Draft Exclusive: Long-Shot Passer

The Packers talked to this high-character quarterback, whose professional prospects will be hurt if there is a work stoppage. Get the scoop in our latest NFL Draft exclusive.

If there's a lockout, a work stoppage would impact players like Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn more than anyone else.

While the draft will go off as planned in eight weeks, undrafted free agents will not be allowed to sign. For that matter, agents aren't even allowed to contact teams to get deals in order.

Colburn doesn't figure to get drafted so any lost time will make a long-shot career even more of a long shot. At least the draft picks will have a team and can look at a playbook. The undrafted players — one or two of which make an opening-week roster for most teams each year — will have no team, no playbook. If the lockout extends into July, they'll have missed a rookie minicamp, four weeks of organized team activities and a full-squad minicamp.

"From my standpoint, I don't know anything different," Colburn said at the Scouting Combine last week. "It's not like I've been through the process before. I'm going to take whatever's put in front of me and run with it. The bottom line is I have to continue to improve, continue to get better. I've always got things to work on. I'll always be perfecting my craft. Those are the things I'll focus on and let my agent and let the people in charge work that out."

Colburn is one of several quarterbacks who met with the Packers at the Combine, a source told Packer Report. A tough and intelligent left-hander, concerns about his arm strength likely will send him tumbling down draft boards. His performance during passing drills at the Combine did him no favors.

A two-year starter, he completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a senior in coach Pat Hill's pro-style offense. In the regular-season finale, he riddled Illinois' defense for 304 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-26 accuracy in Fresno's upset win. He threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns in a loss against Mississippi.

Every under-the-radar quarterback prospect embraces Tom Brady's story. Pick No. 199 of the 2000 draft, of course, is a three-time Super Bowl champion and sure-fire Hall of Famer.

"A guy that I've watched a lot is Tom Brady," Colburn said. "I've got a ton of respect for how he approaches the game in a sense of he's just a flat-out competitor. He wins, he knows how to win, he knows how to go about his business and he just competes. He's calm and cool. Nobody can quite understand how he's so good but the guy just wins."

Colburn was an academic all-conference performer and was honored before the Humanitarian Bowl for his work to bring fresh, clean water to Thailand and with children at home in the Central Valley of California.

He's banking on his character and quick, precise decision-making helping him overcome the odds — odds that might be much steeper than usual, given the labor unrest.

"How you run, what you look like on Combine day is not everything," he said. "For a quarterback, there's so much mental, there's so many intangibles that play into the quarterback position. (Brady) gives a guy like myself a lot of confidence because my intangibles, in my opinion, are one of my attributes."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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