VIKINGS QUARTERBACKS: Daunte Culpepper, Gus Frerotte, Shaun Hill, Kevin Thompson.
VIKINGS DRAFT EXPECTATION: Probably pretty minimal. Since 1996, the Vikings have actually drafted just one QB – Culpepper on the first round in 1999. Under the Denny Green system, the Vikings used aging veterans as starters and undrafted free agents as the No. 3 guy. The team might take a late-round pick on a developmental type to challenge Hill.
THE CLASS OF ‘03 – Very strong at the top, this is the strongest QB class since 1999, when Culpepper was the fourth QB taken with the 11th overall pick (behind Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith). Three QBs could once again be off the board in the first 11 picks. USC's Carson Palmer is expected to be the top pick (whether Cincinnati keeps the pick or not) and Marshall's Byron Leftwich is expected to be a top 10 pick. The player to watch in the first round is Cal's Kyle Boller. A couple of weeks ago, he was viewed as a player who might slide into the first round to Oakland with the final two picks of the first round. Now he looks like he could go in the top 10 and some believe he may have an edge in some team's eyes (Chicago, for one) over Leftwich.
FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS
Carson Palmer, USC, 6-5, 232 – High school All-America who came to Trojans with the most fanfare of any QB in 20 years…Started four games as a freshman…Three-year full-time starter…In three years, completed 722 of 1,224 passes for 9,120 yards with 61 TDs and 40 interceptions…Of that total, had a 32-10 TD-INT ratio last year, when he won the Heisman Trophy…Prototype NFL QB in terms of pocket passer, size and arm…Tough and plays injured…Has quick release scouts love…Isn't as intense as some QBs…Some are concerned about his "one-year wonder" status. PROJECTION: After lighting up opponents at the Senior Bowl, he has solidified his status as the top QB in the draft and most likely the No. 1 pick.
Byron Leftwich, Marshall, 6-5, 241 – Replaced Chad Pennington as Marshall QB…Three-year starter who threw 89 TDs and just 26 interceptions…Very big QB who has been compared to Culpepper, but not with Daunte's running ability…A team leader who led by example…Very accurate passer in the pocket…Can throw deep ball as well as anyone…Injuries are his downfall. He had a stress fracture in his leg in 2001 and missed the Senior Bowl with a shin injury some scouts believe is chronic and won't go away…Has stronger arm and better football I.Q. than Palmer, but injuries and tendency to get too heavy could drop his stock. PROJECTION: Could go as high as No. 4 to Chicago, No. 6 to Arizona, No. 9 to Carolina. Likely won't make it past Brian Billick and the Ravens at No. 10.
Kyle Boller, California, 6-3, 234 – As a high school senior, threw 59 TDs with just three interceptions…Four-year starter…After throwing 36 TDs and 38 interceptions in his first 28 games, threw 28 TDs and just 10 picks last year…Played for three different offensive coordinators at Cal…Can throw on the run and has made big strides after shortening his release point…Perfect NFL QB size…Has suffered back and shoulder injuries…For his college career, he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and, even last year his completion percentage was just 53.4 percent…Accuracy is his main downfall. PROJECTION: A player whose stock is soaring, he's gone from being a potential second-round pick to convincing some he can be a top 10 selection.
Rex Grossman, Florida, 6-1, 217 – Fourth-year junior…Finished second is Heisman balloting as a sophomore and two-time All-SEC…In two years as a full-time starter, he completed 546 of 897 passes for 7,298 yards, 56 TDs and 29 INTs…Played under Steve Spurrier, so he's familiar with the run-and-gun style of the pros…Strong arm with quick release…Good accuracy in the pocket…Extremely tough with great leadership skills…Intensity has led to the tag of being cocky…Hasn't committed to being a student of the game…Stock dropped at the Combine with so-so week in front of NFL scouts. PROJECTION: Some don't like his attitude, but could be a glove fit for the Packers at the end of the first round as the heir to Brett Favre's legacy.
Chris Simms, Texas, 6-4, 220 – The son of Giants great Phil Simms, but little resemblence to his dad – he's bigger and throws left-handed…Two-year starter who threw 48 TDs as opposed to just 23 INTs…Good deep arm and smooth touch on short passes…Intelligent, but throws some stupid passes at key times…Not a running threat…May always live in dad's shadow. PROJECTION: Being the son of an NFL QB didn't hurt Peyton Manning, but Simms in no Manning. He may never be a great QB, but has enough skill that one of the teams early in the second round will take him.
Dave Ragone, Louisville, 6-4, 249 – A three-year starter after replacing current Raven Chris Redman for Cardinals…Played under Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan…Three-time Conference USA Player of the year…Throws left-handed…Played primarily out of the shotgun in college and has good touch on all throws…Excellent speed north to south…Tough team leader.
Ken Dorsey, Miami, 6-4, 205 – Three-year starter…Two-time Heisman finalist, finishing third in 2001…In three years as a full-time starter, threw 74 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions…Very intelligent with good leadership skills…Very good on short passes, not as strong with the long ball…Needs to add bulk, but added 10 pounds from the end of the season to the Combine…Loses accuracy when on the move…Viewed as a pedestrian NFL QB like Jay Fiedler, who can get the job done, but won't carry a team. PROJECTION: A team might take a chance on him in the third round, but could slip to Day Two.
SECOND DAY PROJECTIONS
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech, 6-3, 208 – Ran the spread offense for three years and threw a whopping 1,783 passes and 88 TDs…Last year alone he completed 447 of 669 passes for 4,642 yards, 42 TDs and 12 INTs…Intelligent, hard worker, leader…Doesn't have ideal NFL arm…Struggled at the Senior Bowl, which will likely drop him to the fourth round.
Seneca Wallace, Iowa State, 5-11, 196 – Played with three schools – starting as a DB with Oregon State and then a WR with Sacramento before moving to Iowa State…Had more INTs than TDs last year…Excellent speed and athletic ability and is always a threat to run…Has good deep pass ability…Viewed as too short for the NFL…Loves to run and often takes off too early…Because of his Antwan Randle-El type qualities, he will likely go in the fourth or early fifth round.
Brad Banks, Iowa, 5-11, 201 – Redshirted at Central Florida during Culpepper's final season…Just a one-year starter at Iowa, he was All-Big 10, AP Player of the Year and Davey O'Brien Award winner…Very efficient, completing 60 percent of his passes with a 25-4 TD/INT ratio…Ran 73 times for 387 yards and five TDs…Great leadership skills and unheard of 33-1/2 vertical jump for a QB…Too small for NFL QB standards…Not as accurate as he should be for next level…Athletic prowess will get him drafted in the late rounds, but may never be an NFL QB.
Brian St. Pierre, Boston College, 6-3, 218 – Played behind Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck…Two-year starter who looked like a better pro prospect as a junior than a senior…Smart player, but throws some dumb passes…Pedestrian arm strength for NFL standards…Tough and intense, which will make him hard to cut…Suffered groin pull at Combine that reduced his chance to shine and likely dropped him to the sixth round.
Jason Gesser, Washington State, 6-1, 205 – Three-year starter…Broke his left leg in 2000 and played through knee and ankle injuries in 2002…In his last two years, he threw for 6,418 yards, 54 TDs and 26 INTs…Excels under pressure by beating blitzes…Doesn't hit any of the prototype QB measurable standards…Has been compared to Jake Plummer…Is a little undersized, but his track record of winning and coming through in the clutch will likely get him selected.
QB DRAFT NOTE – Although many draft gurus aren't even listing him, former Michigan QB Drew Henson could get drafted as early as the third or fourth round. He had what many thought could be a promising NFL career as a first rounder, but gave it up to try baseball. He's wallowed in the minor leagues and, if a team with the right situation drafts him, he may return to football and be a potential draft day steal.
Positional Analysis: QBs
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