NFL Scouting Combine Preview: Quarterbacks

Since Brian Brohm and Matt Ryan skipped the Senior Bowl, there'll be more pressure on them during the NFL Scouting Combine. Where do they rank heading into the big event? NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber previews and ranks them along with the other QBs who have been invited to Indianapolis.

The 2008 QB draft class doesn’t overwhelm you at first glance, but if you look deeper, there is more talent than meets the eye, especially if some of the small school prospects develop.

The NFL Scouting Combine takes center stage from February 21st – February 24th and it’s the biggest job interview of these players’ lives.

With that said, 20 QBs have been invited to Indianapolis to showcase their skills, and here is how I rank them:

1. Brian Brohm, Louisville, 6-4, 227

Brohm decided to drop out of the Senior Bowl — a move that could have potentially hurt his draft stock — but in the end it didn’t seem to matter. It’s important for Brohm to show up at the Combine ready to take part in all drills and show that he’s deserving of being considered one of the top QBs in the country. Brohm’s biggest question mark is his arm strength, and if he demonstrates the ability to make all the throws necessary, he will rise up draft boards.

2. Matt Ryan, Boston College, 6-5, 224

Just like Brohm, Ryan decided to skip the Senior Bowl and prepare himself for the Combine. Ryan is widely considered the draft’s No. 1 QB, but my opinion differs from the majority. Ryan has tremendous arm strength and is a solid leader, but he has to work on his decision-making and accuracy. The battle for the right to be the top QB in the draft begins at the Combine, and it’s between Ryan and Brohm.

Chad Henne smiles after throwing a TD pass against Michigan State.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

3. Chad Henne, Michigan, 6-3, 235

The most impressive quarterback at the Senior Bowl, Henne enters the Combine with plenty of momentum. He silenced critics who questioned his arm strength, and he displayed great footwork, poise, velocity and touch. It’s important for Henne to maintain this momentum through the Combine to be considered one of the draft’s best QBs.

4. Joe Flacco, Delaware, 6-6, 237

The wildcard at the QB position is Flacco. The only reason why he was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl was because Ryan declined his invitation. This allowed Flacco to crash the party and impress NFL personnel in attendance. He has the strongest arm of any QB in the class, but the level of competition he played against raises some questions. Flacco possesses all the tools necessary; size, poise, arm strength, etc. — but he has to show more consistency in Indianapolis to continue his ascension.

5. Andre Woodson, Kentucky, 6-4, 224

The most disappointing, highly-touted prospect in Mobile was Woodson. He was considered a mid-first-round pick prior to the Senior Bowl, but after displaying a mechanical delivery and questionable velocity, Woodson finds himself squandering to be mentioned among the top QBs in the class. Woodson has an opportunity at the Combine to redeem himself and regain his status as a worthy first-round pick. If he continues to show his lackluster play and go through the motions as he did in Mobile, he’ll find himself as a mid-to-late second round pick.

6. Colt Brennan, Hawaii, 6-3, 200

Brennan had an up-and-down week in Mobile, and it all started when he weighed in at 185-pounds. He struggled in practices at the beginning of the week, but started to pick it up towards the end of the week. He struggled during the game and wasn’t very accurate, and he seemed a bit sluggish. He may be the one quarterback who has the most to prove in Indianapolis. Since the Senior Bowl, Brennan has increased his weight to 197-pounds and looks stronger and more confident. It will be that confidence that wins over scouts, and it’s up to him to display his talents during drills.

7. Josh Johnson, San Diego, 6-3, 195

Johnson appeared in the East-West Shrine game and showed good skills, but has a way to go before being considered a top-line QB. He has a lot of tools and is an intriguing developmental QB for a team looking to groom a future signal-caller. He has a wiry frame and needs to get stronger. But he has a strong arm and throws with nice touch. He’s a mobile QB, and it will be interesting to see how fast he runs in the forty at the Combine. Coming from a small school may hurt Johnson through the draft process, but the draft is largely based on potential — and that’s what he possesses.

8. Erik Ainge, Tennessee, 6-6, 225

Thanks to Brohm’s decision to forego the Senior Bowl, Ainge was given an opportunity to show scouts what he could do on the field. Unfortunately for Ainge, he wasn’t very impressive during practices and didn’t show the potential he displayed this past season at Tennessee. Ainge fought his way back into the good graces of scouts with his performance in the Senior Bowl game as he led the South squad on a nice game-winning drive. But for Ainge to improve his draft stock, he has to improve all aspects of his game and be more consistent.

9. John David Booty, USC, 6-2, 215

Another disappointing performance by a highly regarded QB, Booty had his ups-and-downs, but overall he didn’t stand out. Rumblings of him being a product of the talent that surrounded him at USC made its way around Senior Bowl practices. Booty has to improve his feet, find passing lanes quicker and work on his timing. The Combine is a huge stage for Booty to improve his draft position.

10. Paul Smith, Tulsa, 6-1, 198

Smith is an interesting QB prospect who has the ability to post some big numbers, and he displayed that ability in Tulsa’s newly installed no-huddle spread formation as he threw 47 touchdowns. Many question Smith’s arm strength, but at the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine game he displayed good velocity and touch. Smith lacks ideal size, but he’s a competitor who can throw with any QB in the class. In the right system, Smith can emerge as a starter at the next level, and Indianapolis is his opportunity to showcase his skills.

11. Sam Keller, Nebraska, 6-4, 235

12. Alex Brink, Washington State, 6-2, 210

13. Bernard Morris, Marshall, 6-3, 200

14. Dennis Dixon, Oregon, 6-4, 190

15. Anthony Morelli, Penn State, 6-3, 220

16. Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State, 6-5, 231

17. Matt Flynn, LSU, 6-2, 227

18. T.C. Ostrander, Stanford, 6-2, 223

19. Kyle Wright, Miami, 6-4, 225

20. Adam Tafralis, San Jose State, 6-1, 220

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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