Ranking the best quarterbacks of all time something fun to do during every off-season. So, to tweak that thinking, where would they go in the NFL Draft?
Before embarking on this venture it’s important to note that the drafting will not happen with the accomplishment of every quarterback known to the teams doing the picking. This is based strictly in the classic draft process: physical ability, mental acuity and personality. Also, for the sake of respect, no active quarterbacks will be used in this exploration.
John Elway – Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians has done some of his best work with big, mobile quarterback who exhibit powerhouse arms. Ben Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl with him in Pittsburgh. Andrew Luck went to the Pro Bowl in Indianapolis. There is no question Arians, who loves to play a downfield game would find a myriad of ways to use the supremely gifted John Elway from his rocket arm to his toughness and ability to keep plays alive with his legs. The warm weather and proximity to the west coast also would’ve allowed Elway to avoid his threats to play baseball, as he did in 1983.
Joe Montana – Chicago Bears
Looking back it’s impossible to believe Joe Montana was a somewhat overlooked third round pick of San Francisco back in the late 1970s. However, it shouldn’t be. From a physical standpoint he was never overly impressive. Though accurate he didn’t throw with great power and looked like a twig compared to the behemoths trying to sack him. Yet his intelligence and competitiveness overcame. Looking out there the best offense for him would reside with the Chicago Bears. Their head coach Marc Trestman is a West Coast disciple who said more than once that a quarterback doesn’t need a strong arm to succeed in his system. He must be smart, decisive and accurate. That was classic Montana.
Dan Marino – New England Patriots
All he wanted to do was score points and attack defenses relentlessly. Dan Marino did that for almost two decades in Miami. His pocket presence, vision and quick release made him almost impossible to stop and the Dolphins an offensive powerhouse that redefined the passing game. Given how he played the position with his precision, delivery and lack of mobility he would’ve fit right in with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is a similar type of player in that he overcomes lack of athleticism with relentless work ethic and uncanny aggressiveness. Dan the Man would’ve approved.
Roger Staubach – Seattle Seahawks
Come on. Anybody who watches Russell Wilson play for the Seattle Seahawks can see a bit of Roger “the Dodger” in his game. Indeed Roger Staubach wasn’t the first scrambler in the history of the NFL draft but he was among the first to combine that ability with a clutch mentality that was rivaled by few. Staubach didn’t just run for the sake of running, and neither does Wilson. He ran to get first downs. He ran to keep plays alive and ran to give receivers time to get open. All of that running however belied how good he was at throwing the football. Pete Carroll would’ve taken him in a heartbeat.
Johnny Unitas – New York Giants
If one personality were to match another then Johnny Unitas would certainly have meshed with Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants. Johnny U actually took awhile before he landed a starting job in Baltimore. He was not a physical specimen by any means but he was smart, tireless in his approach and got the absolute most out of himself and his teammates. The stoic personality he put forth rarely changed, and Eli Manning is much the same way. It was all about winning. Playing poorly for three quarters didn’t excuse somebody from continuing to play hard. Unitas was a grinder. Coughlin can respect that.
Jim Kelly – Green Bay Packers
“Machine Gun” Kelly (may he continue his fight to ultimate success against cancer) didn’t earn that nickname from the famous gangster. He earned it for perfecting art of the no huddle offense. The famous K-Gun attack of the Buffalo Bills befuddled defenses for over half a decade and put the team in four-straight Super Bowls. Kelly was the general of it all, combining his outstanding arm talent with an ability to think quickly and deliver pinpoint passes in rather inauspicious weather conditions. Aaron Rodgers can relate. He’s done that for years with the Green Bay Packers. Rain, snow, sleet or frigid cold the Packers have executed their hurry-up attack to perfection over the past four years. Kelly may not have wanted to play in Green Bay back in 1983, but there’s no question their offense under Mike McCarthy fits him like a glove.
Brett Favre – New Orleans Saints
It took patience to deal with Brett Favre. Not because he was bad locker room presence. Far from it. His issue, as many have come to know was he took a lot of chances. His arm talent was so good and he was so fearless that he would try to fit the ball through any window. Sometimes it worked, others it didn’t. For him to reach his potential it took a coach with patience, steel nerves and a keen understanding of offensive football like Mike Holmgren was. Can anyone say Sean Payton doesn’t fit that bill with the New Orleans Saints. Ironically the team that probably hastened the end of Favre’s historic career is probably the one he stands the best chance of thriving in today. Payton is a play-calling mastermind who reads situations almost better than anybody. He also has the commanding presence that would’ve been able to reel Favre back in when he started to get loosey-goosey with the ball.
I’m sure there are other all-time quarterbacks to consider for this particular mock NFL draft but that can be for another time. Feel free to comment below about your own thoughts on the subject.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals Brett Favre Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers Jim Kelly Joe Montana John Elway Johnny Unitas New England Patriots New Orleans Saints New York Giants NFL Draft Roger Staubach Seattle Seahawks