Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Breaking Down the QB Prospects

As I mentioned yesterday, I am not the type to do a mock draft post. There are too many variables, too many trades and too many linemen that all I would be doing is aggregating the mock drafts I’ve seen on other more informed sites and then guessing to fill in the blanks. Do we really know what the Redskins are going to do with the 4th pick? And there is a pretty good chance that what Kansas City does at #5 could change dramatically based on what the Skins do ahead of them or if they get a godfather offer from Cleveland at #7, etc. It’s not worth the time or effort. I’m all about being efficient. Well, I’m also all about a good beer, a close sports game and pictures of Carrie Underwood – but you already knew that.

Yet I remain extremely intrigued by the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, especially after watching Jon Gruden dissect them. So with the caveat that I don’t have access to game film, I have only seen each guy play a handful of times, and I’ve seen the Gruden special and the SportsCenter highlights, here are my thoughts on the top quarterback prospects:

Sam Bradford
Appears to be a very cerebral quarterback with the ability to correctly read a defense and throw an extremely accurate ball. Obviously in all the meetings and pro days, you can’t knock him down on his shoulder to make sure he’ll get up. But he looks noticeably bigger now than he did during the season (he said he’s gained 15-20 pounds of muscle) and he’s going to need it. He doesn’t seem to have a “commanding presence” which could be a concern for his leadership ability when he has to get in the huddle with guys 10 years older than him and command their respect. Matt Ryan had that confidence and swagger, and I’m not sure Bradford does.

Overall Prediction/Guess: A solid pro to build your team around and worth the #1 pick for the Rams who desperately need a QB and a face for the franchise – potentially a Kerry Collins clone. Not spectacular, but Collins has been in the league for 15 years, never led the league in passing yards but finished in the top 10 four times and has been a pretty good locker room guy. And if you exclude the record in Oakland during 2004-2005, he is 2 games over .500 as a starter. Obviously here’s to hoping Bradford doesn’t have the alcohol problem that plagued Collins.

Jimmy Clausen
Clausen looks smallish but has a strong arm and improved his accuracy considerably during his last season at Notre Dame. He definitely has the swagger and leadership qualities to play quarterback in the NFL, not the least of which is his toughness and ability to play through pain. That will gain him some locker room credibility. He also played in an NFL-style system, so the offense won’t surprise him. The speed and athleticism of NFL defenders will though, and his penchant for getting sloppy and making bad decisions will need to be curtailed. Seriously, look at the picture. It’s the definition of bad decision making. Then again, that might be the best available at Notre Dame.

Overall Prediction/Guess: Get ready for the rollercoaster ride whoever takes Clausen. I liken him to Jake Plummer, a good athlete with the will to win and an attitude to never give up. Plummer was maddening because he had the skills but continually turned the ball over, which is why he had 161 INTs to go with 161 TDs in his career. All that said, if he’s there at #13 when the 49ers are on the board, I think they should jump on him like Big Ben on an underager.

Colt McCoy
McCoy is the most intriguing quarterback in the draft from my perspective. He lacks the ideal NFL quarterback height, but he has a rocket for an arm and is stout and jacked. He also has the leadship, fire and personality to command the respect of his teammates. He’s a gamer and appears to be a student of the game, understanding the need for film study and the need to continually refine his game and dissect how the defense is making adjustments. He’s a proven winner and experienced at the college level, allowing him to mature and be ready for the next level.

Overall Prediction/Guess: McCoy has the potential to be the best quarterback in this draft. Gruden kept comparing him to Drew Brees, and I think that is a very good comparison. The other comparison that I see is Jeff Garcia – another undersized passer who was athletic and among the best quarterbacks in the league from 2000-2002.

Tim Tebow
Tebow is the hardest working quarterback and possibly overall player that will be in the draft. As much as I find fake the squeaky clean perfect all-American image, he does genuinely come across as a good kid. He has a ton of work to do if he wants to play quarterback, and has already completely remade his throwing motion. However the question is whether he will be able to maintain that new motion when Ray Lewis has a bead on him. In addition, he needs to learn to take a snap from under center, read the defense while backpedaling or run playaction. It is a lot to ask of a kid, but Tebow seems determined to make it happen.

Overall Prediction/Guess: I think Tebow will be a decent value pick…..in the 5th round. However, someone is going to overreach and take him in the late second or early 3rd round. He’s a project that will need 3 years on the bench before he’s ready to ever see the field, but could be effective at some point. I don’t actually see a good comparison for Tebow, but possibly the ceiling would be Mark Brunell. An athletic lefty that toiled on the bench for a while before getting his shot and being successful.

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