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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Drew Bledsoe retired Wednesday, ending a 14-year NFL career, so this is as good a time as any to take a look back at the 1993 NFL draft, when the Drew Bledsoe-Rick Mirer debate was one of the major storylines.
Bledsoe, a Washington State product, was your classic drop-back passing prospect: big, strong-armed. Mirer was the better athlete, but supporters like Bill Walsh couldn't wait to see what he could do when he exited Notre Dame's option scheme and entered a professional offense.
PFW's late draft expert Joel Buchsbaum preferred Bledsoe to Mirer. Bledsoe, wrote Buchsbaum in PFW's 1993 Draft Preview, "(t)hrows with more velocity backing away from center, flat-footed or off his back foot than most quarterbacks get stepping into their passes with perfect technique." However, Buchsbaum was less than thrilled with Bledsoe's mechanics. In summation, Buchsbaum wrote that Bledsoe is "(b)etter than Jeff George but not the sure thing Troy Aikman was. Probably will be the first player taken in the draft because he has all the physical tools and awesome upside potential, but he also has more downside potential (due to his technique, lack of experience and inconsistency) than you would like. Is an unorthodox thrower with a great arm and body, and he has a lot to learn."
Mirer, according to Buchsbaum, was a "top competitor" and "excellent athlete" who handled "the pressure of being Notre Dame's starting quarterback." But Buchsbaum believed him to be a project who needed time to develop. Mirer, according to PFW's legendary draft expert, was "as green as grass and must be developed into an NFL passer, with accuracy being the key. If he gets Bill Walsh-type coaching, he could be an outstanding Roger Staubach/Joe Montana type, but with a stronger arm than Montana."
Concluded Buchsbaum, "However, unless he gets to work with a really good QB coach, he could be a major disappointment."
The Patriots chose Bledsoe with the No. 1 overall pick. Seattle, also in need of a quarterback, took Mirer second overall.
Mirer was the '93 Rookie of the Year, but that's where his pro career peaked, and after several stints as a backup, he was out of football by 2005.
Meanwhile, Bledsoe had New England in the postseason by his second season and in Super Bowl XXXI by the end of the '96 season. But by the time the Patriots got back to the Super Bowl after the 2001 season, Bledsoe was on the bench, and Tom Brady was New England's favorite son. Bledsoe moved onto Buffalo and Dallas, but when the Cowboys benched him in favor of Tony Romo last season, it seemed apparent that his days as an NFL starter were over.
Bledsoe is unlikely to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but he had a successful career nonethless, and the Patriots clearly made the right call on Draft Day. And you also have to tip your cap to the Seahawks as well: When it was clear Mirer wasn't a good fit, they dealt him to the Bears for a first-round pick in the '97 draft. Seattle dealt Chicago's pick (No. 11 overall) and second-, third- and fourth-round picks to Atlanta for the No. 3 overall pick and a third-round selection. The third overall selection was used to select Ohio State CB Shawn Springs, who had a fine career with the Seahawks.