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Coach Chris Draft Talk: Quarterbacks

It’s fast approaching.

The annual April talent fest. The Vikings make their first selection (barring an unexpected trade) roughly 5 hours after the Rams open the event with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying “ With the first pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams select… Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners.
Top 5 – Quarterbacks

This year, there are no sure things. But this is a group loaded with potential. The order I’ve placed them isn’t necessarily according to my own opinion, but rather the way they seem to be stacking up leading up to draft day.

Sam Bradford is at the top because he is probably the surest bet. Clausen is likely them most physically gifted so he sits at number 2. Colt McCoy’s college production is hard to ignore. He has great character, but his arm is only average at best.   Tim Tebow’s combination of skills, work ethic and character are intriguing, but his long wind-up, medical history and inconsistency frightens many GM’s.  Tony Pike is the least NFL ready QB in this group, but his potential is hard to ignore. Physically, he is still developing. Has a great frame, but hasn’t filled out yet. He’s smart, cool under pressure and works very hard. But has durability questions and although he has an above average arm, he doesn’t throw like a player of his size and build.
1. Sam Bradford – Oklahoma – Forget this one Viking fans. The Rams are certain to grab him with the top pick in April. Even if they don’t, he won’t fall far from the top. If he hadn’t hurt his shoulder, this would be academic.
Bradford was the first player in school history to throw for over 8,000 yards. He finished as Oklahoma’s all-time leader with 8,403 yards.
An intelligent, high-character person who plays with poise and class. A deadly accurate passer whether throwing short, intermediate or deep. Anticipates receivers’ routes very well and is accurate on fade passes.
Bradford has good but not great arm strength, but is very accurate on deep outs.
His release is both decisive and quick. Throws a tight spiral on most every throw. His feet are patient and poised. He shows a cool willingness to stand in and deliver against pressure, and is able to create room for himself to deliver the ball.
His arm slot is ¾ , which negates his height advantage. However, he is good at getting peeking corners to bite by employing a strong pump fake. Has a strong understanding of hot reads and where the defense is vulnerable.
Downside: He has a surprising lack of feel for backside pressure and he tends to trust his arm and receivers too much in tight spaces. Doesn’t always recognize dropping linebackers and/or late-moving safeties. These are flaws that will be magnified at the next level.
Not a scrambler or very elusive as a runner in space, but is mobile enough to pick up first downs on rollouts.
Intangibles: . Lacks bulk and durability is a major questions after missing of last season with a shoulder injury.
Bradford is good, but he’s not a sure thing as franchise QB’s go. His talent is not the question, but the health of his shoulder, and the number of hits he has taken leaves me to think this may be more of a gamble then other draft-nics are professing. Still, it’s hard to argue that Bradford doesn’t belong at the top of this group.
2. Jimmy Clausen – Notre Dame – Another QB who will be long gone by the time the Vikings pick. Clausen is a proto-typical classic drop-back quarterback with above-average accuracy, good mechanics and a very quick release.
He is patient and throws very few “bad” interceptions. He owns two of the longest streaks in school history — 132 pass attempts without an interception in 2008 and another long stretch of 160 tosses without having a pass picked in 2009.
Recruiting analysts considered him a “once in a decade” quarterback talent and ranked him as the best overall prospect of the 2007 high school class.
His quick release has drawn comparisons to Joe Namath.
Very good, but not great, accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws whether over the middle or on the sidelines. Tends to miss high at times because of his delivery.
Good accuracy on fades, generally delivering the ball where only his receiver can make the catch. though not always over the correct shoulder.
Enough arm strength to make every necessary NFL throw, but requires great effort to do so.
Shows good zip on crossing or out patterns to either side of the field when in balance.
Places in the ball in tight quarters over the middle.
His throws tend to float on long passes, allowing safety help to arrive.
Well-coached and used to playing in a pro-style offense under Irish head coach Charlie Weiss.
Winds up a bit when trying to unleash a fastball, allowing defenders to react. Sometimes tips passes by dropping the right shoulder to get better trajectory on deep passes.
Needs to improve his technique on ball fakes and pump fakes to draw in defenders.
Gets happy feet if line is struggling to protect him and will throw off back foot when rushed. He will need time and coaching to develop, but most of Clausen’s weaknesses are correctable.
Clausen is adept at looking off safeties before going to his intermediate or deep out.
Negatives: He tends to bird-dog receivers and takes too many chances downfield.
He also has a tendency to throw late over the middle putting his receivers in peril.
He has good footwork in the pocket, and is able to shift direction to evade rushers and create space to find a passing lane in which to throw.
Intangibles: Fiery, emotional and intelligent leader. He is not afraid to get into a teammates face when needed.
Overall, Clausen is an elite talent who somehow failed to reach his potential at Notre Dame. He has picked up a few negative habits that will have to be corrected at the next level. He is a bit of a Boom or bust type who could turn out to be the next Joe Montana or the new Akili Smith. I would label him as a “Buyer beware “ type of investment. But rest assured, he has the intangibles that will entice some GM to grab him early. Look for him to go anywhere from # 5 – 15.
3. Colt McCoy
– University of Texas – McCoy closes out his Texas career owning 47 school records, including most wins (45), attempts (1,645), completions (1,157), touchdown passes (112), passing yards (13,253), and total offense (14,815). His career passer rating was (155.0) and he finished with a completion percentage of over 70 %. Impressive at any level.
Makes touch throws look easy while in the pocket or on the move. People fall in love with the production, but his arm strength is only average, especially on deeper throws. Interestingly, he can sneak a 40-yard rope into the end zone if he spots an open man, yet he exhibits an annoying inconsistent spiral on intermediate and long passes.
Has only adequate height, but stands tall and balanced in the pocket to find passing lanes. Shows good poise in the pocket and will take the hit.
Can read defenses, but must prove he can survey the field after taking a snap from under center. Often locks onto first target. Not a good progression QB.
Directs receivers into open areas while on the move. Can run, but could be more patient looking for receivers downfield instead of tucking and running.
Intangibles: Impeccable character. Plays tough; Type of QB that teammates like to play for. College football’s all-time winningest quarterback.
He could slide to the Vikings but the team doesn’t seem too high on him ? Too many questions for me to be comfortable with this guy. Could develop into a very solid NFL starter with time. McCoy is Coach’s least favorite of this group. 3-4 round at best.
4. Tim Tebow
– Florida – A true enigma. Evaluators either love this guy or don’t like him at all. The best way to sum this guy up with one word is “ Inconsistent”.
Will throw a beautiful pass into a tight windows one minute, then follow it with a “wobbly” wounded duck toss on the next. He typically leads his receivers well, but still too often forces them to alter their routes.
Has prototypical NFL arm strength. Can make every NFL throw. Can zip short and intermediate passes and flashes touch and trajectory on deeper throws.
Questionable footwork. Has the quick, active feet necessary to eventually excel in this area.
Drops the ball to his hip before winding up to release the pass. Struggled with pass rushers knocking the ball out of his hands, as well as tipping off defensive backs who can read where he’s going with the long wind-up.
Has recently worked very hard to exhibit a new, quicker more compact release.
Seems to be a cerebral player who understands defenses and will scan the field to locate the open receiver, but was rarely asked to do so in Florida’s offense.
He is at his best as a runner and has rare vision with the ball in his hands from the quarterback position. Can find holes in the defense and shows the burst to get past defenders to gain yards in chunks.
Intangibles: Tebow is perfectly suited to Urban Meyer’s system, but is he a product of said system or the real deal ? Five years from now, Tebow could be the best of this years quarterback draft. Has Pro Bowl potential but MUST overcome the long wind-up motion.
Good size and strength for the position. Rare toughness. Natural and charismatic leader.
A solid bet to be around when the Vikings select at # 30. If he is on the board, Childress and Co. will have to think good and hard. I am personally intrigued by the athleticism, but I fear he could become a turnover machine at the next level.
5. Tony Pike
– Cincinnati -Smooth and accurate throws to either sideline. On the money with slants, and puts good air under the deep ball when the receiver is behind his man.
Calmly throws to the wide open man with a little off the ball when defenders fall down. Places end zone throws where only his receiver can make the play. Can throw accurately with a defender draped on him.
Average to above-average arm. Typically throws with seemingly little effort but recognizes when he really needs to step into one. Tight spiral on most passes, but will wobble a bit when putting air under the throw.
Good touch on short throws. Has zip on intermediate throws when arm drops into three-quarter slot.
Evaluators are leery of how his arm doesn’t match his build. He is lanky and has a long way to go in the weight room building strength. Reminds me of a young colt. Lanky and gangly physically, but does not play like that.
Quiet feet and good balance when not pressured, but gets skittish and leaves the pocket unnecessarily at time. He has unexpected mobility for his size and some elusiveness in the pocket and in the open field. Feels back-side pressure and capable of staying ahead of quick defenders to get the ball away.
Mostly over the top with his delivery with nice follow through to ensure accuracy. Drops his arm into a three-quarters slot when the time is right. Lapses into a wind-up at times instead of his typically quick release.
: Often bird-dogs his primary receiver. Has a reputation of stubbornly locking on his favorite target, allowing defenders to knock down passes or jump routes.
Doesn’t recognize zone corners or safeties waiting for his late throws. Also floats passes down the middle, allowing safeties into the play.
Doesn’t sell ball and pump fakes well enough to throw off safeties.
Durability is a major concern given his lanky frame and injury history. Missed four games in 09 after needing surgery to replace a plate already inserted in his non-throwing arm which he previously broke in 2008.
May have the most potential of this group. He has leadership skills and has an elite work ethic. He should have little trouble grasping the concepts and nuances of running an NFL offense..
A team will have to be patient and allow him to develop, but Pike could eventually develop into a special player. A selection in the first round carries a real high risk/reward potential. If Pike slides into round 2-3, he could be a steal.

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7 Responses to “Coach Chris Draft Talk: Quarterbacks”

  1. krugjr says:

    wrong subject….RB instead of QB……but a pretty good article on Gerhart

    GO VIKES!!!!!

  2. krugjr says:

    Adam……if you get the time, it would be nice to read your thoughts on the 6-10 rated QBs, more likely to end up in Purple…..don’t think Vikes will take any of your top 5, unless Tebow drops WAAAAAAYYYYY down…..

    GO VIKES!!!!!

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Krug, this article isn’t mine.

      I’ll also be rolling out some “rankings” as we get closer to the draft (aka, as I get caught up on some film watching).

  3. krugjr says:

    gotcha, Adam…….I should read more carefully

  4. Fragile Freds says:

    Wow. Very nice breakdown! It’s official Chris is back in the game.

    The Vikes would be well served to get Pike with their number two this year. He does need time to grow up physically, but it’s time to shut down the Tjax experiment, move Rosencopter up to backup and make Pike #3.

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