Looking Toward The Future

Nearly a half-dozen teams face the very real prospect that even their quarterback in waiting isn't good enough to help the team win. Are thay already looking toward next year's Draft after just 7 weeks of the season?

Vince Young is taking the reins for the winless Titans. Jake Delhomme is walking on increasingly thin ice for the rudderless Panthers. Derek Anderson is keeping his starting job for the Browns if for no other reason than the Browns save money by not playing equally production-challenged Brady Quinn.

Those teams are all out - or virtually out - of playoff contention. But the 3-3 49ers made the expected switch to Alex Smith while still only a game behind Arizona in the NFC West.

As good as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers are, there is still a lot of subpar quarterback play in the NFL.

Trent Edwards' concussion gave Bills coach Dick Jauron a reason to start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least one more week, and Jason Campbell is simply playing out the string in Washington because there's no point in turning to 37-year-old Todd Collins. Jacksonville, St. Louis and Seattle are also among the teams who could be looking for young signal-callers next April.

Fortunately for these teams, it's shaping up as a potentially deep draft class at the position, with as many varieties in shapes, sizes and styles as there are teams in need of quarterbacks.

NFLDraftScout.com rates Texas' Colt McCoy as the No. 5 senior prospect overall, with Florida's Tim Tebow (14th) also rated as a first-round prospect. Cincinnati's Tony Pike and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour could sneak into the second round - depending on how many underclassmen declare.

If the draft started today, NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang has Oklahoma junior Sam Bradford as the first quarterback off the board, going No. 2 overall to Tennessee, while fellow analyst Chad Reuter has Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen's as the top pick for St. Louis and Bradford No. 5 to Cleveland. Rang also lists Washington junior Jake Locker as a top 10 pick (No. 7, Redskins), while Reuter believes he eventually return to school.

The draft is still six months out, but for fans of teams already dropping off the playoff radar it's not too early to start scoping out who could be taking the snaps in your city this time next year.

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