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Green Zone League Articles

Rookie Starting Quarterbacks in 2017
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

There was only 1 big name pocket presence in this draft and that was Bo Callahan. The only team that showed a real need of a QB was the New Orleans Saints, however they were adamant they wouldn't be drafting a QB in the top 10 and never one named Bo. So in the end Bo goes to the Falcons as heir apparent to Matt Ryan and turns out the Patriots missed taking him by little more than 2 picks (a dastardly plan by GM Spencer after he traded out from pick 1.01 that fell on its face). Callahan hasn't had a real start to date and the biggest buzz has been around the other quarterbacks drafted later in the round and deeper in the draft that have been taking the reins of their respective teams. The other thing to note about these guys is that they are all scramblers, far from your typical first year passer with a chance of success, these guys love to use their feet which leads to all sorts of passing woes. We are of course talking about the likes of Johnny Manziel (Bengals), Malik McNabb (Eagles) and Terrelle Pryor (Colts), the new breed of quarterback following in the footsteps of Michael Vick, Cam Newton and RGIII. So I've posed a few questions of the various GMs involved in these endeavours to shed some light on the how and why they decided to bring fresh blood to their franchise and baptise them in a rain a fire from day one.

Bengals - Brady Tinnin - QB Johnny Manziel: 1.27

GM Tinnin has been very vocal about his acquisition of "Johnny Football", a move which has left much of the GZL community shocked. With the calibre of Phillip Rivers and Ryan Tannenhill on the roster (Rivers having led the team from the basement almost into the playoffs in a year) it's no surprise that there is much head scratching over this expenditure of the 1.27 pick. At 6'0" he is reminiscent of Michael Vick (6'0"), if a little slower on the ground and of course raw being a rookie. There's nothing overly special about Manziel with 68 AWR, 96 THP and 83 THA, but he is a known name in the real world:

What initially led you to draft Johnny Manziel?
I do this for fun. I like to take guys that have potential for story lines. I have always enjoyed that aspect of leagues. Sure, Tannenhill would have been smart, and keeping him and giving him the last few points needed to get him perfect, but where's the fun in that? He wasn't even my guy, I was gone for a few seasons, and the team I had from Day 1 was no more. Tannenhill and Klein was a terrible QB situation, and I felt inclined to keep Tannenhill by default, but after a year or two on the Tannenhill wagon, it finally came to me, he's not MY guy. He may have been the previous GM's guy, or some other people's guy, but he wasn't MY guy. I also have never had a scrambling quarterback, and am really wanted to make him work. It's a game, if I do bad oh well, just more weapons to build around. He's going to take some work, and I talked to a good friend, who ultimately talked me into Manziel, and I am confident in his ability. My thing with Tannenhill, was he missed out on a good bit of progression, from not playing, and it's wasted time, Manziel, I can bring him in and get him max progression every year, if he fails, it's my fault, and I want to be able say that. I hated Tannenhill being somebody else's failed decision, this is my team again, so I'm going to get the QB I love watching in real life on the field.

Were you targeting him in the draft initially?
My biggest target in the draft was Drogan, but he went way to early to have a shot, once most of the star WRs went, Manziel was the first player under all said WRs.

Why did you draft him so high?
If you want a player, you get him. I know Neil was looking at a scrambling QB, and Manziel was the only QB in the draft I am willing to take this multiple year chance with, so I made sure to secure him.

What made you decide to start him over Phillip Rivers or Ryan Tannenhill?
Purely progression standpoint. My goal was to, once progression hit, and if he (Manziel) had the snaps required for max AWR, put in Rivers for playoff push, but this season hasn't been great, so rest of year will probably be playbook testing.

Do you foresee him as your long term starter?
Of Course.

How long do you think it will take before he becomes reliable?
2 more seasons.

What is the future of your other QB's now?
Rivers is here solely for mentoring, and Tannenhill is stuck this year because of cap room. I wanted to trade him badly, but it's not written in the stars yet.

Brady has highlighted the biggest factoring any GM league: making your own mark on a team and developing it in your own style. We've all done it and it's why we do this, but when it comes to developing a young quarterback we're all aware of the growing pains that entails. The 1-7 record with Manziel starting suggests he's nowhere near reading for the big leagues. He's 118 of 224 passes at a little over 48% with 4 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. With a projection of 2 more seasons from Brady before he's reliable could see him as an 80 AWR, 89 THA, 98 THP passer at the start of his third season, which doesn't sound too bad for that point, whilst the extra year on top of that would look even more solid over 90 THA. The team doesn't lack support for him, but with so many turnovers and very little scoring it's a tough road ahead.

Eagles - Neal Wintermute - QB Malik McNabb: 1.32

McNabb is a monster of a QB, standing 6'8" and 259lbs that can move better than a lot of tight ends. The surprise packet is the fact that he has 89 strength and 93 break tackle, which means he is probably the best ball carrier in the league, or can pinch hit as a run blocker with strength to out do 99% of defensive ends and linebackers. It is probably this collection of freakish talents that has lead GM Wintermute to forsake Aaron Rodgers in favour of McNabb to begin the year. He doesn't have the strongest arm (88 THP) which is surprising given all his other superb skills, plus he is a left hander which brings doubt over his passing quality. The Rodgers factor is a big one as you wouldn't expect a player of his calibre to go into retirement on the pine, however Neal has shared some of his thoughts on this:

What initially led you to draft Malik McNabb?
I hate drafting QB's in the first round and I especially hate drafting scrambling QB's, so that is why I drafted the scrambling McNabb in round one...lol. Ok, so I decided to do this one time and just see if I can make it work. The thing about McNabb that stood out was his running skills combined with his size. McNabb would be a great RB, so if I was going to do this "scrambling QB experiment" he would be the guy.

Were you targeting him in the draft initially?
Yes and No. I would have gladly drafted a player at another position, but once I was on the clock McNabb was the best value.

Why did you draft him so high?
I felt like he would have been taken early in round two.

What made you decide to start him over Aaron Rodgers?
As I looked at my team, I concluded I wasn't going to compete this year so I needed to start the guy that would give me the best chance of winning in the future.

Do you foresee him as your long term starter?
Yes, although if performs terribly I could rethink that.

How long do you think it will take before he becomes reliable?
I think next season he could take a good step in his development and by year three he could be "reliable."

What is the future of your other QB's now?
As long as I can afford to keep him financially, Rodgers will be an Eagle. Having two starting calibre QB's is huge in any Madden league. This can change though if I were to get a really good trade offer.

Of the three players we're looking at he has the highest AWR (71) and weakest arm (88), 82 THA and is a lefty, but as Neal pointed out he'd make a monster of a running back for any team. I don't know if there is a chance of finding a playbook that can get him to run a lot (you know, doing that catch and run thing that drives a lot of people off scramblers) as it would be interesting to see if he can succeed on the ground (like wildcat every single play). Development wise by year 3 the most likely progression application would see him at 81 AWR and 90 THA. He didn't get a training camp point to arm strength, which means he'll be maxed out at 90 THP if he gets it the next 2 years. These numbers sound doable for a reliable player and Neal is on the money there. For his first dip into the "drafting a scrambler 1st round" pool this could go either way. I'd be much happier if he was a right hander, but if he can run more than it becomes less of a factor.

Colts - Jason Arnold - QB Terrelle Pryor: 3.07

As the lowest drafted player to be drafted of this group, Pryor can also be considered the most raw. He started with only 60 awareness and 78 throwing accuracy, levels that would give headaches to any team on a pocket passer, let alone a scrambler. At 6'4", 233lbs with 92 THP he has potential to be good (like Cam Newton and RGIII), but it's going to take a while to realise that potential and a lot of grief for the fans as they struggle to find consistency and the scoreboard. When they had a young starter in Ryan Nassib already on the team it was a big call to make Pryor the starter over him but it is Jason's team and he wants to make it his own, as we discuss:

What initially led you to draft Terrelle Pryor?
We were targeting a developmental QB in the draft and Pryor has similar attributes to guys taken higher then him (McNabb/Manziel) and we loved his size and durability. What pushed me to draft him where I did was thinking that if he had a good skew, he could potentially be a franchise QB. He had a pretty darn good skew.

Were you targeting him in the draft initially?
I had a few QBs highlighted as potential picks. He was one of them. Some guys went way, way sooner than I could have imagined, so it just fell that way.

Why did you draft him at 3.07?
With the way scrambling QBs were being picked in the draft, I didn't want to risk losing him. I had limited draft selections so, if I came out of the draft with no QB to speak of, it would have been a failure to me.

Did you trade out Ryan Nassib before or after drafting Pryor, and if after what made you decide to trade out Nassib so soon?
After. I wanted "my guy" and I like the challenge of winning with a scrambling QB. Anyone who knows me knows I try to do things as "realistic" as possible and as challenging as possible. I don't make many positional changes, especially unrealistic ones and I don't mind going against the grain in terms of a standard QB or system (3-4 over 4-3, for example).

Do you foresee him as your long term starter?
I don't see why not. He has the passing attributes to progress. He has the durability to stay healthy. If not, the investment from my end is minimal, so it's a win-win.

How long do you think it will take before he becomes reliable?
That's hard to pinpoint it, but if I had to say, I'd say two seasons. We have a ton of draft picks in the top 3 rounds in this years' draft, so the key will be to get him some damn weapons. If you look at my team, he has nothing at WR, TE, or Offensive Line. Our starting HB was injured the first several weeks. We can't expect him to lead us until we give him some help. We will.

I can't see Pryor as more durable than a lot of other QB's out there, especially when you consider his running takes him head first into some big tacklers, but there's nothing wrong with taking the chance. Jason's projections of a reliable starter in 2 years would see him around 71 AWR and 83 THA, which is barely to the level that McNabb is now. Even with more support in other players it may be a few more years before we see Terrelle Pryor as a decent passer. When you consider he's a 3rd round pick and the Colts are still developing their identity and player list the timing is probably right to give him a shot.

Pryor was drafted the latest yet his team has the best record of the 3 (2-7 at this time), but all 3 teams are ranking in the bottom of the league and look to be moving towards a top draft choice. If the starts to date have been for progression alone then it has hurt the rest of the team for progression and the teams overall chance at having a good season. Both the Bengals and the Eagles have a plan B with a veteran quarterback able to take over and try to resurrect the ship, but is that too little too late and would the better draft position be deemed more valuable than a few more wins?
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