Rating the Young QBs

Quarterback-mining continues to be the NFL's most inexact science. Of the 11 passers drafted in the first round in 2002, '03 and '04, only three have emerged as their teams' unquestioned long-term quarterbacks (four, if you count the ascending Eli Manning). Here is SI's assessment of 15 prominent QBs from the '02 to '04 drafts.
October 09, 2005

HIT IT BIG

Player, Team, Draft Year (Round); College

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh, 2004 (1); Miami (Ohio) His 15--1 record as a starter is the best by any QB to begin a career. But can he can play great in big games?

Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville, 2003 (1); Marshall Already the clear-cut leader of a rising team. Fearless in the pocket, but the Jags better find a way to keep him from getting beat up.

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati, 2003 (1); USC A touch of Troy Aikman (71.8% completion rate this year) with the long-ball ability of Dan Fouts. We could be seeing a very special player.

HAS HAD SOME SUCCESS

David Carr, Houston, 2002 (1); Fresno State Still a franchise-type quarterback with a terrific arm, but he seems to be regressing. Career touchdowns: 35; interceptions: 45.

Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants, 2004 (1); Mississippi Cucumber cool. Last six games (14 touchdowns, five interceptions, 230 yards per game) show he's becoming a force to be reckoned with.

ON THE BUBBLE

Joey Harrington, Detroit, 2002 (1); Oregon Just not made for coach Steve Mariucci's precision offense. He's never completed more than 56% of his throws in any of his four seasons.

Kyle Boller, Baltimore, 2003 (1); Cal New offensive coordinator Jim Fassel was making progress in teaching Boller, who's out until later this month with turf toe, to play less frenetically.

Patrick Ramsey, Washington, 2002 (1); Tulane Showed signs he could be long-term QB (24 TDs ) but Joe Gibbs soured on him.

NEEDS MORE PLAYING TIME

J.P. Losman, Buffalo, 2004 (1); Tulane Good mobility, good arm, questionable decision-making, little poise. Could lose his starting job to vet Kelly Holcomb.

David Garrard, Jacksonville, 2002 (4); East Carolina Might be another Trent Green--a guy who has to find a new home to have a chance to start. Mobile, fearless, good leader.

ON THE SIDELINE, BUT INTRIGUING

Philip Rivers, San Diego, 2004 (1); N.C. State Either he or Drew Brees will be quarterbacking in another uniform on opening day 2006. The Chargers love his arm and feet.

Matt Schaub, Atlanta, 2004 (3); Virginia Great Mike Vick insurance. In training camp, Atlanta G.M. Rich McKay said he wouldn't take a first-round pick for Schaub.

Chris Simms, Tampa Bay, 2003 (3); Texas Bucs coach Jon Gruden seems to have lost faith in Phil Simms' son. If Gruden hadn't been sold on drafting Cadillac Williams, he might have taken up Denver's offer of Reuben Droughns for Simms.

Rex Grossman, Chicago, 2003 (1); Florida Poor guy: first the ruptured ACL in 2004, then the Achilles tear in August. No way the Bears can count on his being their QB of the future.

LOOKING LIKE A BUST

Drew Henson, Dallas, 2003 (6); Michigan The owner handed the former Yankees farmhand $7 million to quit baseball. The coach buried him below Tony Romo on the depth chart. A storm's brewing over Valley Ranch.

PHOTOBILL FRAKESLeftwich PHOTOJOHN IACONOManning PHOTO JOHN BIEVERHarrington

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)