When to pull the trigger on your quarterback

Tony Romo shouldn't go in the first round (unless you play in a league with owners from the Lone Star state).
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Bringing pages upon pages of player rankings to the draft will not tell you when to draft the player, it will only tell you in what order to draft them.

Knowing that Tony Romo is the third-best quarterback behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning doesn't mean you know whether to pick the Dallas QB at the end of the first round, at the start of the second round or whether you should wait until the third-round for a quarterback who will give you "Romo-like" numbers, but allow you to draft a stronger player at another position first.

I'm here to fix the problem.

Today will be the first in a series of articles that will cover the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker and defensive teams and give you a better idea of when to "pull the trigger." When to write your starting quarterback's name on the card and send it to the Commissioner.

Of course no list is perfect in that leagues use different scoring methods, but the article should give you a starting point from which you may adjust for your particular needs.

The first two quarterbacks are pretty easy to categorize. Brady and Manning will be gone in the first round and if you want one of them this will be your only chance.

Now comes the harder part and it's why some people are perennially bringing home the trophy and some are not.

Romo, shouldn't go in the first round (unless you play in a league with owners from the Lone Star state), but he will be drafted soon after. If you really want the 2002 Walter Payton Award winner, you will have to be in the first half of the second round or trade up into that portion of the draft.

But there is a better option than using an early second-round pick on Romo. You could pass on Romo, draft a solid running back or top-notch wide receiver and pick Drew Brees in the third round. Brees should get you almost as many points as Romo and because you showed great restraint, you end up with a better player at another position.

In 2007, Romo threw for 4,211 yards with 36 TD passes and 19 interceptions. Brees' numbers are quite comparable as he threw for more yards, 4,428, with 28 TD passes and 18 interceptions. That included a horrible beginning to the season in which he had just one TD pass and nine picks in the first four games. That kind of start is unlikely to happen again.

If you take Brady, Manning, Romo or Brees you are set, barring injury, at the position. You will start them every week regardless of opponent.

Which brings us to the next tier of quarterbacks. This group includes Carson Palmer, Derek Anderson and Matt Hasselbeck. They can be outstanding at times, but unlike the top-four, also have off weeks where they will hurt your team. They will be drafted between Rounds 4-6, although if there is a "run" on quarterbacks they could all come out at once.

If you have already drafted Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmanzadeh or Braylon Edwards, they may be a little more valuable to you and you might draft them a little earlier, but otherwise stick with the plan.

Behind them are Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler. They are Round 7 or 8 picks. In the past they have had good seasons, but for various reasons they are inconsistent and you will have to pick and choose when to start them.

Roethlisberger is in an interesting situation. He has two very good receivers (Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward), but is on a team that thinks "run-first." They drafted a running back in the first round (Rashard Mendenhall) to go along with Willie Parker. "Big Ben" threw for a career-high 32 TDs in 2007, but never before had thrown more than 18 in a season. Unless you believe he has blossomed into a superstar, you should expect him to return to his former level.

If McNabb could stay healthy for an entire season, he would be in the second- tier of quarterbacks, because his coach loves to throw the football. But the last time the Eagles quarterback played 15 or more games was 2004 and his heir apparent (Kevin Kolb) is waiting in the wings should he start out slowly.

Bulger would also be a "second-tier" guy if this was 2004 and he had a healthy Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce combining for 183 catches for 2,664 yards and 16 TDs. But alas, this is 2008, Bruce is in San Francisco and Holt has struggled with knee and leg problems for the last two years.

Eli Manning had a great run in the playoffs to help win last year's Super Bowl, but in fantasy terms he is not a great quarterback yet. Only twice did he throw for more than two TDs in a game, opening day against Dallas and Week 6 in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the "other" Manning threw two-or-more interceptions on six occasions.

Cutler will likely be without his No.1 receiver, Brandon Marshall, for at least part of the season and has a coach that can turn any running back into a 1,000-yard rusher. If Cutler is your starter, you will need to have a very strong squad surrounding him, but that should be no problem since you have used your first seven picks elsewhere, right?

Want to save all your high draft choices and still have a solid year at the quarterback position?

Try Philip Rivers. With Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and a full season of Chris Chambers to throw to he has a huge upside, yet he is not getting any attention in mock drafts. And don't forget that when he throws that little swing pass to Ladainian Tomlinson, you always have a chance that "LT" will take it 80 yards for the touchdown.

You should now have a much better idea where your favorite quarterback will be picked, leaving you better able to get the most value from your picks on Draft Day.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.
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