The quarterback is arguably the most important position on the football field and the leader of the team. With the NFL starting this week, I’ve decided to look back and rank the best NFL and AFL quarterbacks that played at Utah Colleges. Even though there have been plenty of great college quarterbacks from Utah over the years, not many have made a huge impact in the pro’s.
15. Lee Grosscup (Utah) – Grosscup was the tenth pick in the draft by the New York Giants in 1959. Grosscup only played eight games in the NFL before moving over to the AFL. While playing for the New York Titans in the AFL, Grosscup played in eight games including four as a starter in 1962. During his time as a Titan, Grosscup threw for 855 yards and eight touchdowns.
14. Tom Dublinski (Utah) – Dublinski was the 93rd pick in the eighth round of the 1952 draft by the Detroit Lions. Dublinski saw action in five seasons for three different teams. His most success came with the Lions, where he started five games and won four.
During his career, Dublinski passed for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 52.5 percent of his throws. He also rushed for 118 yards and another score.
13. Bob Gagliano (Utah State) – Gagliano was the 319th pick in the 12th round by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1981 draft. Gagliano lasted 12 seasons in the NFL with seven different teams but only saw game action in seven of those years. Gagliano is best known for his time as a Detroit Lion, where he started 11 games over two seasons.
His best season with the Lions came in 1990, when Gagliano threw for 1,190 yards and ten touchdowns.
For his career, Gagliano passed for 3,431 yards 17 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He also rushed for 352 yards and four more scores.
12. Gifford Nielsen (BYU) – Nielsen was the 73rd pick in the third round of the 1978 draft By the Houston Oilers. Nielsen spent six seasons with the Oilers and started 14 games over that time. Nielsen didn’t find much success only winning three of those starts.
For his NFL career, Nielsen Completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 3255 yards and 20 touchdowns as well as 22 interceptions.
11. Jamie Martin (Weber State) – Martin played for seven teams in 16 years in the NFL after going undrafted out of Weber State. Martin spent the majority of his career as a third stringer but did see action in more than 50 games, including eight starts. His best season came in 2005 as a member of the Saint Louis Rams, when Martin won four of five starts and threw for 1,277 yards and five touchdowns.
For his career, Martin passed for 3,814 yards, 20 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
10. David Archer (Snow) – Archer carved out an eight year NFL career after going undrafted in the 1984 draft. Archer played for four different NFL teams but found his most field action and success as an Atlanta Falcon. Archer started 23 games over four seasons in Atlanta including 11 games in both 1985 and 1986. Archer’s best season came in 1986 when he threw for 2,007 yards and ten touchdowns while rushing for 298 yards.
For his career, Archer passed for 4,337 yards, 18 touchdowns and 30 interceptions while rushing for 706 yards and two scores.
9. Virgil Carter (BYU) – Carter was the 142nd pick in the sixth round by the Chicago Bears in the 1967 draft. Carter saw field action in seven seasons for three different teams. Carter’s best years came as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals where he won 12 of his 22 starts over three seasons. During his stretch as a Bengal, Carter completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 3,850 yards and 22 touchdowns.
For his career, Carter passed for more than 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns while adding 640 rushing and eight more scores.
8. Ty Detmer (BYU) – Detmer was the 230th pick in the ninth round of the 1992 draft by the Green Bay Packers. Detmer spent 14 seasons in the NFL and saw action in eight different years.
Detmer’s best seasons came as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles where he started 18 games in two years.
In 1996, Detmer started 11 games and won seven while passing for almost 3000 yards and 15 touchdowns. That was the only season of Detmer’s pro career where he started more than seven games.
For his career, Detmer passed for 6,351 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing 57.7 percent of his passes.
7. Eric Hipple (Utah State) – Hipple was the 85th pick in the fourth round by the Detroit Lions in the 1980 draft. Hipple spent his entire nine year NFL career with the Lions and was a starter for good parts of four seasons. Hipple’s best statistical season came in 1985 when he threw for 2,952 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 54.9 percent of his passes.
For his career, Hipple threw for 10,711 yards, 55 touchdowns and 70 interceptions while rushing for 550 yards and 13 scores.
6. Marc Wilson (BYU) – Wilson was the 15th pick in the first round of the 1980 draft by the Oakland Raiders. Wilson saw regular season time as a backup and occasional starter. Wilson spent most of his career as a member of the Raiders and that where he found pretty much all of his success. Wilson won 31 of his 50 starts in silver and black including eight fourth quarter comebacks. His best season came in 1985, when Wilson won 11 of his 13 starts while passing for 2,608 yards and 16 touchdowns.
For his career, Wilson passed for 14,391 yards and 86 touchdowns while rushing for 611 yards and five scores.
5. Bill Munson (Utah State) – Munson was the seventh pick in the first round by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1964 draft. Munson played for five teams in his 16 year NFL career including seven as a starter. Most of his success on the field came as a member of the Detroit Lions. His best season came with the Lions in 1968, when Munson threw for 2,311 yards, 15 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
For his career, Munson passed for 12,896 yards, 84 touchdowns and 80 interceptions while rushing for 548 yards and three scores.
4. Alex Smith (Utah) – Smith was the first pick in the draft by the San Francisco Forty Niners in the 2005 draft.
Smith struggled to find his way for most of his young career mostly due to having to learn a new offense every year for his first six seasons. The Niners and Smith finally found a home with Jim Harbaugh. During his season and a half under Harbaugh, Smith had his best years in the league before a concussion affectively ended his time in San Francisco.
His best full season came in 2011 when Smith threw for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns.
For his career, Smith has thrown for 14,280 yards and 81 touchdowns. Smith has also been effective rushing the ball with 761 yards and four touchdowns.
3. Scott Mitchell (Utah) – Mitchell was the 93rd pick in the fourth round of the 1990 draft by the Miami Dolphins. Mitchell played for four different teams during his 11 year NFL career. His best years came as a member of the Lions where he started 57 games over his five seasons in Detroit.
His best season came in 1995, when Mitchell threw for 4,338 yards, 32 touchdowns And 12 interceptions while leading the lions to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance.
For his career, Mitchell passed for 15,692 yards and 95 touchdowns and rushed for 485 yards and 11 more scores.
2. Jim McMahon (BYU) -McMahon was the fifth pick in the 1982 draft by the Chicago Bears. While never putting up huge numbers in the NFL like he did at BYU, McMahon was an ultimate winner. In fact, McMahon’s teams won 67 of the 97 games he started. His greatest success came as a member of the Bears where McMahon was under center for one of the best teams in NFL history in 1985. That year, McMahon threw for career highs of 2,392 yards and 15 touchdowns while winning every game he started in. In fact, McMahon didn’t lose a regular season start for two straight seasons. McMahon made the pro bowl in 1985 while helping to lead the bears to their last super bowl victory.
For his career, McMahon passed for more than 18,000 yards and 100 touchdowns as well as rushing for 1,631 yards and 16 more scores.
1. Steve Young (BYU) – Young started his pro career in the USFL before being selected by the Tampa Bay Bucs with the first pick of the 1984 supplemental draft.
His career in Tampa was somewhat of a disaster as Young only won three of his 19 starts while throwing ten more picks than touchdowns.
Young found new life as a member of the San Francisco Forty Niners but only after four seasons as the backup to Joe Montana. As the starter of San Francisco for most of eight seasons, young was one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has ever had. He led the league in completion percentage, touchdowns and passer rating an astounding 15 times during that stretch while leading San Francisco to their last super bowl win.
Young was a two time NFL MVP and a first team All-Pro three straight seasons. Young made seven pro bowls and was named the first team quarterback of the 90’s by Pro Football Reference.
For his NFL career, Young passed for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns while completing 64.3 percent of his passes. Young also rushed for 4,239 yards and 43 scores. Young was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2005.
Not bad for a guy who appeared to be a bust after his time In Tampa Bay.