NFL: Which Rookie Quarterbacks Will Start Right Away?

Gustavo DestroSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2008

Over two weeks have passed since the 2008 NFL Draft, and most of the dust has settled. Rookie mini-camps have been completed, and we have had glimpses of the rookies in their new uniforms.

The biggest question coming out of any draft is, who will make an immediate impact? The most scrutinized position is quarterback, therefore, I will analyze each QB that has a chance to start this year. Let's see if they are up to the job or should sit and learn first.


Matt Ryan - ATL - First round - Third overall selection

Why he should start: Ryan is the better prospect of all quarterbacks in this draft. He is a very smart player, which will help ease his transition into the pros. He has all the intangibles, a strong enough arm and is surprisingly athletic and mobile in the pocket for a player of his size.

Why he shouldn't start: For starters, the Falcons have a weak supporting cast and will focus on the running game anyways this year with the addition of RB Michael Turner. WR Joe Horn asking for a trade does not help matters one bit. It would be advisable for the Falcons to let Chris Redman take the brunt of the hits this year until Ryan can be ready for prime time.

Bottom line: It would be in all sides' best interest if Ryan sits this year out and learns behind Redman. He can take over next year, just like Carson Palmer.


Joe Flacco - BAL - First round - 18th overall selection

Why he should start: Flacco has a cannon arm and will have a good supporting cast, including RB Willis McGahee, TE Todd Heap and WR Mark Clayton. The new regime under Jim Harbaugh has chosen Flacco, which means they did not like what was left over from Billick's QB corps and that means he's the favorite in the coaches' eyes.

Why he shouldn't start: LT Jonathan Ogden can play a key factor in Flacco's playing time. If Ogden decides to retire, the OL group, which already is not too strong, will be downright scary. For Flacco, that is. General managers and owners don't like seeing their brand new big-money QB getting beaten up all season long. Even if Ogden comes back, don't be surprised if Flacco sits for a few weeks.

Bottom line: Taking over around midseason, right after Boller gives a game away and Ray Lewis explodes during the post-game.


Brian Brohm - GB - Second round - 35th overall selection

Why he should start: Before the 2007 season, Brohm was a sure-fire first rounder, with all the measurables and intangibles to succeed on the next level. So why does he fall to the second round after a 65 percent-30 TD-12 INT season in which he kept his team from having a historically embarrassing season (believe me, if it wasn't for Brohm, Louisville wouldn't have even finished 6-6).

Why he shouldn't start: Aaron Rodgers has three years of Favre tutoring going for him, and if he plays like he did against the Cowboys last season, Brohm won't have much of a chance. Rodgers already has the trust and respect of the coaching staff and teammates. Plus if he falters, No. 4 will come back and...just kidding.

Bottom line: Rodgers is the starter and Brohm has a long road to catch up to him. Don't expect to see him this season barring injury or ineffectiveness from Rodgers.


Chad Henne - MIA - Second round - 36th overall selection

Why he should start: John Beck? Josh McCown? Are you serious? Chad Henne started midway through his true freshman season and forced Matt Gutierrez to transfer to Idaho State. Henne never let go of the position again. He is poised, smart and comes from a big program in Michigan. Plus his old college teammate just so happens to be Miami's first overall selection, Jake Long.

Why he shouldn't start: The only reason I see Henne not starting by Week Five is that knowing Bill Parcells, he doesn't like to start young QBs early. However, even he would be stupid not to let Tony Sparano give Henne the keys early on.

Bottom line: Guaranteed starter by Week Six. I'd bet on him starting earlier.


The rest 

These are the big name, first-day guys but here are the other QBs selected (with a "different" analysis).

Kevin O'Connel - NE - Third round (94th overall selection): Simple math: Healthy Tom Brady + Matt Cassell = No chance of playing.

John David Booty - MIN - Fifth round (137th overall selection): Can start if Tarvaris Jackson falters or is injured. Most pro-ready, since he played with the NFL's 33rd team, also known as USC.

Dennis Dixon - PIT - Fifth Round (156th overall selection): Will be a Kordell Stewart type of player, doing a lot, but in the end not really doing anything.

Josh Johnson - TB - Fifth Round (160th overall selection): Jon Gruden is really close to assembling a team made up only of QBs. Keep it up, Jon. Seriously now, Johnson will compete for the third spot in Tampa's 15-player QB depth chart.

Erik Ainge - NYJ - Fifth round (162nd overall selection): Will compete for backup spot. If only he could use his connections, call his uncle, Danny Ainge, and get him to lend Kevin Garnett to play receiver, the Jets might have something to call an offense.

Colt Brennan - WAS - Sixth Round (186th overall selection): A project for the future, he will compete for a backup spot. In a counter move, Jerry Jones signs all of last year's Georgia defense, making Brennan completely ineffective against the Cowboys D.

Andre' Woodson - NYG - Sixth Round (198th overall selection): Will compete with David Carr and Jared Lorenzen for third-string spot. He will also team up with former SEC grads Eli Manning And Lorenzen to heckle whatever player from the Big Ten in the Giants roster.

Matt Flynn - GB - Seventh Round (209th overall selection): With Rodgers and Brohm ahead of him, forget about it. He'll ride the bench all year long, although that will prompt Jon Gruden to trade two future first-round picks for him. Okay, I'm done with the Gruden jokes now. Promise.

Alex Brink - HOU - Seventh Round (223rd overall selection): Will not see much if any playing time. He'll be a third stringer at best. You know what, considering the Texans O-line, I wouldn't rule anything out.

This is it for my QB Draft overview. Soon I will write another article, this time covering the running backs.