NFL Draft: Scouting The Quarterbacks

It's the most important position in professional team sports. That's why good quarterbacks go early and often in the NFL draft. Identifying the ones that will be successful at the NFL level is the hard part. The outlook for this year's QB crop is promising as it offers both quality and quantity. Here are the projected top 10 QBs of the class of 2005, one of which the 49ers are almost certain to pick at some point in the draft, with the top two prospects currently at the top of their list.

Aaron Rodgers School: California
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 223 40: 4.77 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Junior college transfer who made a major mark on the Cal program the past two seasons. All-Conference selection as a senior after posting 66.1%/2,566/24/8. Also added 247 yards rushing with 3 additional scores. Junior quarterbacking totals were 61.6%/2,903/19/5.

Positives: Athletic passer with the physical skills and mental intangibles needed to lead a franchise at the next level. Quickly sets up in the pocket, sells ball fakes and technically very sound. Poised under the rush, steps up to avoid defenders and works to keep the play alive. Patient, buys time in the pocket and waits for receivers to come free. Does an excellent job with his reads and natural looking off the safety. Does not make mental errors and throws the ball away rather than toss the errant pass. Times the short and intermediate throws well, as receivers rarely wait for the ball out of their breaks. Outstanding vision and immediately spots the open receiver. Possesses a quick release, live arm and zips the outs or gets the ball downfield. Throws with touch. Sits in the pocket and takes a big hit in order to get the pass off. Fleet-footed and picks up yardage with his legs when necessary.

Negatives: Though accurate, lacks top pass placement and has receivers extending vertically to pull the ball out of the air. Must improve his accuracy down the field. Lacks top footwork releasing the ball off a three step drop. Lacks pocket stature.

Analysis: A physically gifted passer with a great understanding of the position, Rodgers has made himself one of the nation's top quarterback prospects the past two seasons. May not fit every system, but should quickly flourish in the NFL for a timing offense that does not throw the ball down the field with regularity. Offers a good amount of upside and is a coachable player who should continually improve his game.
Alex Smith School: Utah
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 217 40: 4.76 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Two year starter voted MWC Player of the Year last season after passing numbers of 67.5%/2,952/32/4. All-Conference selection as a sophomore after posting 65%/2,247/15/3.

Positives: Efficient and reliable passer that's done well in his college system. Accurate in the short field, leads receivers over the middle and places throws where only his target can make the reception. Solid timing on crossing patterns. Patient in the pocket, effectively reads the defense and does not make poor decisions. Goes through receiver progressions, waits for pass catchers to come free and throws to the safe underneath target if nothing's available downfield. Sets up with solid fundamentals and passes with an over-the-top delivery. Keeps his feet active and easily gets outside the pocket, making the throw on the move. Displays outstanding wherewithal and knows where receivers are on the field. Throws tight spiral with good zip. Stands strong and poised in the pocket as it collapses around him.

Negatives: Must improve his corner patterns in the end zone as passes tend to be flat. Rarely threw the ball down field in the Utah system.

Analysis: A natural leader that does an excellent job running the offense, Smith has been very productive the past two years. Stays away from mistakes and has a tremendous touchdown-to-interception ratio. Does not have a deep passing arm just yet but would be initially effective in a timing or West Coast offense as he grows into a pro passing game.
Jason Campbell School: Auburn
Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 230 40: 4.69 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter named SEC Offensive Player of the Year last season after totaling 69.6%/2,700/20/7 as a passer and adding three more scores on the ground.

Positives: Athletic passer who took his game to another level as a senior. Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers and poised under pressure. Feels the rush, steps up to avoid it, then finds the open pass catcher. Improved his reads in the pocket, displays solid field vision and overall awareness. Looks off the safety, goes through receiver progressions and does not force the ball if nothing's available.

Negatives: Cannot drive the deep pass, late on the outs and loses accuracy throwing on the move. Rarely makes plays with his legs.

Analysis: A prospect with the physical tools to work with, Campbell improved his overall game and made a big jump up draft boards the past six months. Most effective in a short passing offense that does not rely on the vertical game.
Adrian McPherson School: x-Florida State
Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 218 40: 4.55 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Played with the Indiana Firebirds last season in the Arena League completing 59.9%/ 3,297/61/5. Dismissed from the FSU program in November of that year after being found guilty of forging and cashing a stolen check. Later brought up on misdemeanor charges of gambling, a trial which ended in a hung jury.

Positives: Naturally gifted athlete with an abundant amount of upside potential. Possesses a live arm, zips the outs or easily drives the ball downfield. Displays a good sense of timing, hits receivers in stride yet also puts touch on passes when necessary. Sized well and has the ability to make plays with his legs.

Negatives: Short arms his throwing motion and delivers the ball with a three-quarters delivery. Marginal experience playing against top competition on a regulation football field.

Analysis: A prospect with top athletic skills and football abilities, McPherson could end up as the steal in this year's draft. Seemingly overcame his off the field problems.
Charlie Frye School: Akron
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 225 40: 4.88 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter and All-Conference quarterback who holds numerous passing records at Akron. Posted 63.6%/2,623/18/8 as a senior.

Positives: Nice-sized passer and a natural, smart leader. Sets up in the pocket with good footwork, remains poised and goes through receiver progressions, buying time for wideouts. Displays good field awareness and very good at finding the open wideout. Throws with an over-the-top delivery displaying zip on the short throws and the ability to quickly get the ball into the intended targets hands. Tough competitor who plays while injured.

Negatives: Steps out of throws on occasion, which adversely affects his accuracy. Possesses a solid arm, yet does not have the gun to drive deep throws.

Analysis: A signal caller who's displayed progress throughout his college career, Frye offers both the physical and mental intangibles for the next level. More athletic than given credit for and can be used in a variety of passing offenses.
Andrew Walter School: Arizona State
Ht: 6-6 Wt: 233 40: 4.91 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Second-team All-Conference selection as a senior after passing numbers of 57.3%/3,150/ 30/9. Broke into the starting unit as a sophomore completing 56.7%/3,877/28/15.

Positives: Big, strong pocket passer who's been productive throughout his college career. Patient, buys time for receivers, and has a good sense of where his targets are on the field. Possesses a quick release and immediately gets the ball out of his hands. Fires the pass between defenders, easily gets the ball downfield and zips the outs. Displays a sense of timing, nicely places his passes, and does not have receivers waiting on the throw. Sees the field, senses the blitz, and for the most part, finds the open wideouts. Accurate down the field laying passes in front of targets. Always working to make something positive happen. Strong enough to withstand the rush and get the ball off with defenders in his face.

Negatives: Slow setting up in the pocket, releases the ball with a three-quarter motion, and has a low trajectory for a tall passer. Immobile and cannot escape the rush. Erratic, misreads defenses and throws the ball into coverage. Makes the errant toss off his back foot. Does not throw tight spirals or the prettiest passes. Usually high of the mark and has receivers extending vertically to grab the ball out of the air.

Analysis: A big, strong quarterback with excellent physical skills, Walter is a prototypical drop-back passer for the next level. Must be more consistent with his reads and decision making if he's to ever be a starter at the next level.
David Greene School: Georgia
Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 226 40: 4.83 Year: 5Sr

Bio: All-Conference selection as a senior after numbers of 58.5%/2,508/20/4. Junior totals included 60.3%/3,307/13/11. Set an NCAA Division I-A for most victories by a starting quarterback with 42.

Positives: Intelligent, tough passer best in the short field. Sets up with solid footwork, senses the rush and patient throughout the play. Buys time for receivers, displays a good sense of timing and rarely has pass catchers waiting on his throws. Excellent field awareness, does not make poor decisions and finds the open receiver. Tough and will play with pain.

Negatives: Takes a while setting up in the pocket, steps out of throws and cannot elude the rush. Lacks the explosive release, overall arm strength, and tends to be high of the mark.

Analysis: An efficient college passer with good quarterback skills, Greene offers limited upside for the next level, yet could be very effective in a backup role. Better suited to play in a short, timing passing offense.
Kyle Orton School: Purdue
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 233 40: 5.09 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Moved into the starting lineup as a true freshman. Posted career numbers 60.7%/ 3,090/31/5 as a senior.

Positives: Heady, intelligent passer with solid intangibles. Patient in the pocket, buys time and waits for receivers to come free. Sees the field, reads the blitz and immediately gets the ball to the hot receiver. Possesses a nice sense of timing, leads receivers in the short field and zips the intermediate passes.

Negatives: Possesses an elongated/wind-up motion, which slows his release. Cannot drive the deep throw as receivers are constantly slowing down to make the reception. Forces passes downfield on occasion and must improve his long accuracy. Fizzled at the end of his senior campaign and was benched.

Analysis: A signal caller who will draw much debate and opinion, Orton has abilities to play in a short passing game.
Derek Anderson School: Oregon State
Ht: 6-6 Wt: 242 40: 5.06 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter and second team All- Conference choice as a senior after passing numbers of 54.2%/3,615/29/17. Junior totals included 51.2%/4,058/24/24, when he set a school record for passing yards.

Positives: Big, strong pocket passer with a live arm. Patient when given time, waits for receivers to come free, then tosses the ball. Leads receivers over the middle, gets the ball downfield and displays solid long accuracy. Puts air under the deep throw letting receivers run to the ball.

Negatives: Stares down intended targets from the get-go, and slow going to secondary receivers. Tends to direct his passes. Makes poor reads, shaky under pressure and seemingly predetermines where he will throw the ball, no matter if it's into triple or double coverage.

Analysis: A passer with the physical skills to play at the next level, Anderson made strides as a senior, lessening the errant throws.
Dan Orlovsky School: Connecticut
Ht: 6-5 Wt: 225 40: 5.02 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Passing numbers included 63%/3,354/23/ 15 as a senior.

Positives: Well-sized pocket passer with a big arm and solid intangibles. Sets up with solid footwork, displays good pocket stature and patiently waits for receivers to come open. Sells the ball fakes, possesses a quick release and zips the outs. Leads wideouts or hits them in stride over the middle and displays solid timing on the outs.

Negatives: Slow setting up in the pocket. Steps out of throws, which adversely affects his accuracy. Directs his passes and gets wild at times. Gathers before releasing the ball. Must improve his downfield accuracy. Performed poorly at the Senior Bowl and was worse at the combine.

Analysis: Productive throughout his college career, Orlovsky possesses the size, arm strength, and intangibles to develop into a starting quarterback at the next level. Needs to brush up the fundamentals and quickly get his game back on track.

Complete Quarterback Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings

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