In the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, quarterback Todd Blackledge was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. The seventh overall selection, Blackledge was to be the Chiefs' quarterback of the future. After all, he had led the Penn State Nittany Lions to a national championship. Blackledge even won the 1982 Davey O'Brien Award for best college quarterback.
Chances are, however, you have never heard of Todd Blackledge. He ended up playing five seasons for the Chiefs before finishing his career in Pittsburgh. After his nearly anonymous career, he left the field and became a cable television analyst.
You probably remember a few of the players selected after the Chiefs used that number-seven overall pick. Seven picks later, the Buffalo Bills selected a quarterback by the name of Jim Kelly. Thirteen quick picks later, the Dolphins landed Dan Marino. In total, six quarterbacks were chosen in the first round, including John Elway, Tony Eason, and Ken O'Brien. Three of those six quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame.
Another great crop of quarterbacks was selected in this year's NFL draft. The first two picks were quarterbacks Andrew Luck, who went to Indianapolis, and Robert Griffin III, who went to the Redskins. Ryan Tannehill was taken by the Miami Dolphins with the eighth overall pick, and Brandon Weedon went to Cleveland 22nd overall.
All four first-round quarterbacks have a chance to start this season. In eight team fantasy leagues, it isn't likely that more than one of them will make a huge impact. However, if your league rocks a 12 or even 16 team league, these guys will be in high demand.
Who will be this year's Todd Blackledge? Is Andrew Luck the next great Stanford quarterback, following in the footsteps of John Elway? Are there three future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in this bunch?
Here are the top five rookie quarterbacks to put on your cheat sheet for this year's fantasy football draft. If you're a betting man, do some sportsbook reviews and get ready for an exciting NFL season.
1. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
After the Redskins traded up to number two, there was no doubt that Luck and Griffin would be the first two choices in the draft. However, no one knew for sure which quarterback would go number one, and which would fall to the Redskins. Although Andrew Luck won the first-overall-pick sweepstakes, that doesn't mean he is the best fantasy value.
Rookie quarterbacks can't always make it happen with their arm. Many successful rookies, including Cam Newton last year, have to resort to mobility when the pocket breaks down or when they fail to follow through on their progressions. Though Luck may have the intangibles, it is Griffin who has the athletic edge. For a raw rookie, athleticism will determine a huge amount of their success.
Luck may pan out in the long term and dominate fantasy football like Peyton Manning did in a Colts uniform. However, Griffin is coming into a much better situation than Luck this year. Coach Mike Shanahan should be able to make things happen, but only if he has learned to adapt his system to a quarterback. He hasn't always had success with that in the past.
NFL.com has ranked Griffin not just first among rookies for this year's fantasy season, but 12th among all quarterbacks. Those are pretty high expectations for a rookie, but he could do even better than those numbers indicate. Redskins fans better dish out the bucks for NFL Sunday Ticket available on cable networks, because they aren't going to want to miss a play of Griffin's rookie season.
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Though some people think it is a coin toss between Luck and Griffin as to who will do better this season, others think Luck will struggle as he joins a team that lost 15 games last year. In a keeper or dynasty league, he will serve well as a number two quarterback this year, with potential to be a star in the coming seasons. Bleacher Reports refers to him as a "heckuva consolation prize" in dynasty leagues where Griffin goes first.
Luck has few weapons and is taking over a team that became accustomed to losing last year. He has his work cut out for him. The good news for the Colts, and for anyone who takes a shot at Luck in a fantasy draft this year, is that Luck is an incredible athlete with the brains to play the position.
3. Brandon Weedon, Cleveland Browns
Although Ryan Tannehill was drafted before him, Weedon has the best shot at making an impact early in the fantasy season. Weedon will be 29 when the season starts and should easily beat out Colt McCoy for the starting job.
The fun part about a quarterback like Weedon is that he is joining a team that already has some pieces in place. He grew accustomed winning in college, and should bring that attitude to Cleveland.
Many sites have Weedon ranked in the 30's overall for quarterbacks, but that is pretty low. There are a lot of veteran quarterbacks that are playing for worse teams, and also lack the qualities that Weedon has.
4. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill will have to fight through David Garrard and Matt Moore to get to the starting job. I've seen some fantasy guru's publish the opinion that those two are both "scrubs" and that Tannehill could see the field in 2012. If he can live up to the hype that he generated at the NFL combine, then maybe he can do it. Otherwise, he'll only be worth a late round pick. It will be boom or bust for him, and he could truly be this year's Todd Blackledge.
5. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
This pick might shock people, but he is the most likely to play this season out of the remaining rookie quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins is stuck behind Robert Griffin III. Brock Osweiler is not going to usurp Peyton Manning as Denver's starter any time soon.
However, Michael Vick can go down at any time, as we have seen over and over. It is almost guaranteed to happen at some point this season. When that happens, there will be a scramble to pick up Foles - if he hasn't been drafted. The Eagles have all the right pieces, and Foles could be incredibly successful.
Whatever the case, it is going to be a great year of football. Stock up your beer fridge, buy that new flatscreen, get the cable or NFL Sunday Ticket hooked up, and get ready for another roller coaster season. These rookies might not make or break your fantasy team this year, but they will be fun to watch.