Reports out of Austin, Texas say that former Texas QB Vince Young will only participate in interviews with NFL teams at the NFL combine in Indianapolis next week, and will not take part in the passing drills. He has indicated that he will take part in private workouts for interested teams back home in Texas.
If I were one of the top four or five teams in the draft order, that would be enough to scare me off, and would send me in another direction. A franchise would have to commit at least $50 million to Young, along with a huge signing bonus, and it would have to tie up the QB position for the next six or seven years. If I were in charge of making that decision I'd have to see more than a prospect, with plenty of questions about his passing ability, on display only where he feels comfortable. I would want to see him uncomfortable and see how he handles it, because that's what he will encounter at the next level.
Certainly he performed well under the spotlight in the Rose Bowl win over Southern Cal, but he still didn't display an ability to throw at the professional level. The Texas offensive line was clearly in charge of the injury-depleted Trojans in that game, and Young had all day to throw his side-arm dump-offs to his tight ends all game long. He rarely threw under pressure, and rarely displayed enough arm strength to thread the needle at the next level. Keep in mind that if he is picked that high, he won't be playing for a very good team.
In addition, Young wasn't even talked about as a top five or six pick before that Rose Bowl performance. And, as mobile and poised as he was, bringing his team back in the fourth quarter, he didn't really show the pro scouts anything they hadn't seen before, meaning that questions about his arm strength remained unanswered.
Young, and his agent, Texas attorney Major Adams, are taking a big chance by opting not to go on display in Indianapolis. In fact, by staying out of the drills, he may be opening up more questions that hadn't been asked before.
With the combine taking place next week, the age-old question will arise again. What is more important---the body of work over the four year college career, or the test scores?
All things being equal, you would think that players who performed at the top programs like Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida State, Southern Cal, LSU, etc. would have the edge because they played in big games, quite often nationally televised, in front of capacity crowds at the biggest stadiums in the country.
I am amazed at how much effort is put into scouting players, through personal visits during the practice week, and watching live games, and having volumes of tape on file. Yet, in some cases, a bad workout at the combine has un-done what the player has accomplished in his college career.
Nothing personal against the Browns Chaun Thompson, taken out of West Texas A&M, but somebody had to know that, unless Thompson was far and away better than anyone at his linebacker position, his small school experience, with a bad team playing in front of a couple hundred people, would cause him some problems at the next level. John Carroll's London Fletcher proved that it can be done from that level, but at this point, Thompson isn't even close.
Next week, Browns GM Phil Savage will hold an informal meeting with the media to discuss the combine, and free agent plans. Unlike previous years, under previous administrations, I am looking forward to this. In the past, you knew that everything was a smokescreen, and no real information would be discussed. Savage, however, has proven to be open and honest, and he realizes that the fans and media are more sophisticated than ever. There is an understanding that the Browns front office hasn't been trusted by the fans in the past, and he knows that must change.
That is not to say that he will openly play his hand at all times. But it is to say that there will be no hidden agenda, with nothing but clichés being thrown out, and the answers won't be rehearsed.
After seven seasons of incompetence, on and off the field, this will be a welcome change.
`More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeastern Ohio. He is also the lead Sunday columnist in the News-Herald and Lorain Journal. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or www.leslevine.com