Positional Analysis: Quarterbacks

If you're a draftnik, you know all about the top two prospects at quarterback, but what about the other signal-callers that will get drafted behind JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn? We review the prevailing wisdom on the top 10 QBs in the draft.

VIKINGS QUARTERBACKS—Tarvaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger, Drew Henson

POSITION ANALYSIS—The Vikings have indicated that they will target a developmental quarterback in the draft and affirmed that position by not even bringing any free agent quarterbacks in for a visit. Twelve QBs were taken in the draft last year, including five in the first two rounds. About the same number are expected to be taken this year, with two of them—JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn—potentially coming off the board as early as the first two picks. After that, however, it could be two full rounds before another quarterback goes off the board. While strong at the top, most of the QB crop in 2007 fits the project/developmental tag.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

JaMarcus Russell, LSU, 6-5½, 256—
Fourth-year junior…Two-year starter who completed 420 of 653 passes for 5,572 yards with 43 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions…Had a career passer rating of 147.9, including a sparkling 167.0 rating in 2006…Posted a 25-4 record as a starter…First Team All-SEC, Sugar Bowl MVP and a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award in 2006—given to the best college QB…Has incredible size…Has the strongest arm some scouts have ever seen of a player coming out of college…Can throw the ball 70 yards flat-footed, but has the touch to flick the ball with ease and precision…Doesn't take great care of his body and showed up the Combine out of shape…Doesn't work overtime in film study or the weight room…Tends to lock on a primary receiver and doesn't always go through his progressions…Will throw from bad angles and doesn't have the best throwing mechanics…Hasn't been a strong team leader…Did not throw at the Combine, but ran a 4.68 40.

PROJECTION: With his pure athletic talent, he looks like a Daunte Culpepper clone. But like Pepp, he has got this far on pure talent and has never committed himself to the little things that make a good quarterback great and a great QB a Hall of Famer. Even with his questionable work ethic, it will be hard for the Raiders to pass on him at No. 1 and, even if they do, almost impossible for the Lions to pass at No. 2.

Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, 6-3¾, 232—Fourth-year senior who became a starter four games into his true freshman season…In two years under former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis he completed 581 of 917 passes for 7,345 yards with 69 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions, as well as rushing 152 times for 549 more yards and three TDs…In his last two years, he has a passer rating of 152.1…Won the Maxwell Award as the top college player in 2006 and finished third in the Heisman voting…The first Notre Dame QB to top 3,000 yards passing in a season—and he did it twice…Has 36 school passing records and is in the top 10 all-time in the NCAA for touchdowns (95) and passing yards (11,762)…Very strong work ethic and attention to the weight room and film study…Played two years in a pro-style offense…Reads his progressions well…Has extremely good accuracy in the short-to-intermediate routes…Has good mechanics and quick release…Good awareness in the pocket to avoid pressure…Is viewed as a frontrunner who plays his best when his team is ahead and not when they're losing…His accuracy drops significantly on passes of more than 20 yards and often makes his receivers make big plays on deep passes instead of dropping the ball in where only they can catch it…Struggled against top competition on the national stage…Suffered a knee injury that prevented him from working out at Senior Bowl week and the Combine, but did an amazing 24 reps with 225 pounds.

PROJECTION: Quinn benefited a lot from having two years with Weis and is driven to be a NFL quarterback. He can hit the ground running at the next level without having to be taught proper mechanics or reading defenses. He should go as high as No. 2 or 3 to Detroit or Cleveland, but if he makes it past the Three Hole, he could fall to the Vikings—who would be hard-pressed not to take him.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Kevin Kolb, Houston, 6-3¼, 218 —
Fourth-year senior…A four-year starter who completed 963 of 1,564 passes (61.6 percent) for 12,954 yards with 81 touchdowns and 31 interceptions…Was an accomplished rusher, compiling 472 carries for 1,770 yards and 21 touchdowns…Phenomenal senior season completing 292 of 432 passes (67.6 percent) for 3,809 yards with 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions…Holds school records for attempts, completions, passing yards, total yards and touchdowns…Just the fourth quarterback in D-1 history to start 50 games…Has a strong arm and can zip passes in tight spots…Intelligent player capable of quick reads…A leader on the field who was respected by his teammates and coaches…Durable…Good at finishing off drives for touchdowns instead of stalling in close…Good accuracy…Will have to make a lot of adjustments in the NFL because he played high school and college in a spread offense that had him taking almost all of his snaps from the shotgun…Struggled with a pro style offense at the Senior Bowl…Some scouts ignore his passing numbers because of a gimmick offense that artificially pumps up passing numbers…Has never been asked to consistently deliver the deep pass because the offense is based primarily on three-step drop passes that get away quickly…Learning curve will be long…Prone to fumbling…Had a solid Combine, running a 4.87 40 with a 32½ inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump.

PROJECTION: There aren't too many bad things to say about Kolb's ability, but he is viewed as a quarterback from a gimmick offense that has rarely produced a top QB (remember David Klingler and Andre Ware?). If given time, Kolb could be a very good NFL quarterback. But it will take time. An ideal landing spot for him would be a place that has a quarterback that has a couple of years left in the tank. If pushed out too soon, he could be a bust. But if given a year or two to learn the pro style, he could be a steal at the end of the second round or into the third.

Drew Stanton, Michigan State, 6-3¼, 226 —Fifth-year senior…Two-sport athlete in high school who also excelled in baseball…As a backup in 2003, he tore his right ACL as a gunner on the special teams…Has also had injuries to his shoulder, throwing hand and has sustained two concussions…A two-year starter who made 24 straight starts and completed 410 of 624 passes for 4,884 yards with 34 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in the final two years…A dangerous runner who in his final two years rushed 231 times for 1,119 yards and nine touchdowns…Good high throwing motion…Willing to stand in the pocket and take a hit to deliver a strike…Excels at throwing the short slant pass on time and in position…Has good foot quickness to move around in the pocket…Tough player who will play through injuries…Doesn't have a good deep ball and to get accuracy, he has to throw it very high and give safeties a chance at a play…Tends to give up on plays too quickly and bolt from the pocket when his first option is taken away…Gets frustrated and will throw stupid passes…Numbers were much better as a junior than a senior…Has an injury history that concerns some scouts…Doesn't read progressions quickly…Ran a 4.77 40 at the Combine with a 30½ inch vertical jump, and a 9-0 broad jump.

PROJECTION: He replaced Jeff Smoker at MSU—a quarterback who was taken late in the draft when he came out. Stanton has the physical tools to be a decent quarterback, but will likely be a project that will go off the board somewhere on the third round.

Trent Edwards, Stanford, 6-4¼, 231—Fifth-year senior…Undefeated in three years as a high school quarterback…Four-year starter who had his redshirt freshman season ended with a shoulder injury and his senior season end after seven games with a broken foot…Finished his career completing 488 of 868 passes for 5,443 yards with 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions…Has prototype size and good throwing mechanics…Is excellent at picking up blitzes and either moving the pocket or finding the hot read…Is accurate on the run…Team leader…Needs to improve his footwork a lot and step into passes….Injury history will scare off some teams…Overthrows too many receivers…Is prone to throwing passes into coverage… Played much better as a junior than a senior…Aside from his junior year, he threw 19 touchdowns and 27 interceptions…Didn't jump at the Combine, but ran a 4.82 40 and did 19 reps with 225 pounds.

PROJECTION: Was viewed as a better prospect a year ago, but much of the problems he had were surrounding an offense that floundered due to numerous key injuries. Still, he didn't show the ability to carry his team when things went badly and looks to be a mid-round prospect who will have to fight to keep a job every training camp he's in.

Troy Smith, Ohio State, 6-0, 222—Fifth-year senior whose brother (Rob) was a guard for Ohio State a decade ago…A two-year starter who completed 352 of 548 passes (64 percent) for 4,824 yards, 46 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and ran 208 times for 1,054 yards and 12 TDs…Has had more than a couple of run-ins with the law, including a conviction on an attack against five women with now-Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and taking money for a booster for a cell phone bill that involved both his mother and Maurice Clarett…Was named MVP of the Fiesta Bowl in January by completing 19 of 28 passes for 342 yards and two TDs…Won the Heisman Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award in 2006…Very strong arm and can make all the needed NFL throws…Makes quick reads and has a fast throwing motion to get rid of short darts…Very difficult to sack because of his quick feet…Goes through his progressions and consistently finds the open man instead of forcing passes into coverage…Can make big plays with his feet, as he showed as a junior by rushing for 722 yards and 11 TDs…Led his team to a lot of victories and played his best on the big stage…Emotional team leader—good or bad…Is viewed as being at the minimum height for an NFL quarterback…Extremely cocky and has been known to throw teammates under the bus when things go wrong...Gets too many passes tipped at the line...Isn't a true student of the game…Wowed scouts at the Combine with a position best vertical jump (36½ inches) and broad jump (10 feet, two inches—almost a foot better than any other QB expected to be drafted) and a 4.72 40.

PROJECTION: If not for his arrogance and red flags, he would likely be the third quarterback off the board. There is a good chance he will go off the board higher than we have projected, but he's the kind of player that has "punk" written all over him and that in itself will likely get teams like the Vikings (and several others) to de-value him considerably. He could go as early as the mid to late second round or still be on the board early in Day 2—when the problem children don't look like as a much of a risk.

THE BEST OF THE REST

John Beck, BYU, 6-2, 216—
Sixth-year senior who spent two years after high school on a Morman mission…Full-time starter the last three years who completed 812 of 1,273 passes for 10,157 yards, 74 touchdowns and 29 interceptions…His 11,021 yards and 17 300-yard games are second only to Ty Detmer in BYU school history…Named Mountain West Conference MVP in 2006 and left college with conference career records for attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and total offense…Seemed to play his best against the best teams…Smart player who is adept at reading defenses…Good arm strength and zip on the ball…Accuracy very good on short/intermediate passes…Is not a speedy player, but has good movement skills in the pocket to avoid trouble…Has a three-quarters release and gets too many passes tipped or batted down…Doesn't have the arm strength to throw the deep sideline route and needs to get air under very long throws…Is not viewed as having much more to bring to the table…Is skinny and has an injury history (broken passing hand throwing shoulder injury) that could be a red flag for some teams…Ran a 4.76 40 at the Combine with a 9-3 broad jump but a 28½ inch vertical jump that was the third worst for his position.

PROJECTION: It's hard to invest too much in a rookie who is going to be 25 years old, but Beck has a lot of positive intangibles in his favor. Kind of a Brooks Bollinger type who could be an ideal backup because of his ability to grasp an offense and operate it efficiently. But his chances of being a NFL starter seem a little remote so he'll likely be a second-day pick who has a chance to compete for a No. 2 job in training camp.

Isaiah Stanback, Washington, 6-2½, 216 —Fifth-year senior…Two-sport athlete who ran track for the Huskies and has career-best 10.48 in the 100 meters…Three-sport high school athlete who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in last year's Major League Baseball draft despite not playing baseball since high school…Spent his freshman season playing wide receiver…Two-year starter who completed 244 of 453 passes for 3,461 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions in that span…Also ran 185 times for 953 yards and nine TDs in his final two seasons as a starter…Suffered a Lisfranc injury in his senior season—an injury known for being long to recuperate from and has a tendency to recur…Has tremendous natural speed and, like Michael Vick, can cover a lot of ground in a hurry when he takes off out of the pocket on scrambles…Has a strong arm and can deliver the ball from different throwing styles with accuracy…Adept at throwing on the run and putting the ball on target…Doesn't step into his throws often enough and will need to refine his drop back and stepping up in the pocket…Throws way too many incompletions for a college quarterback…Although he doesn't throw a lot of interceptions, he forces too many passes in coverage when it isn't necessary…Injury history, especially the latest foot injury, is reason for concern for a lot of team medical staffs…Didn't fully participate at the Combine, but finished best at his position with a 4.50 40-yard dash and second with 22 reps of 225 pounds.

PROJECTION: If not for his foot injury, he would be viewed at or near the top of the group behind Russell and Quinn. His upside is very good and his speed makes him almost a prototype of the Antwaan Randle El type that can be a dual threat as a thrower or a receiver, but because his experience at WR is limited, he will likely be a late Day One or early Day Two pick for a team looking for a multi-functional player for use on gadget plays. His Lisfranc injury is a red flag for some teams and others will view him as a "Slash" type. He may have to fight to remain a quarterback only.

Jeff Rowe, Nevada, 6-5¼, 222 —Fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt as a sophomore after separating his right shoulder…A three-year starter who started the last 36 games of his college career, completing 643 of 1,049 passes for 7,465 yards, 53 touchdowns and 30 interceptions…In his final two seasons, he ran 212 times for 854 yards and 10 touchdowns…Two-time team most valuable player and named MVP of the East-West Shrine Game…Excellent size for a quarterback…Doesn't panic when plays break down and make plays with both his arm and his feet…Quick to go through his progressions…Can make good throws on the run…Played in a gimmick offense that required most of his passes to be short slants and isn't well-versed in the pro style offense…Doesn't have good accuracy on deep passes…Skinny…Took almost all of his snaps out of the shotgun and will have to learn to read defenses while standing under center…Will get himself in trouble by trying too hard to force passes into small windows for completions…Bails out of the pocket too quickly…Ran a 4.94 40 at the Combine with a 31½ inch vertical jump and a 9-6 broad jump—the third-best broad jump among quarterbacks.

PROJECTION: His stock took a big jump at the Shrine Game, where he was the best QB that week, but he is viewed as a long-term project and likely won't leave the board until the middle of the second day.

Jordan Palmer, Texas-El Paso, 6-5¾, 231—Fifth-year senior who is the brother of former top overall selection and Bengals All-Pro Carson Palmer…Became a starter midway through his redshirt freshman year and started all 36 of his team's games his final three years—completing 753 of 1,229 passes for 9,916 yards, 81 touchdowns and 51 interceptions in that span…Has a history of concussions, as well as suffering a broken collarbone, a broken left ankle and a broken rib along the way…Set the school record for touchdown passes (29) as a junior and finished his career as UTEP's all-time passing yardage leader…Has ideal size and a strong arm…Gets rid of the ball quickly and decisively…Can throw the deep pass with a lot of zing…Improved his completion percentage and his passer rating each year of college…Gets frustrated and will bail the pocket when pressured…Doesn't step into passes and use his physical tools too their full extent…Doesn't have a great pocket presence and gets sacked too often…Puts too much air under deep passes and gives D-backs a chance to adjust and make breakups…Ran a 4.98 40 at the Combine with a 30½ inch vertical jump and a 8-8 broad jump, which was the third-worst all quarterbacks who worked out.

PROJECTION: He likely will get attention more because of his family name than his ability to be a top-end QB like Carson Palmer. He has a lot of the same physical traits and could grow into being a NFL quarterback, but he will be a project at best—and likely won't go until well into the second day of the draft unless someone is playing a big hunch.

OTHERS TO WATCH
Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh, 6-1½, 212
Chris Leak, Florida, 6-0, 207
Jared Zabransky, Boise State, 6-2¼, 215
Zac Taylor, Nebraska, 6-2½, 215
Toby Korrodi, Central Missouri State, 6-3½, 234
James Pinkney, East Carolina, 6-2½, 208


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