JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Quarterbacks, quarterbacks, quarterbacks …

A fascinating few weeks ahead for three classes of NFL quarterbacks. Who will emerge? Who will vanish? Who will make pizza on the OWN network with Gayle King?

My thoughts …

2005 Draft

Alex Smith—The first pick, out of Utah, was horrific for six seasons, but so were his teammates, his coaches, his franchise. With the stability of Jim Harbaugh, Smith has emerged as, well, good. Will he one day reach Canton? No shot. Can he win a Super Bowl? Absolutely. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Neil O’Donnell

Aaron Rodgers—The 24th pick (right after someone named Fabian Washington) is, at this moment, the best quarterback in the league. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Troy Aikman

2006 Draft

Vince Young—The third overall selection (and first quarterback) might fill in for Michael Vick this week, who’s suffering from broken ribs. Young, in my opinion, is the worst kind of NFL quarterback—undisiciplined, scattered, thinks he’s much better than he actually is. I’d be shocked—shocked!—if he’s a starter somewhere in 2012. More likely—he’s out of the league. A bum. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Kelly Stouffer

Matt Leinart—The 10th pick, by the Cardinals, has barely had a career. Upon being drafted he appeared on a magazine cover beneath the words: CAN MATT LEINART SAVE THE NFL? Answer: A big no. This Sunday, however, he’ll be handed the keys to the Texans offense. It’s his show for the rest of the season. Can he produce? My guess … yes. But in limited doses. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: David Carr

Jay Cutler—The 11th pick, by Denver, is a gritty competitor with a strong arm. He also happens to be vastly overrated. When he arrived in Chicago, people boasted of a “franchise quarterback.” Uh … no. Cutler is merely good. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Richard Todd

2009 Draft

Matthew Stafford—The No. 1 pick was having a banner season … until last week. Still think he’ll top a top-shelf NFL quarterback. But he could use a second wide receiver. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Neil Lomax

Mark Sanchez—The No. 5 pick brought excitement to the Big Apple. Now, however, I think we’re all a tad fed off. Sanchez is OK … sorta good … nice in flashes. But I don’t know anyone who thinks he’s going to be a star. Or even Eli Manning. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Eric Hipple

Josh Freeman—Tampa Bay used the 17th overall pick on Freeman, and he had an awesome second season. This year, however, he’d been awfully Doug Williams, circa 1980. The jury is out. Who he’ll be compared to in 10 years: Steve DeBerg