When it comes to creating a football roster, it is hard to argue against quarterback being the most important player on a football team. A quarterback can lead an offense to points and it can also cover up short comings on defense as well as special teams. If you don’t believe that, look at what Aaron Rodgers has done for the Green Bay Packers in recent history. So when the Alliance of American Football conducted their first protect or pick quarterback draft it drew the attention of many football junkies. Some of the names called on November 27th were familiar to football fans, some were not. The Alliance of American Football will kick off their inaugural season in February. So with quarterback being so important to a football team, we thought it would be fun to get to know the players who will be leading their teams.
Looking at the Quarterbacks of the Alliance of American Football
The Alliance of American Football will have eight teams for their inaugural season. The Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Orlando Apollos, Memphis Express, Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, and San Diego Fleet will all take the field in February. These teams will be filled with players hoping to make their way back to the NFL. Quarterbacks especially will be looking to use the Alliance of American Football as a springboard to achieving their NFL dreams. Here are the quarterbacks for each team and a little background for some of them.
San Diego Fleet: Josh Johnson, Mike Bercovici, Philip Nelson, and Alex Ross
Fleet head coach Mike Martz ran a very complicated offense when he was in charge of the St. Louis Rams. So when looking at quarterbacks, Martz felt it was important to get a veteran quarterback who has the best chance of running his offense.
Josh Johnson has played for 12 different NFL teams. He also had a stint in the defunct United Football League with the Sacramento Mountain Lions. He is the type of veteran quarterback that Martz wants leading the Fleet. That is why Martz and the Fleet protected Johnson with the first overall pick.
However, there is a good chance that Johnson might never play a down in the Alliance of American Football. Shortly after being protected by the Fleet, Johnson was signed by the Washington Redskins. While Johnson has stated that he wants to play for Fleet, there is a good chance that he might not.
That will leave Bercovici, Nelson, and Ross battling for the starting job. Bercovici is no stranger to the west coast, he played for Arizona State in College. Nelson was a highly regarded recruit for the University of Minnesota. But after he was arrested for his part in a fight in Mankato Minnesota, Nelson ended up playing for East Carolina.
Nelson might be the leader if Johnson doesn’t play this season. When Martz was the head coach for one of the teams in the NFLPA bowl, Nelson was his quarterback. Nelson impressed Martz during that game and could be the Fleet starting quarterback when the season begins.
San Antonio Commanders: Dustin Vaughan, Dalton Strum, and Marquise Williams
Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston stuck with local products for two of his quarterbacks during the Alliance of American Football’s first draft. With the fourth overall pick, Johnston protected Dustin Vaughan, a product from West Texas A&M. Vaughan has spent time with four different NFL franchises. In 2013, Vaughan’s senior season, he threw for single season record 5,401 yards and 53 touchdowns. He was a standout at the division two level.
Strum should be right at home playing in the Alamo Dome. He went to school right in San Antonio at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Williams played his ball at North Carolina. While playing for the Tar Heels he was a dual threat.
Salt Lake Stallions: Josh Woodrum, Austin Allen, B.J. Daniels, and Matt Linehan
Stallions head coach Dennis Erickson once coached the mighty University of Miami Hurricanes. While in charge of the “U”, he had a penchant for airing it out. It is presumed he will do the same with the Stallions.
With their first pick, they protected Woodrum. Woodrum played his college football at Liberty University. He started four years while at Liberty. He went undrafted in 2016 and has been a part of six different NFL teams.
Woodrum’s toughest competition will come from Allen and Daniels. Allen was a standout quarterback with the University of Arkansas. Although some scouts were high on him prior to the 2018 NFL draft, he went undrafted and was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although he is short for the position, he has above average accuracy.
Daniels is an exceptional athlete. He played at the University of South Florida. While there, he threw for over 8,000 career yards and rushed for over 2,000 yards. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft. He spent time with five different NFL teams and even played wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
Orlando Apollos: Garrett Gilbert, Austin Appleby, Kevin Anderson, and Stephen Morris
Steve Spurrier is going to try to bring the “fun ‘n’ gun” offense to the Apollos. His style of football made him one of the most successful college coaches while at the University of Florida. Spurrier asks a lot of his quarterbacks in his offense. His quarterbacks will need to have a thick skin. Spurrier expects perfection from them.
Gilbert, the Apollos top pick, has illustrated he has a thick skin. He played at the University of Texas before transferring to SMU. Gilbert is like a lot of Spurrier’s quarterbacks. A pocket passer with an arm that can make all the throws.
Out of the rest of the quarterbacks on the Apollos roster, the next best option would be Morris. Morris is used to playing in the state of Florida. He was once the starting quarterback for the University of Miami. As a professional, he has spent time with six different NFL teams.
Memphis Express: Troy Cook, Christian Hackenberg, Brandon Silvers, and Zach Mettenberger
When head coach Mike Singletary named Hal Mumme his offensive coordinator it seemed like an odd marriage. Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears, played in an era where ground and pound was the norm for offenses. Mumme’s offense is far from ground and pound.
Mumme made a name for himself implementing a shotgun pass heavy offense. He has been all around in college football. As a head coach and an offensive coordinator. It will be interesting how Singletary and Mumme’s relationship will go throughout the Alliance of American Football season.
With their first pick, the Express protected quarterback Cook. He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee-Martin. In his college career, he played 21 games, threw 29 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Although his stats aren’t very impressive, he did play in a spread passing attack, which will be similar to what Mumme will run with the Express.
Cook will face some very tough competition for the starting job. Hackenberg and Mettenberg are well known names. Hackenberg was a second round pick by the New York Jets. His failures with the Jets, along with the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders are well known. This might be his last chance to prove he can play professional football.
Mettenberger is a former sixth round pick of the Tennessee Titans. He brings with him ten professional starts in the NFL. It would be quite an upset if Cook can hold off both Hackenberg and Mettenberger. If Hackenberg can overcome his past, we expect him to be the starter for the Express.
Birmingham Iron: Luis Perez, K.D. Humphries, Marcus McDade, and Blake Sims
Defensive minded head coach Tim Lewis named Steve Logan offensive coordinator. Logan has been a head coach in college and assistant in the NFL as well as NFL Europe. Logan runs a pro-style offense, something he did when he was head coach at East Carolina when he had Jeff Blake as his starting quarterback.
It appears Perez will be running Logan’s offense. The Iron selected him with their first pick. Perez was a stand-out quarterback with Texas A&M Commerce. In his last season at Texas A&M Commerce, he had an eye popping 46 touchdown passes. Perez is a player that we will have our eye on. We believe him and Logan will have a very high power offense.
Sims is a former University of Alabama quarterback. He will be very popular with the locals because of his time at Alabama. But we believe it is doubtful Sims will see much time as the Iron quarterback. Sims wasn’t much of a passer in college and Logan will be looking for somebody who can throw the ball.
Atlanta Legends: Aaron Murray, Justin Holman, Dadi Nicolas, Peter Pujals, and Matt Simms
The Legends might be the team to watch, especially on offense, in the Alliance of American Football. Legends have former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress running the show. His offensive coordinator is former standout NFL quarterback Michael Vick.
Murray should be the Legends starting quarterback when the season starts. Murray was protected with the second overall pick. Murray is a legend in Georgia. He was one of the most productive quarterbacks in University of Georgia history. While at Georgia, he threw for 121 touchdowns and just 41 interceptions. If Murray produces like he did at Georgia, he should be an early favorite to be the league MVP for the Alliance of American Football.
Also on the Legends roster is Simms. Simms is the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. Simms has been on three different NFL rosters. If Murray were to be injured, Simms would be a very good insurance policy.
Arizona Hotshots: Trevor Knight, Jack Heneghan, Quinn McQueary, and John Wolford
It isn’t known who will be head coach Rick Neuheisel’s offensive coordinator for this season. Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was slated to be the offensive coordinator, but he was hired as Liberty University’s head coach. It wouldn’t be surprising if Neuheisel handles the offensive play calling duties when the season starts.
It appears that Knight, a former starter for Oklahoma University and Texas A&M, will be the starting quarterback. The Hotshots selected him with the number six overall pick.
Knight will be one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the Alliance of American Football. Knight has great speed and is known for his scrambling ability. The big question with Knight is if Neuheisel can improve Knight’s accuracy. He struggled during college with that. If he can harness that, he could get some looks by NFL teams.
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