With Jaguars backup quarterback Quinn Gray being allowed to test the market as an unrestricted free agent, and starting quarterback David Garrard turning 30 years old a little over a week ago, there is a certain need for the team to get younger at the quarterback position. The Jaguars appear to be in the enviable position of having a solid starter in Garrard, that has "low mileage," and should be able to remain that way for the next four or five years.
The Jaguars held an interview with former Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Anthony Morelli yesterday afternoon at the Combine. Morelli is a big, strong looking quarterback at 6'4", 225 lbs., and certainly looks the part of an every Sunday NFL starter. Morelli has a very strong arm, he can put balls in tight spaces, and he has great footwork.
So why haven't we heard Morelli's name in the same sentence as Boston College's Matt Ryan or Louisville's Brian Brohm? Mainly because Morelli had an up and down career at Penn State and never really lived up to the huge expectations that had bequeathed him when he was a two-time AP All-State selection at Penn Hills High School in Western Pennsylvania. Morelli had simply been inconsistent over his career at Penn State, and is said to not have much upper body strength. He tends to get "happy feet" and throws off his back foot when pressure comes, and he tends to struggle with mechanics when he doesn't have perfect protection. This combined with a bit of a windup throwing motion, as well as a lack of foot speed make many remind Morelli of former Jaguars first-round pick Byron Leftwich, just with less talent and less of a body of work.
Nevertheless, Morelli is an interesting prospect. He has size and a cannon of an arm that you can't teach, and at times he has looked like a great passer. Morelli comes from the Pittsburgh area, an area that has produced some great quarterbacks in the past such as Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, and Johnny Unitas, among many others. Scout.com has Morelli rated as the 13th best quarterback prospect in this year's draft and he will likely go late in the second day of the draft.
For the Jaguars, selecting a quarterback like Morelli late in the second day is a safe pick. Expectations should be low, he's non-threatening to a starter, and he could develop over time into something special. If not, most good teams don't expect late round picks to make their clubs and there wouldn't be much lost.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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