Knowledge of game, maturity factor into decision

Several factors come into play as a team decides the best time to play its young QB, Rick Spielman writes.

Updated: October 5, 2005, 1:03 PM ET
By Rick Spielman | ESPN Insider
Developing a young, franchise-type quarterback might be the most important task a football organization faces. After investing a first-round draft choice in a young player who will be perceived in some circles as the savior of the franchise, an NFL team must figure out how to ensure his first few seasons turn out more like those of Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger than those of J.P. Losman, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller and even David Carr.

There are different philosophies on how to groom a young quarterback, and the results of each -- some good, some not so good -- can be seen in those players listed above. Some coaches believe in letting guys play early and learn on the job. Others want them to watch, listen and learn from the sideline. Most would prefer not to play a young quarterback until he truly is ready, which could be as early as the opening game or sometime later in that first season or even the following year.

But with the financial investment the organization has in a young quarterback, the team can begin to feel pressure to get him on the field.

Rick Spielman

NFL Insider analyst
Rick Spielman joined ESPN Insider as an NFL analyst after a five-year stint in the front office of the Miami Dolphins, first as Vice President of Player Personnel and later as General Manager. He also has worked in the front offices of the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.