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http://www.profootballweekly.com/pfw/nfldr...sitionrptqb.htm

boston college's ryan heads an average qb class

oct. 25, 2007

­editor s note: this is the first article in a series previewing the top nfl prospects by position for the 2008 draft.

there is a major shortage of quarterbacks in the national football league, and every year it pushes passers who do not belong in the first round up the draft board out of necessity.

this year, there is no doubt that players will be overdrafted in what appears to be an average quarterback class with some depth but little quality at the top.

nawrocki's top 10 qbs

player

school ht* wt sp

matt ryan

boston college

6047

221

4.75e

andre woodson

kentucky

6043

220

4.81

brian brohm

louisville

6030

227

4.79

john david booty

usc

6024

210

5.0e

dennis dixon

oregon

6034e

200e

4.6e

chad henne

michigan

6020e

225e

4.8e

joe flacco

delaware

6061

237

5.0e

colt brennan

hawaii

6024e

190e

4.75e

matt flynn

lsu

6015

227

4.65

josh johnson

san diego

6023

195

4.56

(underclassmen are not included)

*for player s height, first digit signifies feet, the second and third inches and the fourth, eighths of an inch, i.e., 6033 means 6-3 3/8.

e estimated

the signalcaller who has really emerged to the forefront thus far through his senior season is boston college s matt ryan. his delivery and footwork reminds veteran evaluators of carson palmer s, his mind and makeup are reminiscent of a young peyton manning and he has shown he can lead a team by taking the eagles to a 7-0 record despite losing mentor and offensive-minded head coach tom o brien and having to adapt to a new offensive coordinator.

as a sophomore, ryan showed flashes of becoming a bona fide first-round talent after unseating senior quinton porter as the starter midway through the season. however, after playing most of his junior season with a broken bone in his foot and not being able to practice much of the week while wearing a protective boot, his mobility suffered on saturdays, his accuracy lessened and he clearly did not look like the same player he was the year before. since returning to full health as a senior, he has blossomed and proven to the nfl advisory committee that handed him a first-day grade a year ago that he was deserving of better.

rarely do players get credit for playing through injuries, and ryan certainly did not get his full due from a committee that was not able to evaluate his full arsenal, but what he did show in a relatively down junior season was that he has the much-needed toughness so critical at the qb position. he is strong in the pocket, can brush off the rush and still get the ball off with pressure barreling down. he has shown he can take a hit.

he s very smart. he works very hard. he is a respected leader. his mechanics are sound. he s a football junkie. as one scouting director said, he s all quarterback, and he has all the intangibles. he plays in a pro-style offense and should be able to adapt quickly to the complexities of an nfl playbook.

perhaps most notable about ryan is how poised he stays in spite of a very average supporting cast. offensively, he has captained a ship with no crew. he s accurate, identifies mismatches, gets rid of the ball quickly and knows where to go with the ball.

there are still areas where he can improve. he can be overconfident in his arm and will still force it into tight spots. his eyes are very good down the field and he reads the high safety well, but he too often overlooks the short-hole defender, also known as the robber, and it has resulted in interceptions, including three that have been returned for touchdowns. however, he is adept at audibilizing at the line of scrimmage and is the type of sponge that should quickly be able to learn how to read high to low. there are nfl starters who still have not grasped the nuances of the position, and in time, ryan should be able to master it.

if the draft holds true to form, with eight quarterbacks being selected first overall in the past 10 years, ryan will warrant early consideration. he has all the tools to develop into a franchise quarterback.

scouts seem to have a love-or-hate relationship with kentucky s andre woodson and louisville s brian brohm. physically, woodson is a cross between redskins qb jason campbell and raiders qb jamarcus russell. he has the arm to drive the ball 45 yards on a tight rope or wing it 50 on a jump pass, but he also throws with a very soft touch and a smooth stroke. he is accurate, shows good ball placement and showed vs. louisville and lsu that he could rally his team from a deficit and thrive under pressure, as he did in triple overtime against the then-top-ranked tigers and in the final minutes vs. the then-top-10-ranked cardinals.

what has turned off scouts is how high he carries his elbow and how long it takes him to wind up to deliver the ball. he has a hitch in his delivery, dipping the ball down below his elbow before he slings it, and it will be difficult to correct. he has a tendency to stare down his receivers, look to the sideline to audibilize at times and has been at his best when reads are simple. against south carolina, he made some boneheaded decisions, trying to lateral the ball and forcing it into coverage. he is not a threat to move around or buy much time with his feet, and he needs space to operate. he has clear upside, but he is going to need more time to develop.

scouts who like brohm are quick to point out how he has been affected by the worst defense in football and had to deal with the coaching change from bobby petrino to steve kragthorpe. but through the change, much has been the same, and much of the offensive terminology has remained intact.

he has been a four-year starter with outstanding production. he s smart, can go through his reads and handle checks. he will stand in the pocket and deliver the ball. at the least, he can be an effective game manager. his critics point to his lack of mobility, arm strength and leadership skills and believe something is missing from becoming a top-flight nfl quarterback. against utah, he had four balls batted at the line, and too many have been knocked down this season.

granted, both of his older brothers are part of louisville s program, and his father is often at practice. his leadership ability and individuality could be squashed by the structure in place, but even when he steps on the field, he does not interact with his teammates much and is not outspoken, which is not a positive at a position where teammates are looking for leadership.

although he has made it through the season healthy so far, some questions linger about his long-term durability after suffering multiple injuries in previous years, although he did show the toughness to try playing through them. and his weight has had a tendency to fluctuate, which has drawn a red flag from some teams.

usc s john david booty broke the middle finger on his right throwing hand vs. stanford and continued to play through it, but he missed some time afterward as he recovered. prior to the injury, he was playing well. coaches will fall in love with him because his mechanics are very sound, and he is disciplined going through his reads, rarely taking off to run. he s a

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that is a great write up on ryan, and explains some of his pedestroan numbers the last 2 years compared to this year.

this write up makes me want him more.

we will pick in the top 3, so our chances of landing ryan arent bad, especially if miami has enough faith in john beck as their future to not take a qb #1.

i just hope this class isnt like 3 years ago when alex smith went #1 and san fransisco didnt think he was worth the pick, but basically had to take him.

like i said before, i would rather us reach in the 2nd than at the top of the draft. if the qbs arent elite, take long, dorsey or mcfadden and reach a hair to lock up a qb like henne in the 2nd. alot less risk there in terms of financials and pressure.

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that is a great write up on ryan, and explains some of his pedestroan numbers the last 2 years compared to this year.

this write up makes me want him more.

we will pick in the top 3, so our chances of landing ryan arent bad, especially if miami has enough faith in john beck as their future to not take a qb #1.

i just hope this class isnt like 3 years ago when alex smith went #1 and san fransisco didnt think he was worth the pick, but basically had to take him.

i dont think san francisco didnt think he was worth it, it was the media.

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pfw is notoriously doom and gloom about the overall depth of a position, so i would discard their comment that it's a mediocre class. journalists have a problem when they cover something for an extended period of time that it becomes old hat with little out there to excite them. pfw falls victim to that on a constant basis.

their in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of these guys is a good idea for this part of the year, though. we're far enough in to have a good grasp on the players, so this type of detailed analysis is welcome. i share the same concern about woodson that they do and the comments about dixon and ainge are dead on. i think they are unfairly harsh on brohm as i know a couple of folks involved louisville football, and they both say he's a popular player. i think they are flat out wrong about booty, who strikes me as another brock berlin, an overhyped guy coming into college who never lived up to his press clippings. i'll be surprised if he is a factor in the pros.

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that is a great write up on ryan, and explains some of his pedestroan numbers the last 2 years compared to this year.

this write up makes me want him more.

we will pick in the top 3, so our chances of landing ryan arent bad, especially if miami has enough faith in john beck as their future to not take a qb #1.

ryan as a top 3 (or 10) draft pick would be an overpay imo. with his draft stock soaring, i think he's a guy we are going to want to pass on. if he were available in the jason campbell range, that's one thing but he is a much riskier selection than a mcfadden or dorsey.

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i dont think san francisco didnt think he was worth it, it was the media.

they tried like no other to trade that #1 pick.

nobody would bite on it though. they also didnt decide on smith over rogers until just before the draft. they werent sold on smith from what i remember hearing pre draft.

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ryan as a top 3 (or 10) draft pick would be an overpay imo. with his draft stock soaring, i think he's a guy we are going to want to pass on. if he were available in the jason campbell range, that's one thing but he is a much riskier selection than a mcfadden or dorsey.

i agree he has more risk than dorsey, long and mcfadden. but odds are one of those 3 will be a bust, and one of the top 3 qbs will be a good one.

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they tried like no other to trade that #1 pick.

nobody would bite on it though. they also didnt decide on smith over rogers until just before the draft. they werent sold on smith from what i remember hearing pre draft.

i think the smith over rogers thing was posturing more than anything else. they had tried to trade the pick a while before the draft but not leading up tp the draft.

the missing link here is that smith's stock rose drastically from the end of the season till the draft, and for good reason. the only reason his stock was lower at first was they didnt throw down the field in his offesne at utah. once scouts got a look at his actual physical attributes his stock soured.

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i think the smith over rogers thing was posturing more than anything else. they had tried to trade the pick a while before the draft but not leading up tp the draft.

the missing link here is that smith's stock rose drastically from the end of the season till the draft, and for good reason. the only reason his stock was lower at first was they didnt throw down the field in his offesne at utah. once scouts got a look at his actual physical attributes his stock soured.

the scouts were really high on smiths intelligence, but had doubts of him converting to the pro because he only ran out of a shotgun offense i believe.

with having the #1 pick, they had no need (other than contract negotiations) to not have their mind set. especially if they had no interest in trading. if they knew the wanted smith with the #1, than they were entertaining rodgers heavily incase another team wanted him, giving them some leverage in trading the pick.

i could swear i just remembered hearing them trying at all means to move the pick. you only heard that talk stop when they had no interest in the pick.

it is hard for any team to trade the #1 pick though, because there is too much value put in the pick, in both trade points and salary requirements.

i hope we dont pick #1, becuase imo there is no player that is clear cut #1, and we have enough needs that any top 5 player will fill a need with an elite prospect. i hope we pick 3-5.

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colt brennan

hawaii

6024e

190e

4.75e

tennessee s erik ainge, like brennan, has struggled to earn the respect of his teammates despite having started for four years, and he does not throw the ball with any power.

this is probably the most hilarious comment i have ever seen. not because of the comment about ainge, but because of the comment that brennan has struggled to earn the respect of his teammates.

this guy is an idiot.

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they tried like no other to trade that #1 pick.

nobody would bite on it though. they also didnt decide on smith over rogers until just before the draft. they werent sold on smith from what i remember hearing pre draft.

fwiw, you never know how much is posturing but nolan said a few days after the draft that they had locked into alex smith after his first individual workout with them over a month prior to the draft. they intentionally kept people guessing about it in order to accomplish two things. the first was to keep down smith's negotiating leverage. the second was to keep their options open in terms of potential trades. they really, really wanted to deal down if at all possible, but they were afraid tampa would jump them to draft smith if they did.

in this day and age, it's really, really hard to trade the #1 overall draft pick. the combination of salary cap issues and draft pick expense makes it prohibitive for bad teams. it has to be a situation like with dallas next year where a good team has multiple first round picks. this is a reason why we want mcfadden to be on the board when we pick. i believe the rumors about them wanting him. they'll let julius jones go, lock up barber, then try to bring in mcfadden and upgrade the position to a scary degree.

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i agree. what i'm worried about is if we're at #3 and dorsey and mcfadden are gone... who then? reach for jake long? reach for ryan/woodson/brohm?

i am a firm believer in moving to the spot on the board where there is value rather than ever reaching for a pick.

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who would trade up with us, and for whom?

who is the #3 guy in terms of overall value, and is he really worth a #3?

alot can change from now to draft day, but overall value of the #3 pick would have to be one of these guys right now. i listed 3 qbs, because a qb due to the position generally holds value, especially with good prospects there.

jake long

chris long

brian brohm

matt ryan

andre woodson

sedric ellis

imo, if we pick @ #3 and dmac and dorsey go 1 and 2, we will still pick @ 3. imo, the pick will likely be long or the highest rated qb.

we wont take chris long, and unless the fo had ellis rated higher than dorsey (which i doubt) we wont take him either. especially since he is in the mold of coleman and babineaux. he is a 285 lb pure ut.

my guess would be long, ryan or brohm if things unfold as mentioned.

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who would trade up with us, and for whom?

who is the #3 guy in terms of overall value, and is he really worth a #3?

1989fan is right (as usual) about there being a long time between now and the draft to determine that sort of thing, particularly where we pick. what i can say with certainty is that every year we see comments about how a lot of teams can't find trade partners. then, after the draft gms indicate that they had trade options for every pick they made. somebody is always interested in moving around on the board. the question is whether a team is willing to risk losing a guy they like in order to deal down for more picks.

mckay himself has indicated he worries about trading down for this reason, but we saw last year where we dealt the fifth round pick for a trio of sixth round picks that he will do it. given that we got david irons, doug datish and daren stone for the price of the #149 pick, i think he's got the positive reinforcement to use that strategy even more in the future.

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we wont take chris long, and unless the fo had ellis rated higher than dorsey (which i doubt) we wont take him either. especially since he is in the mold of coleman and babineaux. he is a 285 lb pure ut.

fwiw, i wouldn't rule out long since he's a versatile three-down player. he can play outside on the first two downs then move inside for passing downs. there is a lot of value in that. similarly, i expect ellis to be on our board because, given recent events with grady, i'm not sure we should expect coleman to be in our plans after this year.

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fwiw, i wouldn't rule out long since he's a versatile three-down player. he can play outside on the first two downs then move inside for passing downs. there is a lot of value in that. similarly, i expect ellis to be on our board because, given recent events with grady, i'm not sure we should expect coleman to be in our plans after this year.

i hear you on both players, but i just cant see it. i know coleman could be on the out, but babineaux is very similar to ellis, and i would expect him to start, and be backed up by patterson (who the fo really liked) or a rookie. ellis does look like a good one though.

as for long, i dont know. we have about 60m tied up in the de spots already. with a pick as high as 1-5, i couldnt see us taking long to be an insurance policy for abraham, or a player to shift around on the line. i see his value, but i dont think it is enough for our team to take him that high. especially not with our needs @ qb, ot, dt and possibly cb.

it is going to be an interesting thing to see unfold, because this year, unlike years past is going to be completely unpredictable! i cant wait.

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i agree that ryan is the best qb prospect, but more importantly, this is not a great group.

we would be better off drafting a team around our qb's. if a different qb is needed, trade for one of the guys riding a bench (walter) or a restricted fa (andersen).

leftwich, walter/andersen and shockley make a reasonable group of qb's.

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i hear you on both players, but i just cant see it. i know coleman could be on the out, but babineaux is very similar to ellis, and i would expect him to start, and be backed up by patterson (who the fo really liked) or a rookie. ellis does look like a good one though.

as for long, i dont know. we have about 60m tied up in the de spots already. with a pick as high as 1-5, i couldnt see us taking long to be an insurance policy for abraham, or a player to shift around on the line. i see his value, but i dont think it is enough for our team to take him that high. especially not with our needs @ qb, ot, dt and possibly cb.

that's a fair point about de cap space but since abraham is 30 next year, i do think we might have listed on the board as a position where we need to start grooming replacements. a lot of how much we go bpa next year probably will be determined by just how many picks we wind up having. if we assume we draft a qb on the first day next year (and i have to believe we will), we probably don't expect to win much in 2008, either. so, it has just become a three year rebuilding project, something i hate to acknowledge that is now hard to deny. we had the draft picks this past year to start the youth movement and we should have them again in 2008. so, the roster purge will be sudden and dramatic, but we probably don't have an eye on winning until 2009.

it is going to be an interesting thing to see unfold, because this year, unlike years past is going to be completely unpredictable! i cant wait.

yup. with our qb no longer covering up all of the holes on offense, it's fascinating to see just how much we need there and the defense still needs a couple of key pieces. i was one of the ones saying jamaal anderson was a great fit here and i still love that pick, but the idea of patrick willis is one that haunts me. he's already a destroyer.

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i agree that ryan is the best qb prospect, but more importantly, this is not a great group.

we would be better off drafting a team around our qb's. if a different qb is needed, trade for one of the guys riding a bench (walter) or a restricted fa (andersen).

leftwich, walter/andersen and shockley make a reasonable group of qb's.

i like this batch of qbs a lot, for what it's worth. i think he's gloom and dooming here. irregardless, i don't think we should count on leftwich moving forward. he's hurt the same ankle four times in two seasons. i expect it's going to prematurely end his career. we're probably stuck with harrington, god help us.

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unless miami\stl are insane, long wont be there. i dont know why the report on ryan turns yall off especially with the alex smith comparisons. he is a better prospect and has been his whole career. he shows better ball skills in a pro style not gimmick offense. his one flaw is he has too much brett favre gunslinger - i want to win this game in him. which isnt bad considering who he turned into. i think that leadership and intangiablity will bode well for our franchise. also pennsylvania qbs have a track record of being successful. i dont know why. its like running backs from fl and shooting guards from nc...lol... but seriously. ryan may not be the next peyton manning but he is just as good as jason campbell and alex smith, better than tavaris jackson and brodie croyle, and has the potential to be a brett favre/tony romo. i say take the chance. if he is gone, i say take dorsey or mcfadden and grab whatever qb is available in the 2nd round or say lets throw our hands to the wind or get a t in 2nd and take a project like dixon or mccoy in the 3rd and make sure we sign a vet qb. i hope it doesnt turn out that way but like the writer said there are a few top options and then the field levels out. if we dont get a top guy (ryan in my opinion) then we might as well get the guys for the trenches and maybe that rb and pick up one of the project qbs and stick with joey\byron for another year.

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