Pro Football Weekly Draft Propects QB
With so few legitimate senior QB prospects available, this might seem like an ideal year for the top underclassmen to enter the draft. However, according to every NFL talent evaluator we spoke to either on or off the record, almost all of them would be making a huge mistake by coming out early. While Purdueís Drew Brees may be the only highly rated senior by the pros, most of the underclassmen are looked upon as half raw meat by the scouts. Or as one scout said, it would be a shame to take a beautiful steak and serve it half raw to a league which likes its meat well-done. Unfortunately, because of the salary-cap ramifications NFL teams must deal with, most high-priced young quarterbacks must play early in their careers.
While Virginia Techís Michael Vick may be the frontrunner for the next generation of NFL quarterbacks, nobody we spoke to felt he was ready to enter the pros now, and many said he may need two more years, not one. While all the experts call Vick a phenomenal athlete and potential top pick with rare speed for a quarterback and a powerful arm, that is where they stop and hit you with the fact he is short, has poor passing technique, does not even step into his throws, lacks some accuracy and touch, does not read coverages well and at times plays almost like a schoolyard/sandlot-type quarterback.
Hereís a sampling of opinions of Vick: "His passing technique is awful. He throws flat-footed without even stepping into his throws, he throws a lot of balls off balance and a lot of times he does not even point his shoulder toward the target. He canít read coverages yet and plays like a kid off the sandlots."
"While he is even stronger, faster and more athletic than Steve Young was and has a far superior arm, Vick is where Young was during his sophomore year in college. In two years, this kid could be the hottest QB property since Troy Aikman. But right now he is a huge project."
"You donít take a 10-month old colt and run him in the Kentucky Derby. This kid could grow up to be a champion, but he needs time to grow up."
"He is the best running quarterback I have ever seen and a top pick, but he is not ready and would be jeopardizing his pro career by coming out now."
One scoutís take on Michiganís Drew Henson: "How can he even consider coming out? He never started a game until a month into the 2000 season and has very little game experience. He needs to play and keep playing and developing. Look at the Michigan quarterbacks starting with (Jim) Harbaugh. They all stayed at least four, and in many cases, five years in college, and they all made it."
With regard to Georgiaís Quincy Carter, the more scouts see of him, the less they like him. After a horrible start to his junior year, he could be in for a very rude surprise if he tested the waters this year.
"(Carter is) a big, athletic kid who got a real big head and regressed. I would not take him in the seventh round of the draft."
"He may be a former pro baseball player and he may be 23 years old, but he simply is not ready. He makes too many poor decisions, canít find secondary receivers, does not throw with much touch, tends to hold on to the ball too long and rarely steps up in big games."
"The more I have seen of him, the less I like him."
On USCís Carson Palmer: "After reading all his press clippings, I felt I was going to see another Troy Aikman. But the kid I saw in the Kickoff Classic was not even good enough to draft. Granted, he was coming off an injury and probably was very rusty, but he was awful."
"The more he plays, the better he will get, but he really is not the talent that he is hyped up to be, and he does a lot of things to make you question the mental part of his game. I just do not think he is a very smart football player at this point."
On East Carolinaís David Garrard: "Big kid. Throws a nice deep ball. Improves every year. Just needs more time."
On Texasí Major Applewhite: "A good college player with limited pro potential. I just donít know if he has enough ability."
The one underclassmen the scouts hedge on a bit is Illinoisí Kurt Kittner.
"(Kittner is) not the most gifted, but he is the most ready of the bunch by far. He has a great QB coach (Illinois head coach Ron Turner), and this is his third year starting in a pro-type offense. He seems to improve tremendously each year."
"There may be no better place for a young quarterback to learn and grow than at Illinois, but he is not the John Elway-type who is going to beat you with his athleticism."
"He will learn a lot more playing at Illinois than he will learn sitting on an NFL bench."
"The Minnesota game showed he is not ready."
As for the seniors, the only one scouts seem to like is Drew Brees, and many question if he is an elite prospect or just a good one. Scouts are very high on Breesí toughness, intangibles, poise, vision and ability to read the field and admire his quick release and grasp of the game. While many say he is accurate, some donít feel he is a pinpoint marksman who allows his receivers to run right through the ball without breaking stride on a consistent basis ó like the elite pure passers do. Many also have reservations about his arm strength.
"(Brees is) good enough, but not great."
"Depends upon what type of offense you play and where you play. He is not a Giants, northeastern, bad-weather quarterback at his size with his arm."
"The system he is in and playing with the shotgun so much really helps him, but he is not that gifted and is a short guy who plays short and gets a lot of balls tipped."
"Coming back for his senior year really helped him. We had him rated about on par with Brian Griese when Griese came out, but this year if (Brees) plays well and then goes to the Senior Bowl and shows he is not a product of the system, he could be a (first-round) pick."
"He is not Elway, Troy Aikman or Steve Young, but he has a chance to go in the first round with a good Senior Bowl. However, he is not a kid who can afford to miss all the bowls (postseason all-star games) and expect to go in the top of the draft."
Probably the No. 2 senior quarterback is Florida Stateís Chris Weinke, who made a very wise choice to return to school this year. He really has improved his mobility, accuracy and overall game and is playing at a higher level than he was last year. After last season, many scouts questioned whether Weinke would even be drafted, and now, despite his advanced age, he could be the second quarterback picked.
Oklahoma lefty Josh Heupel only has an average arm and really benefits from the type of offense he is in, but he is an accurate passer and fine leader who sees the field well.
Some scouts question the arm and passing skills of Iowa Stateís Sage Rosenfels, while others say his problems are mechanical. If he learns to step into his throws instead of just throwing, he will really improve with his arm. He is big, smart and athletic.
Idaho Stateís Shane Griggs has height and a big-time arm, but he lacks experience and needs to become more consistent throwing the ball.
Arkansas Stateís Cleo Lemon is another rifle-armed player who does not have a strong supporting cast or overly impressive stats.
Rutgersí Mike McMahon looked great vs. weak opponents early this year but struggled vs. Virginia Tech and hurt his shoulder again in that game.