The good, the bad and the ugly

This is not the first time that the draft talk centered around a bumper crop of quarterbacks. In football, like in life, sometimes you can believe the hype -- and sometimes you shouldn't.<P> Will this year's quarterback class resemble the legendary Class of '83 or fade into obscurity like the not-so-memorable Class of '99.<P>

The class of '83 included Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly and Ken O'Brien. All four played for one NFL team their whole career. Kelly's

Another QB class not so long ago initially was compared to the 83 group. Going into the 1999 draft, teams were licking their chops over the QB talent. Names like Cade McNown, Donovan McNabb, Tim Couch, Daunte Culpepper and Akili Smith were supposed to be the next class of superstars.

We know where the Class of 83 is: Kelly's in the Hall of Fame and other big names will follow. But what about the group from just 4 years ago? Where are their much-hyped careers now? McNown has been on three teams in four years.He's now in San Francisco as a third-string backup to Jeff Garcia and even with a new coach there's no way that McNown will be starting any time soon, if ever again. As Chicago's first-round pick in 1999 out of Cal, McNown was supposed to be the Bears' answer to Brett Favre. As it turns out, the only question McNown answered in Chicago is "who was as big a bust as Dave Wannstedt?" Only Philadelphia's McNabb has played for the same coach who drafted him. Cleveland's Tim Couch and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper are on their second head coach, and Akili Smith, who was stranded in hapless Cincinnati, is on his third.

The reasons for the struggles of these QBs, McNabb not withstanding, are myriad. But the pressure on QBs and coaches to produce immediately is at the root of the trouble. And now, it will only get worse. So many teams, like the Bears who are still looking, are in such dire straits that a rookie QB will be viewed as the white knight when he should be seen as a green rookie.

The pressure doesn't bode well for these incoming rookies' long-term prospects. The young man with the best situation will be the QB eventually picked by the Packers, if they go that route. That's one quarterback who won't be thrown onto the field before he's ready -- not as long as Favre's career is still in full swing.

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