With the kind of punishment that NFL quarterbacks take these days – yes, I’m taking into account all the “rules” to protect them – the decisions made by the higher-ups in regards to building a team are carefully constructed.
Tom Brady came out of nowhere to lead the New England Patriots, entering the league as a late-round draft pick and finding himself under center only after an injury to Drew Bledsoe.
Peyton Manning exited Tennessee as a highly-regarded signal-caller expected to win numerous Super Bowl titles during his playing career.
Those are just two examples of the stark contrast in what goes into selecting a franchise-building quarterback.
So, while Brady and Manning would obviously be guys you would want to direct your favorite team, they are getting older by the day. Instead of just pegging them, why not search the league – and college football, for that matter – to find the next great batch of NFL QBs.
These are players under the age of 25 that could become the next Brady or Manning:
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Say what you want about Cam Newton in regards to a pure passer, but the kid is athletic – and not so much in the Michael Vick-mold; the Cam Newton-mold.
Newton is a one-of-a-kind talent, similar to that of LeBron James. What he can do on the football field just cannot be mimicked.
He didn’t have the kind of seasoning in college as an Aaron Rodgers, or the upbringing of Peyton and Eli Manning, so you have to give Newton a little slack, as he is still learning the position.
Could Newton amass a season in which he scores 50 combined touchdowns? Say, 30 passing and 20 rushing? Yes, yes he sure could.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
His numbers may never be on par with Tom Brady, but Andy Dalton just seems to have that winning attitude that Brady brings to the field.
Dalton won, and won, and won at TCU, and that continued throughout his rookie season with the Bengals.
The weapons that Cincinnati has offered Dalton are solid, as A.J. Green could go down in history as an elite WR.
If Dalton were to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl and follow in the footsteps of Boomer Esiason and Ken Anderson – past Cincy QBs who led the orange and black to the promised land – he may have the abilities to take them one step further: hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Wait? What? Sam Bradford isn’t over 25 years old? But he’s been playing in the NFL forever.
Oh, you are wrong my friend, as Bradford will only turn 26 this coming November.
Maybe it was his exceptional career at Oklahoma that makes people feel old when talking about Bradford, but what head coach Jeff Fisher has done in St. Louis is nothing short of remarkable.
Bradford is still learning and growing – and trying to stay upright as much as possible behind a below-average offensive line – but his time in the spotlight is nearing.
This is a player who once threw 50 touchdowns in a single-season with the Sooners, and the one player right now that I feel could ultimately pass Tom Brady’s NFL record for TD passes in one season.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins/Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
These two just seem too obvious for the list.
As long as health issues subside for RGIII, he is going to make critics of running quarterbacks forget all about Michael Vick.
Griffin has the spotlight of Washington, D.C., to play with, while Luck is looking to follow in the same footsteps as Peyton Manning.
These are two of the elite players in the NFL right now, regardless of position or age.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks
He’ll turn just 20 years old later this year, and he has one of the brightest futures of anyone playing under center right now in the world.
Marcus Mariota is going to become the new wave of NFL quarterbacks.
From the island of Hawaii, Mariota quickly picked up Chip Kelly’s offense at Oregon last year, leading the Ducks to a Fiesta Bowl victory while amassing over 3,000 yards of total offense and 37 touchdowns – as a redshirt freshman.
Kelly is gone, but Mariota already has NFL scouts drooling on their laptops as he will be eligible to enter the draft next spring.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals
Much like the previously mentioned Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater will play this upcoming season for free in college.
Bridgewater was considered one of the premier quarterbacks coming out of college, and as a Miami native, it seemed obvious that he would head to “The U.”
But, Bridgewater spurned Miami and went north, landing at Louisville for head coach Charlie Strong.
In two seasons, he has turned himself into an effective passer, completing nearly 67-percent of his throws last year in leading the Cardinals to a Sugar Bowl victory over the Florida Gators – a team ranked No. 1 in pass efficiency defense entering the game.