Drafting a QB Is Football's Toughest Call

Drafting a QB Is Football's Toughest Call

In 1984 an engaging first-round quarterback prospect, Maryland's Boomer Esiason, was coming off a separated shoulder from a December bowl game. Cleared by doctors, he threw at the scouting combine in late January and then waited three months to be picked. Esiason visited no teams and had no Pro Day—in those days no schools did. One club, the Bengals, sent a coach to work him out. Cincinnati took Esiason midway through the second round.

In 2011 an engaging first-round quarterback prospect, TCU's Andy Dalton, is coming off a mostly healthy season and a terrific Rose Bowl. He threw at the combine and met with 21 NFL teams there; threw again at TCU's Pro Day, which was attended by 26 teams; worked out privately for 11 teams and visited six in March and April; ate meals with four quarterback coaches or coordinators; and faced at least one crazy job interview. A team will choose him no later than midway through the second round this year.

Esiason made it big. Dalton might. The inexact science of choosing a quarterback will be in the spotlight again at the 76th NFL draft next week, when as many as seven passers, all with professional or personal faults (or both), could be among the first 50 picks.

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