The NFL’s final 4 QBs are often first-round picks. This time, 1 is not like the others

FILE – Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, embrace after an NFL football game, Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. Past NFL MVPs Jackson and Mahomes will face each other in the AFC championship game in Baltimore on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File

Recent evidence shows that the NFL conference title game participants most often employ first-rounders at the sport’s most important position. That trend is reflected in Sunday’s matchups: Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs versus Lamar Jackson’s Ravens in the AFC, and Jared Goff’s Lions versus Brock Purdy’s 49ers in the NFC. Three outta four ain’t bad. The only newcomer to this round among the quartet is Jackson, who becomes the 30th quarterback to start a conference title game in the last 15 seasons. Twenty of those 30 QBs were first-round picks. But the ways this quartet of QBs arrived at their current clubs demonstrate that going through a season so bad that a team is in position to take a franchise QB with one of the top few picks isn’t always the path to success.

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