The path to the National Football League is not a simple avenue to travel. Young men coming out of college face numerous obstacles before ever putting on a professional uniform. Players remain judged on talent and ability, but there is so much more involved in today's NFL.
Rookie quarterback, Brady Quinn received a hefty portion of pre-draft scrutiny, as did many of the young men heading into the National Football League.
A while back, former professional quarterback Gary Danielson (Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns) offered some thoughts on the college players of today compared to players when he was entering the NFL. Danielson, a college football analyst for CBS, has the opportunity to see many of the best prospects in the country.
"Back when I was coming out of college (Purdue – 1973) things were done quite differently. The television exposure of today did not exist -what happened on game-day and what scouts believed were the keys to a player(s) place in the draft," said Gary Danielson.
In 2007, when detailed information is just a keystroke away, college players are evaluated to wits-end. In most cases, college players are over-analyzed, not only by professional football teams, but also by the so-called experts, draft evaluators, and self-proclaimed ‘insiders'.
Football remains a game, but the NFL is big business. Missing on a player evaluation can cost a team millions of dollars, along with the probability of failure on the field, if the organization is incorrect in the player assessment area.
"Today, just as it was twenty, thirty years ago, the quarterback position remains the toughest position to fill. This is the one player that will or could impact every offensive play you run," Danielson continued. "Over the years, these young men coming out of college are scrutinized beyond belief. Whether it is in their personal life to how they throw the football, there is an evaluator looking at them and judging how or what they are doing correctly/incorrectly. The process before the game has become very analytical and at times too much so.
"I can tell you a little about the quarterback position, having played. Every player to play the position is different. There are things you like to see in the player, but the position is about strengths and weaknesses. The bottom line is getting a player in a position to become successful."
In Cleveland, finding the right quarterback has been an ongoing issue since the team returned to the playing field in 1999. From Tim Couch to Charlie Frye and all in-between, the Browns' have struggled to find a leader. The problem finding a franchise-type quarterback Cleveland has been attributed to a lack of overall talent on the team, as much as the quarterbacks themselves being of below average talent.
Probably the best-known quarterback in modern Cleveland Browns history, Bernie Kosar was not an athletic marvel, couldn't throw a football 80 yards, but he was successful. If he were coming into the league today, Kosar would be labeled a mechanical mess.
Kosar would throw off his back foot and he would often sling the football side arm. One difference in his era, however was he was a football player. He knew how to play the game and his strengths in one area would compensate for an area where he may not have been as gifted.
"Being able to play at this level takes much more than just being able to throw a football. As much as physical qualities are important to be successful in the NFL, this game is as much mental, if not more," Kosar told the Orange and Brown Report.
With the Browns' selection of Brady Quinn in the first round of the 2007 college player draft, Cleveland appears to have secured their franchise quarterback of the future. Quinn was schooled in the pro-style offense while at Notre Dame under head coach Charlie Weis is full of confidence. Following his senior season, some evaluators scrutinized his mechanics.
"Brady (Quinn) appears to have the attributes you look for in a starting quarterback. His decision making appears quick from what I have seen, he doesn't throw interceptions, and he displays the ability to make those players around him play at a high level," Kosar said. "I know some people have questioned his mechanics, but if you watch him and talk to people around the league, Brady made play after play in college".
"I don't think those things are going to be a significant issue once he gets in there working with the coaches and learns the system."
The mechanical issues most noted by scouts are Quinn tends to throw off his back foot and at times he does not drive through the ball. This can which creates some inconsistency in his accuracy, and his arm slot (angle which he generates the pass) causes the ball to float or not have the desired velocity some in the professional ranks question.
"When Brady (Quinn) needs to get the ball downfield or outside the hash-marks, he can do so without a problem. I have had the opportunity to work with him for the past couple years and he can do everything he needs to do," Notre Dame Head coach Charlie Weis said. "The more you throw at him, the better he gets, because he has the ability to take it all in and use it. He will work to make himself better, to succeed.
Once Brady gains some experience and really gets a feel for the speed of the game, he is going to do well and Cleveland has a winner with him."
For the sake of the Cleveland Browns, they certainly hope Weis is right.