Top Tier NFL Quarterbacks from small College Worlds

By: Raymond Ayala

Ever since Kurt Warner went from a grocery store clerk to a Super Bowl MVP in 2000, the NFL has been flooded with guys who have come from smaller colleges to become starting NFL quarterbacks. While guys like Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Andre Ware, Akili Smith, and Alex Smith have gone from big college programs to 1st round picks in the NFL draft, all of them have one thing in common. That thing in common is failure. NFL teams are now starting to look more at DI-AA programs, as well as smaller DI schools, in order to find their new starting quarterbacks. While some teams have gone for the 1st round quarterback, others have been patient and the patience has paid off. Here are a list of quarterbacks that have or could have a fantasy impact on your team this week.

Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) – College: Delaware – After not getting playing time at DI school Pittsburgh, Flacco decided to transfer to DI-AA Delaware, in order to gain more experience. While he faced lackluster opponents, he ended up becoming a leader on the field, which in turn gave the Ravens a reason to select him with their 1st round pick. While most of the guys on this list are not drafted in the 1st round, Flacco is a perfect example of teams knowing that they can find just as good of a talent at Delaware, as they could from USC, Ohio St., or any other big time college program. Flacco has rewarded his fantasy owners this year already, with 839 passing yards and 6 touchdowns in three games.

Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys) – College: Eastern Illinois – Tony Romo went undrafted out of college, and this was to no ones surprise since most people have not heard of Eastern Illinois. Well Romo has single-handedly put that school on the map, after making the most of an opportunity and step in for an injured Drew Brees. The rest is history, and this once undrafted quarterback is now the happy recipient of a multi-million dollar extension. While his INT’s may cause some concern, Romo typically improves as the season continues. Look for his touchdowns to gradually rise as the Cowboys face some easier competition down the road.

Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) – College: USC – I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is a USC alumnus doing on this list of underdogs? Well Cassel may have had an even more tough path to the NFL, thanks to the fact that he did not start one game during his college career. Cassel backed up Bengals quarterback, Carson Palmer, and when Palmer left, Cassel back up Matt Leinart as well. Needless, to say even though Leinart was the better college quarterback, Cassel has been the better NFL quarterback thus far. When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went down with a knee injury, Cassel filled in admirably and was rewarded just like Tony Romo, with a boatload of cash. Though Cassel has yet to get off on the right foot this season, just wait until Dwayne Bowe is healthy. Once Bowe is 100%, Cassel-Bowe should be tandem no team wants to reckon with.

Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers) – College: Louisiana-Lafayette – While he went to a DI college, the sun belt conference isn’t exactly the SEC. This was the main reason Jake Delhomme was not drafted out of college. Delhomme fought hard and found his way onto the Carolina Panthers with solid outings that eventually gave the Panthers franchise their first Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately for Delhomme it seems like his days are now numbered in the NFL, and another undrafted QB, Matt Moore might be the better start in fantasy football.

Josh Johnson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – College: University of San Diego – I had to make sure I wrote that correctly so no one makes the mistake. The starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is my alma mater’s own Josh Johnson. While playing for the Toreros, Johnson set numerous NCAA passing records, as well as rushing records. He was also named the MVP of the College All-Star game known as the Shrine Game. Even though he comes from a small school, the NFL is about to get rocked with a guy that has better foot speed than Michael Vick did in his hay day. A bold prediction yes, but just go to youtube and type in Josh Johnson football and just watch in amazement. Johnson gets the start this week against the Washington Redskins, so if you have Marc Bulger or Chad Pennington on your bench, make sure to pick up Josh Johnson as a replacement.

Kurt Warner (Arizona Cardinals) – College: Northern Iowa – He started the trend before it was cool to go undrafted and start in the NFL. Call him Mr. Adversity, because this guy went from undrafted, to the Arena Football League and then after the AFL season ended he was bagging groceries. The lowly St. Louis Rams gave him a chance, and he thrived in his rookie season, winning the Super Bowl MVP as well as the NFL MVP. Warner currently plays for the Cardinals, after leading them to a Super Bowl berth last season. His time seems to be numbered, though he is a good start against teams, which cannot defend the pass. Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars about that.