I looked at all teams since 1967 that:
- Used a first round pick on a quarterback;
- Had a QB on the roster the year before and that upcoming season who was at least 32 years old in the upcoming season;
- That QB threw at least 100 passing touchdowns with that team.
There are 15 examples that fit those specific criteria. Let’s review:
- With a 36-year-old Brett Favre on the roster, Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. That worked out really well.
- The Jaguars had veteran Mark Brunell on the roster when the team drafted Byron Leftwich in 2003. Brunell was gone after the season, tho Leftwich only started 44 games for the franchise.
- The 49ers had a 36-year-old Steve Young when the team thought it drafted quarterback of the future Jim Druckenmiller in 1997. That didn’t turn out to be the case.
- The Broncos — or perhaps more accurately, Dan Reeves — weren’t sure about John Elway after the 1991 season, even though he had just made the Pro Bowl. So in 1992, Denver drafted UCLA’s Tommy Maddox in 1992. Denver still had several more years of good quarterback play, but it didn’t come from Maddox.
- The Giants were planning for the future when they had a 36-year-old Phil Simms. So when Dave Brown decided to forego his senior year at Duke and enter the 1992 Supplemental Draft, New York used its first round pick on him. That cost the Giants the 9th pick in ’93, and while Simms only started 20 more games for the team, Brown turned out to be a bust.
- The Seahawks had relied on Dave Krieg for a decade, but then used a first round pick on Dan McGwire in 1991. McGwire, who was 6’8 and had a pretty famous brother, wound up starting just five games in his career.
- In 1984, the Bengals knew that 35-year-old Ken Anderson was on his last legs; Cincinnati selected Wayne Peace in the USFL Supplemental Draft. The former Gators quarterback never played in the NFL, but a year later, the Bengals drafted Boomer Esiason.
- Buffalo had long-time starter Joe Ferguson on the roster, who turned 33 that April, when the Bills wisely drafted Jim Kelly in 1983.
- The Saints knew by 1981 that Archie Manning was just about done, so the team drafted Dave Wilson when eligibility issues at Illinois forced him to declare for the 1981 Supplemental Draft. That didn’t turn out to be a very good pick: Wilson injured his knee as a rookie and went 12-19 for the Saints.
- The Steelers have been down this road before: planning for life after Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh drafted Mark Malone in 1980. Malone started 45 games for the team, but wasn’t particularly good.
- The St. Louis Cardinals had been quarterbacked by Jim Hart for over a decade when they selected local Missouri quarterback Steve Pisarkiewicz in 1977. He was a bust, starting just three games for the team.
- With Fran Tarkenton at 37 years old, the Viking were ready to plan for the future in 1977. As a result, Minnesota drafted Tommy Kramer at the end of the first round. Kramer wound up starting over 100 games for the team, so that decision looks good in retrospect. Remarkably, from 1971 to 1998, Kramer was the only quarterback drafted by Minnesota in the first three rounds.
- The Jets were planning for the future and life after Joe Namath when the team drafted another Alabama quarterback — Richard Todd — in 1976. Todd was a decent player, though his 42-51-1 record with the Jets makes it a tough one to analyze. He started for awhile but wasn’t particularly good.
- The 49ers saw John Brodie coming off of a pair of bad seasons and entering his age 32 season when the team drafted Steve Spurrier in 1967. Spurrier could never take the job from Brodie, who had a very strong back half of his career.
- Finally, the Packers had Bart Starr and were the two-time defending champions when the team drafted Don Horn in 1967. Horn had one remarkable day — okay, maybe two — but the pick didn’t work out for Green Bay.
Some other examples that don’t really count, but came up in my research when looking for heir apparent quarterbacks. In each of these cases, the veteran quarterback was not on the team the following season, so they don’t quite count.
Finally, this doesn’t quite qualify but feels to meet the spirit of the question. Boomer Esiason had just turned 31 in April of 1992 when the Bengals drafted David Klingler a week later. Esiason was dealt to the Jets after the ’92 season. Also not on the list: the Kurt Warner/Matt Leinart situation. When Leinart was drafted in 2006, Warner was coming off his first season in Arizona, a 2-8 season (though his numbers were above-average). Similarly, Lynn Dickey wasn’t quite a franchise quarterback when Green Bay drafted Rich Campbell in 1981, though Dickey arguably turned into one.