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The Sky's the Limit
Andre Wadsworth has become the defensive player most coveted by the NFL
Drafting Moss a risk worth taking

Leaf vs. Manning

A Decade of Drafting
A look at each facet of Ryan Leaf's and Peyton Manning's game
Text by Peter King, excerpted from the April 13 issue of Sports Illustrated


It is not a strength for either Manning or Leaf. Former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh thinks today's quarterback should be "more of a 6'2", 208-pound point guard, a Steve Young or a Jake Plummer. Scouts say if you're 6'6" and 245, you'll be able to take a pounding. But remember, a 245-pound passer will get hit twice as much as a mobile passer."

Last year, the mean NFL quarterback rating was 77.2. Of the six quarterbacks 6'5" or taller drafted in the first round since 1970, only Jim Everett (78.6) had or has a career rating that high (chart, below). Game tapes show both Manning and Leaf to be nimble enough when forced out of the pocket, and Leaf's release is especially quick.

Tall Order    If Leaf and Manning make it big in the NFL, they'll reverse a trend. Of the six quarterbacks standing at least 6'5" who have been drafted in the first round since the 1970 merger, only the Patriots' Drew Bledsoe has led his team to a Super Bowl, and none has a career quarterback rating of 80 or better.
Player Draft Team Draft Year Choice Ht. Wt. Starts TDs Ints. QB Rating
Marc Wilson Raiders 1980 15 6'6" 205 60 86 102 67.7
Jim Everett Oilers 1986 3 6'5" 212 153 203 175 78.6
Vinny Testaverde Buccaneers 1987 1 6'5" 227 132 175 183 72.8
Dan McGwire Seahawks 1991 16 6'8" 243 5 2 6 52.3
Drew Bledsoe Patriots 1993 1 6'5" 233 75 108 88 74.9
Kerry Collins Panthers 1995 5 6'5" 240 38 39 49 65.3

Leaf's Case     Both Leaf and Manning put up impressive numbers last year, but based on the NFL formula for computing quarterback ratings, Leaf had the better season.
Player Att. Comp. Comp. % Yards TDs Ints. Rating
Leaf 375 210 .560 3,637 33 10 107.4
Manning 477 287 .602 3,819 36 11 101.1

Photographs by V.J. Lovero (left), John Biever


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