QB Quick Takes
A Pre-Combine consideration of some of the draft’s top quarterbacks:
Observations: The one benefit to Bradford’s lost season was highlighting the impact he had on the Sooners’ success. With Bradford in the lineup, OU was a national title contender in ‘08. Without him, they struggled to 8-5 in ‘09. Like Tebow and McCoy, he was a key component of one of college football’s best teams. Unlike Tebow and McCoy, Bradford was a pocket passer who succeeded using the same skills he will be asked to draw upon in the pros. He goes through his progressions, makes quick decisions, uses good judgment, and has completed a high percentage of his throws.
Risk Factors: By far, the biggest question is how his shoulder checks out. Bradford played in a spread offense but stayed in the pocket more than most spread quarterbacks. Nonetheless, there will be some questions about transitioning to a system where he will be dropping back on the majority of plays.
Gut Reaction: Bradford's got game. If his shoulder checks out, he is the only quarterback I'd seriously consider drafting in the top five at the moment.
Observations: If some quarterbacks are raw prospects and others polished, Clausen is that shiny spot on a bronze statue that has been rubbed about a million times for good luck. Jimmy’s older brothers were Division I quarterbacks, his parents paid for him to learn from a professional quarterbacks coach in junior high, he went to a prep school with a high profile football program, and capped it off by learning a pro system at Notre Dame from none other than Charlie Weis. It is doubtful that any other quarterback in this class compares in terms of preparation for the NFL. The flip side is that he might also be the closest to his ceiling. Despite what might sound like a slightly pampered upbringing, Clausen has played through injury and sickness and earned his place on the team. He has a quick release and throws with velocity and accuracy.
Risk Factors: One area of concern is that despite Clausen’s gaudy personal statistics, the Irish never made it into a BCS bowl under his leadership. His college career ended with his head coach being fired after 4 straight losses to the likes of Navy, Pitt, U Conn, and Stanford. This was the team’s second loss to Navy in Clausen’s three years starting, snapping a 43-game streak of Notre Dame wins in the match-up. Given that all of ND’s losses were close last season (7 points or less), it is a bit disappointing that he did not pull off a few more comeback wins. He did not have the greatest defense or running game to help out, but he has benefited from playing with receivers like Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Some also say he doesn’t have the greatest deep ball. I would also have slight concerns about how he would fit in with his teammates based simply on my own experience with Notre Dame alumni who often seem to forget that not everyone has enjoyed the same advantages.
Gut Reaction: What you see is what you get. He’s sort of the anti-Tebow—all the skills but no magic.
Observations: Daniel “Colt” McCoy looks great on paper. A four year starter in the Big 12, 45 wins, 70.2% completion percentage, he almost took Texas to a national title game in 2008 and did take Texas to the title game in 2009 only to fall to injury in the first quarter. McCoy is an exciting dual-threat quarterback with strong leadership qualities who accomplished a great deal without elite receivers or run game support.
Risk Factors: McCoy’s injury in the title game appears to be a relatively minor issue, but many will see him as a system quarterback whose style is ill-suited for the NFL. His mechanics are better than Tebow’s, but he will still have to adapt to dropping back from behind center and checking down through his receivers. He is also relatively slight of frame and has a relatively weak arm.
Gut Reaction: I get the feeling he’s a big boom or bust player. Four years from now, he could either be starting for the Rams or selling them at Colt’s Chrysler Dodge.
Observations: Give him and Coach Brian Kelly credit for putting Cincinnati in a pair of BCS bowls and very nearly earning the chance to play for the national title. Pike makes good decisions and throws to where his receivers are going. His height is also a plus, and it perhaps helps to explain his superior field vision.
Risk Factors: Pike is a scarecrow. His gangly stature would not be so disconcerting if he had not missed time after breaking his non-throwing arm on two separate occasions. Durability is a real concern, doubly so because he lacks the mobility to escape pressure. He also is said not to be quite the vocal leader that some of the other prospects are.
Gut Reaction: I could see him fitting right in with the quarterbacks of recent Rams history--dangerously accurate, dangerously immobile, and spending half of every season on injured reserve.
Observations: The man from Central Michigan looks like the prototype of an NFL quarterback. He is the proud owner of the record for most credited touchdowns (passing and rushing) in the NCAA. He may have turned some heads with a good game in the Senior Bowl. With Tebow-like size and scrambling and somewhat more traditional mechanics, somebody is going to fall in love with his potential.
Risk Factors: Much like McCoy, LeFevour’s arm has been called into question, and he will have to adjust to dropping back from behind center and staying in the pocket. He will also face a bigger transition in level of competition than many of the other quarterbacks on this list.
Gut Reaction: He‘ll be an off-season riser, but he’s not someone you’re going to want to just throw into the fire. My best bet is that he’ll go to a team that plans on having him hold the clipboard for a year or two.