As the rookie 2003 draft class prepares for their first-season in the NFL, we look at the rookies in the offensive skill positions and determine who is the most likely to have an impact in the 2003 season.
The Insiders take a look at the offensive
'skilled position' players and what we expect to transpire with them in
the 2003 season, ranking the players according to our
expectations and information from training camp/team information and roster
scenario opportunities for this, the 2003 season
2003 Draft Quarterback Class
Kyle Boller - Baltimore
Ravens: The first-selection was a tough decision, but when looking
at the unclear quarterback situation in Baltimore, Kyle Boller is our pick. The
Ravens traded back into the first-round to selected Boller with the 19th-pick,
being the hand-picked selection of head coach Brian Billick, Boller will see
playing time in 2003. If starter Chris Redman struggles and we expect he
will, the Ravens will not hesitate to get the talented rookie on
This rookie from California is the future of
the Baltimore Ravens. Strong-armed and extremely bright, Boller will push Redman
in the 2003 season on desire alone. Billick has yet to have a franchise type
quarterback with the Ravens, though he has won a Super Bowl in
Baltimore and the Ravens have been a consistent winner under his
tutelage. Boller is a perfect fit for the Billick offense. Once
comfortable in the Ravens offense, he could become a very solid quarterback
early in his career.
With other high-profile rookie
quarterbacks (Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, Byron Leftwich in Jacksonville,
and Rex Grossman in Chicago) already slated to the bench to start their
career's in the 2003 season, Boller is the lone quarterback selected in the
first-round of the 2003 draft that has been almost assured of playing time this
Thus far in training camp Boller has been exactly
what the coaching staff expected. A mature player that is very easy to coach as
well as willing to put in the extra work to become a significant player.
Indications coming out of Baltimore are that Billick and offensive coordinator
Matt Cavanaugh are trying not to fast-track Boller into playing, but his ability
and desire has made that decision difficult.
Boller is our top-ranked
2003 draft class quarterback prospect based on the potential to step right in
and contribute in the 2003 season. Overall, Boller is our second-rated
quarterback from the 2003 draft class based on our prospect
Rex Grossman -
Chicago Bears: Before jumping to any conclusions that we like
Grossman as the second-rated overall quarterback in this draft class, we don't,
he is our overall fourth rated quarterback based on prospect evaluations.
But, with the likelihood that he will get an opportunity to play in the
2003 season, Grossman climbs the ladder on the principle of production in
the 2003 season, and that is what we are grading
With Kordell Stewart manning the
controls in Chicago and head coach Dick Jauron on shaky ground with General
Manager Jerry Angelo, the Bears are a team that is already looking adversity in
the face. Stewart has been no better than average in training camp, backup Chris
Chandler is injury prone, and the rookie Grossman is having an excellent camp.
Notably, indications coming from Bears camp are that Grossman has as good of a
grasp on the offense as does Stewart and has been more productive in camp
practices and scrimmages.
Short of stature, but not of heart,
desire, and confidence, Grossman is competition in Bears training camp and
holding more than his own against the veteran quarterbacks. Grossman has
surprised the coaching staff with his ability to make all the throws, even the
deep-outs that scouts questioned he could make with consistency.
If the Bears falter early in the 2003
season, the official grooming process for Grossman will be sped up, for the
Chicago Bears that may not be such a bad situation.
- Cincinnati: As much as head coach Marvin Lewis does
not want to play Carson Palmer, the first player selected in the
2003 draft this season, the chances of Palmer hitting the field at some
point this season are greater than those of Bryon Leftwich in Jacksonville.
Leftwich's representatives are tangled up in brutal contract
negotiations with the team. As for Palmer, he agreed to terms
with the Bengals on a contract prior to the draft and the path for his
development was quickly established by Lewis.
The Bengals prefer Palmer to get a season
under his belt in the league before thrusting him into the spotlight. Having
selected quarterbacks twice in the past 10-years (David Klingler and Akili
Smith) that did not pan out for one reason or the other. One theory was
that both quarterbacks were shell-shocked and not mentally ready to be
thrown into the fire. Not to worry Bengals fans, Lewis has no intention of
following past mistakes in Cincinnati and will only get Palmer into live
regular season action when he is prepared.
Palmer has looked good in training camp and is
adapting to the speed of the game, as well as the level of competition in the
NFL. Much to the surprise of many veteran front office personnel in the
Cincinnati organization, Palmer has appeared to be much more developed in the
standpoint of technique and mental preparation in comparison to those highly
drafted QB's from the past. Some of this praise and appearance comes from the
approach and preparation Palmer puts in everyday in the Cincinnati training
camp. Additionally, the offensive scheme being utilized by the Bengals has
numerous similarities to the offensive system Palmer played in while at
Through the mini-camp sessions to this point in
training camp, Palmer has progressed nicely according to our eyes at the
Cincinnati Bengals training camp. Early on, Palmer was tentative in his
progressive reads and had some issues with looking off the defenders/locking on
receivers. Indications are that he has shown marked improvement over the past
week in these critical areas.
Get ready Cincinnati, Jon Kitna is keeping the
seat warm in the 2003 season for Mr. Palmer.
- Jacksonville: Placing Leftwich in this position was extremely
difficult. Based on discussions with team representatives from Jacksonville and
Cincinnati, we have decided that Byron Leftwich, the Jaguars first-round pick
with the seventh selection in the draft was unfortunately best suited for
this slot. If Leftwich would have been in training camp with the Jaguars,
he would have been out second selection based on proposed 2003 playing time
and productivity, but the continued rift between the team and
representatives for Leftwich has assured that this highly-touted quarterback
will not see any significant playing time early in the regular
Heading into the 2003 training camp season,
Leftwich is our overall top-ranked quarterback prospect based on evaluations and
was the most ready to play and compete of the quarterbacks from the 2003 class,
at the NFL level. This is certainly not the way that Leftwich wanted,
nor expected his career to begin, but as long as his representatives seek a
contract comparable to the 7-year, 49-million dollar deal signed by Carson
Palmer, the first player selected in the draft, Leftwich will remain a player
without a team. Negotiations between the two parties are at an impasse and the
Jaguars are prepared to move forward with veteran Mark Brunell and David Garrard
holding down the fort for the Jaguars under new head coach Jack Del
Unless Leftwich agrees to terms with the Jaguars
in the near future, he will spend the 2003 season holding a clipboard, which in
essence may be the best situation for a rookie quarterback.