Buc Quarterback Vinny Testaverde entered 1990 as one of the NFL's most perplexing performers. He was a Heisman Trophy winner and the first player chosen in the '87 draft, but the most discussed aspects of his three years as a pro have been his inconsistency and his periods of horrible play.
SI asked the Elias Sports Bureau to find the quarterbacks whose early careers were most similar to Testaverde's. The answer was stunning. Of the six signal callers whose numbers were the closest to Testaverde's, three of them—Jim Plunkett (1971), Steve Bartkowski ('75) and John Elway ('83)—were the first players chosen in their respective drafts.
"They [Plunkett, Bartkowski, Elway] went to teams that had problems, and we had problems, too," says Testaverde. "But this year, because people around me are better, I'll be better."
Elias compared Testaverde's numbers in seven passing categories with those of every quarterback ever to play in the NFL. Here are the six quarterbacks, listed in order of how closely their careers resembled Vinny's:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]