Battle Lines Drawn

The eyes are on the men under center. <br><br> In what may be the toughest position in all of sports, NFL quarterbacks seem more important than ever in helping determine the fortunes of their teams.<br><br> In San Diego, a battle is set to begin between Phiip Rivers and Drew Brees.

Quarterbacks are so important that for the first time in NFL Draft history, a quarterback was chosen with the No. 1 overall pick for the fourth consecutive year, and for the sixth time in the past seven years, another NFL Draft first.

The San Diego Chargers did the honors with the first pick this year, selecting Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning, brother of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton and son of New Orleans Saints QB Archie.

Eli Manning was then traded to the New York Giants, who sent their first selection (No. 4 overall), quarterback Philip Rivers of North Carolina State, and three draft choices to San Diego.

Rivers looked a little shaky in his first practice but showed poise. Drew Brees, meanwhile, took the stage as if he was not clingly desperately to a job.

In New York, the reality has set in. Manning will start.

"What I saw in Eli was a classic prospect," says Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi. "He has size, arm, tremendous athletic ability, poise, class, and probably most important, has shown the ability to lift his team. I always look for that in a quarterback, the ability to make the athletes around him better."

Two other quarterbacks were drafted in the first round: Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger heads to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who chose him at No. 11, and the Buffalo Bills made Tulane‚s J.P. Losman their top choice at No. 22.

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