NFL Draft '06: Scouting the Quarterbacks

With the majority of draft-eligible signal callers meeting or exceeding the expectations of NFL scouts, next April's crop of passers could be a good one. Should the top underclassmen opt for April's event, the position will be top heavy with juniors. Still, the senior class offers plenty of talent. Here are scouting reports on the top 11 quarterback prospects.

Full Name:  Matt Leinart  School:  USC  

Ht:   6-4  Wt  224  40: 4.91  Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Productive left handed passer with outstanding field awareness.  Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers and quickly finds the open wide out.  Does a terrific job selling ball fakes, looks off opposing safeties and consistently goes to secondary targets.  Throws with an over-the-top delivery and displays an adequate deep arm as well as accuracy down the field.  Moves behind the line of scrimmage trying to find open pass catchers and always working to make something positive happen.  Quick setting up and releasing the ball off a three-step drop.  

Neg: Immobile and cannot escape the rush.  Does not drive the ball downfield.

Analysis: After winning the Heisman Trophy last December, Leinart passed up the opportunity to be a top five pick in the NFL draft for anther season in college.  Mentally understanding the game, Leinart does a terrific job commanding the offense and possesses great intangibles.  May not be productive in a system which wants a consistent vertical offense yet a quarterback who can start in the NFL.

Full Name:  Omar Jacobs  School:  Bowling Green

Ht:   6-4  Wt  225  40: 4.71  Yr: 4Jr

Pos : Big-armed, accurate passer who does an outstanding job commanding the offense.  Natural looking off the safety, sits in the pocket buying time for receivers and drives the ball downfield with a flick of his wrist.  Loses nothing throwing on the run and accurate passing on the move.  Leads targets with throws, letting receivers go up and get the ball.  Fires the ball between defenders and consistently shows outstanding pass placement.  Effectively reads the defense and finds the open wide outs.  

Neg: Takes most of his snaps out of the shotgun.  Gathers and readies himself before releasing the ball.  Has a three quarters delivery and releases the ball through his ear, at  times throwing with almost a side arm motion.  Under throws deep targets on occasion.  Could be criticized for holding the ball too long.

Analysis: A physically talented football player and gifted signal caller, Jacobs has outstanding potential for the next level.  Benefits from a quarterback friendly system at BGSU and must learn to play a pro-style offense but a quarterback prospect NFL-franchises can build around.

The Mid-American Conference is becoming well-known for the talented quarterbacks placed into the NFL for a half-decade now.  Several passers made their way into the draft's top-twenty selections and are still blossoming into terrific NFL signal callers.  Tonight we profile the next great one to come from this conference.

Full Name:  Vince Young  School  Texas

Ht:   6-4  Wt  230  40: 4.45   Yr: 4Jr

Pos : Athletic quarterback with immense physical ability.  Possesses a live arm, zips the ball into targets or easily gets passes downfield.  Quick release and immediately gets the ball out of his hand.  Goes to the safe underneath route if nothings available down field.  Devastating ball carrier who displays outstanding vision and the ability to create.  

Neg: Does not correctly read the defense.  Must improve his overall accuracy and pass placement.  Needs to learn touch.  

Analysis: An amazing athlete with the ability to improvise when plays break down based on sheer innate skill, Young must learn to become a complete passer rather then just a thrower.  Has been making consistent strides and offers an incredible amount of upside potential.   Would benefit from two more years in college to hone his skills.

Full Name:  Brady Quinn  School  Notre Dame

Ht:   6-3  Wt  220  40: 4.81    Yr: 4Jr

Pos : Nice sized pocket passer with an NFL arm.  Sets up with good footwork, scans  the field and has a live arm.  Drives the ball pass, zips the outs or powers the throw between defenders.  Relatively accurate in all areas.  Some ability to make the throw on the move.  

Neg: Lacks pure pass placement.  Not a mobile quarterback who eludes the rush.  Has been more potential than production prior to this season.  

Analysis: Seemingly taking like a duck to water in the new offensive system installed at Notre Dame by Charlie Weiss, the outlook for Brady Quinn is bright.  Has a large amount of upside potential for the NFL and can be a very high draft pick if he stays in school the next two seasons and learns from a top NFL offensive mind.

Full Name:  Reggie McNeal  School  Texas A&M

Ht:   6-2  Wt  202  40: 4.40     Yr: 4Sr

Pos : Athletic quarterback who flashes ability.  Possesses a live arm, easily gets the ball downfield or drives passes between defenders.  Gets outside the pocket and fires the ball on the move.  Tough ball carrier when he takes-off up the field.  Possesses a sense of timing and hits receivers at they leave breaks.  Patient, stays in the pocket as long as possible or scrambles behind the line of scrimmage buying time for wide outs.  

Neg: Stares down primary targets, misses open receivers down the field and makes questionable tosses when pressured.  Not a decisive signal caller.  Has a lot of passes batted away at the line of scrimmage.  

Analysis: Tough to stop when he's on his game, McNeal makes a lot of plays thanks to a strong arm.  Possesses the physical skills to play in the NFL and a solid long term, developmental passer who must iron out the rough edges.

Full Name:  Chris Leak  School  Florida

Ht:   5-11  Wt  200  40: 4.63     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Tremendous athlete slowly turning from a thrower into a passer and complete quarterback.  Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers and finds the open wide out.  Leads pass catchers over the middle, puts deep throws in front of receivers and lets targets run to the ball.  Stands in the pocket taking a hit to get the throw off.  Eludes the rush then easily make the throw on the move.  Picks up a lot yardage with his legs.  

Neg: Stares down the primary target.  Adversely reacts to pressure and at times panics if he does not immediately find the open wide out.  Late looking to secondary targets and does not possess sense of timing.  Tends to fall out of throws, which hurts his accuracy.  Spirals are not tight.  Lacks proto-typical size.

Analysis: Benefiting from the coaching of Urban Meyer, junior quarterback Chris leak has shown major improvement this year.  Possesses a great deal upside potential for the next level  yet far from the complete product and should remain in college as long as a possible, which would improve his draft grade.

Full Name:  Jay Cutler  School  Vanderbilt

Ht:   6-3  Wt  219  40: 4.81   Yr: 5Sr

Pos : Athletic passer with a command of the offense.  Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers and waits until last-second before delivering the ball.  Gets outside the pocket  and makes the pass on the move.  Leads receivers over the middle and displays a sense of timing.  Powers the ball between defenders and throws tight spirals.  Decisive in  the pocket.  Shifty carrying the ball and picks up yardage with his legs.  

Neg: Rarely takes his eyes off the primary target.  Has trouble withstanding the rush.

Analysis: A productive collegiate quarterback that's done a good job leading a very average program, Cutler  has definite potential for the NFL.  May never develop into a consistent starter at the next level yet his approach to the game and leadership abilities make him worth keeping on a roster.

Full Name:  Charlie Whitehurst  School  Clemson

Ht:   6-5  Wt  224  40: 4.85    Yr: 5Sr

Pos : Physically gifted signal caller who flashes ability.  Sells the ball fakes, quick releasing the pass and has a live arm.  Tough, stands in the pocket and gets the throw off even if it  means taking a big hit.  Moves around the line of scrimmage to get a better view of the field.  Accurate between the numbers, puts touch on throws  and shows pass placement in the short field.  Puts deep passes in front of receivers letting them run to the ball.  Natural looking off the safety.  

Neg: Must improve timing as he's late delivering the ball.  Usually high of the mark or has receivers extending backwards to make the reception out to the flanks.  Not decisive when pressured and  makes questionable decisions.  Tends to gather and ready himself before releasing the ball.  

Analysis: An athletic pocket passer with good size, Whitehurst's decision making has come under scrutiny.  An efficient quarterback rather than one that carries a team on his back, he may just need proper coaching and one-on-one handholding to get the most of him.  

Full Name:  Darrell Hackney  School  UAB

Ht:   6-0  Wt  245  40: 4.91    Yr: 4Sr

Pos : Strong armed, athletic passer who loses nothing making the throw on the move.  Challenges the vertical game and powers the ball between defenders.  Patient in the pocket, buying time for receivers and allows them to come free.  Puts touch on throws when  necessary and gets the ball into tight spots.  Hits receivers in stride or leads them over  the middle.  Good job commanding the offense.  

Neg: Does not consistently remain poised under pressure.  Stares down primary targets and makes questionable passes.  Falls out of throws which adversely affects his accuracy.  Drops into the pocket as though he were a left-handed quarterback.

Analysis: A physically talented passer with the arm strength to play in the NFL, Hackney has shown improvement and as a result will jump up draft boards.  Needs to continue on his present pace then have a solid showing in the post season.  Potential middle round pick who can play in the NFL.

Full Name:  Bruce Gradkowski  School  Toledo

Ht:   6-1  Wt  220  40: 4.65   Yr: 5Sr

Pos : Accurate and productive college quarterback with upside for the next level.  Patient in the pocket, senses the rush and waits for receivers to come free, not releasing  the ball until the very last second.  Possesses a sense of timing and has a great feel for where receivers are on the field.  Natural looking off the safety and puts touch on throws when required.  Goes to the safe outlet if nothings available downfield.  

Neg: Slow getting the ball out of his hands on three-step drops or the immediate release. Loses accuracy throwing on the run.  Lacks pocket stature and cannot drive the ball downfield.  

Analysis:   Gradkowsi has been a solid and productive player on the college level. Adequate athlete and solid developmental prospect.

Full Name:  Brodie Croyle  School  Alabama

Ht:   6-2  Wt  205  40: 4.91      Yr: 4Sr

Pos : Accurate and athletic passer with a solid arm.  Quickly sets in the pocket, sells ball fakes and throws a catchable pass.  Patient and waits until last second before releasing the pass.  Puts touch on throws when necessary.  Displays improved accuracy.  

Neg: Has a long injury history and durability concerns.  Not a quarterback who picks up much yardage with his legs.  Lacks pocket size and stature.

Analysis: Hard working and smart, Coyle is productive when healthy and tough to stop when on his game.  That said he receives in incomplete grade because of the injury history, a situation which will drop this draft grade.

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