"Without a doubt," the Arizona State quarterback said at the Scouting Combine. "But that's been my whole life and that's OK. I understand. Shoot, if I saw a 6-7 kid playing quarterback I might think the same thing. But I think people's opinions change when they see me in a workout, or they see me in a football game, or they see me on the practice field. And nobody would guess I was 6-7, the way I play."
Built more in the lines of a basketball forward, Osweiler made the most of his starting opportunity in 2011 and hopes to convert that record-breaking campaign into enough of a resume to convince National Football League teams that he could soon be starting in the professional ranks. Actually, the Sun Devil had committed to attend Gonzaga University on a basketball scholarship before electing to pursue football instead at Arizona State.
It was a bit of a surprise when the junior announced that he was leaving school to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, but the recent firing of head coach Dennis Erickson played a big part in that decision. Listed at over 6-foot-8 by the university, teams were pleasantly surprised that the quarterback measured in at "just" 6-foot-6 7/8 at the Combine.
From past experiences, taller quarterbacks usually lack the mobility needed to escape pocket pressure, citing 1991 Seattle Seahawks first-round draft bust Dan McGwire as the poster child for avoiding quarterbacks of that size. But Osweiler has several things going for him that McGwire lacked.
Osweiler is light on his feet and shows good flexibility rolling out and throwing from the outside hashes. Perhaps due to his basketball experience, he can not only slide and move laterally out of the pocket, but has the arm strength, body control and balance to make all the throws on the move, along with the ability to fire the ball deep with impressive accuracy. The Baltimore Ravens have had success with a quarterback that Osweiler is often compared to – 6-foot-6 Joe Flacco.
"I hear it tossed around every once in awhile," Osweiler said of the comparison to McGwire. "I don't pay too much attention to it because I feel like I'm my own style of a quarterback. I don't feel like there has ever been a quarterback who is 6-7, 240 pounds and has the athleticism I do and can make every throw on the football field. So, I ignored all those comparisons and played football the way I was taught to."
A diligent worker in practices and a player who could have had his mail forwarded to the Sun Devils film room, where he could often be found watching opposing game film, the junior put together a record-breaking campaign in 2011. He set school season records with 326 completions of 516 pass attempts for 4,036 yards, with 4,126 yards in total offense. His pass completion percentage of .6318 rank third on the ASU annual record chart, while his 26 touchdown tosses rank fourth.
During his playing days at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Mont., Osweiler excelled on the gridiron and basketball court. He was listed as the 25th-best pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals.com and rated 47th at his position by Scout.com. He was named the 2008 Gatorade State Player of the Year for Montana, giving Arizona State two of Montana's past three Gatorade State Players of the Year, joining former Sun Devils offensive lineman Matt Hustad, who won the award playing for Helena High School in 2006-07.
As a senior in 2007, he led the state of Montana in completed passes (189) and passing yards (2,703), ranking second in pass attempts (303) and passing touchdowns (29). He also led the Braves in rushing with 162 carries for 700 yards (4.3 ypc) and 13 touchdowns.
Osweiler was more known by recruiters for his basketball skills. He committed to Gonzaga as a sophomore and averaged 24.9 points and 14.5 rebounds as a junior before deciding to strictly focus on a collegiate football career.
Osweiler spent the offseason working out feverishly, as he hoped to challenge for the full-time starting job. He earned Hard Hat player recognition for his work in ASU's offseason strength and conditioning program, but failed to begin the season under center. He managed to play in six games, throwing four touchdowns with no interceptions on 62-of-109 attempts (56.9 percent) for 797 yards.
The 2011 season would be Osweiler's coming out party, as he rewrote the ASU records as the tallest starting quarterback in the nation became the first player in the history of Sun Devils football to throw for more than 4,000 yards, finishing the season with 4,036. He also set school records for completions (326), attempts (516) and completion percentage (63.2), and threw for 26 touchdowns, the fourth most in school history.
A few weeks after playing in the Las Vegas Bowl, and with a new coaching staff taking over the program, Osweiler declared for the NFL draft.
Osweiler started 15-of-25 games at Arizona State, completing 412-of-680 passes (60.59%) for 5,082 yards, 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, as he scored four times on 137 carries for 221 yards (1.61 ypc)…He joined Rudy Carpenter (.610; 799-of-1,309; 2005-08) as the only players in school history to complete more than 60% of their passes during their careers at ASU…In 2011, Osweiler became just the fourth player in Pac-12 Conference annals to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season, setting the school annual mark with 4,036 yards. Nick Foles of Arizona also had 4,334 yards in 2011, as they joined other league 4,000-yard passers: Cody Pickett of Washington (4,458 in 2002) and Derek Anderson of Oregon State (4,058 in 2003)…Along with Foles (4,321 in 2011) and Pickett (4,273 in 2002), Osweiler joined the conference's exclusive club as that trio are the only passers in the league to tally 4,000 yards in total offense, ranking third on that list with 4,126 in 2011…Became the first Sun Devil to attempt 500 passes (516) in 2011, as his 326 pass completions topped the school season record of 274 by Andrew Walter in 2002…His 26 touchdown passes in 2011 rank fourth on the ASU annual record chart…He completed 36 passes vs. Arizona in 2011, the third-best game total by a Sun Devil…His 63 pass attempts vs. the Wildcats tied the school record set by Paul Justin vs. Houston in 1990…Ranks fourth on the ASU game record list with 487 yards passing and sixth with 480 yards in total offense from his 2011 Arizona performance…Threw for at least 300 yards in seven of his 15 starting assignments.
Osweiler earned All-Pac 12 Conference second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report, as the Maxwell Award Watch List member and ASU team captain started all 13 games, ranking second in the league and 11th in the nation with an average of 317.38 yards per game in total offense…Set school season records with 326 pass completions, 516 pass attempts, 4,036 aerial yards, 599 total plays and 4,126 yards in total offense…His 26 touchdown passes rank fourth on the ASU annual record list, and his pass completion percentage of .6318 placed third…Had 13 interceptions and rushed 83 times for 90 yards (1.08 ypc) and three scores…Threw for more than 300 yards six times and produced multiple touchdown tosses in all but the Illinois, Washington State and Arizona clashes (had one scoring strike in each of those games).
2011 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Osweiler had a pair of scoring strikes, including a 47-yarder, as he hit on 19-of-26 tosses for 262 yards in a little over two quarters of action in the season opener vs. Cal-Davis… Produced the first of six 300-yard passing performances, as the junior ran for 34 yards and a score on five carries and connected on 24-of-32 attempts for 353 yards and three touchdowns, including a 60-yarder, vs. Missouri…Added 325 yards and three scores on 25-of-41 throws, adding 34 yards on seven runs, vs. Utah…Completed 18-of-28 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns that featured a long of 51 vs. Colorado…Hit on 28-of-44 tries for 351 yards and a 31-yard score vs. Washington State…Produced career-bests by completing 36 passes on 63 attempts (tied the school game-record), as his 487 aerial yards rank fifth on the ASU game-record chart, tossing a 58-yard touchdown, but was picked off twice in the Arizona clash…Followed with three touchdowns and 264 yards on 21-of-37 throws vs. California…Closed out his career by connecting on 30-of-47 passes for 395 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Osweiler appeared in six games, completing 62-of-109 passes (56.88%) for 797 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions…Rushed for 124 yards and a score on 38 carries (3.26 ypc)…In his first 2010 action, the sophomore went 6-for-10 and 60 yards vs. Portland State...Came on in relief of an injured Steven Threet to help lead ASU back from 17-0 deficit to win vs. UCLA 55-17, as he threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns on 27-of-36 chances, adding another score on six carries for 35 yards in a 55-34 win. It was the best passing performance by ASU on Frank Kush Field since 2007…In the Territorial Cup, Osweiler earned his only starting assignment for 2010 and finished the game 22-of-49 for 267 yards and one touchdown in an overtime thriller 30-29 win over Arizona to bring the Cup back to Tempe...Earned Hard Hat player recognition for his work in the Sun Devils' offseason strength and conditioning program.
Osweiler played in six games, seeing brief action in five contests before becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback (vs. Oregon) since Jake Plummer in 1993...For the season, he completed 24-of-55 passes (43.64%) for 249 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions…His best performance came prior to his first career start, as he hit on 11-of-27 throws for 153 yards and a touchdown vs. Southern California.
No major injuries reported.
4.83 in the 40-yard dash…1.66 10-yard dash…2.79 20-yard dash…4.32 20-yard shuttle… 7.11 three-cone drill…33-inch vertical jump…9'8" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times…33 7/8-inch arm length…9 7/8-inch hands…79 3/8-inch wingspan.
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Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. At NFL Scouting, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.