The Den Returns!!
As advertised, we’re gonna start rolling thru what happened back in mid-April, starting with the position of Quarterback. We’ll be running down each and every selection that was made on the offensive side of the ball, pointing out each player potential impact both in the short term (re-draft leagues) and long term (dynasty leagues).
I’ve tried to break them down into groups based on where I see their impact. You’ll probably notice right away that no one got into the coveted “Great White Shark” category. In order for me to put a rookie into that category, he’d have to have strong potential in both the short and long term. I just don’t see any of these guys making a positive impact in the fantasy scene in 2004. The players are ranked in what would be my order of preference. Listed are the player’s name, NFL team, followed by round selected, overall selection, and school).
Let’s get right into it…
Philip Rivers, San Diego (1, 4, North Carolina State)
Like San Diego, this is a guy that I had ranked at the top of my quarterback list heading into the draft. That the Chargers were able to fleece the Giants for so many picks is really unbelievable in my mind. In any case, Rivers started an incredible 51 games in college so he’s ready to make the next step into the NFL. Whether or not that takes place this year or sometime in the near future, that is another story. My guess is that he works his way into the starting lineup at some point and gains some valuable experience to build on in future years. San Diego is still building their team, but with Tomlinson running (and catching) the ball, that will translate into many passing opportunities. Is there a better place to be passing the ball than in the fine San Diego weather? I think not.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (1, 11, Miami of Ohio)
Perhaps a bit of a surprise that I have Big Ben rated here, but his combination of size and strength are just too much for me to ignore. Couple that with the fact that he will likely have a chance to learn the ropes of the NFL while carrying a clipboard in 2004 gets him here. Not to mention that he’s on a team that in the past has had great success in throwing the ball, I like Big Ben’s long term value a lot.
Eli Manning, NY Giants (1, 1, Mississippi)
I’m not exactly sure what it is about Manning, maybe it’s his unheralded entry into the NFL that has left a bad taste, but I’m just not getting a great feeling from him right now. Sure, I know all about the ‘pedigree’ of the Manning name, etc and maybe it’s last night’s chile that is giving me the weird feeling, who knows. One thing we do know, now that Kerry Collins did not receive a rose from the Giants, if New York doesn’t bring in another stop gap solution at quarterback (Warner?) then Manning is going to get plenty of time to learn things on the job. While this will pay off down the road, I don’t expect that his 2004 numbers will be that fantasy worthy. Having said that, the Manning name may be too much for many fantasy owners out there to ignore. If you are holding onto the top pick, you would be wise to try and attempt to fleece another owner like the Chargers did, there are plenty of other quarterback’s in this draft that can help you out.
As a side note, all kidding aside about Collins not getting a rose, but was he given the worst advice on the face of the earth or what? His NFL career might be over, that’s right, over. How could he not see that the market for a thirtysomething quarterback was almost nil? Why not take the pay cut, be the starter in 2004 and play like a man possessed so that it would translate into a huge payday at the end of 2004 when Manning would take over the reigns? Baffling. Right now he has no prospects for even latching onto a team as the second or third stringer. While it’s probably too late, he’d be wise to pull a Trish and start stalking the Giants brass with the hopes that they’ll bring him back as the starter for the minimum.
JP Losman, Buffalo (1, 22, Tulane)
Buffalo got themselves into a position at the draft that every fantasy player would be wise to avoid. They wanted to draft a quarterback in the first round and everyone in the league knew it. When Manning, Rivers and Big Ben went off the board, that left only one other viable quarterback worthy of a first round pick. All of a sudden, many of the other teams in the NFL were “interested” in Losman. This drove up the price since now everyone wanted a piece of fleecing the Bills so Buffalo had to pay thru the teeth to move into a position to take him. Having said that, Losman is a viable first round pick. He, like Big Ben, will be in a position where he can learn the ropes from the sidelines in 2004. Drew Bledsoe is not going to be around forever, so there will be a time in the very near future when Losman will be handed the job. Reviews on him are mixed, but in my mind any player that is the heir apparent to a starting quarterback job is worth taking a look at if you are in a dynasty league.
Matt Schaub, Atlanta (3, 90, Virginia)
Schaub comes to the Falcons after having a great college career. Virginia plays in a tough conference, and he was the 2002 ACC Player of the Year. While he doesn’t possess a great scrambling ability, many rave about his accuracy. Sure, the Falcons already have a guy named Michael Vick, but given his injury history, Schaub might be seeing playing time sooner rather than later. Worthy of taking late in your draft and stashing on your roster to see what happens.
Luke McCown, Cleveland (4, 106, Louisiana Tech)
The Browns haven’t had a good track record for taking quarterbacks early, so they took one late this time. A good move on their part, since there will be little to no expectations placed on McCown. He’ll likely be learning things from the sidelines in 2004, but who knows what will happen in Cleveland beyond that. Another guy worth grabbing late and stashing for the future.
Craig Krenzel, Chicago (5, 148, Ohio State)
The group of players that I’ve put in the Pacific Whale Shark category are all very intriguing. None of them are likely to see the field in 2004, and many will probably struggle to even make the roster in 2004. But for you dynasty leaguers, here is where you might want to use that last round pick on your quarterback of the future. It is probably no surprise that all of these guys come from big time programs in one of the toughest football conferences, the Big Ten. The experience of playing in front of packed houses week after week in college can’t be measured. As for Krenzel, led his team to the National Championship so he knows how to win. Not spectacular numbers, but again, he’s a winner. The Bears don’t have anyone on their team right now that he can’t bypass in a couple of years.
John Navarre, Arizona (7, 202, Michigan)
A starter for three plus years at Michigan, if he only could have led Big Blue to a win over Ohio State people might like him a little more. Like Krenzel, nothing spectacular, but I seem to recall a little heralded quarterback from Michigan that is doing ok for himself in the NFL. A guy named Tom Brady. While Navarre will have to work his tail off to make the team, if he does, Arizona doesn’t present itself with much in the way of a top quarterback for the future.
Jeff Smoker, St.Louis (6, 201, Michigan State)
Tell me, what fantasy owner doesn’t want a guy named Smoker on their team! Like Navarre, Smoker will have to be smoking in camp to even get a roster spot when the 2004 season begins. But if he does, you have to like the offense that his team runs. Sure, he’ll have a couple of guys ahead of him on the depth chart including an incumbent starter, but quarterbacks get hurt. Not to mention that the shelf life of the signal caller for the Rams has been very short as of late, so if he can stick around, anything can happen.
Jim Sorgi, Indianapolis (6, 193, Wisconsin)
I put Sorgi into this group of players mostly because of the Big Ten tie in. Sorgi wasn’t even invited to the combine, but scouts took notice of him while they were taking a look at Lee Evans and liked what they saw. With the Colts, they obviously have the better Manning, but what a guy to learn from. Again, Sorgi will have to do well to even earn his way onto the roster.
Josh Harris, Baltimore (6, 187, Bowling Green)
We’re getting into the guys on this list that have very little chance of making a team’s opening day roster. These are guys that there’s very little to even write about, just to present their situation. In fact, these guys probably aren’t even worth a draft pick, but keep an eye on them and be ready to swoop in as a free agent should they get their names onto the depth chart once the season begins. Baltimore could use a future signal caller, and it’d certainly be a stretch to predict that Harris will be it, but worth keeping an eye on his to see how he does in pre-season.
Andrew Hall, Philadelphia (6, 185, Delaware)
Here’s a guy from a small conference, but a player that led his team to the Division 1-AA Championship in 2003. In other words, another winner. The Eagles don’t have a need for a quarterback in 2004, and probably even for the year or two beyond that. Hall has some talent, so if he can make the team and learn the NFL, things could happen for him way down the road.
Bradlee Van Pelt, Denver (7, 250, Colorado State)
Of all the guys listed in this category, Van Pelt has a good a shot as any to surprise and make the team. Denver is another team that has historically done well with late round picks and they have no immediate need for a signal caller to take the field. However, the competition for the 3rd QB on the depth chart will be fought with another seventh round rookie listed a bit lower on this list.
Cody Pickett, San Francisco (7, 217, Washington)
Pickett did not have a great season in 2003, though neither did his team. His numbers in 2002 were impressive and there is a history here with quarterbacks coming out of Washington. Not to mention that traditionally the 49ers have been able to find that diamond in the rough signal caller.
Casey Bramlet, Cincinnati (7, 218, Wyoming)
Bramlet had some impressive workouts, but beyond that it is probably a stretch that he’ll be around for that long.
Matt Mauck, Denver (7, 225, Louisiana State)
Led his team to a share of the 2003 Championship so he has a winning track record. Given that the Broncos took two quarterbacks in this round probably doesn’t bode well for one of them. Has his work cut out for him to make the team.
Brian Symons, Houston (7, 248, Texas Tech)
Symons only played for one year, but what a year it was. Tore is ACL and had an operation after the season ended so that’s why he was selected so low. Still, he’ll have a hard time making the squad.
Ed Note: Category names were changes after the initial release of this article.