No position is more important to the success of a football team than QB. Teams with a star QB always feel they have a shot to make a deep run into the playoffs. Meanwhile, a team with a mediocre or poor QB needs to be good in every other facet of the game to have any sort of shot at winning it all.
Over the last decade, 8 of the 10 QB's to lead their teams to the promised land were well known, even by the most casual fan. The list includes: The Manning Brothers, Roethlisberger (2), Breese, and Brady (3). Without using Google, can anyone guess the names of the 2 QB's who won a Super Bowl that aren't on the list? Even if you did know the answere, how many fans would like Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson, even in their prime, as their starting QBs?
Dilfer and Johnson were hardly household names when they won it all, but they both had something in common. The '01 Ravens and '03 Buccaneers had two of the best defenses in football, as well as great running games. That means Mark Sanchez, and dare I say it, Alex Smith, can both still dream of lifting up the Lumbardi Trophy.
But teams need a lot of players to have a dominant defense and running game. While only 1 player is needed for a great QB. Getting that franchise QB is a little like winning Wonka's golden ticket. In fact, coaches and GM's that already have that QB probably wake up every moring singing the song from the movie. OK, maybe they don't. But it sure makes their job a lot easier.
The problem is, teams that already have that QB aren't going to let him go. So there's really only 2 ways to get that "Golden Ticket". A team can pick up a Hall of Fame QB at the end of their career like the Redskins and Vikings have done. But that only seems to help those teams make a deep run into the playoffs, while not actually helping them to win the SB. So that leaves teams with their other option. They can find one in the draft.
After the jump, we'll look at the QB's taken in this years draft that have a chance of helping their teams win it all.
A total of 14 QB's were chosen in this years draft, which is 1 over the average of 13 taken every draft over the last decade. Of the 14, one will be the opening day starter, one will be the back-up, 8 made their teams as the 3rd string option, one made the practice squad, and 3 were cut. Of the 3 that were cut, Dan LeFevour was signed by the Bengals as their 3rd string option, replacing J.T. O'Sullivan who was cut. And to think we thought he could lead us back to the playoffs. Zac Robinson was picked up by the Seahwks and put on their practice squad, while Levi Brown is now looking for a job in the UFL. And how did Brown respond to the news he's now unemployed? He said through his twitter account, "I've now officially gone from surprised to pissed." Way to make a good impression for a future team.
Some of the highly touted QB's like Colt McCoy, haven't exactly lived up to expectations. In fact their was a rumor that McCoy wouldn't make the final cut, although he ultimately did. But others look to be the real deal. So let's look at the top 5 rookie QB's who look to make the most impact for their future teams.
5) Franz Kafka Sorry, I mean Mike Kafka
Assuming he doesn't wake up one morning and find he's a giant beetle, Kafka may end up challenging Kevin Kolb for the starting QB role. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told reporters that Kafka has been "on fire" during practices and praised his quick decision making. That great practice hasn't exactly translated to great play in the preseason, but given the Eagles past success with getting the most from their QB's, Kafka, not Kolb, may end up being the Eagles QB of the future.
I realize this is a little bit of a cop out to choose two, but it's not real clear which of the two is better. Clausen was drafted in the 2nd round, while Pike lasted until the 6th, but Clausen didn't exactly tear it up in the preseason. He finished with a 46.8 QB rating, while Pike finished slightly better witha 58.4 rating. Neither were great, but both showed flashes and I find it hard to believe the Panthers are in love with Matt Moore. Eventually one of them will step up and take over, probably before the start of next season. With the strength of the Panthers running game, if Clausen or Pike can avoid throwing multiple interceptions a game like Delhome, look for the Panthers to be a real threat to go deep in the playoffs once again. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Pike for no other reason than that's what my gut says. And I never argue with my gut.
3) Tim Tebow
You have to wonder what Kyle Orton will be thinking in his first home game. He's the starting QB in Denver once again, but when he plays in Mile High Stadium, or whatever they're calling it these days, he'll see lot's of fans wearing Tebow's 15, and very few in his own number 8. In fact, Tebow's 15 jersey is the number 1 selling NFL jersey of the year. So, how did he look in the preseason? He completed 64% of his passes for 344 yards, at an impressive 8.8 yards per attempt, with 2 TD's, 2 Int, and 1 rushing TD. In fact, I think it's a safe bet Tebow will be put into the game occasionally as a wildcat option. The only two questions remaining are, when will his occasional play become permanent play, and when will he take over for Brett Favre as the QB most likely for a member of the media to have a man crush on?
2) Max Hall
I can hear it already. Except for Smileyman and maybe Fooch, since he had to watch him beat up on his Rebels for the last 3 years, most people are asking themselves "Who?". Hall was a 3 years starter who put up great numbers at BYU, but since he doesn't have the size most NFL teams want in their QB, he went undrafted. Eventually he signed as an undrafted rookie with the Cardinals. Originally the Cardinals signed Hall to provide competition with their 5th round draft pick John Skelton, with the winner most likely being the one to stay with the team as their 3rd option. But Hall, and Skelton to a lesser extant, both really impressed the coaches. Coach Whisenhunt said Hall was, "the best of our four quarterbacks in camp." They wanted to keep both their rookies, but they weren't going to keep 4 QB's. So what was the answer? Cut Matt Leinart, of course. Now Hall is backing up Derek Anderson, and is hoping to one day replace Tony Romo as the best undrafted QB in the NFL. As for Leinart, don't feel too bad for him. He's already found a home as the Texans 3rd string QB. Let the come back begin!
1) Sam Bradford
This was a no-brainer. The number 1 overall pick in this years draft was the only rookie QB to be named as the starter for week one. And it's not just because of where he was drafted. He's clearly been the best QB for the Rams in the preseason. He completed 60% of his passes for 338 yards, 3 TD's, and 0 interceptions, with a 95.9 QB rating. It's not the first time a rookie QB was named the starter from day 1, but history has shown mixed results. Will he get beat up so badly it shakes his confidence so he ends up gone in a few years like David Carr, or will he overcome the hits and go on to greatness like Peyton Manning? I don't know about everyone else, but I'm really hoping he looks more like Carr, or maybe at least Ben Roethlisberger, since by the time the Rams finaly get a team around him, he will have already headed so far down the path of self destruction that the Rams, like the Steelers, won't even want him as one of their team Captains anymore.