Positional Analysis: Quarterback

The quarterback crop for 2009 has three that could go in the first round and a pronounced dropoff after that. That could create a situation where a quarterback isn't drafted for a round or two. John Holler goes in-depth on the statistics, awards, strengths and weaknesses of the top 10 QBs of 2009.

Vikings Quarterbacks – Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson, John David Booty.

Vikings Draft Outlook – After making the trade to acquire Rosenfels, barring an elite prospect falling to them, it is unlikely the Vikings will make a move at QB early in the draft. The team seems satisfied with Rosenfels and Jackson competing for the starting job and Booty as the project QB of the future. It will be tough to unseat any of them barring injuries, but the team will most likely add a fourth quarterback before training camp.

The Class of 2009 – Any time you have a player projected to be the No. 1 overall pick, you have to consider the class to be solid. Three players are projected to be first-round prospects – Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. However, beyond those three, the talent level drops off sharply. There may not be another quarterback taken until the third or fourth round and none of them look to be players who will become NFL starters, making this a top-heavy class that will likely get picked clean pretty early on draft weekend.

CREAM OF THE CROP

Matthew Stafford, Georgia, 6-2¼, 225 –
Third-year junior … Three-year starter who completed 564 of 987 passes for 7,731 yards with 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions … A Parade All-American in high school and Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas as a senior … Emerged as a junior, completing 235 of 383 passes for 3,459 yards with 25 TDs and 10 interceptions … Has a rocket for an arm and can throw any pass asked of him … Natural delivery and gets rid of the ball quickly … Stands tall in the pocket and has the strength to avoid sacks and make plays … Can still deliver strong passes on the run and rolling out … Can get through his progressions quickly if his primary receiver is covered … Had a tendency to throw too many passes up for grabs … Relies too much on arm strength to make plays and doesn't always set himself … Didn't play his best against top competition … Ran a 4.75 40 at the Combine with a 30½-inch vertical jump and an 8-11 broad jump. PROJECTION: Some believe the last QB with the pure passing power as Stafford was John Elway, pretty high praise. While not a lock to be a star in the NFL, he likely won't make it past Detroit with the first pick.

Mark Sanchez, USC, 6-2¼, 227 – Fourth-year junior … One-year full-time starter who completed 241 of 366 passes for 3,207 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year … A prolific high school athlete who played basketball and baseball and was named Parade All-America Player of the Year as a high school senior … Was arrested in 2006 on charges of sexual assault and held on $200,000 bail, but the case never went to trial due to insufficient evidence of wrongdoing … Suffered a broken thumb in preseason camp in 2007 and a dislocated left kneecap in preseason camp last year … Has a strong arm and good awareness in the pocket to slide away from a pass rush … Has very good accuracy … Played in an NFL-style offense at USC … Re-sets his feet quickly and delivers passes on target … Doesn't get rattled easily and played his best with the pressure on … Reads defenses well and will go through his progressions quickly … Just a one-year starter with limited game experience … Doesn't look like a finely tuned athlete … Loses accuracy the farther he throws down the field … Doesn't consistently throw a tight spiral … Has a history of nagging knee problems … Coach Pete Carroll said he didn't think he was ready to make the jump to the NFL … Ran a 4.70 40 at the Combine with a 32½-inch vertical jump and a 9-8 broad jump. PROJECTION: A risky pick who has boom/bust potential due to his lack of experience and propensity for injury. But, he has many of the qualities teams look for in a quarterback and, if not thrown into the fire immediately, could develop into a strong NFL quarterback. He could go as early as No. 8 to Jacksonville, but almost surely will be gone well before the Vikings make their first pick at No. 22.

Josh Freeman, Kansas State, 6-5¾, 248 – Third-year junior … Took over as a starter in the fourth game of his college career and started all 30 games he played from that point on … Finished his career completing 680 of 1,151 passes (59.1 percent) for 8,078 yards with 44 touchdowns and 34 interceptions and rushed 214 times for 825 yards and 20 TDs … Blossomed as a junior, completing 224 of 382 passes for 2,945 yards with 20 TDs and eight interceptions and ran 107 times for 538 yards and 14 more TDs … Has prototype size and can see the field extremely well … Has a very strong arm and there isn't a throw he is asked to make that he can't deliver … Has a quick release … Has the strength to break away from tacklers and make plays and stands tall in the pocket … Has never suffered a serious injury … Goes through his progressions quickly … Will lose confidence at times and can be streaky … Is liable to tuck the ball and run too quickly if his receivers are covered and his internal clock runs a little fast … Throws too many passes at 100 miles per hour and often sets himself up for balls that bounce off the receiver's hands and can be intercepted … Didn't have a great TD-to-interception ratio … Didn't will his team to victories as a junior with a team that wasn't as good as in 2007. Ran a 4.97 40 at the Combine with a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-11 broad jump. PROJECTION: He is a physical specimen who a lot of quarterback coaches would love to have. He has some flaws in his mechanics and will need time to refine his game. But, with his awesome size and upside potential, he might even be gone before the Vikings make their first pick at No. 22 – and could go as high as Denver at No. 12.


THE NEXT LEVEL

Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston, 6-2¼, 225 –
Fifth-year senior … Originally enrolled at Oklahoma and became the starter as a redshirt freshman … Cut from the team after two arrests for alcohol possession by a minor, as well as an NCAA rules violation concerning an off-campus job in which he was paid more than he should have been … Transferred to Sam Houston and in two years as a starter completed 417 of 727 passes for 5,564 yards with 37 touchdowns and 19 interceptions … In just two seasons, became the school's all-time leading passer … Tore his left ACL as a junior … Has good size and strength … Has a strong arm and can throw the deep out routes with ease … Has a quick delivery and can avoid sacks by zipping passes at the last instant … Is quick to go through his progressions … Has a lot of toughness and doesn't want to come out if injured … Can throw accurately on the run but over is not very accurate – had a career 56 percent completion percentage … Has some severe mechanical flaws that will need to be corrected at the next level … Is a bit immature and too emotional for a team leader … At times will throw some really ugly passes and hang his receivers out to dry … Has relied too much on his arm strength and hasn't grown as a passer … Ran a 4.76 40 at Combine, did an impressive 25 reps of 225 pounds and had a 8-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: He has all the physical tools to be an intriguing prospect, but has too many bad habits that scare scouts. His flaws were magnified at the Senior Bowl. He will likely come off the board in the third round because of his skills, but may be a permanent tease who never lives up to his full potential.

Nate Davis, Ball State, 6-1½, 226 – Third-year junior … Three-year starter who completed 678 of 1,124 passes for 9,233 yards with 74 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions … Was named Mid-America Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2008, completing 258 of 401 passes (64.3 percent) for 3,591 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions, as well as rushing 66 times for 410 yards and five TDs … Has good arm strength and a strong lower body to shake off potential sacks … Doesn't lose accuracy when on the move … Sees the field well … Buys time with his feet and can make big plays out of nothing … Wears gloves when he plays and balls tend to sail on him … Doesn't have a good internal clock and is subject to taking big hits, which in the NFL will result in fumbles … Loses accuracy on deep balls … Doesn't set himself to throw consistently and will throw some awful-looking passes … Isn't a natural drop-back passer … Was diagnosed with a learning disability that will make mastering a playbook much more difficult … Ran a 4.95 40 at the Combine with a 26½-inch vertical jump and an 8-3 broad jump. PROJECTION: He dominated the mid-major competition he faced, but the jump to the NFL will be a big transition. Whoever drafts him will have to be patient because his learning curve will be pronounced. He has some good intangibles, but his red flags are serious, which should drop him into the middle rounds.

John Parker Wilson, Alabama, 6-1¾, 215 – Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who completed 658 of 1,164 passes for 7,826 yards with 45 TDs and 30 interceptions in that span … A Parade All-American as a high school senior who led his prep team to state championships in all three years as a starter … Arrested for DWI in 2006 … Finished his college career as the Crimson Tide's all-time leader in completions, yards and touchdowns … Is very tough and durable, having started the last 40 games of his college career … Is quick with his set and release … A natural leader with a high winning percentage throughout his career … Played in a pro-style offense … Has good accuracy in the short to intermediate areas … Has some mechanical flaws that tends to have passes sail high … Loses accuracy the farther he is asked to throw the ball … Locks on to his primary target too often and doesn't consistently read his progressions … Doesn't have ideal footwork in his dropback or his setup … Ran a 4.76 40 at the Combine with a 29½-inch vertical jump and an 8-9 broad jump. PROJECTION: There will be teams that won't even consider him until the later round because of his lack of top arm strength and problems with his accuracy, but he does have experience and durability and will find his way on an NFL roster. He is a candidate to go off the board somewhere on Day 2 – most likely in the fourth or fifth round.

BEST OF THE REST

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, 6-2¼, 223 –
Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who completed 1,366 of 1,966 passes (almost 70 percent) for 15,371 yards with 131 touchdowns and just 34 interceptions … Set the Texas high school record for career passing yards with 12,532 and touchdowns with 167 … Had his best season as a junior, completing 512 of 713 passes (71.8 percent) for 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns … Had a horrific hand injury to his non-throwing hand in which he suffered nine fractures in his index and pinky fingers that required 17 pins and two plates to be inserted ... A hard-nosed player who has displayed toughness and leadership … Good football smarts … Doesn't force passes into difficult spots and will read his progressions rather than take unnecessary risks … Has a very quick release … Has good pocket awareness and can make subtle moves in the pocket to buy extra time and avoid pass rushers … Dangerous on fade routes in the red zone … Is skinny and doesn't have a strong arm … Looked brutal at times during the Senior Bowl practices, underthrowing receivers consistently on deep routes … Puts too much air under deep passes and allows safeties to slide across and make plays … Played in a shotgun offense that doesn't translate well to the pros … Not able to scramble out of trouble – he averaged less than two yards a carry on 113 rushing attempts … Ran a 4.95 40 at the Combine with a 29½-inch vertical jump and an 8-9 broad jump. PROJECTION: He posted some eye-popping numbers in college, but his lack of arm strength was exposed at the Senior Bowl. He may only be a good fit in a West Coast offense that will allow him to dink-and-dunk passes. He may find his way on a roster, but his down sides are big, which should drop him into the later rounds.

Pat White, West Virginia, 6-0¼, 197 – Fifth-year senior … Became a starter midway through his redshirt freshman season and finished his career completing 507 of 783 passes for 6,049 yards with 56 touchdowns and 23 interceptions and ran 684 times for 4,842 yards (a 7.1 yard average) and 47 touchdowns … Two-time Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year.. Captain of the South squad at the Senior Bowl and was named the game's MVP … The only quarterback in Division I history to win four bowl games as a starter … A dangerous runner who makes big plays with his legs … Has great initial burst when he decides to run and turns what looks to be sacks into big gains … Has a strong arm that impressed a lot of scouts at the Senior Bowl … Can throw the ball accurately on the run … Has shown a willingness to play through injuries … Has a good football I.Q … .Is very skinny and most scouts don't project him as being a quarterback in the NFL … Has never played wide receiver at any level before … Played almost exclusively out of the shotgun, which he can't do at the pro level … Is too short and too thin to withstand the pounding NFL QBs are expected to endure … Has suffered numerous injuries, including ankle, neck, hand and shoulder issues … Ran a 4.55 40 at the Combine with a 35-inch vertical jump and a 9-9 broad jump. PROJECTION: White is an exceptional athlete, but simply doesn't project as a quarterback at the next level. Despite having a strong arm and making numerous highlight-film plays, he will likely be asked to move to wide receiver. If he is stubborn about remaining a QB, it will hurt his draft stock. But, after his performance at the Senior Bowl, he could go higher than some of the QBs we have ranked ahead of him, but likely will never be a passer in the NFL – except in Wildcat formations.

Brian Hoyer, Michigan State, 6-2, 215 – Fifth-year senior … Two-year starter who completed 403 of 729 passes for 5,129 yards with 29 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in that span … Has a good pocket presence and consistent delivery … Played in a pro-style offense … Has the guts to stand in the pocket and take a big hit to give his receiver time to get open … Can make plays outside the pocket … Has good football smarts … Does not have a great arm and has a long windup to deliver the deep ball … His numbers dropped considerably in 2008, completing just 51 percent of his passes and throwing just nine touchdowns and nine interceptions … Throws off his back foot too often and passes will float too long … Locks on to his primary target too often … Ran a 5.02 40 at the Combine with a 32-inch vertical jump and a 9-1 broad jump. PROJECTION: After a solid week at the East-West Shrine Game, he likely earned himself a spot in the later rounds of the draft. But his upside isn't that high and he will have to go to a team that has a patient quarterback coach that can try to minimize his deficiencies, which may be too numerous for some teams to consider him until the very end of the draft.

Cullen Harper, Clemson, 6-2, 225 – Fifth-year senior … Two-year starter who completed 503 of 793 passes for 5,592 yards with 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in that span … Has a history of injuries – he broke his collarbone twice in high school, had shoulder surgery on his throwing shoulder in 2007 and his non-throwing shoulder in 2008 … Has good size … Throws the ball with velocity and can fit it into tight zones with accuracy … Has quick feet to slide in the pocket or run to avoid sacks … Is a workout warrior who has a gym rat mentality … Will hold his ground under pressure and take a big hit to deliver a pass … Has a very long delivery that leaves him vulnerable to pass rushers with good closing speed … His accuracy on anything but short passes is suspect … His injury history produces a bright red flag … Did not have a good week at the Senior Bowl, which he desperately needed … Threw coach Tommy Bowden under the bus after he was fired, which had some questioning his loyalty … Ran a 4.95 40 at the Combine with 19 reps of 225 pounds, a 30-inch vertical jump and an 8-9 long jump. PROJECTION: After a big junior season (27 touchdowns, six interceptions), he took a big step backward last year (13 TDs, 14 interceptions) and was briefly benched – only to get the job back when his replacement got injured. At best, he is currently viewed as a developmental project who likely won't come off the board until the very end of the draft.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Tom Brandstater, Fresno State, 6-5, 220
Jason Bolthus, Hartwick, 6-2¾, 225
Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas, 6-0¾, 219
Hunter Cantwell, Louisville, 6-4½, 235
Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State, 6-2, 217
Chase Daniel, Missouri, 6-0, 218
David Johnson, Tulsa, 6-1¾, 217
Stephen McGee, Texas A&M, 6-3, 225
Mike Reilly, Central Washington, 6-3, 215


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