You Can't Be Super Without A Pro Bowl QB

Here's something you may or may not know. Over the last ten years, of the twenty quarterbacks that have lined up under center for the Super Bowl, fifteen were selected to the Pro Bowl that same season.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tom Brady (three times), Donavan McNab, Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson, Kurt Warner (twice), John Elway (twice), Bret Favre (twice), Chris Chandler and Drew Bledsoe were all Pro Bowl quarterbacks the year they led their respective teams to the Super Bowl.

Only five of the past twenty signal callers who participated on Super Sunday weren't Pro Bowlers that very year. Ben Roethlisberger missed three games this past year, costing him a trip to Hawaii. Jake Delhomme was a first-time starter in 2003 and has been to the Pro Bowl this past season. Kerry Collins didn't make the Pro Bowl in 2000 but had the best season of his career for the Giants. He was invited to Hawaii previously in 1996. Steve McNair didn't make the team in 1999 only because he missed five games. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and former league MVP.

Only Trent Dilfer in 2000 with Baltimore failed to make the Pro Bowl without a legitimate excuse. He also happened to quarterback arguably one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.

That's seventy-five percent of the time over the last ten years the quarterback on a Super Bowl team also was voted to the Pro Bowl. Ninety-five percent of the time that quarterback has been to at least one Pro Bowl prior or after their team making it all the way. The lone exception is Roethlisberger and that won't last for long.

What' the morale of the story? If you really want to go to the Super Bowl, you better have a Hawaii-bound quarterback.

For the Buffalo Bills, this may lead general manager Marv Levy to take a longer look at quarterback come April 29.

The first thing he needs to ask himself is if JP Losman is a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. Although it would be extremely unjust to base his career on 2005, the fact is he's yet to establish he's even worthy of being a starter. His liability or not, Losman was 1-7 in games he started and the majority of them weren't pretty.

With Kelly Holcomb, what you see is what you get; and what you get is someone who isn't booking any trips to Hawaii unless it's a family vacation at season's end.

The Bills did sign Craig Nall, former third-stringer from Green Bay and Levy pledged top him an opportunity to start. Sure, it's viable he could win the job and go on to big things, but there's a lot more Jim Druckenmiller's roaming the league than Jim Kelly's. Nall has thrown all of 33 passes in his two-year Packer career. None of those throws came last year.

There are three top-ten locks at quarterback in the draft and only Matt Leinart is sure to be gone before Buffalo picks at eight. There's a fine chance either Jay Cutler or Vince Young could still be on the board.

If reports and projections on these quarterback prospects turn out accurate, Levy may regret not taking whichever one is left.

Rob Rang, senior editor for nfldraftscout.com, calls this trio of quarterbacks one of the finest since 1983 when Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino entered the league.

Having coached Kelly, Levy grasps the magnitude of having a franchise Pro Bowl quarterback. The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls for a lot of reasons, but none were bigger than that of Kelly's arm.

At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Cutler poses model size for a quarterback and has proven he can make all the throws a quality quarterback needs to be successful in this league.

"He's impressive with all his throws but is especially impressive with his deep outs and squeezing the ball through small openings," said NFL.com's national editor Vic Carucci. "He has great intelligence and patience in the pocket."

NFL Draft Almanac's Matt Miller is awed with his toughness as well as his physical ability.

"He is an extremely tough individual, playing hard despite leaky pass protection, and that's being generous," Miller said. "He rises to the occasion, nearly upsetting Florida almost on his own, and leading Vanderbilt to victory over hated rival Tennessee."

Young is not the traditional quarterback Cutler is, but he proved in college he's one of the greatest winners the sport's ever seen, and his Rose Bowl performances were legendary.

"Young has an exception combination of size (He's 6'5"/230) and off-the-charts athleticism that makes him an extremely rare talent," Carucci said. "He showed tremendous poise in leading the Longhorns and scoring his winning touchdown run for the national championship in the Rose Bowl, the biggest football stage this side of the Super Bowl."

Miller says many will compare Young to Michael Vick, but doing so would be a mistake.

"Young has the rare ability to make defenders miss and also punish them with this strength," said Miller. "Many people will compare him to Michael Vick, but Young is easily 6'5 and weighs around 230lbs right now. Vick is under 6' and weighs around 200lbs, so there is a visible difference when looking at the two of them."

Leinart is hardly even pointed out as a draft candidate and with good reason; the Bills simply aren't getting him unless they're willing to trade up. On a team with so many interior needs trading up wouldn't appear to make much sense.

Still, Miller sees things in Leinart that make him worth it.

"He's the definition of a leader, a poised and field-tested general of his team," Miller said. "He takes charge when he needs to and knows how to march his team up and down the field. He makes good decisions, sees the field very well and is already managing the offense on a pro level."

Yes, it's truthful the Bills desperately need to fix their offensive and defensive lines. Tom Donahoe's rule as general manager proved a band-aid here and there won't cover this wound. But reality is no single draft will fix both sides of the line.

The Bills are going nowhere in 2006, part of the reason you've seen an oversupply of younger players brought in as free agents. This team is looking to build a foundation for the future, and that's both respectable and logical.

Based on what the past ten years have showed us, if they want their future to include a Super Bowl appearance, they ought to have a Pro Bowl quarterback, whether he's already on the roster or waiting to get his name called in a few short weeks.

Naturally, a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line. The Bills will have plenty of draft picks to address this problem, one more if Losman is traded. They also have the ability to sign more free agents after June 1.

( Pat Moran covers the Buffalo Bills for scout.com and billszone.com. Email: patmoran2006@yahoo.com)

(Billszone.com )


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