Note: This series
contains excerpts and sample profiles from my 2007 Rookie Scouting
Portfolio, an FFToday.com publication available
for purchase here. The RSP provides play-by-play examples that
back up the author’s observations of each prospect’s
The message of this year’s QB impact article is the same
as previous years: When it comes to fantasy football, the words
rookie and quarterback rarely equal success. The top 10 single
season performances for a rookie quarterback doesn’t provide
a lot of excitement for fantasy owners:
|Rookie QBs At Their Best
* - Denotes player’s first
year in NFL, not necessarily first year in pro football. Jim Kelly
was drafted in 1983 but played in the USFL until ’86. Warren
Moon originally signed with he CFL.
U - The player was not drafted by an NFL team.
the five rookies to crack the top 12 fantasy QBs in their rookie
season—Moon and Kelly already had a at least a few years
of professional football experience. Jim Zorn played in a different
era of offensive football. Overall, the highest performing rookies
generally posted numbers worthy of a fantasy back up. That’s
worth a late-round bargain in some re-draft leagues, but no experienced
fantasy owner is going to build a re-draft team around a rookie.
Even Vince Young wasn’t worth having until mid-season.
Of course, if you had the opportunity to acquire the Titans one-man
wrecking crew, you likely had a brilliant stretch run. But Vince
Young—despite being the 4th QB to produce at this high a
level since 2001—is still the exception to the rule. And
he wasn’t a player anyone would have valued in a re-draft
as anything but a late-round selection.
For dynasty leagues it’s a completely different story.
Top quarterback prospects are always in high demand. The reason
is high-production over a relatively long period for a position
player. A great fantasy quarterback can have a career that spans
twice as long as most running backs or receivers.
So there you have it. While four the best rookie performances
in recent memory have come in the past five years—including
Vince Young’s second-half spectacular, it’s still
not likely anyone in 2007 is going to make the list. This year’s
group is a deceptive bunch. JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, and
to a lesser extent, Drew Stanton are the media-hyped darlings
of many draft analysts at the position.
But I believe these three players have a much higher bust potential
than the trio of Leinart, Young, and Cutler. In fact, JaMarcus
Russell is the only player I believe approaches the worth of his
pre-draft hype. Despite this fact, the 2007 Rookie QB Class has
no less than five intriguing candidates that will become productive
starters for a long time. In fact, I’d compare this situation
with the classic children’s story of the Tortoise and the
Hare—some will get an opportunity to start sooner than others,
but not all will finish with a sustained level of productivity
that fantasy owners seek.
The chart below is from the 2007
Rookie Scouting Portfolio, and it summarizes the top quarterbacks
in position-specific categories graded on film prior to the NFL
|The Best Quarterbacks By
by far as the best arm strength of this class, but Stanton
and Smith are no slouches. They are capable of making
every throw and some throws many quarterbacks can’t.
of these quarterbacks will be in demand on draft day
and get a few chances to succeed at the NFL level because
they can deliver the ball with accuracy on a consistent
basis. Edwards and Moore are the best athletes, but
don’t discount Kolb and Getsy.
of these top prospects are mechanically sound with their
set up and delivery, but they can also throw and accurate
ball from different release points when under pressure.
was the best decision maker behind center that I watched
on film. He went through his progressions consistently
and also made good decisions under pressure. Edwards
wasn’t too far behind even in more challenging circumstances.
two QBs are the best at selling fakes in the play action
game as well as executing pump fakes and protecting
and Getsy move around very well in the pocket while
keeping their eyes downfield. They also do a good job
protecting the football while maneuvering for an open
lane or open receiver despite tremendous pressure.
are capable of beating the angle of an LB downfield.
Russell is more physical, but Edwards makes good decisions.
Zabransky, Rowe, and Tate also deserve mentioning. Stanton
needs to be more conservative.
Immediate Opportunity, Questionable Future
Russell, Oakland—Physically, Russell is a combination of Daunte
Culpepper and Steve McNair with a better arm than any signal caller
in the league. Like these two quarterbacks, Russell is a bear
to bring down when pressured in the pocket. He is capable of getting
off a pass with linemen hanging onto him—even when blindsided.
It is certain fans will see Russell demonstrate this prowess—and
after maybe one highlight worthy play, Russell will likely be
completing these passes to linebackers and corners if not fumbling
the ball away.
This guy is the physical talent to end all physical talents as
a passer. And to Russell’s credit, he is also a mentally
tough leader who is capable of overcoming his mistakes to lead
a team to victory. But in the NFL, Russell will need to minimize
the errors he routinely overcame in college. Otherwise, in the
typical NFL contest the game will be out of his hands by the 3rd
The reason behind this is Russell’s lack of disciplined
quarterback play. His footwork requires extensive coaching. On
film, I watched Russell drop, set, and throw differently with
every throw in no less than five games in 2006. When a quarterback
cannot execute a consistent drop and delivery, his accuracy suffers
and this has definitely been the case for Russell. In fact, his
most consistently accurate throws come from rollouts, which is
typical for a developing passer because that’s the most
natural footwork movement for a thrower.
Russell is highly capable of making some excellent throws—I have
also seen it on film several times—and his ability to break the
pocket and gain extra yardage will give him a chance to make an
immediate fantasy impact. But if you think Russell is the 2007
version of Vince Young, then you are mistaken. Although Young
doesn’t have the model throwing motion that makes Ron Jaworski
salivate, his footwork and pocket presence are good enough to
make him accurate and productive. Young is also much faster and
more elusive than Russell.
From the standpoint of pure upside, Russell is the best prospect
at the position and will likely see the field earlier than any
of the rookies on this list. I believe he’ll eventually
become a quality NFL starter, but I don’t think he’ll
become the superstar many expect without a lot of help around
him. Think Terry Bradshaw in a sense. Funny how Bradshaw was the
one that went nutso for Russell during the broadcast of the LSU-Notre
Dame Sugar Bowl, they both have a lot in common: excellent arm
strength, athleticism, toughness, and incredibly raw as rookies.
Russell will have his moments this year, but don’t expect
what you saw last year from Young or even Leinart.
Rookie Impact: Opening Day
starter who no fantasy owner will want to use in a 1 QB starting
lineup despite some highlight moments and promise shown on Sundays.
Three to Five-Year Outlook:
Quality starter that might not be good enough to take the league
by storm, but will have stretches where he’ll have the media
and fans wondering “when” rather than “if.”
Brady Quinn, Cleveland—I hate to say it, but Quinn is
the most overrated quarterback in this draft. This doesn’t
mean he won’t become a starter with the potential for good
seasons ahead, but he’s not the savvy Golden Boy Notre Dame’s
Charlie Weiss has hyped him to be. College coaches are also recruiters
and face it, South Bend’s football program had lost its
luster until Weiss took over. Even recently, the Fighting Irish
lacked the talent to perform like a BCS contender. Just look at
the whipping they got at the hands of an LSU team that didn’t
even win the SEC title. Weiss needs top-notch players for his
system. Brady Quinn was part of the team he inherited and transformed
into a glamorous crew of overachievers. In comparison to Stanford
or even BYU, Notre Dame was still more talented, but they haven’t
been recruiting on the level of Florida, USC, or Ohio State just
Quinn has the arm, the strength to stand in the pocket, and the
smarts to play the position at the highest level. But the film
shows a player who isn’t consistently poised to make the accurate
throw under pressure and makes questionable decisions in the pocket.
Yes, I know I just said Quinn is both smart and makes poor decisions,
which is it? The point is Quinn has demonstrated the ability to
absorb a pro offense, but against elite talent he struggles when
he gets too excited either from pressure he’s facing from the
opposition or internal pressure generated from his own performance
expectations prior to the game. I know that Quinn has played in
some big games, but he’s lost quite a few of them too. If you
call the Michigan State game a great comeback, thank Spartan quarterback
Drew Stanton and coach John Williams for much of it.
The Browns have invested heavily in Quinn, but they also have
a viable prospect in Charlie Frye whom they are essentially giving
the shaft after two years as a pro—a classic demonstration of
impatience inherent with NFL management. Look for Quinn to see
the field by week seven regardless if he’s ready. The Browns have
receiving talent with Edwards and Winslow, but the offensive line
will be the key. If Joe Thomas plays up to his potential, any
of the three Cleveland quarterbacks will have a chance to be productive.
Over the long haul, I’d rather have quarterbacks that demonstrated
a higher rate of consistent play regardless of strong play calling
or a modicum of surrounding talent.
Rookie Impact: He’ll start
somewhere down the line this year. The Browns think they got a
cheaper version of Matt Leinart. The question is did they? I don’t
Three to Five-Year Outlook:
Quinn and Stanton could likely be competing for the #2 spot on
a team where neither began their career—see Joey Harrington.
Just A Matter of Time
Miami—Trent Green is now Miami’s starter. Yet when all-pro DE
Jason Taylor is questioning the durability of their new offensive
leader before training camp begins, and they already hope to rid
themselves of former pro bowl QB Daunte Culpepper, you should
begin to understand why the Dolphins spent a second round pick
on the signal caller out of BYU. Beck’s skill set probably reminds
head coach Cam Cameron of Green—a player Cameron coached at Indiana—a
cerebral pocket passer with great accuracy and field vision.
Beck actually reminds me of Marc Bulger, but with greater athleticism.
In fact, I like John Beck’s skills entering the NFL more than
I did Matt Leinart. What I saw from Beck on film was a quarterback
that could make all the throws and possessed the mobility to throw
the ball on the move in either direction. But what stood out the
most about Beck was his pocket presence and ability to see the
field and consistently make the right decision. He had a knack
for stepping away from pressure and maneuvering in tight spaces
in order to create a good throwing lane.
The NFL is ultimately a mental game for a quarterback, but there
is still a huge emphasis on the physical skills. It is true, as
with any position, a quarterback must possess a level of athleticism
that will allow him to compete. Still that true level is lower
than the common perception. Otherwise Joe Montana, Drew Brees,
Bernie Kosar, Mark Bulger, Tom Brady, and Trent Green wouldn’t
have the success they’ve experienced. Even Peyton Manning is a
great example of the ultimate quarterback that thrives because
of his mental approach to the game. Physically speaking, Manning
is a slow quarterback with average strength who throws some ugly
passes. Does that stop you from rating him the best fantasy quarterback
in the NFL?
JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn may make a greater fantasy impact
as rookies, yet I believe Beck is not only more polished now,
but also has the players around him in Miami to remain a better
fantasy quarterback in the near future. I think some owners will
avoid Beck because of the Dolphins recent addition of Trent Green
and the fact that Beck is older than most rookies. But this should
not be considered a Chris Weinke type of scenario. Beck is a refined
talent who played on a college team with mediocre talent, but
Weinke was a mediocre talent on a highly talented FSU squad. This
is the one Beck about to hit the popular culture that I’ll actually
Rookie Impact: I think he wins the #2 QB spot and if Trent Green
gets hurt, will give play-by-play announcers the opportunity to
use their melodramatic tone of voice to express shock at his ability
to jump in and keep the Dolphins in ballgame. He won’t be
Dan Marino, but he’s good enough to have a good game or
Three to Five-Year Outlook: Beck will not only start, but he’ll
develop into a quality fantasy starter who could produce at a
top-5 level in the right offensive system.
Trent Edwards, Buffalo—I’m warning you now, I’m
probably going to sound like I’m gushing about Trent Edwards
by the time you finish reading this segment. Edwards was one of
the highest rated prep quarterbacks entering college, but he chose
to play at a slumping Stanford program. This team was so bad,
there was actually a play where two offensive linemen were fighting
after the snap rather than trying to block the defenders who ran
by them to sack Edwards!
Although I didn’t see this particular play, I watched a
game where Edwards took more punishment than I had seen a quarterback—college
or pro—take in quite a long time. It was the 2006 USC game
and Edwards not only took several hits in the pocket, but he also
withstood no less than five blatant cheap shots that would have
rattled most signal callers. Edwards continued to deliver accurate
passes with good timing and follow through. He also stood strong
in the pocket despite the constant pressure. In fact, I thought
this was one of the best performances under duress that I have
seen from a college quarterback. His teammates speak about Edwards
with reverence. They say he is a warrior and the most competitive
player they have ever seen. Here’s a
sample of my analysis of Edwards in the 2007 RSP.
The Bills portray Edwards as a back up with potential, but the
coaching staff has made it clear J.P. Losman is the unquestioned
starter. While Losman has had moments, he has left an opening
for a player with greater promise—remember this time last year
he was competing with journeyman Kelly Holcomb for the right to
lead the offense. Now in his fourth year, Losman has to show significant
(and sustained) improvement not to become a journeyman himself.
I think Edwards was drafted as the heir apparent if Losman fails.
If the Tulane alum succeeds, the Bills can get compensation from
Edwards via trade or restricted free agency if the rookie develops—ala
Personally, I believe Edwards will wind up as the best quarterback
in this draft class because of his mental toughness, physical
skills (he is athletic and mobile), and pocket presence despite
Stanford’s woes. In other words, he is my 2007 version of Jay
Cutler—an athletic QB who won’t be as fazed by the speed of the
NFL as the more highly-regarded QBs from excellent programs.
Rookie Impact: He could become the #2 QB by season’s end.
If JP Losman loses the team, Edwards could see time in the second
half of the year.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: The Bills starter. Let’s not
kid ourselves, Edwards is the future. He, Lynch, and Evans have
the potential to be a great offensive trio if the first two develop
quickly. I think they will.
Baltimore—At least since the days of Vinny Testaverde, there
seems to be no better kiss of death for an NFL prospect than being
awarded the Heisman Trophy. The latest signal caller to receive
this unofficially, mixed blessing is Ravens rookie Troy Smith.
The Ohio State Buckeye dropped to the fifth round after having
the worst game of his collegiate career on the biggest stage and
appearing a bit lackluster in pre-draft, scouting games and workouts.
But allow me to remind you that Troy Smith had MVP-caliber performances
in big games versus Michigan
(twice), Texas (twice), and Notre Dame. Smith also has one of
the strongest arms in this draft class and does a decent job of
reading the field and anticipating his receivers. Some analysts
compared Smith to Drew Brees. I personally believe he lacks the
intangibles that Brees possesses, but he’s actually a more
physically talented player.
Does this even out for Smith and make him a prospect that will
become as successful as the Saints starter? Hardly. But I think
Smith has the skills to develop into a starter. I’d say he has
potential to be a better talent than another player he resembles
in certain respects—former Bengal and Saint, Jeff Blake. If Smith
takes a mature approach to his development and also takes advantage
of his opportunity to gain something from playing with Steve McNair,
he could develop into a starter. I think by 2008, he’ll get a
true shot to take over the #2 job from Kyle Boller if McNair is
Rookie Impact: Although the odds are higher than most that McNair
will miss a game or two, it’s not as likely Smith will be
the replacement. But he may get mop up duty if Baltimore hits
on all cylinders in 2007.
Three to Five-Year Outlook:
A strong #2 QB—ala David Garrard—with potential to be a solid,
if not spectacular starter for at least a few seasons.
Philadelphia—A second round pick underrated? Well, in the sense
that Kolb isn’t expected to take over for Donovan McNabb any time
soon. But I do believe the QB out of Houston has some Brett Favre-like
skills and could very well give the Eagles the opportunity to
consider its future options without McNabb. When I first saw Kolb
play, he was a junior who wasn’t very mobile and played against
a lower level of competition in a gimmicky offense. But a year
later, Kolb had lost weight and gained enough mobility to give
the University of Miami’s vaunted defense fits in-and outside
The biggest question about Kolb is the fact he’s played
in the same spread offense since high school. He never ran a different
system and this may require more adjustment than anticipated.
Still, I think Kolb has what it takes to become a good starter
in a few years. This may give Philadelphia the opportunity to
part ways with McNabb if the oft-injured QB can’t stay on
the field for the next year or two. Kolb is significantly more
valuable in dynasty leagues because it’s unlikely he’ll
overtake Kelly Holcomb for the #2 spot this fall. Still, I think
Kolb has a better chance to become an impact QB than Troy Smith.
Rookie Impact: #3 QB with potential to become the #2 QB late
in the year and get some mop up duty. If McNabb goes down, he
could surprise because it wouldn’t be surprising for Andy
Reid to give him a shot.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: Kolb will start for Philly by 2010
unless McNabb begins compiling Hall of Fame quality stats and
Super Bowl victories without health problems.
Matt Moore, Dallas—Mel Kiper was all over Matt Moore as an underrated
prospect, but the QB did not get drafted as the ESPN analyst expected.
But Kiper is right about Moore. The free agent was signed by the
Cowboys and don’t be surprised if this former pro baseball prospect
develops into a starter. His athleticism, accuracy, and ability
to see the field are similar to that of a young Matt Hasselbeck.
The undrafted free agent simply lacks experience. This manifests
in various ways such as tipping off the direction he’s throwing
the football and making the correct adjustment at the line of
scrimmage. But I like Moore’s chances in Dallas. Tony Romo is
still unproven, Brad Johnson is strictly playing out the last
days of career, and Isaiah Stanback has been moved to receiver.
Rookie Impact: Matt Moore has a good chance to not only make
this team, but also be the #3 QB with a shot at developing into
the backup in short order.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: Potential starter for someone.
Upside But Likely A Journeyman Starter or Career
Detroit—Stanton is an undeniable physical talent. He was coveted
prior to his senior year due to his arm and mobility. But the
Lions new QB lacks the pocket presence one should expect from
a future starter. What is more disturbing is Stanton’s penchant
for recklessness outside the pocket as a runner. Although Trent
Edwards took a lot of punishment in his college career, Stanton
had far more opportunities to avoid contact but chose not to do
so. If he can’t curb his tendency to take on hitters, he’ll be
too busy rehabilitating to improve his game.
I’m quite surprised Mike Martz wanted this guy over Beck,
Edwards, or Kolb. The local-Michigan draw seems more like the
logic involved with this selection. If Stanton does learn to make
better decisions he could have a better career than I anticipate,
but this quarterback has a lot of work to do in order to curb
his tendency to stare down receivers and throw his body around
Rookie Impact: Stanton might
be the #2 QB because of his sheer physical talent and the fact
Dan Orlovsky hasn’t made any headlines to indicate he’s a future
Three to Five-Year Outlook: Stanton will get his chance and he’ll
be up and down for most of this time until he winds up as a journeyman
that some coach hopes to make his reclamation project.
Cincinnati—The UNLV quarterback throws very well on the run and
has the size and arm strength to do anything required of him at
the pro level. He’s still a bit raw and needs to gain more consistency
with his decisions in the pocket. He’ll have a good opportunity
to develop behind Carson Palmer and get a chance to compete for
a starting job with another team when he becomes a free agent.
Although most people perceive Stanton to be a higher rated QB
than I do, Rowe is valued quite appropriately here. He is mobile
like Stanton, but much wiser with his decisions.
Rookie Impact: #3 QB this year with a chance to become the #2
QB in 2008 after some mop-up duty in late season games if the
Bengals have a good year.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: A strong #2 who could draw the interest
of several teams when he becomes a free agent.
Luke Getsy, San Francisco—If there is a player that will
outperform his lack of draft status, this guy is a good candidate.
The former University of Pittsburgh QB, who transferred to Akron
after the team changed its offense, has tremendous pocket awareness
and enough arm strength to get the ball downfield. Although undrafted,
I believe Getsy will make the Niners roster or practice squad
and develop into a solid back up who might surprise if given the
Rookie Impact: Gets to learn
from Trent Dilfer while on the practice squad.
Three to Five-Year Outlook:
Getsy becomes a valued #2 QB capable of winning games for decent
stretches, ala Damon Huard of the Chiefs.
Tyler Palko, New Orleans—There is something to be said
if coach Payton wanted Palko. This is a gutsy quarterback who
has a passion for the game. Pairing him with Drew Brees may be
the best thing that could happen to his career. Palko has shown
improvement as a reader of defenses after former pro quarterback
and NFL quarterbacks coach Matt Cavannah came to Pittsburgh to
coach the Panthers signal callers.
Remember, it was Payton who picked Brees over Culpepper for the
Saints. It was also Payton who spotted Tony Romo in Dallas and
began the Cowboys starter’s development. Palko reportedly
has an insatiable desire to work and paired with physical skills
that are good enough to succeed in the pros, Palko’s
progress may just be worth monitoring.
Rookie Impact: Practice squad or #3 QB without much of a shot
to play unless the Saints get decimated at the top of the list.
Three to Five-Year Outlook:
I think Palko will be a good #2 QB in this league who can make
the leap to productive starter due to his work ethic and decent
enough skills—think Jon Kitna (low end)—Tom Brady (if everything
fell into place and he finds a magic lamp).
Chris Leak, Chicago—Two years ago, Chris Leak looked like
a bona fide pro prospect. Then Urban Meyer came to Gainesville
and changed Ron Zook’s pro style offense to a spread formation
attack. Leak had some rough times transitioning from prolific
passer to efficient field general between the 20’s and often
giving up the glory to frosh, Tim Tebow in the redzone. Still,
the four-year starter made the adjustment and led his team to
a BCS Title.
Although his college career ended with a fulfillment of the promise
he showed upon entering Florida, he went untouched in the draft.
The Bears decided to take a shot at adding a second Gator to their
depth chart. Immediately, Leak demonstrated his ability to throw
a nice pass with good accuracy. Whether or not he makes the squad
is one thing, but Leak will succeed in a pro football league—if
not the NFL—down the line.
A source I know on the staff of a major SEC football team told
me that he wouldn’t be surprised if Leak exceeded expectations
in the pros. He made the assertion that Leak throws one of the
prettiest balls in college football and has excellent mechanics,
which completely validated the film study I had done on him in
years past. The problem with Leak is his tendency to try to force
the ball while on the run. He lacks the arm strength to make the
off-balance, stick throws one can expect from a Brett Fare, Donovan
McNabb, or even a developing player such as Eli Manning.
Leak lacks the top-drawer physical skills or arm strength that
an elite prospect can use to beat a good defensive scheme designed
to negate the passing game. This means Leak will at best, be a
system quarterback in the NFL. Still, he’s generally poised and
has enough mobility to perform decently in most offenses. He does
throw a pretty deep ball, but has to put a lot of air under it—once
again, ala Jeff Blake—but he’s not going to consistently be able
to gun the ball in tight coverage.
Rookie Impact: Likely a practice squad player with potential
to be the #3 QB if he has a good preseason.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: If he doesn’t become an Arena
League Star, look for him to be the #2 QB with Jeff Blake potential,
Drew Tate, Saskatchewan Roughriders—Tate is actually the player
that reminds me the most of Drew Brees, but with an equal dose
of Jeff Garcia’s game. Tate is a fiery competitor with a high,
on-field IQ. He doesn’t have the strongest arm and he’s short
and light by NFL personnel management standards, but he’s a smart
player with good pocket presence and a demonstrated ability to
bring his team back from first half deficits. He had such a game
versus Florida’s vaunted defense in a 2006 bowl contest. The Rams
signed Tate after the draft, but cut him soon after Now Tate is
in the CFL. If he does well, he’ll likely catch on with an NFL
team in a few years. I think if there is another player to repeat
in the steps of Jeff Garcia, Tate is the one.
Rookie Impact: Unless playing CFL-style fantasy football, none.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: He’ll make some noise in the
CFL with a chance to make an NFL roster as a back up with potential
in a West Coast offense.
Palmer, Redskins—You’ll be disappointed if you think Carson
Palmer’s younger brother will even turn out to be the Palmer version
of Eli Manning to Carson’s Peyton. Palmer comes from the Drew
Bledsoe-Dan Fouts school of quarterback mobility, but lacks the
pocket presence and acumen of these two quality pros. While Joe
Gibbs made took a raw QB like Jay Schroeder and made him effective,
this is a different era. If Palmer can manage to become a solid
backup, his development will be considered a great success.
Rookie Impact: Barely a remote chance.
Three to Five-Year Outlook: Possibly develops into a backup with
potential to hold his own in a few games, but will need a lot
of protection up front to perform consistently well.