Mel Kiper's Highest-Graded Quarterback List Includes Three Busts

Detroit Lions Andre Ware
Detroit Lions Andre Ware / George Gojkovich/Getty Images

NFL Draft experts face the ire of fans on a yearly basis for undervaluing some prospects and overvaluing others. Having published mock drafts with evaluations and projections for all of those players, there's really no hiding from mistakes for those draft experts. But it's rare you see them take the initiative and admit to their mistakes without prompting.

Mel Kiper did just that, releasing a list of the 10 highest-graded quarterbacks he's evaluated in 42 years covering the draft. The list is based on Kiper's predraft rating, not how their NFL career unfolded, and Kiper wrote it so readers could see where Trevor Lawrence stacks up against the other quarterbacks he's evaluated. While most of the list is solid, there are some notable mistakes by Kiper, who deserves credit for not shying away from his past mistakes.

Andre Ware, the 1989 Heisman winner, checked in with the sixth-highest pre-draft ranking by Kiper. Kiper's evaluation of Ware included the following statement: "I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him lead his club to the Super Bowl early in his pro career. Even if he doesn't, you can feel reasonably certain that he will enjoy a successful career." Neither proved correct as Ware, who the Lions used the No. 7 pick on in the 1990 draft, was out of the league by 1994.

Another big miss by Kiper was Ryan Leaf, who Kiper gave the eighth-highest grade to. Kiper was hardly the only expert to get this wrong as there was a big debate in 1998 if Leaf or Peyton Manning should be the No. 1 pick. While Kiper got that right, ranking Manning ahead of Leaf at the time and giving Manning the third-highest grade ever, his evaluation of Leaf was just a bit off: "Leaf is the type who can single-handedly put a team in the win column, which at the pro level is the ultimate sign of greatness."

Leaf infamously flamed out in the NFL after being the No. 2 pick by the Chargers behind Manning. He was released by the Chargers in 2001 and never played another NFL game.

Kiper also mentioned Tim Couch as one of the highest-graded quarterbacks after the Top 10, though that list of five was unranked. Couch was the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft by the Browns but was out of the league by 2004.

Despite three misses, Kiper was pretty spot-on otherwise. John Elway was his highest-graded quarterback ever and Andrew Luck was No. 2. Of the top 10, only Leaf and Ware were busts. Lawrence is ranked No. 4 on the list and Josh Allen is No. 10. The other quarterbacks all made multiple Pro Bowls and four are in the Hall of Fame.

Gotta give credit to Kiper for admitting he's made some mistakes in the past. Even if no one asked for it, it's nice to see one expert publicize mistakes others might want to hide from.