Spurlock, Randall have big shoes to fill

Miami's starting job is Brock Berlin's to lose. But the leash won't be long if he doesn't show improvement.

Updated: August 31, 2004, 11:14 AM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
A recent trend in the NFL has seen teams second-guess the idea of building a franchise around a quarterback. With teams reaching and even winning Super Bowls with retreads (Trent Dilfer), former Arena League standouts (Kurt Warner), sixth-round picks like (Tom Brady) and undrafted free agents (Jake Delhomme), many front offices are electing to use their money to build around the quarterback position.

Without a salary cap to work under, that will never be the case in college football, where quarterback play is still at a premium. Without fail, each new season brings questions about the game's most important position. Who will replace the previous season's top signal callers? Is this the year that certain players finally play to their potential?

While the issue is certainly not a new one, it seems there are more questions across the country surrounding the quarterback position than in recent history. One reason can be attributed to the strong 2004 NFL class of quarterbacks, which saw four members taken in the first round and 17 overall in the seven-round process. Another problem is that several high-profile teams are simply rolling the dice with talented, but previously inconsistent and underachieving, performers.

The following is a look at the quarterbacks who will be most scrutinized for their play in 2004. The ones that rise to the challenge should put their teams in position to contend for conference titles and/or significant bowl bids. The ones who don't are likely to be held responsible for unmet expectations.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer