No Snap Decision Needed

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April 23, 2001
No Snap Decision Needed

Michael Vick? Gone. Drew Henson? Gone, too. On the surface, it would seem losing both Vick and Henson would deal a severe blow to the Texans’ first-ever draft plans. Both were highly-touted talents with sky’s-the-limit potential. And both played quarterback, realistically, the hardest piece of the puzzle to find. But other than those intangible qualities, neither brought any guarantees to the table, and they were far from being the only talents likely to be available. Assuming you don’t mind waiting a bit.

The good majority of the left-over talent are young, unproven underclassmen with enormous upsides, which is fine, since Houston will likely be picking at the top of the 2003 draft as well. (Not to mention, the 2004 draft…)

Perhaps the most polished underclassmen is Miami’s Ken Dorsey, who’s enormous talent is surpassed only by his uncanny knack for winning the big game.

Last year, Dorsey threw 9 TD’s and only 2 INT’s against four top 10 opponents, helping the Hurricanes to a #2 finish atop both polls. As he enters just his junior season, he has 16 starts already (including two bowl games) and, barring injury, will add at least 11 more tune-ups this year. He’s a smart quarterback, very composed, with good height and an accurate arm. His new coach, Larry Coker, absolutely raves about his mental toughness, and compares him favorably to Jim Kelly and two former Miami Heisman Trophy winners, Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torreta. Dorsey’s a leading favorite to join them on the wall of the Downtown Athletic Club this year.

A potential darkhorse is USC’s Carson Palmer. He has prototypical NFL size (6’5", 220) and skills, but, after missing most of 1999 with an injury, looked lost in 2000, stalling his developement and pushing him off most radar screens. Things could change drastically in 2001. The Trojans have hired renowned offensive coordinator Norm Chow away from NC State. Prior to his stint with the Wolfpack, Chow was an assistant at BYU, where he coached, among others, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco.

And now he gets to mold Palmer, who was once described by his high school coach as having Troy Aikman’s size, John Elway’s strength and Dan Marino’s release. He has 20 starts behind him, including five as a freshman. And prior to his injury, Palmer, who will be a fourth-year junior in 2001, was living up to the hype, completing 63% of his passes as a starter (in 213 attempts), with 10 TD’s and 7 INT’s. Last year, though, his completion percentage fell drastically (55%), and he threw 18 INT’s to only 16 TD’s as the team collapsed under since-fired head coach Paul Hackett.

Looking down the road, way down the road — there’s Eli Manning. Eli, Archie’s son and Peyton’s brother, was one of the top rated QB’s to ever come out of high school in 1998, and settled on his dad’s alma mater of Ole Miss, showing right off the bat, at the very least, the kid has guts to try and fill Archie’s enormous shoes. It’s a been a rocky start thus far (an arrest for public intoxication was his only accomplishment during his freshman year), but with starter Romaro Miller graduating, Manning should get his shot to play full-time in 2001; granted, minus Deuce McAllister. He’s still a bit immature, but also just 20 years old. He needs to improve mentally, which would go a long way to quelling concerns over his accuracy. He has a ways to go, but loads of talent to build on.

So, too, it seems, do the Texans.

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