Where Are They Now?—2009 NFL Draft Quarterbacks
Today, I recap the careers of the top five quarterbacks of the 2009 NFL Draft and what they are doing today.
College Career: After graduating early from high school, Matthew Stafford became the first true freshman to start for Georgia since Quincy Carter in 1998. As a sophomore, he helped the Bulldogs to a 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory. In his junior year, he led the SEC in passing yards with 3,459 and a Georgia single season record 25 passing touchdowns. Stafford chose to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.
Drafted: 1st overall by Detroit Lions
Pro Career: Stafford was immediately named the starter going into his rookie year. In Week 11 of his rookie season, he became the youngest quarterback in league history to throw five touchdowns in a game in a comeback victory over Cleveland. After an injury filled sophomore campaign, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 while being named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. In 2014, he helped the Lions to an 11-5 record and the playoffs while being named to his first Pro Bowl and was eventually named the Pro Bowl Offensive MVP. In his 10 seasons, he has completed 3,372 of 5,405 passes for 38,526 yards and 237 touchdowns while also rushing for 14 scores.
Bottom Line: Stafford was drafted by the first team in history to go winless in a 16-game season. With the only real talent on the roster being himself and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, he often felt like he had to play hero ball early in his career. Once he got an offensive minded coaching staff under Jim Caldwell, you really started to see his true potential as his completion percentage rose and interceptions dropped. It's clear that Stafford is a talented as any quarterback in the league and when he has help, the Lions are solid team. He holds every major Lions passing record and many NFL records like most passing attempts in a season, most game winning drives in a season, and most career pass attempts per game. While he's led Detroit to the postseason three times, he has yet to win a playoff game.
Where Is He Now?: Stafford is under contract with Detroit through the 2022 season. Whether he's capable of getting he Lions over the hump and maintain a consistent level of success is unknown given the fact that Detroit has been one of the worst run teams in the league.
College Career: The nation's top quarterback coming out of high school, Mark Sanchez spent his first three years on the scout team and as a back up. In 2008 he was named the starter and threw for a career best 338 yards in a season opener win over Virginia. He and the Trojans ended the season 12-1 and number three in the AP Poll and defeated Penn State 38-24 in the Rose Bowl. Sanchez won the 2009 Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player award for his performance on offense as his 413 passing yards were the second most in Rose Bowl history. In his one year as a starter, he finished with 3,207 passing yards and 34 touchdowns.
Drafted: 5th overall by New York Jets
Pro Career: Going Into his rookie year, Sanchez was listed as the backup behind Kellen Clemens, but was named the starter just before the season opener. That year New York made the playoffs as the fifth seed and defeated Cincinnati in the wildcard round and San Diego in the divisional round before falling to Indianapolis in the AFC Championship. The following year the Jets improved to an 11-5 record, but that was only good enough for the sixth playoff seed. After winning on a last second field goal over Indianapolis in the wildcard round, Sanchez helped upset top seeded New England in the divisional round with 194 yards and three touchdowns. The following week, the team fell to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship despite a strong second half comeback. In 2011, he set career highs with 3,474 passing yards and 26 touchdowns but the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs in the season finale. In 2014, Sanchez signed with Philadelphia and was named the starter after Nick Foles broke his collarbone. He played well to start with a 3-1 record as the Eagles sat a top of the NFC East, but the team lost three of their last four to miss the postseason. He spent his final years in Denver, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington before retiring after the 2018 season.
Bottom Line: After his first two seasons, Sanchez was looking like a rising star helping New York reach two straight AFC Championships. However in reality the Jets were a team with a strong running game and an elite defense. He was praised for standing in the pocket and hitting the open man early in his career but after the 2012 season, his accuracy diminished and became more indecisive which ultimately led to his benching in New York. He was also criticized by numerous teammates for his poor work ethic and his inability to improve. Thanks to his drop off in play and the infamous butt fumble, he will always be seen as a tease.
Where Is He Now?: Since retiring after the 2018 season, Sanchez took a job with ESPN's college football coverage as an analyst.
College: Kansas State
College Career: After originally committing to Nebraska, Josh Freeman decided to attend Kansas State. As a freshman, he started 11 of 13 games and had two comeback wins. The following year, he set new single season school records for pass attempts, completions, and passing yards. In 2008, he set a single season school record by a Wildcat quarterback with 14 rushing touchdowns. In his three seasons at Kansas State, Freeman completed 680 passes for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in 35 career games while setting a school record with 8,427 total yards.
Drafted: 17th overall by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pro Career: Freeman started his first game as a rookie midseason after Byron Leftwich went on injured reserve. He helped defeat Green Bay and ended the team's 11 game losing streak and became the youngest quarterback in franchise history to start and win his first game. The following year, he was extremely efficient throwing for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions as the team barely missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. After a rough 2011, Freeman bounced back in 2012 with 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns. After stops with the Vikings, Giants, Dolphins, Colts, the Fall Experimental Football League, and CFL, he retired in 2018.
Bottom Line: Given his stout frame of 6'6", 240 pounds, Freeman should have been a solid NFL quarterback. But for whatever reason, he couldn't sustain any consistent success. The talent was clearly there and had decent talent around him as he holds several Tampa Bay franchise records, but he couldn't sustain success over back to back years. It wasn't like he was a locker room poison or even un-coachable. I reiterate it to a Jason Campbell like situation where a player goes through many coaches and coordinator and continually had to learn a new system. Had he been drafted into a more stable franchise, things might have been different.
Where Is He Now?: Freeman has remained quiet post retirement.
College: West Virginia
College Career: Pat White passed up a lucrative baseball career to play quarterback at West Virginia. In his four years as a Mountaineer, he was the ultimate dual threat quarterback. He and running back Steve Slaton formed one of the top run duos in college football. White finished his career with 6,051 yards and 56 touchdowns passing and 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns rushing, a total of 10,531 yards and 103 touchdowns over four years and became the first quarterback in college football history to go 4-0 in bowl games.
Drafted: 44th overall by Miami Dolphins
Pro Career: Miami announced that they wanted to use White as their wildcat quarterback and as a receiver. His first big play was on a 33 yard run against New England. In the season finale, he was hit on a helmet to helmet hit that left him unconscious and was carted off the field. White was waived the following year after two preseason games. After a year in the UFL, he joined Washington in 2013 where he played in every preseason game before being released. He spent his final year in the Toronto Argonauts before retiring in 2015.
Bottom Line: White was an elusive runner with solid arm strength, but was never asked to throw the ball all over the field in college. Given his athleticism, he could have played a Kordell Stewart like role as a quarterback/ running back/ wide receiver hybrid. However Miami was so quick to jump ship on the investment and both parties ultimately suffered because of it. White wasted his prime years out of football and the Dolphins were relegated to mediocrity until they made the playoffs in 2016.
Where Is He Now?: In April 2018, White was hired to be the quarterbacks coach at Alcorn State.
College: Texas A&M
College Career: As a redshirt freshman, Stephen McGee was mainly the backup until the final two games. The following year he broke the A&M single-season completion record, completing 62% of his passes, recording 12 touchdowns to only two interceptions. As a junior he accounted for 62% of the offenses total yardage and helped the team defeat Texas for the second straight season. His senior season was plagued by injuries as Texas A&M finished 4-8.
Drafted: 101st overall by Dallas Cowboys
Pro Career: Dallas viewed McGee as a project player as he played in an option system in college and was named the third stringer after Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. In 2010 with Romo on injured reserve and Jon Kitna going down on Christmas Day against Arizona, McGee stepped in a threw a touchdown late to give the Cowboys the lead but the Cardinals marched late to win the game on a field goal. In the season finale at Philadelphia, he went 11-27 for 127 yards and a touchdown pass to Jason Witten with under a minute left to give Dallas a 14-13 victory over their divisional rival. After being released by Dallas in 2012 he signed a future contract with Houston, but was released a few months later. He played two seasons in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before retiring in 2014.
Bottom Line: Looking at his stats, I'm not sure why another team wouldn't give him another try or Dallas wouldn't retain him. Jon Kitna was at the end of his career and Romo would've needed a solid backup. McGee played well given his limited experience in a pro style offense and it was surprising that he didn't end up on another roster. While his career completion percentage isn't ideal, but the right coaching would've improved on that and could've developed into a capable starter down the road.
Where Is He Now?: McGee has been involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and gives speeches at Texas schools. He still remains close to Texas A&M and is an avid hunter with hopes of becoming a professional deer hunter.
Other Notable Quarterbacks
Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State: Drafted 151st overall by New York Giants
- Nothing more than a third string quarterback
Nate Davis, Ball State: Drafted 171st overall by San Francisco 49ers
- Never played in regular season, current Indoor Football League QB
Tom Brandstater, Fresno State: Drafted 174th overall by Denver Broncos
- Played in just one regular season game in his final season
Mike Teel, Rutgers: Drafted 178th overall by Seattle Seahawks
- Third stringer on three teams
Keith Null, West Texas A&M: Drafted 196th overall by St. Louis Rams
- Three career touchdowns to nine interceptions
Curtis Painter, Purdue: Drafted 201st overall by Indianapolis Colts
- Below average backup
Brian Hoyer, Michigan State: Undrafted
- Capable short term starter, above average backup
Chase Daniel, Missouri: Undrafted
- Career backup, reliable