Marc Daniels: Which Florida Program Has Produced The Best NFL QBs


Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Oklahoma v Florida

Kyle Trask may be a first round draft pick when the NFL Draft comes around. The journey for Trask to this position is amazing considering he backed up D'Eriq King in high school and sat on the Gators bench until Feleipe Franks suffered an injury. From there, Trask was a perfect fit for Dan Mullen's offense and then went on post to great numbers and suddenly he went from an afterthought as a pro prospect to someone who can be a first round selection.

The NFL career of Kyle Trask is unknown and much depends on who takes him and what opportunity he gets. But if history tells us anything about quarterbacks from the state of Florida, then he's not likely to go on to become a great player in the NFL.

We decided to look back at the last 25 years and the list of quarterbacks to play at Florida, Florida State, Miami and UCF. 

You will find lots of wins, a few national titles, some incredible highlights and plenty of impressive stats. But when it comes to producing great NFL stars? That's a stretch.

First, we weren't looking for players who had great college careers. We looked at whether the college career led to a great, average or bad NFL career. 

In Gainesville, Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen have put out some great players, or at least guys like Trask who put up big numbers. But prepare to not be overwhelmed.

Danny Wuerffel was a great college quarterback. He was a four-year starter and threw 114 touchdown passes. But he started only 10 NFL games and went 4-6 in those games and never became a decent backup.

Jesse Palmer played well in Gainesville, but led to a short NFL career before Palmer became a TV star that still is playing today.

Rex Grossman took the Bears to the Super Bowl but was a starter for just two seasons and for his career, he threw 56 TD passes and 60 interceptions.

Tim Tebow may be in the debate of greatest college player but despite the hype in college he was not thought to be a great pro and he played just three seasons in the NFL and was gone.

The Gators' list also includes Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, who have started NFL games and even Will Grier is on the Carolina Panthers roster, but none of those three look like NFL greatness lies ahead.

What about Florida State? Well, let's take a look. 

Danny Kannell was a solid player at FSU, and the Giants drafted him and started 20 games in New York but never became a consistent starter.

Chris Weinke won a Heisman in 2000 but he became FSU's starter at age 25. By the time the Carolina Panthers drafted Weinke in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft, he was 29 years old. He would start his rookie year and then make only five more starts over the next four years before retiring from the game with 15 career touchdowns and 26 picks.

Christian Ponder was a two-year starter with the Vikings after leaving FSU. He was 14-21-1 as an NFL starter.

EJ Manuel started 10 games for the Bills in 2013. He was out of the NFL four years later with a total of 18 career starts.

Jameis Winston is the best name so far. Whatever a Bucs fan may think of the former number one overall pick, Winston started five years in Tampa. He was 28-42 as a starter in Tampa but his stats at least are those of someone who played well at times. Winston has thrown for 121 touchdowns along with 88 picks. But Jameis at least was the guy for the Bucs for five seasons before they decided to not offer him a new contract and turned to Tom Brady.

Well, surely the great Miami Hurricanes list is better, isn't it? The Canes have won national titles over the last 25 years but hard times hit Miami for a decade-plus run. And their names will trigger many college memories, but as for the NFL- well let's look.

Craig Erickson was great in college before the Bucs took him in the fourth round of the 1992 draft. He did start for two seasons in Tampa. He started a total of 36 games in the NFL and posted 14 wins.

Gino Torretta? He appeared in two NFL games. 

Just for kicks, let me run through some names who started for Miami after Torretta: Frank Costa, Ryan Collins, Ryan Clement, Scott Covington and Kenny Kelly.

Ken Dorsey was a very good college player but was a 7th round draft pick and started 13 games and went 2-11 in the NFL.

Back to that list of Miami starters and pick it up after Dorsey: Derrick Crudup, Brock Berlin. Kyle Wright, Kirby Freeman, Robert Marve, Jacoby Harris, Stephen Morris, Brad Kaaya, Malik Rosier and N'Kosi Perry. Not kidding, those guys started games at one of the great programs in college football.

At UCF, there are two names to bring up. Daunte Culpepper and Blake Bortles.

Daunte Culpepper was a first round pick of the Vikings in 1999, He became their starter in 2000 and had a five year run as a starter and posted some big numbers. He led the league in touchdown passes and passing yards for a season each. He threw a lot of passes to Randy Moss and Cris Carter and was a run-pass threat during that time in Minnesota. He was 41-59 as a starter but he did throw for 149 career touchdowns.

Which brings us to Blake Bortles and his NFL career. He was taken 3rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles' problem may have been the Jaguars constantly changed his offensive coaches and never played in the same season for more than two seasons. He was a half away from leading the Jags to a Super Bowl in 2017. For his career, Bortles is 24-49 as a starter. He has 103 career TD passes with 75 picks and although on a roster when 2020 ended, his future is up in the air.

And that's it. Over the last 25 years those four programs have had great college quarterbacks but few great NFL careers.

If you had to rank them you likely would go Culpepper, Winston and.........Bortles. 

For a state that produces so many great college players, including many that go on to all-pro and even hall of fame careers, we don't produce many quarterbacks who have long and successful careers. Maybe Kyle Trask is about to change that, although history is not on his side.

Final thought: Hammers were used as weapons in the 1300 and 1400s. The hammer was often used to create and build weapons then used by soldiers in combat

Photo Credit: Getty Images


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