Huard gets chance to make Class of ’99 shine

  • Scott M. Johnson / Pro Football Report
  • Thursday, October 12, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Brock Huard was beginning to feel like that guy. You know the one. Back of the black-and-white yearbook photo, face washed out by time. The guy you didn’t know.

He was beginning to feel like the Fab Five’s Rob Pelinka. The Mariners’ Charles Gipson. Huard was looking as if he might go down in history with guys like Jim Bob Taylor and Scott Lindquist.

Taylor and Lindquist were part of the Class of 1983, the greatest group of quarterbacks ever selected in one NFL draft. But they never did their part to help John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino hold up the banner in the class photo.

As of last week, Huard is beginning to make his humble contribution to what may be an even better crop of quarterbacks: the Class of 1999.

Just 22 games into their NFL careers, the ‘99 quarterbacks have already equaled the Class of ‘83 in terms of starters. The 1983 group had seven quarterbacks make an NFL start – first-rounders Elway, Kelly, Marino, Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien and sixth-round pick Babe Laufenburg.

With Huard, the Class of ‘99 has already matched that total, even though they play a position that typically takes at least three years to master.

If you don’t include the 9,842 yards Kelly threw in his first two seasons with the USFL before he signed on with the Buffalo Bills, the Class of ‘83 combined to throw for 18,708 yards through its second season in the NFL. The top five quarterbacks taken in last year’s draft – Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown – project to a combined total of nearly 24,000 career passing yards by the end of this season. Throw in second-round pick Shaun King and Huard (a third rounder) and that number gets closer to 30,000.

OK, OK. The current crop has a long way to go to reach the achievements of Elway, Marino and Kelly – all probable Hall of Famers in the next few years. But less than a year and a half into their NFL careers, the Class of ‘99 is making quite an early impression.

Cleveland’s Couch started 15 games last season and threw for 2,447 yards, the eighth-highest total ever by an NFL rookie. King took over as Tampa Bay’s starter in Week 11 and led the Buccaneers all the way to the NFC Championship game.

Culpepper made his NFL debut this season, and has made the NFL look easy by drumming up a 94.1 quarterback rating. McNabb has also shown some flashes in his second season that make the Philadelphia Eagles look like they’re set at the position for a long time.

Smith is still trying to find his way, while King and McNown may have taken steps backward, but the group remains on pace to become the greatest set of quarterbacks ever taken.

Where Huard will fit in is still to be determined. His first NFL start last Sunday came after six other contemporaries, marking an earlier debut than two of the members of the class of ‘83 (Kelly and O’Brien, not to mention Laufenburg).

Huard has the arm strength and physical tools to be an NFL starter for years to come, as he showed last week. But he is still very raw, and projecting his future is like throwing darts at the northern star.

Maybe he’ll never be a star, but at least he’s contributing to what could be the greatest draft crop of quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. With all due respects to Jim Bob Taylor.

  • Kickoff: 1:15 p.m.

  • TV/Radio: KIRO-FM (100.7) radio

  • Stars to watch: Colts – QB Peyton Manning ranks fourth in the AFC with a 92.6 quarterback rating and is fourth in the NFL with 11 touchdown passes. RB Edgerrin James is the AFC’s fourth-leading rusher, with 439 yards, and leads the conference in total yards from scrimmage (657). WR Marvin Harrison is fourth in the AFC in receptions (37) and third in yardage (563). Defensive end Chad Bratzke has four sacks this season.

    Seahawks – QB Brock Huard will make his second start after a so-so performance in a 26-3 loss to Carolina last week. RB Ricky Watters is seventh in the NFL with 450 rushing yards, and his yards-per-carry average (4.9) is tops among all AFC running backs. WR Darrell Jackson leads all rookies in receptions (20) and receiving yards (280). DE Lamar King leads the Seahawks with three sacks.

  • Breaking down the game: There are shades of Week 2 in this one, which isn’t entirely bad news for the Seahawks.

    After an embarrassing Week 1 performance at Miami, Seattle bounced back to give the NFL’s best offense quite a test before falling 37-34 at Husky Stadium. This time, the circumstances are similar in that the Seahawks are looking to bounce back from a shoddy performance against a powerful offense.

    For all the accolades coaches and teammates have heaped upon Brock Huard, the Seahawks quarterback must improve on his so-so performance last week. This is one of those games where Seattle will need to score at least 20, maybe 30, points to win.

    Indianapolis’ mediocre defense, especially against the run, might make that possible.

    The Colts’ offense has been less-than-spectacular in recent weeks, but the threesome of Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison can explode on any given week. Seattle has shown cracks in its run and pass defense, which will need to be shored up.

    But the Seahawks have also shown that they can surprise people by playing with the big boys.

  • Pick: Colts, 24-20.

  • Injury report: Colts – DE Bernard Whittington (groin) and LB Ratcliff Thomas (foot) are doubtful; WR Chad Plummer (foot) and CB Tyrone Poole (finger) are questionable; DB Jeff Burris (chest), LB Dwight Hollier (chest), T Adam Meadows (pneumonia) and DB Mustafah Muhammad (teeth) are probable. Seahawks – G Frank Beede (calf), FB Reggie Brown (stinger), G Pete Kendall (stinger) and WR Derrick Mayes (finger) are questionable.

  • Little-known fact: Brock Huard’s debut last week marked the first time in Seahawks history that a quarterback has made his first NFL start and not thrown an interception.

  • Baltimore (5-1) at Washington (4-2), Sunday, 10 a.m.: The battle for bragging rights in Maryland features two of the NFL’s hottest teams. The ‘Skins have been balanced on both sides of the football, even though linebacker LaVar Arrington could be D.C.’s biggest bust since Marion Barry. Speaking of busts, Tony Banks hasn’t gotten the Ravens offense going – meaning one-dimensional Baltimore might be in trouble. Pick: Redskins, 26-9.

  • Oakland (4-1) at Kansas City (3-2), Sunday, 10 a.m.: The only thing more annoying than a Raiders fan is a Raiders fan with something to brag about. The way this division is going, Oakland might run away with the AFC West with a win Sunday. Then again, the Raiders have had big leads before – and no Jason Isringhausen to protect them. Pick: Chiefs, 21-20.

  • Jacksonville (2-4) at Tennessee (4-1), Monday, 6 p.m.: Feelings between these teams have gotten pretty ugly recently, as evidenced by the Titans “Our House” talk following a playoff win in Jacksonville last postseason. Feelings between Jags coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Mark Brunell are even more strained than that. Pick: Titans, 27-24.
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