in 2021. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022 and 2023, appearing in 12 games and starting in seven of them. He went 2-5 as Pittsburgh’s spot starter.

The Bills brought Trubisky back on a two-year deal this offseason. He’ll enter the 2024 campaign with 12,536 passing yards, 72 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions through seven seasons (69 games, 57 starts).

Danny Etling, LSU

2018 NFL Draft: Round 7, Pick 219 by New England Patriots

As a rookie, Etling was the Patriots’ third-string QB behind Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. He earned a Super Bowl ring after the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3.

Etling was waived ahead of the 2019 season and claimed by the Atlanta Falcons. He also had stints with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Green Bay Packers but never appeared in a regular-season game.

Joe Burrow, LSU

2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 1 by Cincinnati Bengals

By far the most accomplished quarterback on this list, Burrow’s tremendous collegiate success carried into the NFL with the Bengals.

After leading LSU to a national championship in 2019, Burrow endured a difficult rookie season in Cincinnati. He went 2-7-1 as the Bengals’ starter but still managed to put up solid numbers before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in Week 11.

Burrow returned the following season and was named the Comeback Player of the Year while leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. Cincinnati fell to the L.A. Rams in the game, 23-20.

In 2022, Burrow earned his first Pro Bowl nod and further cemented himself as one of the league’s top QBs with a fourth-place MVP finish. The Bengals went 12-4 with Burrow as their starter but fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game.

Before the 2023 campaign, the Bengals signed Burrow to a five-year, $275 million contract extension. They went 5-5 with Burrow before their franchise QB suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11.

Sam Howell, UNC

2022 NFL Draft: Round 5, Pick 144 by Washington Commanders

Howell was named ACC Rookie of the Year and third-team All-ACC during his freshman season with the Tar Heels. He followed that up by earning a second-team All-ACC nod as a sophomore.

After his junior year — a down season statistically — Howell was selected by Washington in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. He served as the third-string QB behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, starting only one game and winning it with a modest 169-yard, one-touchdown effort.

Howell took over as the full-time starter in 2023 and saw mixed results. Although he threw for 3,946 yards and 21 touchdowns while adding another five TDs on the ground, he led the league in interceptions with 21 and went 4-13. He was also sacked a league-high 65 times.

The Commanders own the second overall pick in the 2024 draft, where they are widely expected to pick Maye or Daniels. They also recently added veteran Marcus Mariota to the QB room via free agency.