Young QBs Not What They Used Te Be

The rookie draft class at quarterback isn't living up to the bar set by previous draft classes. But their paychecks sure are. One more reason for a rookie salary cap.

The three quarterbacks who were selected in the first round of the draft are getting their first exposure to the NFL in starkly difference environments.

In Detroit, No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will be asked to live up to a monster contract that guarantees him $41.7 million. He's expected to lead the Lions to the Promised Land for the first time since Bobby Layne was under center for the franchise.

But as Stafford prepares for his first rookie minicamp, he enters with the clear expectation that Daunte Culpepper will begin the season as the starter. Detroit wants to see Stafford develop quickly, but with Culpepper on the roster and a poor offensive line, the Lions won't rush their new prize into a no-win situation.

The Jets don't have a proven veteran NFL quarterback, so fifth overall pick Mark Sanchez will compete with Kellen Clemens for the job throughout the offseason and training camp.

First, the team has to get Sanchez signed to a contract so he can get into the offseason drills and really dive into the playbook. For his part, Sanchez is saying all the right things about getting signed and into the program.

"There are guys here," he said, "even in the huddle, who've been in this league for a while ... and I have tremendous respect for those veterans, but at the same time it's about coming into my own, maturing as an NFL quarterback and speaking their language along with the offense. That's going to be a challenge, getting in the playbook, getting in the system, speaking their language exactly like they do and then just competing for my spot. It's going to be a great challenge, but I'm ready for it."

In Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman wasn't a popular pick among the fan base. With an aging defense, the Bucs came under fire for selecting a raw prospect at a position where they already have Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown and Brian Griese on the roster, along with 2008 rookie Josh Johnson. Freeman won't be expected to play much - if at all - in 2009.

"His K-State career was a lot like my Bucs career," said pro personnel director Doug Williams. "If K-State didn't have Josh Freeman, they might have shut the program down. Josh Freeman was it for them. A lot of people that love the Wildcats might not want to hear that, but it's fact.

"I read all the blogs and comments after the draft ... I think it's unfair. There ain't nobody asking Josh to take the reins today."

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