Eventually, once they find out who this kid is, once they are able to pick him out of a lineup, the fans of Tampa Bay are going to fall in love with Mike Glennon. • Odds are, it will happen long before Glennon earns it. • Picture it now. He will stand there in his cap, waiting and watching, as Josh Freeman throws an incompletion. And the fans will cheer for Glennon. He will take his place beside offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, and Freeman will throw an interception. And the fans will write sonnets to him. He will pace down the sideline, and Freeman will settle for a field goal. And the fans will throw their hands into the air and announce it is Glennon's turn. • By then, you will be telling your buddies how you knew about Glennon's potential all the time. • This happens everywhere, of course. When it comes to quarterbacks, fans always love the other guy.
There is no purer relationship in sports than the one between the stands and the untested quarterback. (Later, when the player gets into a game, the grades may change.)
And so, when Glennon shows up this weekend with his fellow rookies at One Buc Place, the affair will begin. It doesn't matter how many times coach Greg Schiano tells people that this is Freeman's year. It doesn't matter how much Glennon has to learn. They will pull for Glennon to fire the cannons.
It's odd because when Glennon was drafted in the third round last week, there was a large "huh?" factor. Oh, everyone knew the Bucs might take a quarterback. But this quarterback? Matt Barkley, maybe. Ryan Nassib, perhaps. Bigger names with more frequently viewed highlights.
But Glennon, the tall (6-61/2), lanky quarterback from North Carolina State? Who had him in the pool? When it comes to quarterbacks, most of us judge them by familiarity, and it is fair to say the Bucs didn't haul Glennon off of a trophy stand.
The thing is, Glennon may be better than we think. Certainly, his being drafted by the Bucs should not have been such a surprise. A lot of people had a lot of praise for him. It's just that your eyes kind of glassed over when you read his name.
On the other hand, Greg Cosell of NFL Films came away impressed.
"I like Glennon,'' Cosell said Tuesday. "When I watch college quarterbacks, I always look at the traits and characteristics it takes to play in the NFL. When I look at Glennon, I see a number of those traits.
"The coaches at N.C. State are the same ones who coached Matt Ryan at Boston College. They will tell you that Glennon and Ryan are very similar players. The (Joe) Flacco comparisons don't hold water because Glennon isn't at that level of arm strength.
"I like him better than Geno Smith (the West Virginia product taken by the Jets in the second round). I wouldn't have been surprised if Glennon had been drafted late in the first round.''
It wasn't just Cosell who was impressed, however. A lot of people connected Glennon with the top quarterbacks in the draft. It just got lost in a draft where everyone praises everyone.
ESPN's Jon Gruden suggested Glennon was the best passer in the draft. "You can make all the throws,'' Gruden told Glennon.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock said Glennon had first-round arm talent.
Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network called Glennon "a franchise quarterback.''
Even ESPN's Mel Kiper joined in … at first. Now, Kiper is a chameleon whose preferences change dramatically — as the offseason goes along. But back in December, he said Glennon was the best quarterback of the bunch. He predicted a first-round draft position for him. He soured somewhat on Glennon by the end, one assumes because Glennon didn't complete a pass in March.
The point is that Glennon wasn't quite the forehead-smacking choice that some made him out to be. Granted, Glennon has a lot to prove. But wouldn't you say that about any quarterback in this draft?
"At the end of the day, he is a pocket passer with functional mobility,'' Cosell said. "He can sit on his back foot and throw with velocity. I think you have to be able to do that in the NFL. He's willing to pull the trigger on stick throws into tight windows. You have to do that in the NFL.
"Are there things he needs to work on? Yes. He needs to quicken everything. His drop. His set. He needs to be quicker. He needs more work. But I like him.''
It should be said, of course, that this is still Freeman's team, and being popular isn't the same as being productive. But this is going to be interesting because in Freeman's time, there has never really been another guy. He followed Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson into the huddle as a rookie, so no one was going to call for those guys to come back. Last year, the backup was Dan Orlovsky. Same thing.
This year, however, there will be a fresh batch of potential looking over Freeman's shoulder. If Freeman isn't very good, then Glennon will be very popular.
He has not completed a pass yet. Keep that in mind. He has not faced down a rusher or sought his third receiver or had a defensive lineman's arm club his face mask.
It doesn't matter what you think of him now, in other words. It matters what you think after he plays.
If Freeman is good enough, that may be a while.