2003 Quarterback Prospects
QB-Carson Palmer<br>Photo:Getty Images
QB-Carson Palmer
Photo:Getty Images

Posted Jan 29, 2003

2003 Quarterback Prospects

The Steelers’ quarterback plans for the 2003 draft will mainly revolve around Charlie Batch. If Batch can be retained to back up starter Tommy Maddox, then the team can wait and look for a third string quarterback late in the draft. If Batch cannot be brought back and a suitable replacement for the backup position can’t be found through free agency, the team will be forced to look for a quarterback much earlier in the draft.

Former starter Kordell Stewart will most likely be traded or cut at some point this off-season.  Recently-signed quarterback Tim Levcik looks to be only another arm in camp, at this point.  Look for the Steelers to draft a quarterback on the second day of the draft if Batch can be re-signed.  A first-day pick is unlikely, unless someone they love falls to them or Batch can’t be brought back.

Carson Palmer
6’ 5”
235 lbs
USC - Senior

Palmer has all the tools you look for in a starting quarterback, but has been very inconsistent during his career.  That is, until this year, in which he has finally started putting it all together.  Good size, arm strength, and athletic ability are just some of his assets.  Palmer has had several injuries that have impeded his progression to the next level.  He has a tendency to have bad timing on his throws, but on the other hand shows good pocket awareness.  Palmer would do well with a team that can bring him along slowly over the next year or two, with the right offensive coordinator or quarterback coach to work with.  Could that team be the Bengals and that coach be Tom Coughlin? 

Likely to be drafted: First overall

Byron Leftwich
6’ 6”
250 lbs
Marshall - Senior

Leftwich isn’t going to be mistaken for Daunte Culpepper or Donavan McNabb, even though he has many of the same attributes.  A cannon for an arm along with outstanding accuracy, ideal size, and great leadership skills highlights what should be the first quarterback to be taken in the 2003 draft.  Has a good delivery, over-the-top motion to his throws.  Can make all the throws with accuracy and zip on his balls.  But unlike the before-mentioned quarterbacks, Leftwich isn’t much of a running threat, but falls in with that pure pocket passer group ala David Carr.  Also, as is the case with most young quarterbacks, he has a tendency to throw off his back foot at times.  Also forces the ball at times and waits for things to happen instead of throwing to a spot and trusting his receivers.  Leftwich has the talent to be the number one overall pick. However, his comments on having nightmares of playing in Cincinnati don’t bode well for that top spot, but Chicago would love to have him.  His shin injury could also be of some concern.

Likely to be drafted: Top 5 picks

Dave Ragone
6’ 4”
252 lbs
Louisville - Senior

Ragone was thought to be in the running for the top quarterback spot coming into the season, but has taken such a beating behind his offensive line that he hasn’t been able to show what he did last year.  A solid all-around quarterback who has very good mechanics.  Can make all the throws and anticipates well.  Tends to take off and run with the ball a little too often, but that could be a product of his front line, or lack thereof.   Ragone has shown a lot of resiliency this year and could come in and start right away next season.

Likely to be drafted: Middle to late part of Round 1

Kyle Boller
6’ 3”
220 lbs
Cal – Senior

Boller is an outstanding blend of athlete and quarterback.  Combining good size with an excellent arm, Boller has improved each of his four seasons at Cal, culminating in a very solid senior campaign.  He has an explosive release on the ball, can make all the throws, and has the ability to take off with it.  On the down side, Boller is very antsy in the pocket and is easily rattled when under pressure.  Has been slow to develop, possible due to the carousel of coordinators Boller has had the past few years.  Accuracy is also a concern at times.

Likely to be drafted: Second Round

Rex Grossman
6’ 1”
225 lbs
Florida – Junior

Grossman has really struggled after having a near Heisman campaign in 2001.  With the departure of Steve Spurrier, the offense has sagged and Grossman has taken much of the abuse.  Still, he is a quality quarterback who should be able to play in most offensive systems.  His arm strength is much better than most recent Gator quarterbacks.  He does, however, tend to lock onto his primary receivers and will on occasion force the ball.  News out of Green Bay is that the Packers are looking to take a quarterback in the first round and Grossman is the guy on their radar screens.

Likely to be drafted: Second Round

Drew Hensen
6’ 5”
225 lbs
Michigan – Junior

Hensen could have been one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the country when he came out, but opted instead to sign a contract with the Yankees.  His play in pinstripes hasn’t been great and many are speculating that he may opt back into football.  A talented passer, Hensen has the arm to make all the throws.  His biggest negative, if he decides to return to the gridiron, is how much time it will take before he is ready to start under center.

Likely to be drafted: Late Second Round

Chris Simms
6’ 4”
215 lbs
Texas – Senior

Simms might have had a better college career if everyone didn’t expect him to live up to his father.  Simms is an intelligent quarterback who excels when he has time in the pocket.  He can drive the ball down the field but does not improvise well when plays break down, and has limited pocket awareness.  Once the mental part of his game catches up to his knowledge and skills, he should excel.

Likely to be drafted: Late Second Round, early 3rd

Ken Dorsey
6’ 4”
205 lbs
Miami - Senior

Last year the knock on Dorsey was his lack of body mass.  This year it is his lack of arm strength.  Both are areas he has continued to work on, adding muscle over the off-season, and it’s paid dividends this year.  Dorsey is a very intelligent quarterback who knows his position and his limitations.  He reads the field very well and is excellent at play action, reading through his progressions, and looking off the safety.  Dorsey is a leader in every sense of the word, the question now is if he a pro quarterback.  The Fiesta Bowl will hurt his standing, as the Ohio State defense exposed many of his weaknesses, including his lack of arm strength.  But he rebounded nicely for the East West Shrine Game, which will help.  Will be best suited in an offense that has everything in place around him, so that he isn’t asked to carry the load.  Denver might be a good fit.

Likely to be drafted: Early part of Round 3

Brad Banks
6’ 1”
200 lbs
Iowa - Senior

A one-year starter, Banks was really moving up draft charts after leading Iowa on a very improbable run to the top of the Big 12.  That was, until the Orange Bowl against USC, which may have knocked Banks back down a bit.  A bit on the small size, Banks plays above his size with good athleticism.  Very dangerous when he takes off and runs, and effortlessly throws a nice ball while on the run.

Likely to be drafted: Mid Third Round

Brian St. Pierre
6’ 2”
218 lbs
Boston College – Senior

St. Pierre is a strong-armed pocket passer with solid athletic skills.  However, he gets flustered when under pressure, which is when most of his mistakes will happen.  Doesn’t really ever set his feet and can be a very hot or cold quarterback. 

Likely to be drafted: Fourth Round

Jason Gesser
6’ 0”
180 lbs
Washington State - Senior

Gesser is the ultimate competitor but may not have what it takes at the next level.  Very much fits into the Doug Flutie mold, but isn’t as good as Flutie.  Has a decent arm, is very instinctive, and athletic.  Lack of height and overall size will hurt him at the next level, as will his penchant for getting sloppy at times with his accuracy, which is a result of being slow to set up in the pocket and having happy feet.

Likely to be drafted: Fourth Round

Kliff Kingsbury
6’ 3”
206 lbs
Texas Tech - Senior

A very smart pocket passer who has a good short to intermediate game.  Kingsbury has a good release and is good at finding the hot read.  Has trouble with the long ball, which could be due to a lack of arm strength or his tendency to step out of throws.  Many fear that Kingsbury may be just a product of the system, and he will need to prove otherwise before the draft.

Likely to be drafted: Fifth Round

Seneca Wallace
5’ 11”
183 lbs
Iowa State - Senior

In the early going, it looked like Wallace could run away with the Heisman, then the competition got tougher.  Still, Wallace has all the skills you could ever want from a quarterback.  Athletic, with a strong arm and excellent running ability, Wallace’s biggest weakness is his ability to read defenses.  His lack of size could see him moving over and playing wide receiver, ala Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El.

Likely to be drafted: Sixth Round at QB, Possibly in the Third for WR/RB

Jason Thomas
6’ 3”
241 lbs
UNLV – Senior

A case of all the talent in the world, and can’t seem to do anything with it.  As athletically gifted as any quarterback coming out, but Thomas has never been able to put it all together.  Bad mechanics and injury problems have really held him back.  Tries to muscle balls in, instead of using good technique, and throws off his back foot.  Might be worth a look for a team that is a few years away from needing a quarterback and is willing to groom him slowly.

Likely to be drafted: Seventh Round

Tony Romo
6’ 2”
224 lbs
Eastern Illinois - Senior

Romo played at a lesser level of competition than most of the other quarterbacks in this draft, but performed well at his level.  A solid arm and pocket awareness are two of his stronger attributes.  He does, however, have problems finding passing lanes with big linemen in front of him.

Likely to be drafted: Seventh Round

Justin Wood
6’ 0”
203 lbs
Portland State - Senior

A solid prospect, even given his low level of competition.  A student of the game, who has a decent arm and is a leader on and off the field.  Isn’t the biggest quarterback, which could hurt him some.

Likely to be drafted: Seventh Round

Undrafted Free Agents

Curt Anes
6’ 0”
221 lbs
Grand Valley State – Senior

Divison II player of the year and for good reason.  Anes completed over 69% of his passes as well as averaging 6.1 yards per rush attempt.  Possessing a strong arm, Anes would be worth a look for any team that has a couple years to let him adjust to the pro game.

Marquel Blackwell
5’ 11”
207 lbs
South Florida – Senior

A solid athlete, Blackwell has a strong arm as well as good feet and speed, making him a threat to run the ball.  Doesn’t adjust the speed on his short passes and tends to throw the ball up for grabs at times.  Plays in a spread offense will could hurt his chances of being drafted, plus has marginal size to be a NFL quarterback.  Might make the switch to safety or running back in the pros.

Jeff Blakenship
6’ 2”
208 lbs
Eastern Washington - Senior

Blakenship has a strong arm and can make almost all the throws.  Is a very accurate passer, and led the Big Sky conference in passing yards per game, efficiency, and total yards per game.  A division 1-AA prospect who could be worth a look late.

Dave Bryant
6’ 3”
213 lbs
Iowa Wesleyan – Senior

Good enough to be invited to the combine but was ineligible this past season and did not play.  Has good size and decent arm strength.  A fringe prospect at best, but will at least have a chance to prove himself at the combine.

Brooks Bollinger
6’ 0”
204 lbs
Wisconsin - Senior

Bollinger has progressed each year he has played, showing good touch on his balls and an increased ability to hit his receivers in stride.  Durability has been an issue and his sub-par arm strength could keep him from making an NFL roster.

Daniel Cobb
6’ 3”
224 lbs
Auburn – Senior

Cobb started his injury-plagued career at Georgia, before transferring to Auburn in 1999.  Has good size and is comfortable in the short to intermediate passing game, showing good accuracy.  Does not have zip on his deep balls and will often throw the ball up for grabs instead of hitting his receiver.

Marc Dunn
6’ 2”
203 lbs
Kansas State – Senior

Dunn is a pretty good pocket passer.  Showing good arm strength, he can make all the throws.  Tends to be hot and cold.  Struggles reading coverages and will force the ball.  Has only started at the division 1 level for one year and has the tools to develop if given time.

Bret Engeman
6’ 5”
238 lbs
BYU – Junior

Engeman has a lot of athletic talent that he can’t seem to consistently show on the field.  A big kid with good arm strength and accuracy, he’s continued to improve over the years.  Shoulder surgery in 200 will need to be examined.  Could find his name called late in the draft.

Jose Fuentes
6’ 2”
214 lbs
Utah State – Senior

Fuentes has good arm strength and size, but must add some bulk in the pros.  Does not show a lot of zip on his deep throws.  He’s good at reading the blitz and buying extra time in the pocket.  Not good at reading coverages and will throw the ball up for grabs.  Fuentes is a system quarterback and did not play against top level competition.

Casey Printers
6’ 2”
200 lbs
Florida A&M

Printers, with good arm strength and zip on his downfield passes, is tough, willing to take a hit, and can buy second chances with his feet.  Can be very inconsistent with his accuracy.  Was 22 and 9 at TCU before transferring to Florida A&M.  Could see his name late in the second day of the draft.

More Player Links:
Jason Thomas
Brooks Bollinger
Daniel Cobb
Marc Dunn
Bret Engeman 
Jose Fuentes
Casey Printers


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