By Kareem Yasin and Dinn Mann
It’s the kind of occasion that simulates a quarterback’s adrenaline rush during a game-winning drive.
The Alliance of American Football is conducting its inaugural “Protect or Pick” QB Draft at 8ET/5PT tonight on CBS Sports Network, live from Las Vegas.
More than 50 aspiring pro quarterbacks progressed through the scouting process after tryouts, combines and an elite camp to reach this point. A couple handfuls of those players are attending the draft, each hoping to become faces of franchises when the spring league’s historic first season begins the weekend after the upcoming Super Bowl.
The site of the QB Draft is Las Vegas’ HyperX Esports Arena, where attendees will wait for their chance to join host Hines Ward, head of player relations for The Alliance, on stage as the unique process unfolds.
“The quarterback position is critical to a team’s success, so we knew the importance of making sure each Alliance team had a top-tier quarterback at the helm,” said Alliance co-founder Bill Polian, explaining how league coaches, front office executives and CEO/co-founder Charlie Ebersol collectively agreed on the format.
The league’s “Protect or Pick” draft approach begins with a round in which teams have the option of claiming (“protecting”) a player for whom that team had first dibs based on geographic proximity. The alternative is to “pick” a player from another region if, say, a competitor’s territory had a surplus of talent or a prospect more specifically aligned with a coach’s style of play. Regardless of the way a team chooses to go, each of the 8 teams will complete the first round with a QB to call its own.
The intrigue only grows from there as rival teams conceivably will pounce on quarterbacks that for whatever reason became available to push for starting jobs in regions beyond their first-dib footprints.
The Draft, with live analysis from NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, will last 4 rounds, with teams protecting/picking in the following order:
- San Diego Fleet
- Birmingham Iron
- Arizona Hotshots
- Orlando Apollos
- Atlanta Legends
- Salt Lake Stallions
- Memphis Express
- San Antonio Commanders
If a team opts to pick instead of protect, it stays in this order after all who’ve protected voice those decisions. The draft order was determined with each team pulling a number from a helmet. The second, third and fourth rounds have no protect element, so it’s purely picking after Round 1.
The order goes as listed above in Round 2. It reverses in Round 3, then snakes back in the fourth round.
Check back for updates as the drumroll builds throughout today’s festivities, which also include unveilings of uniforms for each of the eight teams: the Arizona Hotshots (coached by Rick Neuheisel), Atlanta Legends (Brad Childress), Birmingham Iron (Tim Lewis), Memphis Express (Mike Singletary), Orlando Apollos (Steve Spurrier), Salt Lake Stallions (Dennis Erickson), San Antonio Express (Mike Riley) and San Diego Fleet (Mike Martz).
ROUND 1: Protect or Pick
San Diego Fleet, Atlanta Legends, Memphis Express, and San Antonio Commanders elected to protect.
- San Diego Fleet protects: Josh Johnson
- Atlanta Legends protects: Aaron Murray
- Memphis Express protects: Troy Cook
- San Antonio Commanders protects: Dustin Vaughan
Birmingham Iron, Arizona Hotshots, Orlando Apollos, and Salt Lake Stallions elected to pick.
- Birmingham Iron picks: Luis Perez
- Arizona Hotshots picks: Trevor Knight
- Orlando Apollos picks: Garrett Gilbert
- Salt Lake Stallions picks: Josh Woodrum
- San Diego Fleet picks: Mike Bercovici
- Birmingham Iron picks: Blake Sims
- Arizona Hotshots picks: John Wolford
- Orlando Apollos picks: Stephen Morris
- Atlanta Legends picks: Matt Simms
- Salt Lake Stallions picks: B.J. Daniels
- Memphis Express picks: Christian Hackenberg
- San Antonio Commanders picks: Marquise Williams
- San Antonio Commanders picks: Logan Woodside
- Memphis Express picks: Brandon Silvers
- Salt Lake Stallions picks: Austin Allen
- Atlanta Legends picks: Peter Pujals
- Orlando Apollos picks: Austin Appleby
- Arizona Hotshots picks: Quinn McQueary
- Birmingham Iron picks: Scott Tolzien
- San Diego Fleet picks: Philip Nelson
- San Antonio Commanders picks: Dalton Sturm
- Memphis Express picks: Zach Mettenberger
- Salt Lake Stallions picks: Matt Linehan
- Atlanta Legends picks: Justin Holman
- Orlando Apollos picks: Kevin Anderson
- Arizona Hotshots picks: Jack Heneghan
- Birmingham Iron picks: Alek Torgersen
- San Diego Fleet picks: Alex Ross
That’s the end of our inaugural quarterback draft! The Alliance of American Football kicks off on February 9, 2019. Follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates.