Ten years ago this Thursday – on April 24, 2004 – we had one of the best quarterback drafts in NFL history, as Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers all went in the first 11 picks.
It was a great class. Not as great as 1983 (John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly), but certainly better – at this point, anyway – than 2012 (Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III).
Thus, there’s a natural question worth asking: How will the 2014 class stack up? Can Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater go down as one of the best QB classes ever?
“Well, I don’t know if I can just sit here and go ‘bust’ or ‘great,’” CBS lead NFL analyst Phil Simms said on The Morning Show.
But that’s what The Morning Show wants.
“I know you want it,” Simms said. “Guys, look, we all know that in the NFL, most of everything is gray, but we want black and white – especially with quarterbacks. Unfortunately, it’s a position (that) demands talent. We see when the guys do it well, they have great talent. But the organization, the offense (and) the team is so important. I’ve seen it ruin the careers of guys who are really good players – and some of those guys never get a chance to show their talent because (they weren’t) fortunate enough. So that’s a big part it.
“But to answer your question,” Simms continued, “when this is all said and done, are we going to look back at 2014 and say, ‘Wow what a great quarterback class’? I would be very surprised if we ever said that.”
Even without a great class, though, you can still have a great quarterback. Manziel reportedly aced the interview process and is now the favorite among most NFL general managers.
Simms, however, isn’t enamored with the former Heisman Trophy winner. Playing in a normal NFL system is hard enough, but Manziel – due to his size and skill set – would have to play in an unorthodox one.
Which is rarely a good thing.
“When you have to make exceptions to a rule when you’re talking about drafting people high, then you’re looking for trouble,” Simms said. “And then you’re just talking yourself into this player really deserving to go there. I’m the opposite to think he’s going to come into the NFL and play the Texas A&M system. I think there’s no chance of that.”
Indeed, Simms only sees Manziel excelling in a few situations.
“When you got a good defense and you want him to be the guy on the offense to hand it off, run the ball and then move around a little bit on designed plays and make a play – which he can do, which he will do in the NFL – and play that style, (that’s fine),” Simms said. “I don’t think physically there’s a lot of (good) comparisons (for him), but Russell Wilson – the style they play in Seattle – I know that would really look good with some teams in the NFL. And if they want to play that style, then Johnny Manziel is the guy for you.”