When one considers the rookie quarterback prospects for 2009, it appears to be a weak class.
Heisman Trophy Winner Sam Bradford has decided to return to Oklahoma for another season. Tim Tebow, 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner, has decided to return to Florida in an attempt to defend the Gators’ National Championship.
In my opinion, there are only two quarterbacks who have the potential to make an impact in 2009. However, based on the poor history of fantasy performances by rookie quarterbacks, I would only use a late round flier on either of them.
First up is Mathew Stafford from Georgia.
He has ideal size at 6’ 3”, and 237 pounds. His greatest asset is arm strength. He is also praised for being a great leader. Despite a lack of speed, he has shown athleticism under pressure and is known to have good pocket presence.
Perhaps his best statistic is a 26-7 record as starting QB for The Bulldogs, who play in a very difficult SEC Conference. He has a 3-0 record in Bowl Games, including a 24-12 victory over Michigan State in The 2009 Capital One Bowl, in which he was 20-31 for 250 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
In his career at Georgia, he threw 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. Not a great ratio, and his decision making and lapses in concentration have often been his biggest criticisms. However, he did steadily improve these numbers each year and finished his final season with 25 TD and 10 INT.
Most coaches and scouts ignore negatives such as poor decision making, because they believe a player can be taught to improve in this area. They are more concerned with qualities that cannot be taught: size, arm strength, and athleticism. Stafford possesses these physical tools, and can be an excellent long term quarterback.
For this reason, I would highly recommend drafting Stafford in all keeper leagues. In re-draft leagues, however, I would definitely keep my expectations to a minimum. Expect him to struggle early as he learns to become more consistent with his focus and decision making.
Projection: Many believe that if Detroit passes on Stafford with the first pick, he is sure to get drafted by Kansas City with the third pick. Either way, he is considered a lock to be drafted within the top ten picks.
Next up is Mark Sanchez from USC.
Sanchez surprised a lot of people by deciding to enter the 2009 NFL draft. Even coach Pete Carroll criticized the decision. The main reason for attacking Sanchez is that he lacks significant experience.
With only 16 career starts, it may seem difficult to argue against that logic, but his performance in those games makes one think he may indeed be ready for the NFL.
After doing okay filling in three games for an injured John David Booty in 2007, Sanchez took full advantage of his opportunity to be starting quarterback for the 2008 season.
He led USC to a 12-1 record, throwing for 3,207 yards and 34 touchdowns, with only ten interceptions. His 65.8% completion percentage was also impressive.
Most impressive was his performance in the 2009 Rose Bowl. Sanchez had to face a stingy Penn State defense, which prior to the contest, allowed only 165 passing yards per game, and a mere 12.6 points per game.
Sanchez led The Trojans to a 38-24 victory and was 28-35 passing for 413 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions, He also added a six yard rushing touchdown.
Sanchez has ideal size at 6’ 3” and 225 pounds. He has very good arm strength, and a quick release. He is mobile, and elusive to opposing pass rushers. He showed toughness by playing in the opening game versus Virginia, when his status was in serious doubt because of a pre-season knee injury.
Like Stafford, I highly recommend Sanchez in all keeper league drafts. However, he is too inexperienced to be counted on as a reliable performer in 2009.
Projection:middle to late first round draft pick.
Another prospect worth mentioning is Ball State’s Nate Davis.
He is touted as having a powerful, accurate arm. In his last two seasons, he threw 56 touchdowns versus only 14 interceptions, showing good decision making. He is a mobile quarterback with good speed.
I do not believe Davis is ready to make an impact in the NFL anytime soon. Despite his good passing numbers, he played against a weak MAC Conference. In his biggest game of the year, The GMAC Bowl, he looked lost. Tulsa’s defense completely smothered Davis and he was unable to respond.
He finished the game a horrendous 9-29 passing for 145 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. He also fumbled twice on consecutive drives in the first quarter. He did have a 17-yard scramble for a touchdown, but it was his lone bright spot the entire game.
While Davis will most likely get drafted by an NFL team, all fantasy owners should avoid him in upcoming drafts.
Projection: third to fourth round draft selection.