After observing two practices on Thursday where players wore no-pads and shorts prior to Friday's walk-through sessions, I talked with 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer — who just completed his 14th season as an NFL quarterback — to get his take on the quarterbacks in Saturday's Under Armour Senior Bowl. And we wrapped up our conversation with Dilfer's picks for the three wide receivers out of the talented crew in Mobile that he would like to throw some passes to on Sundays in the NFL.
Ed Thompson: Which quarterback out of this year's group stood out to you the most during practice this week and on the film you've studied in preparation for your analyst work this Saturday?
Trent Dilfer: I've become a huge Joe Flacco (University of Delaware) fan. I think he's a special talent. There's very few people I've seen in the last five to seven years that have his overall ability. I think it's going to be a project, but he's going to have to learn to play under center. But he's so gifted that I think he'll transition very quickly into that role.
Thompson: What do you think of USC's John David Booty?
Dilfer: He's my sleeper pick out of the group. I think he's a lot better than people were giving him credit for. I almost get the feeling that people don't want him to be as good as he is because he went to USC. They'll make every excuse for why, like it's the people around him. As I studied the film, it was clear that he was the best person on that offense, but he was let down a lot by his teammates this year. He's probably the most ready-to-play-tomorrow quarterback of the group. He's a guy that everything he did in college — the way he was trained, the system he was running, the throws he was asked to make week-in and week-out transition well to the NFL. He won't have a hard time picking up an NFL offense and executing it on Sundays.
Hawaii's Colt Brennan
Harry How/Getty Images
Thompson: What do you think about Hawaii's Colt Brennan and the constant references to him as a "system quarterback?"
Dilfer: Well, there's some truth to that, but that's not a knock. I think some people are using that as a negative, but part of being a good player in today's football is adapting to whatever the system is, and maximizing that system. Colt's an incredibly gifted thrower of the football. He can manipulate the football — meaning that he can change speeds on it. He can throw the ball into windows, he can throw the ball with velocity. I think the issue is that he's 185 pounds. It's going to be very hard for him to hold up in the National Football League. That's a big "X factor" and how do you quantify that? I mean, that's a subjective point of view, but it's one you have to make. I am very impressed with his ability to throw a football, his leadership qualities, his grittiness, and other intangibles. But we'll have to wait and see if a team's willing to take a chance on somebody who may not hold up.
Thompson: I talked to Chad Henne this week and he's getting some interest from teams who may need a young quarterback to step in quickly, as he did at Michigan as a freshman. What have you seen while watching film of Chad?
Dilfer: I love his intangible qualities, and he's a good leader. He's got good body size, a good head — he's very smart. Everything I've heard from his coaches that I've talked to is that they were impressed by how he handled not only his success at Michigan, but also adversity. Chad throws the ball with great anticipation, which is something that is a gift, it's not a learned trait. But my only concern with Chad is that he's got some real mechanical flaws that he needs to correct, and I think he can do it. But it's going to take some work. And those mechanical issues may show up over time, and slow his learning curve a bit.
Thompson: As an NFL quarterback, which two or three wide receivers would you really like to have the opportunity to be throwing balls to on Sundays?
Dilfer: The kid that I love that isn't being talked about is Harry Douglas from Louisville. You're looking at a guy who you could make every excuse for why not to draft him — skinny frame, he's not the tallest, he may not have the greatest top-end speed. But he's just going to be a guy who shows up on Sundays. He's going to be a guy who can play in the slot right away on third downs and can be a first-down machine. He's got the easy body language to read, great ball skills. He's a football player. Watch him when he's away from the play and not getting the ball. He's always playing. So I'm really impressed with him.
The kid from Appalachian State, (Dexter) Jackson, he really showed a lot. Once again, a slot-type receiver, probably not big enough to play outside, but a guy who can immediately have an impact on a team, working the middle of the field out of breaks.
And then today, I looked at (Donnie) Avery out of Houston. He's got the best top-end speed. The question coming into this thing was how does he get in an out of breaks? How is his route-running? And today, even though they were just working out in shorts, he did some things out there that showed me that he's got a chance.
Be sure to tune in to Saturday's Under Armour Senior Bowl telecast on the NFL Network for more analysis from Trent Dilfer.