Few qualify as franchise QBs

March 24, 2009, 4:22 PM HST · Updated March 24, 8:29 PM
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You hear the phrase “franchise quarterback” thrown around a lot at this time of the year, as if those types of guys grow on draft trees.

Too many teams, too many analysts and too many fans think that a quarterback is the cure for what ails them only to eventually come to the realization that their hoped-for savior was really a reach.

In recent years, we have seen that happen with Detroit and Joey Harrington, San Francisco and Alex Smith, Tennessee and Vince Young, as well as Oakland and JaMarcus Russell.

Actually, there are no more than nine players that, by my criteria, qualify as franchise quarterbacks.

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They are: New England’s Tom Brady, Peyton Manning of Indiana and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Drew Brees of New Orleans, Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb, San Diego’s Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck and Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer.

Three other young players could reach that status in the near future: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco.

With that kind of evidence and that kind of history, why would the Detroit Lions – coming off a 0-16 season — seem to be leaning toward using this year’s top overall pick to select Georgia QB Matthew Stafford?  In a word:  Desperation.

That, and the mistaken belief that a kid coming directly out of college is capable of instantly transforming a really bad team into a really good team.  When will they ever learn?

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