NFL Draft: Scouting the Quarterbacks

Offering quality and quantity, the 2006 class of quarterbacks is one of the deeper groups in a long while. A trio of top-ten selections will come from this year's draft and another half-dozen have starting potential. Here are the scouting reports on the top twelve signal callers.

Full Name: Matt Leinart School: USC Pos: QB

Ht: 6-5 Wt: 223 40: 4.91 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore and earned All-American and All-Conference honors ever since. Two-time Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year recipient, and Heisman Trophy Award winner as a junior. Senior passing totals included 65%/3,450/27 after 65.3%/3,322/33/6 as a junior. Posted a career-high 3,556 yards passing and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore.

Pos: Intelligent, high-percentage left-handed passer considered an outstanding field general. Throws with solid fundamentals from start to finish, patient in the pocket and always in control of the situation. Goes through receiver progressions, consistently looks off the safety and rarely makes poor choices. Cognizant of where receivers are on the field, displays a sense of timing and does not pull the trigger until the last second. Gets outside the pocket, giving himself better field vision, puts touch on throws when necessary and nicely places passes into receivers' hands. Displays stature in the pocket, withstanding the rush and always poised. Offers an adequate deep arm and zips short throws.

Neg: Not a quarterback who makes plays with his legs or can escape the rush. Lacks a cannon and cannot drive the deep ball.

Analysis: Polished in all aspects of the game, Leinart is a leader who pushes himself on and off the field. May not fit a vertical offense yet excels in enough areas and offers the intangibles to be a franchise quarterback at the next level.

Full Name: Vince Young School: Texas Pos: QB

Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 229 40: 4.45 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Three-year starter named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year last season. Also honored as the nation's top player with the Maxwell Award. Passing numbers included 65.2%/3,036/26/10 with a team-leading 155/1,050/10 on the ground. Combined for 467 total yards during the Longhorns' National Championship victory over USC. Led Texas to victory on eight different occasions when the team was trailing or tied at halftime, including five fourth-quarter drives.

Pos: Sensational athlete with a high upside. Possesses a quick release and can throw all the passes. Sells the ball fakes, withstands the rush and leads receivers between the hashes. Nicely times the outs, loses nothing throwing on the move and improvises when plays break down. Gets the ball downfield with a flick of his wrist. Accomplished carrying the ball, displaying vision, power and speed.

Neg: Sloppy throwing motion and releases the ball below helmet level at times. Must improve his touch and downfield accuracy. Does not always find the safety and puts the ball up for grabs. Wilts under the rush, makes poor choices or leaves the pocket early.

Analysis: A pressure player who performs brilliantly when the game's on the line, Young has the underlying skills to be a franchise quarterback at the next level. Needs a tremendous amount of work from the ground up, yet a perfect choice for a franchise building for the future rather than a team expecting immediate results.

Full Name: Jay Cutler School: Vanderbilt Pos: QB

Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 226 40: 4.83 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as a senior after leading the SEC in passing with 59.1%/3,073/21/9. Junior totals were 61%/1,844/10/5.

Pos: Athletic prospect with the physical and mental skills necessary to start at the next level. Patient, stands strong in the pocket and immediately finds the open wideout. Displays a sense of timing, throws strikes and hits receivers in stride. Poised under pressure, can elude the rush and gets rid of the ball rather than taking a bad sack. Sells the ball fakes, accurate throwing on the move and displays toughness in all aspects of the game. Not afraid to challenge the vertical.

Neg: Must improve the consistency of his footwork - releases the errant pass off his back foot. Made a lot of plays on the college level because of his strong arm. Will force the errant throw into coverage on occasion.

Analysis: A consistent passer who has shown continual development throughout college, Cutler comes off a brilliant senior campaign. Must improve his fundamentals and pass placement but offers all the skills to lead a franchise into the future.

Full Name: Brodie Croyle School: Alabama Pos: QB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 205 40: 4.94 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter who totaled 59.6%/2,499/14/4 as a senior. Played in three games as a junior before tearing a ligament in his right knee. Moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore and passed for 2,303 yards.

Pos: Solid intermediate passer with a terrific sense of timing. Stands strong in the pocket, buys time for receivers and displays excellent awareness. Displays good speed on short and intermediate passes. Looks off covered receivers, does not make poor decisions and is always in control of the offense.

Neg: Has a long throwing motion which slows his release. Cannot drive passes down field and is rarely on the mark with long throws. Durability is an issue.

Analysis: A quarterback with outstanding intangibles and a player who led Alabama to several game-winning drives last season, Croyle lacks top upside but could be a very effective second quarterback at the next level.

Full Name: Charlie Whitehurst School: Clemson Pos: QB

Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 223 40: 4.78 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Moved into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman. All-Conference selection two of the past three seasons. Senior passing totals included 66.9%/2,278/11 after a junior campaign of 50.7%/2,067/7/17. Career-best passing yardage numbers of 3,561 came as a sophomore.

Pos: Nice-sized athletic passer with an inconsistent game. Displays a sense of timing, sets up with proper fundamentals and quickly releases the ball. Tough, stands in against the rush and is patient when given time. Throws with an over-the-top delivery and has an NFL arm.

Neg: Indecisive, not poised under pressure and makes poor decisions. Falls out of throws and tends to direct passes. Forces the action as the pocket collapses around him.

Analysis: Possessing the physical skills to play at the next level, Whitehurst has yet to display the consistent decision-making required of an NFL starter. Practice-squad passer best served spending a season or two in Europe.

Full Name: Omar Jacobs School: Bowling Green Pos: QB

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 232 40: 4.84 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Two-year starter named MAC Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore after numbers of 69.9%/4,002/41/4. All-Conference selection last season after struggling through much of the campaign with a shoulder injury, posting 60.7%/2591/26/7.

Pos: Ultra-productive collegiate passer with potential for the next level. Poised in the pocket, finds the open wideout and places throws where only his receivers can make the reception. Goes to secondary targets and possesses a quick, explosive release. Has a powerful arm and effortlessly drives the ball downfield. Possesses a good sense of timing, hitting receivers as they leave their breaks. Picks up yardage with his legs when things

Neg: Struggled as a junior in reading defenses and tossing the ball into coverage. His throws lack touch. Shuffles his feet in the pocket. Has a low trajectory, throwing the ball through his ear at times. Rarely took a snap behind center.

Analysis: A system quarterback, Jacobs made a poor choice entering the draft after his junior campaign. Far from polished, he has the physical skills to play in the NFL but must learn a pro-style offense.

Full Name: Kellen Clemens School: Oregon Pos: QB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 224 40: 4.94 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter who totaled 64%/2,406/19/4 in eight games last season before fracturing his ankle. Junior numbers included 59.9%/2,548/22/10.

Pos: High-percentage thrower who is best in the short passing game. Sells ball fakes, and displays an excellent sense of timing. Knows where his receivers are on the field and hits targets as they leave breaks. Finds the safety, displays excellent pocket awareness and very accurate in the short field. Does not wilt under pressure or make poor choices.

Neg: Cannot drive passes down the field nor zip intermediate throws. Stares down primary targets. Cannot elude the rush.

Analysis: Benefiting from a system implemented by coordinator Gary Crowton last season, Clemens took his game to another level before the injury. A solid choice in the middle rounds for a West Coast offensive squad.

Full Name: Ingle Martin School: Furman Pos: QB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 220 40: 4.66 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Former Florida transfer who posted 60.7%/2,959/20/13 as a senior after junior totals included 61.9%/2,792/22/9. Also the team's punter, averaging 42.5 yards on 34 punts last year.

Pos: Nice-sized passer with an NFL arm. Patient, buys time for receivers and makes good decisions in the pocket. Sells ball fakes, goes to the safe underneath outlet and works to make positive plays. Zips the outs, threads the ball between defenders and drives the deep throw.

Neg: Indecisive and tends to wilt as the pocket collapses. Tends to float in the pocket and does not set his feet. Marginal accuracy and sprays passes about the field.

Analysis: A nice-sized, hard-working signal caller, Martin has the physical skills to play at the next level. Must improve his fundamentals, yet a practice squad player with long-term prospects.

Full Name: Reggie McNeal School: Texas A&M Pos: QB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 198 40: 4.38 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter whose passing totals included 53.2%/1,963/16/9 as a senior with 96/664/3 on the ground. All-Conference selection as a junior after setting a school mark of 2,791 passing yards.

Pos: Dual-threat quarterback who flashes abilities behind center. Patient in the pocket, goes through progressions and consistently looks down the field. Senses the rush, eludes defenders and loses nothing passing on the move. Has a big arm, zipping the ball into targets or driving long passes down the field.

Neg: Suffered a high ankle injury late in his senior campaign, which slowed him down. Lacks top pass placement. Stares down primary targets or misses open wide out.

Analysis: A student of the game who handles pressure well, McNeal is an underrated signal-caller who can play at the next level once he polishes his game.

Full Name: Bruce Gradkowski School: Toledo Pos: QB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 217 40: 4.62 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter named Conference MVP as a senior after passing totals of 62.3%/2,469/29/12. Posted a career-best 3,518 passing yards as a junior and 29 throwing touchdowns during his sophomore campaign.

Pos: Hard-working, intelligent signal-caller who is best in the short field. Sets up with solid footwork, goes through receiver progressions and locates the open wideout. Makes good decisions in the pocket, rarely forces throws and takes the safe underneath outlet if nothing else is available. Buys time for receivers, senses pressure and is accurate between the numbers.

Neg: Cannot zip the outs and lacks top pass placement. Under-throws deep targets.

Analysis: Gradkowski possesses the intangibles NFL scouts want in a passer, but the inability to throw the long ball hampers his potential at the next level.

Full Name: D.J. Shockley School: Georgia Pos: QB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 214 40: 4.62 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Full-time starter as a senior, winning All-Conference honors after totals of 55.2%/2,311/21/5. Added 251 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Pos: Athletic passer with the physical skills to play in the NFL. Patient, buys time when protected and consistently looks downfield. Has a quick release, can drive the deep throw and puts air under passes, letting targets run to the ball. Remains poised as the pocket collapses around him and picks up yardage with his legs.

Neg: Indecisive, stares down primary targets and does not find the safety. Lacks stature in the pocket. Does not throw with a fluid, over-the-top motion.

Analysis: Flashing abilities last season, Shockley is a developmental passer who must improve his accuracy. Solid practice squad player for the next level.

Full Name: Erik Meyer School: Eastern Pos: QB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 210 40: 4.72 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Named the Walter Payton Award as a senior, given to the top I-AA player in the nation. Senior passing numbers included 65.6%/4,003/30/5. MVP of the Big Sky Conference as a junior, with totals of 67.8%/3,703/31/9.

Pos: Ultra-productive small-school passer with an excellent feel for the position. Poised in the pocket, displays excellent vision and goes through receiver progressions. Makes good decisions and does an excellent job commanding the offense. Leads receivers with throws and displays good pass placement.

Neg: Passes with a side-arm release. Cannot drive the ball downfield.

Analysis: A competitive and intelligent signal-caller, Meyer dominated the small-school level. His mechanics and throwing motion may pose a problem for some, yet his production coupled with outstanding accuracy will get him consideration in the late rounds.

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