KANSAS CITY, Mo. — NFL teams selected quarterbacks at a record pace during the three-day draft, and can you blame them?
After all, the San Francisco 49ers advanced to the NFC championship game last season behind the play of rookie sensation Brock Purdy, who earned “Mr. Irrelevant” honors as the last player selected in the 2022 draft.
The Purdy Effect, the moniker making the rounds Saturday, underscored the notion that teams can find hidden gems anywhere, in any round.
So it isn’t surprising that 11 quarterbacks were selected among the first 150 picks, which according to ESPN was a record for the common draft era.
Three quarterbacks were chosen in the first four picks, and after two were taken Friday, nine more were selected Saturday — including Georgia’s Stetson Bennett to the Rams and Texas Christian’s Max Duggan to the Chargers, the two quarterbacks who squared off in the national championship game at SoFi Stadium.
Roughly 40 of the top quarterbacks in college football gather in Thibodaux, La., every summer to work as counselors at the Manning Passing Academy, tutoring 1,400 youth quarterbacks and receivers from around the country.
Each of the eight starting quarterbacks in the divisional round of last season’s NFL playoffs worked as a counselor at the camp: Dak Prescott, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts, Brock Purdy, Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
Not surprisingly, several of the quarterbacks drafted this year were also MPA counselors, among them Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, Aidan O’Connell and Bennett.
Archie Manning, who started the camp with sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli, praised all of those quarterbacks, but said he’s particularly interested to see what Georgia’s Bennett — a fourth-round pick of the Rams — does with his opportunity.
“There will never be anyone that will have the career of Stetson Bennett again,” Manning said. “A walk-on quarterback who leads his team to two national championships, and he played in six games in his career where they give an MVP. He went six for six and won that award every time.”
Bennett will be learning behind Matthew Stafford, another MPA alumnus.
“Stetson’s been underestimated for years and years,” Manning said. “I’m not going to be one that underestimates him. I’m not going to say he’s going to go play. But he’ll at least be their third guy next year and he’s only going to get better.”