Does this year's QB class measure up to best ever?


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The NFL's history has seen several rookie classes of quarterbacks that have revolutionized the game. More often than not, we're only lucky enough to see a couple of QBs - like the 2001 draft class of Michael Vick and Drew Brees - who have a huge impact on the game. However, it's only once in a generation that we see three or more step up and take the league to another level.

This year's rookie draft class is playing at a higher level than any other QB class in league history. Of the five rookie starters - the Colts' Andrew Luck, the Redskins' Robert Griffin III, the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill, the Browns' Brandon Weeden and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson - only two have a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio, and two of them - Luck and Weeden - are on pace for 4,000 yards passing. Could this potentially be the best rookie QB class ever?

That title belongs to the 1983 class. That class saw six QBs chosen in the first round, including No. 1 overall pick John Elway of the Colts, Todd Blackledge of the Chiefs, Jim Kelly of the Bills, Ken O'Brien of the Jets, Tony Eason of the Patriots and Dan Marino of the Dolphins. Four of them made it to the Super Bowl - Elway, Marino, Kelly and Eason - yet only one of them actually won a title (Elway). Meanwhile, four of them made it to the Pro Bowl and three are now in the Hall of Fame. There aren't many NFL Draft QB classes that come close.

The 1957 draft class comes close. John Brodie was the No. 3 overall pick, and he had a great career with the 49ers that lasted into the 1970's. But when you also add Steelers draft pick Len Dawson, who led the Chiefs to two Super Bowls; Eagles pick Sonny Jurgenson, who was one of the top five QBs of the 1960s; and Lions pick Jack Kemp, who led the Bills to two AFL Championships before a long stint as a congressman, you have as impressive a rookie class as there ever has been.

The 1971 class was also noteworthy. It's one of only three to see the top three picks in the draft go to QBs - the Patriots' Jim Plunkett, the Saints' Archie Manning and the Oilers' Dan Pastorini. After struggling for years with the Patriots, Plunkett ended his career as a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Raiders. Manning was a great player on a sorry Saints team, but his sons are certainly making up for his lack of success. And Pastorini had a long, solid career for the Oilers, which included back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in the late '70s. Add Ken Anderson, who had a long career in Cincinnati, including leading them to the Super Bowl in 1981, and Joe Theisman, who led the Redskins to back-to-back Super Bowls in 1982 and 1983, and this class matches up well with any.

The 1983 class was solid in the 1980s, and that success carried the league well into the late 1990s. The possibility of this year's class carrying the league for a long time is there. They have a long way to go, and only time will tell whether these guys will have Hall-of-Fame careers.

Week 11 Picks

Tonight's game

Miami at Buffalo, 9:20 p.m., NFL Network

Buffalo's strong running game will face a difficult challenge in the Dolphins' strong run defense.

Pick: Dolphins

Sunday's games

Tampa Bay at Carolina, 2 p.m., FOX

The Panthers should have trouble scoring on the Bucs' defense.

Pick: Buccaneers

Cleveland at Dallas, 2 p.m., CBS

The Cowboys struggled to beat a weakened Eagles team last week, while the feisty Browns will be playing this game with all of their starters for the first time this season. This game smells of upset to me.

Pick: Browns

Jacksonville at Houston, 2 p.m., CBS

Arian Foster and company should have a field day against the Jaguars' 29th ranked run defense.

Pick: Texans

Green Bay at Detroit, 2 p.m., FOX

Lack of a pass rush will be what does in the Lions in this game.

Pick: Packers

Arizona at Atlanta, 2 p.m., FOX

The Cardinals will be playing the role of sacrificial lamb in this game as the Falcons will take out their frustrations from losing to the Saints.

Pick: Falcons

Cincinnati at Kansas City, 2 p.m., CBS

Given the Bengals' struggles in stopping the run, this could be a closer game than you may think. But the Chiefs' scoring problems make them near un-pickable.

Pick: Bengals

Philadelphia at Washington, 2 p.m., FOX

This should be a battle of rookie QBs as Nick Foles will take over for Michael Vick. But with the Eagles' offensive line problems, Foles will spend too much time peeling himself off the turf.

Pick: Redskins

N.Y. Jets at St. Louis, 2 p.m., CBS

That once-dominant Jets defense is a thing of the past, so look for the Rams to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Pick: Rams

New Orleans at Oakland, 5:05 p.m., FOX

This should be a shootout, and the Saints have been winning a lot of those recently.

Pick: Saints

San Diego at Denver, 5:25 p.m., CBS

These are two teams which depend on their passing attacks, but unlike the Chargers, the Broncos actually play pass defense.

Pick: Broncos

Indianapolis at New England, 5:25 p.m., CBS

As good as Andrew Luck and the Colts have been, I still don't see them being good enough to beat the Pats in Foxboro in November.

Pick: Patriots

Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 9:20 p.m., NBC

With Ben Roethlisberger banged up, look for the Ravens defense to step up and win this game.

Pick: Ravens

Monday night's game

Chicago at San Francisco, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Jay Cutler has a concussion, and even if he recovers, the Niners defense would likely give him one.

Pick: 49ers

Bye week: Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Seattle, Tennessee

- Last Week: 8-4-1; Overall record: 74-59-1

- Kemp Callwood is The V.I. Daily News sports editor. His column appears weekly throughout the NFL season.

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