African American Quarterback Research Study by Lloyd Vance


Redskins WR Antwaan Randle El is one of 33 African American QB’s that were drafted then converted to another position as found in a research study of African American quarterbacks.  The study found that 1 out of 3 African American quarterbacks drafted were converted to another position

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Recently a graduate student asked me to assist him in compiling the statistical aspects of the African American quarterback’s journey in the NFL compared to their white counterparts.  We decided to analyze the data in terms of the NFL Draft, conversion to other positions, and Combine Testing (specifically the Wonderlic Test).  The information compiled is quite compelling and hopefully it will assist the requesting graduate student plus spur some additional conversation in the public arena on the journey of the African American quarterback. 

The raw statistical data should definitely help in piecing together the over 80-year journey of the African American quarterback since Fritz Pollard played in the early days of the NFL.  However the data and several other artifacts clearly show that the journey of the African American quarterback in the NFL has been quite arduous at times with some people that I have talked to categorizing their treatment as “unfair”. 

But I do believe that progress has been made and we maybe on the cusp where coaches, fans, and the media will only be judging a quarterback based solely on his abilities on the field.  To those that wish to explore beyond the numbers, I will point to the ESPN Book and DVD “Third and a Mile” as a great reference tool to further understand the history and struggles of the African American quarterback.

Special Thanks goes out to Mac Marible for helping to compile the Wonderlic score information for all of the quarterbacks.

 Draft Information

— The first African American quarterback drafted was George Taliaferro from the University of Indiana by the Chicago Bears in the 13th Round of 1949 NFL Draft.  The Bears intention was to convert Taliaferro, so he first played for the LA Dons of the rival All American Football Conference (AAFC).  He later returned to the NFL playing for the NY Yanks, Baltimore Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles.  Though Taliaferro was converted to halfback, he threw 284 passes in his NFL career that lasted until 1955.  The first African American quarterback to be drafted solely to play quarterback was Charlie “Choo Choo” Brackins from Prairie View in 1955 by the Green Bay Packers in the 16th Round.  Also for historical reference, from 1933 to 1946 the National Football League just like professional baseball had a “Gentleman’s Agreement” to keep the league all-white.

— As of the 2008 NFL Draft, 96 African-American quarterbacks (13%) have been drafted out of a total number of 719 quarterbacks drafted going back to the first NFL Draft in 1936. Of the 96 African American quarterbacks drafted only 13 of the quarterbacks were selected in the first round (2%), with two being converted to other positions.

— Conversely as of the 2008 NFL Draft, 617 White quarterbacks have been drafted from the total number of 719 quarterbacks drafted for a percentage of (86%). Of the 617 White quarterbacks drafted, 128 were selected in the first round (18%) with two being converted to other positions.

— Of the 96 African American quarterbacks drafted, 33 were converted to another position (34%).  So the statistical data shows that 1 out of 3 African American quarterbacks drafted since 1949 were converted to another position.  Of the 617 white quarterbacks drafted, only 10 were converted to another position (1.6%)

— African American quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft by decade (first NFL Draft was in 1936):  1930 to 1939 – Zero; 1940 to 1949 – One; 1950 to 1959 – Two; 1960 to 1969 – Twelve; 1970 to 1979 – Nine; 1980 to 1989 – Twelve; 1990 to 1999 – Twenty-Six; 2000 to Present – Thirty-Four.  The highest number of African American quarterbacks drafted in one season was in 2006 with nine and 1999 with seven.

— African American quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft by round — Round One: 13; Round Two: 11; Round Three: 2; Round Four: 8; Round Five: 12; Round Six: 17; Round Seven: 11; Round Eight or higher: 22

— African American quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft for conversion to another position by decade: 1930 to 1939 – Zero; 1940 to 1949 – One; 1950 to 1959 – One; 1960 to 1969 – Eight; 1970 to 1979 – Three; 1980 to 1989 – Four; 1990 to 1999 – Five; 2000 to Present – Eleven.

***NFL Draft data was compiled from by Lloyd M. Vance

Wonderlic Test

If there is one part of the NFL Combine experience I do not like or understand, it is the Wonderlic test.  The test is designed to measure a player’s I.Q. through a 50-question test administered in 23 minutes.  Most players are tired/uninterested when taking the test, which leads to a majority of guys not completing the test.  Some agents have started to have their clients cram for the Wonderlic test like the SAT coming out of high school, but at least you can take the SAT test multiple times.  However the Wonderlic is a one shot deal that many people put way too much credence in it.  I can still hear all of the preposterous Vince Young test score reporting from 2006 — By the way did Vince’s score of 16 preclude him from winning the 2006 Rookie of the Year award.  And did you know that Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw both scored a 15 while colossal bust Quincy Carter scored a 30. 

Here is a sample question: “Paper clips sell for 23 cents per box. What will 4 boxes cost” — take all the time you need.  To me this test should not be part of the NFL evaluation process, because all teams should only care about a player’s “Football Intelligence” along with their character, on-the-field play, practice habits, and many other “true” evaluation measurables.

— Sample Size of 271 quarterbacks (196 Whites, 71 African Americans, and 4 players identified as other) that took the Wonderlic test with an average score of 25 for the group. (Data supplied by Mac Marible’s website (

— The average score for the 71 African American quarterbacks from the 271 quarterback sample size was 19 (high scores belonging to Bruce Eugene (41) and Darrell Hackney (40) with low scores by Oscar Davenport (6) and Vince Evans (8)                                                                                                 

— The average score for the 196 White quarterbacks from the 271 quarterback sample size was 26.5 (high scores belonging to Jason Mass (43), Drew Henson (42), and Alex Smith (40) with low scores for Jeff George (10) and Hall of Famers: Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Terry Bradshaw (all scored a 15)                                                                                                  

— 112 of the 271 Wonderlic Tested Quarterbacks were not drafted (30 blacks, 79 whites, and 3 players from other races)                                                                                                  

 — The forty-six NFL First Round draft choices in the 271 quarterback sample size scored an average score of 24.6 (high scores belonging to Alex Smith (40) and Eli Manning (39) with a low score by Jeff George (10).  Other notable scores included Peyton Manning (28), Michael Vick (20), and Donovan McNabb (14) with Steve McNair, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly all having the same score of “15”.                                



Lloyd Vance is an NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


WVU QB Pat White Shines in Last Bowl Game


West Virginia senior quarterback Pat White shined in his final collegiate game as he passed WVU to a comeback win over North Carolina in the Meineke Bowl

For years I have heard that West Virginia 5th-year senior quarterback Pat White was nothing more than a glorified running back. Well to everyone that assumed White was not a “thrower”, just take a look at his performance in his final collegiate game.

White may have finally silenced scouts, who questioned his passing ability throwing for 332 yards in his final college game, including the game-winning 20-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett in the fourth quarter to give West Virginia a 31-30 comeback victory over North Carolina on Saturday in the Meineke Bowl.

The most storied running quarterback in college football history – added 55 rushing yards to push his record to 4,480 rushing yards – came out throwing in his final game and he did not disappoint producing his best passing day in his prolific college career. White completed his 14 of his first 15 attempts on the way to a 26 of 32, 332 yards (hit seven different receivers), three touchdowns, and one interception passing performance, which put a huge cherry on top of his WVU resume. White was also voted MVP of a bowl for the third straight year and set an NCAA record by being the only starting quarterback to go 4-0 in bowl games.

After the game, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said of White. “He’s the greatest to ever wear the old gold and blue. It’s a fitting tribute that this man’s the MVP.” A giddy White added in the postgame press conference, “Knowing that this is the last time I’m going to put on this uniform, I definitely wanted to go out on top and we accomplished that.”

To everyone that automatically wants to paint White as the next “Antwaan Randle El slot receiver type” before allowing him to throw in the NFL, shame on you — imagine the possibilities out of the “Wildcat” formation. I say give the kid a chance – remember the Patriots drafted former NFL quarterback great Rich Gannon as a DB – before an automatic conversion. To his credit White has signed on to participate in the Senior Bowl to prove or not prove that he is an NFL caliber passer.