VINCE D'ADAMO: Drafting QB not the cure-all

The Oakland Raiders still do not know who will lead the way under center and their 2003 record of 4-12 was bad enough to earn them the second pick in the NFL draft. That means they will be in a position to select either Mississippi's Eli Manning of Ben Roethlisberger of Miami (Ohio)

The Raiders, however, are not the only team in need of one so they might not get the one to their liking. Plus, it's not a given they will be successful with their pick and picking a quarterback has proven to be a risky scenario.

Some people argue that Manning or Roethlisberger come along once a decade. Well, let's don't forget, there was only one Todd Blackledge. Quarterbacks, regardless of where they are selected, that turn out very good can make a coach's job easier but for every Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman taken with the top pick of the draft, there is Ryan Leaf and Jim Druckenmiller, first-round flops.

Many times, great college quarterbacks are a victim of their ability and their team's inability. Among the "big three" sports, none is more of a team sport than football. Dan Marino might have put up ungodly numbers for the Miami Dolphins but the team never had a strong enough running game or defense until the end of his career, when his ability was waning.

Manning and Aikman's teams might have been terrible but they quickly surrounded them with a supporting cast. Manning has ample support from running back Edgerin James, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and tight end Marcus Pollard along with a pretty solid offensive line. Aikman had Hall-of-Fame talent around him at running back (Emmitt Smith) and wide receiver (Michael Irvin). The Cowboys were also a strong defensive unit in winning three Super Bowls in four years.

To further embellish how overstated it is to draft a quarterback so high, look at the two teams playing in the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. New England's Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick in 2000. Now, he is seeking to lead his team to its second Super Bowl championship in three seasons. Carolina's Jake Delhomme was not even drafted and spent five years in obscurity in NFL Europe and New Orleans.

Let's take a quick look at the active quarterbacks currently in the NFL and see how many have truly played like first rounders:

Atlanta: Michael Vick (Atlanta 2001) – He might still be unpolished but can make plays most quarterbacks can only dream.

Baltimore: Kyle Boller (Baltimore 2003) – Baltimore's offense was more successful without him but for now his grade is an "incomplete."

Buffalo: Drew Bledsoe (New England 1993) – One of two active quarterbacks to lead the team that drafted him to lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance. He has had an average-to-above average career but not a Hall-of-Fame one.

Chicago: Rex Grossman (Chicago 2003) – He showed a little promise in three appearances but it's too soon to draw any conclusions.

Cincinnati: Carson Palmer (Cincinnati 2003) – No sense drawing conclusions yet. Palmer did not play as a rookie. Then again, the Bengals were not counting on Jon Kitna to play as well as he did in '03.

Cleveland: Tim Couch (Cleveland 1999) – Put him in the "bust" category. His performance has not been what the Browns envisioned when they drafted him No. 1 overall.

Detroit: Joey Harrington (Detroit 2002) – In fairness to him, he could get better as coach Steve Mariucci surrounds him with more talent. Harrington's performance, however, has not been what the Lions expected.

Houston: David Carr (Houston 2002) – He has struggled so far but could get better as the Texans acquire more talent. Carr, like Harrington, faces a telling season in 2004.

Indianapolis: Peyton Manning (Indianapolis 1998) – He has lived up to his advanced billing since he entered the league and could be putting together a Hall-of-Fame career.

Jacksonville: Byron Leftwich (Jacksonville 2003) – Like any rookie thrown into the fire, he took his lumps. Leftwich, however, was far from disastrous as a rookie.

Minnesota: Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota 1999) – He has had two outstanding seasons and two mediocre ones but has played like a first-rounder in the grand scheme of things.

New York Giants: Kerry Collins (Carolina 1995) – Collins epitomizes the notion of stock market. He has looked super at times and brain-dead at others.

New York Jets: Chad Pennington (New York Jets 2000) – He missed six games with injury last season after blossoming as a third-year player. Even though his performance slipped in '03, Pennington looks like he will be a fixture among the elite quarterbacks.

New York Jets: Vinny Testaverde (Tampa Bay 1987) – His career numbers look more respectable now but he struggled mightily for much of his career.

Oakland: Rick Mirer (Seattle 1993) – He has not been a bust of Ryan Leaf proportions and is a serviceable backup. Mirer's performance, however, dropped markedly after his rookie year.

Philadelphia: Donovan McNabb (Philadephia 1999) – He might not become an all-time great but, contrary to what windbags like Rush Limbaugh think, McNabb is anything but overrated. Simply put, McNabb makes his teammates better.

Pittsburgh: Tommy Maddox (Denver 1992) – He has been a feel-good story the last two seasons but has been nothing more than a journeyman.

Seattle: Trent Dilfer (Tampa Bay 1994) – He has had a mediocre career that includes a Super Bowl title in Baltimore but that was more a reflection of the Ravens awesome defense.

Tennessee: Steve McNair (Houston 1995) – One of two active quarterbacks that were first round picks that have led their team to a Super Bowl appearance. McNair's threshold for pain is legendary. His performance has been outstanding as well.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at

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