Move on over 1983. When it comes to quarterbacks, you may finally have some competition.
The names that were announced 30 years ago at the NFL Draft will forever be linked to some of the greatest football ever played in the modern era. Elway, Blackledge, Kelly, Eason, O’Brien and Marino.
Six names, four who played in Super Bowls, one who won two rings and one who owned every passing record imaginable until some guy named Favre came around.
The fact is, other draft classes have tried to duplicate the success of this half dozen, but none have succeeded - yet. The best chance may be the 2012 Class of Luck, Griffin, Wilson and Weeden.
I put Weeden on the list because of his draft position, not because he can lay claim to being as good as the others.
The 2004 class of Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger has been very productive as well.
This year is the year of the quarterback in college football. The changes in style, the need to have a dual threat on offense, the cannon arm and the agility to read defenses on the fly make this year one of the more interesting to come along in some time.
No disrespect to the 1999 Class of Couch, McNabb, Smith and McNown, which was an utter fail except for McNabb, no one can carry a torch to what we saw and what we are about to see.
Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Tajh Boyd, Johnny Manziel, Brett Hundley, Zach Mettenberger and Stephen Morris could all hear their names called within the first 35 picks in the draft, leading to an overload of worry over the state of the quarterback position in the NFL.
Most will be groomed to replace starters in a few years (New Orleans, Pittsburgh, New England). Some will be asked to come in and save struggling franchises (Jacksonville, possibly Tampa Bay, Oakland) and some will be drafted to cause a stir (Dallas, Washington).
Mariota and Hundley could both stay in school which would make 2015’s Class look very top heavy (Jameis Winston could be eligible for the draft as well).
I have often said draft classes are made of the players taken in the back half instead of the front. Yes, most teams have a franchise passer taken in the first round, but for Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Minnesota, how did that work out for your team?
Players like Morris of the University of Miami, Blake Bortles of Central Florida and AJ McCarron of Alabama will be hot commodities in the second round. I think all three could be better than the top half of this list.
The necessity to have “the franchise quarterback” and “the dual threat” and “the best offense in the league” has driven teams to make snap decisions that have backfired recently (Blaine Gabbert).
This is a quarterback class that must deliver on its “promise” and ability. Manziel must be every bit Drew Brees as he is Doug Flutie. Bridgewater must be Randall Cunningham. Mariota must resemble something like a smaller version of Drew Bledsoe. If not, the reasons for all the hype will be lost and gone forever.
And in the future our views on talent may be skewed, which would hurt both the college and pro games.