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1. QB Sam Bradford
Ht: 6-4 1/4 | Wt: 236 | Sp: 4.9e | Arm: 34 3/8 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Father, Kent, was an offensive lineman for the Sooners (1977-7. Sam also played basketball and golf as a prep. Redshirted in 2006. Started all 14 games in ’07 and completed 237-of-341 pass attempts (69.5 percent) for 3,121 yards with 36 touchdowns (single-season freshman record) and eight interceptions. Won the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award and Sammy Baugh Trophy in ’08 after starting all 14 games and tossing 328-483-4,720-50-8 (67.9). Suffered torn ligaments in his left (non-throwing) hand on the third series against Oklahoma State but finished the game and delayed surgery until after the Big 12 title game. Led the country in TD passes and established the highest pass efficiency rating in OU history (180.84). Started only three games in ’09 because of an injured right shoulder and finished with 39-69-562-2-0 (56.5) passing. Had surgery on his right (AC joint) shoulder on Oct. 28 and missed the rest of the season. A two-time team captain and OU’s career passing leader (8,403 yards) and TD-passes leader (8.
Positives: Extremely smart and competitive. Decisive. Knows where to go with the ball and gets rid of it very quickly with precision accuracy. Stays composed and is not easily rattled under duress - stands in the pocket and delivers the ball. Sets quickly and steps into his throws. Has quick enough feet to avoid the first wave and escape the rush in a short area - moves and avoids and can hasten his delivery and whip it quickly when needed. Shows very good touch and outstanding accuracy. Can drive the intermediate route and consistently connect deep. Fits the ball into tight windows and can thread the needle. Arm is strong enough to make every throw. Throws a very catchable ball. Very good anticipation and timing at every level. Outstanding positional instincts. Is a well-respected, determined leader who commands respect -takes the game very seriously. Has rare leadership qualities and mental makeup and is intensely competitive - gathered his teammates on the sideline against Miami (Fla.) while he was out with an injury and ripped them. Highly motivated. Mature beyond his years and handles himself like a pro. Very tough and will play through pain.
Negatives: Has not played much under center, operating heavily out of the shotgun, nor has he made pro-style, NFL reads in OU’s simplified offense. Lacks strength with a narrow build and does not have a rifle arm - loses some ball velocity on the move. Tends to use a sidearm delivery. Often operated with a clean pocket early in his career and does not like to step up in the pocket. Not a scrambler and will not create with his feet. Played with a very strong supporting cast as a sophomore and did not always feel the rush (behind a leaky, makeshift offensive line) as a junior. Needs to learn how to land and brace himself from contact to preserve his health. Is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery after landing on his throwing shoulder twice as a junior.
Summary: Does not have the arm or athletic talent of John Elway or Troy Aikman, but Bradford’s accuracy is as good as any quarterback since Philip Rivers(notes) entered the draft, and his competitive spirit, intelligence and accuracy will allow him to develop readily. Would be most effective in a fast-paced, shotgun-prevalent offense similar to that of the Colts, where he will not have to adjust to working as much from underneath center. Durability is his greatest concern. Could be the first overall player drafted in a QB-driven league and should be able to contribute immediately and develop into a great pro.
NFL projection: Top-five pick.
2. QB Jimmy Clausen
Notre Dame junior
Ht: 6-2 5/8 | Wt: 222 | Sp: 4.85e | Arm: 30 3/4 | Hand: 9
Notes: Older brothers, Casey and Rick, both played quarterback at Tennessee earlier in the decade. Was a three-year starter at California small-school prep power Oaks Christian, where he had a 42-0 record as a starter. Passed for 10,764 yards and a state-record 146 TDs. Underwent arthroscopic surgery in the spring of ’07 to remove a bone spur from his right (throwing) elbow. Was cited in June ’07 for illegal transportation of alcohol in South Bend - drove someone of legal age to a liquor store. Ultimately completed a pre-trial diversion program that erased the citation after staying out of trouble for 12 months. Started 9-of-10 games played in ’07, completing 138-of-245 pass attempts (56.3 percent) for 1,254 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions while taking his lumps behind an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks. Did not play against USC or Navy (coach’s decision). In ’08, started all 13 games and passed 268-440-3,172-25-17 (60.9). Started all 12 games in ’09, throwing for 289-425-3,722-28-4 (68.0). Set a school record with seven games of more than 300 yards passing in a season and also led four fourth-quarter comeback victories. Received a black eye after getting punched by an irate fan outside a bar at 2 a.m. after the loss to Connecticut on Nov. 21, 2009. Had surgery in January 2010 to repair tendon damage in his right toe, which he suffered while being sacked against Michigan State and played through much of the season. Will be a 23-year-old rookie despite leaving a year early and never redshirting - began kindergarten at age 6 and repeated sixth grade, as per his parents’ wishes. Team captain.
Positives: Fluid in his drops. Good field vision and QB instincts. Recognizes mismatches and understands where and when to go with the ball. Has shown he will hang in the pocket and pick himself off the ground after taking big hits behind a very marginal O-line. Good touch and overall accuracy. Has played under center in a pro-style offense, is very well-coached and makes decisive, pro-style reads. Carries the ball high on the shelf and picks apart defenses when given time. Can manipulate defenders and move safeties with his eyes. Learned how to rotate his hips into his throws. Can drive the deep out and can sling it into tight windows - can hit the deep outs, comebacks and posts and make all the throws. Angry competitor - plays with gusto. Has shown a lot of magic on big stages and thrived in high-pressure situations. Carries a swagger and has a very confident demeanor when the game is on the line - wants the ball in his hands in the clutch and will recommend plays. Good on-field energy and bounce in his step. Battles through injuries - took pain-killing injections in his foot to play most of the season. Improved work ethic. The game is very important to him, and he showed an improved on-field command as a junior. Very experienced.
Negatives: Too manufactured - has a high-effort delivery. Tends to hop in the pocket and is not much of a scrambling threat - can be flustered by the rush and takes too many sacks. Has a tendency to overstride when he goes deep, lowering his release point, and has to put his entire body into the throw and chuck it like it’s a javelin. Puts too much air underneath the deep ball and launches some rainmakers. Inconsistent deep accuracy - was 0-for-7 throwing to his deep right in five games charted the past two years. Has an awkward follow-through and too often falls backward after he throws. Had a strong supporting cast with receivers who attacked the ball. Has a sense of entitlement, having attended private schools, worked with private QB coaches and being sheltered by his family, who bought a house on campus so his brothers had a place to stay for every game. Arrogant - can come off as having all the answers and struggle to win a locker room. Still immature. Comes across as overly staged, scripted and disingenuous in interviews and does not have the type of presence desired in the face of a franchise. Is not a fan of the weight room.
Summary: A tough, instinctive, competitive gamer who overhauled his mechanics from the time he was a freshman, physically matured and developed into a decisive marksman. Has been groomed by Charlie Weis and has an advanced understanding of the game that will allow him to step into a starting lineup readily. However, he is cut from a similar cloth as Rex Grossman(notes) and J.P. Losman(notes), possessing an elitist attitude and selfishness that could polarize a locker room and create needless drama that may detract from a team. The defining question of his career is whether he possesses the intangibles and make-up to become a leader and win the respect of his teammates.
NFL projection: First-round pick.
3. QB Colt McCoy
Ht: 6-1 1/8 | Wt: 216 | Sp: 4.79 | Arm: 31 | Hand: 9 3/8
Notes: Engaged to be married. Father, Brad, played safety at Abilene Christian and is now a high school coach; brother, Chance, is a receiver at ACU; and brother, Case, will be a freshman QB for the Longhorns in the fall. Colt also lettered in basketball and track as a prep. Threw for 9,344 yards and 116 touchdowns in his prep football career. Redshirted in 2005. Succeeded Vince Young(notes) in ’06 and became the first freshman QB to start and win UT’s season opener since Bobby Layne in 1944. On the season, started all 13 games and completed 217-of-318 pass attempts (68.2 percent) for 2,570 yards with 29 touchdowns (tied for the NCAA single-season freshman record) and seven interceptions. Added 68-170-2 (2.5) on the ground. Sustained a pinched nerve against Texas A&M, then aggravated the injury on the first drive against Kansas State. In ’07, started all 13 games and passed 276-424-3,303-22-18 (65.1) with 114-492-4 (4.3) rushing. Set an NCAA single-season record for completion percentage and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in ’08 when he started all 13 games and totaled 332-433-3,859-34-8 (76.7) passing and 136-561-11 (4.1) rushing. Led the Longhorns to the national title game in ’09, starting all 14 games and throwing 332-470-3,521-27-12 (70.6) with 129-348-3 (2.7) on the ground. Owns 47 UT records, including wins (45), completions (1,155), total offense (14,815 yards) and completion percentage (70.3). Team captain. Suffered a stinger after being brushed by Marcell Dareus early against Alabama in the BCS title game.
Positives: Experienced four-year starter. Very smart, confident decision maker. Extremely accurate passer and has honed his deep accuracy over the years. Has a quick release and gets the ball out of his hand quickly. Has a fluid, athletic arm and can make a variety of throws on the move while changing his throwing platform. Can take pace off the ball. Knows when and where to go with the ball. Good escapability to sidestep the rush. Tough and extremely competitive. Found ways to win in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma and Nebraska (despite being heavily pressured and struggling much of the first three quarters). Is a proven winner - finishes career as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Has exceptional intangibles - can rally and command a huddle. Outstanding work ethic and A-plus character.
Negatives: Lacks physical stature - is short, narrow-framed, small-boned and small-muscled. Does not like to get hit and looks uncomfortable in the pocket when pressured (see Nebraska). Tends to lock on to his primary target under duress. Too often sidearm-slings the ball and does not step into throws. Played in an overly simplified offense that did not force the QB to learn the position and needs to be trained in the mechanics of dropping back from under center. Drifts in the pocket. Downfield accuracy must improve. Shoulder must be carefully evaluated.
Summary: Played in a quick-hitting offense that promoted the development of arm throwers and may require some time to learn how to snap his arm and torso into throws. Will never be a prototype pocket passer with a big-time gun but does possess the toughness, accuracy, intelligence and intangibles to become an NFL starter or, at worst, be a great backup. Would be best in a West Coast offense where he could use his athletic ability to move around the pocket, sprint out and create some plays in a similar mold as Jeff Garcia(notes) or Jake Plummer(notes). Key to success is proving he can stay healthy and handle pressure.
NFL projection: Top-50 pick.
4. QB Tim Tebow
Ht: 6-2 3/4 | Wt: 236 | Sp: 4.71 | Arm: 31 3/4 | Hand: 10 1/8
Notes: Also lettered in baseball and basketball as a prep. Parade All-American and Florida state champion as a senior. Played three varsity seasons at Nease High, where he threw for 9,940 yards with 95 touchdowns and rushed for 3,169 yards and 63 touchdowns in his career. Also claims the state’s all-time records for total offense, passing yards, touchdowns and completions. In 2003, played the second half of a late-season game on a broken leg. Enrolled at Florida in January 2006 and played a key role in the Gators’ national championship team, seeing action in all 14 games, sharing snaps with Chris Leak in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense. Completed 22-of-33 attempts (66.7 percent) for 358 yards with five touchdowns and one interception and carried 89 times for 469 yards (5.3-yard average) and eight TDs. Dealt with nagging shoulder soreness as a young player, prompting him to undergo a biomechanical analysis and subsequent alteration of his throwing mechanics. Started all 13 games in ’07, becoming the first underclassman to win the Heisman Trophy. Totaled 234-350-3,286-32-6 (66.9) passing and 210-895-23 (4.3) rushing. His 55 touchdowns was the highest total in conference history, as he became the first major-college player to score 20 rushing touchdowns and throw 20 passing touchdowns in the same season. Sustained a non-displaced fracture to his right hand against Florida State and remained in the game. Also suffered a bruised right shoulder against Kentucky but stayed in the game and received painkilling shots that enabled him to start the following contests. Was a Heisman finalist and Offensive MVP of the BCS title game in ’08. In 14 games (all starts), passed 192-298-2,746-30-4 (64.4) and rushed 176-673-12 (3. for the national champion Gators. Played with a sprained left ankle in the second half against Georgia and hyperextended his left knee against Arkansas. In ’09, started all 14 games and tossed 213-314-2,895-21-5 (67. with 217-910-14 (4.2) on the ground, breaking Herschel Walker’s SEC career rushing-touchdowns record (57). Took a separate plane to the Kentucky game due to a respiratory illness, then suffered a concussion during the contest that left him hospitalized (benefited from a bye week and returned to start the next game against LSU). Tebow, whose parents are missionaries, was home-schooled (a Florida law allowed him to participate in athletics) before attending Florida. He’s majoring in family, youth and community sciences and is exceptionally dedicated to off-field service, having spent his summers doing mission work at his parents’ orphanage in the Philippines. Lists his priorities as, “Number one, my faith in God; number two, my family and my relationships with my family; number three, academics; and number four is football.” Team captain. Had arthroscopic surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder in January ’10 to remove a bone spur and alleviate chronic inflammation.
Positives: Unbelievably supercompetitive with rare intangibles and mental toughness. Wills his way to succeed. Intense on-field competitor and extremely driven. Has terrific football intelligence and a great understanding of the game. Excellent game preparation - sits in on coaches’ meetings and understands how to prepare a game plan. Good run instincts and strength. Consistently came through in the clutch and has performed big on the biggest of stages. Good perimeter accuracy. Has outstanding size for the QB position and excellent weight-room numbers. Runs hard through contact and can push a pile with terrific lower-body strength. Extremely, extremely tough and rugged. Durable and will play through pain.
Negatives: Far from a finished product and lacks natural passing skills with an overly muscled frame and marginal lower-body mechanics. Really struggled working under center at the Senior Bowl with raw footwork and no familiarity with how to hit his back step and transfer his weight and too often botched the center-snap exchange. Has a tendency to overstride with a very long release and baseball-like, wind-up throwing motion. Cannot unload the ball quickly and does not always feel the rush. Worked exclusively out of the shotgun and has limited lateral agility to slide in the pocket. Can be flustered when his first two reads are covered and has a tendency to take off running. Is not a pure scrambler or elusive in the pocket and cannot escape the rush easily. Showed he could be fazed by heavy pressure against Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Summary: Has the mental toughness and intangibles to break through a brick wall and refuses to fail. Clearly looked out of his element at the Senior Bowl and is still very much a developmental project but has worked very hard to overhaul his mechanics under the tutelage of former NFL coaches, including Sam Wyche, trying to learn how to drop from under center, carry the ball high and shorten his release. May never be a classic, drop-back quarterback after coming from an unconventional, spread-option offense that will not allow for a speedy transition to the NFL. However, he has a special mental makeup and a tireless work ethic, and if he cannot win a starting QB job, could bring value as a short-yardage/goal-line runner and developmental H-back. Has the moxie and toughness to at least become a solid backup QB.
NFL projection: Top-50 pick.
5. QB-WR-RS Armanti Edwards
Appalachian State senior
Ht: 5-10 7/8 | Wt: 187 | Sp: 4.45e | Arm: 32 1/4 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Has a daughter. Nicknamed “Money.” Also played basketball as a prep. Wanting to play quarterback, turned down scholarship offers from BCS conference schools who viewed him as a receiver. Father, Freddie, is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted of shooting and killing a man over a poker game in 2005. (Freddie claims the gun discharged when the victim grabbed the gun barrel.) The incident occurred during Armanti’s senior high school season, at which point he nearly quit. As a true freshman for ASU in 2006, he opened the season as the backup and learned of his father’s sentencing immediately following the team’s first game. Earned the starting job two weeks later and never relinquished it. Started the final 13 games and completed 167-of-274 pass attempts (60.9 percent) for 2,251 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Also rushed 188 times for 1,153 yards (6.1-yard average) and 15 TDs. Sprained his right knee against Georgia Southern but did not miss a start. Won a national championship for a second consecutive season in ’07 after starting all 11 games played and passing 148-222-1,948-17-7 (66.7) while leading the team with 237-1,588-21 (6.7) on the ground. Sprained, and chipped a bone in, his left (throwing) shoulder during a preseason scrimmage but still managed to spearhead a road upset of Michigan in the season opener. Despite aggravating the injury during the contest, Edwards accounted for 289 total yards (227 passing, 62 rushing) with four TDs and directed a seven-play, 69-yard drive in the final two minutes that set up the game-winning field goal. After sitting out two games, he re-aggravated the shoulder against Wofford and missed two more contests. Had a career day in the semifinals against Richmond, piling up 495 total yards (313 rushing, 182 passing) and seven TDs (four rushing, three passing). His single-game rushing total is the highest ever by a I-AA quarterback. During the Mountaineers’ playoff march (four games), Edwards amassed 1,387 yards of total offense (727 passing, 660 rushing) and 16 TDs. The Walter Payton Award winner (top player in I-AA) in ’08, Edwards started all 13 games played, tossing 196-306-2,902-30-9 (64.1) with 193-941-11 (4.9) on the ground. Was held in check by LSU, as he managed just 13-31-155-1-0 passing, though he was outstanding in the national semifinals once again, racking up 481 total yards (433 passing, 48 rushing) and five TDs (four passing, one rushing) against South Carolina State. Tweaked an ankle against Presbyterian and suffered a hip pointer against Elon that sidelined him against Western Carolina. Had arthroscopic right knee surgery in January ’09. Missed much of training camp and the season opener in ’09 after he cut his right foot in a freak lawn-mowing accident on Aug. 5, when he was pulling a mower up a wet hill and slipped, requiring more than 35 stitches to keep his pinky toe. Had another outstanding season, throwing for 257-378-3,291-12-7 (68.0) in 12 starts and rushing for 679 yards and 18 TDs. Is the only two-time winner of the Walter Payton Award and the only player in Division I history with at least 9,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards. Has a 42-7 record as a starter. Team captain.
Positives: Has a textbook over-the-top delivery and high release point for his size. Good arm strength and accuracy - can throw strikes downfield and drive the ball. Very quick and sudden - can pull a rabbit out of his hat and improvise on broken plays (see McNeese State) - continues scanning the field on the move and is field-fast and elusive when he tucks the ball and runs. Experienced, four-year starter. Keeps his composure under duress and is not easily rattled. Highly competitive and driven. Tough runner. Outstanding production.
Negatives: Worked exclusively out of the shotgun in a spread-option offense featuring a lot of predetermined, one-look reads and rarely stepped up in the pocket. Had a fair number of balls batted at the line and could struggle to find open passing lanes in the pros, given his lack of height. Throws too many wobblers. Struggled against the speed of LSU’s defense, and production is inflated from consistently facing marginal competition. Has a fragile build and a history of injuries, which are concerns - his foot will require close inspection. Is not a developed route runner and lacks experience fielding the ball as a returner.
Summary: A dazzling southpaw, Edwards may never be more than an ideal backup and situational, specialty quarterback. Yet he is not a throwaway at the QB position; he has the run skills and creativity to project as a slot receiver and return man. Could spark an offense in specially designed packages that feature his playmaking ability. Injury history must be examined and could affect his draft status.
NFL projection: Mid-round pick.
6. QB Tony Pike
Ht: 6-5 3/4 | Wt: 223 | Sp: 4.94 | Arm: 34 1/2 | Hand: 10
Notes: Father, Steve, played linebacker at Kent State. Tony also played basketball and baseball as a prep. Despite sustaining a separated shoulder early in his senior season of high school, earned Cincinnati Division II-III Player of the Year honors after passing for 4,355 yards and 46 touchdowns. Recruited by then-head coach Mark Dantonio and greyshirted in 2004. Redshirted in ’05, and did not see the field in ’06. As third-string QB behind Ben Mauk and Dustin Grutza in ’07, he played in five games, completing 11-of-20 pass attempts (55 percent) for 91 yards with one TD and three interceptions in mop-up duty. Began the ’08 season backing up Grutza, who broke his leg in the second game, opening the door for Pike. Operating head coach Brian Kelly’s(notes) spread offense, started 10-of-12 games played and threw 199-324-2,407-19-11 (61.4). Suffered a broken left (non-throwing) forearm against Akron that required the insertion of a plate and six screws. Missed two games before returning to action in a cast. Also was knocked out of the Louisville contest in the fourth quarter (bruised sternum). Played in 10 games (nine starts) in ’09 and tossed 211-338-2,520-29-6 (62.4). Missed three games due to a broken left forearm. Returned to a starting role against Illinois and threw for 399 yards and a school-record six TDs.
Positives: Plays with awareness. Deceptively athletic and can move around the pocket, sidestep the rush and continue scanning the field. Generally gets rid of the ball on time and in rhythm and can throw with accuracy on the move. Nice timing and anticipation. Has functional arm strength. Is smart and has shown an improved understanding of the game.
Negatives: Too skinny, narrow-framed and injury-prone - has missed time the past two years with injuries and could always struggle to stay healthy with a thin bone structure not suited to adding bulk. Played in a QB-friendly offense, operating heavily out of the shotgun, and will need time to acclimate to the speed of the pro game. Could struggle to handle inclement weather. Misses some open receivers, and accuracy is inconsistent. Does not drive the ball downfield and could put more air underneath the deep ball. Questionable mental toughness - can be rattled by pressure. Does not have a commanding on-field presence - confidence wanes. Not a scrambler.
Summary: A smart, efficient, ball-control passer who has taken great strides the past two years and might be drafted with the expectation of becoming a starter. However, he has not been able to stay healthy in college, lacks ideal intangibles and will require considerable development time in the pros.
NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.
7. QB Levi Brown
Ht: 6-3 1/2 | Wt: 229 | Sp: 4.97 | Arm: 31 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Full name is Jacob Levi Brown. Began his collegiate career at Richmond, where he opened the 2005 season as the starter after graduating from high school in 31?2 years and enrolling in college in the spring semester. Played in five games but lost the job after two weeks, completing 12-of-42 pass attempts (28.6 percent) for 66 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. Played in six games (one start) in ’06, tossing 54-90-618-5-4 (60.0). Transferred to Troy after Richmond changed its offense and sat out the ’07 season per NCAA rules. In ’08, began the season third on the depth chart but appeared in 10 games, starting the final eight, and passed 201-326-2,030-15-3 (61.7) while leading the Trojans to a Sun Belt Conference title. Started all 13 games in ’09, throwing for 321-504-4,254-23-9 (63.7) and leading the Trojans to the GMAC Bowl. Became the first player in Sun Belt history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season.
Positives: Plays with a sense of calm and is cool under pressure with the ability to snap the ball off quickly given his compact, short release and quick arm. Handles the ball well. Keeps plays alive and continues scanning for open receivers. Good short-to-intermediate accuracy. Shows functional arm strength and fine touch. Tough, confident, determined competitor. Works hard and comes prepared.
Negatives: Has operated heavily out of the gun and can be lazy with his footwork and not step into throws. Consistently drops his elbow and has a low release point. Will throw some wobblers and the ball will sail. Does not put enough air under the ball down the pipe between the hashes. Struggled against the speed of Florida and has not faced much in the way of competition. Is not a scrambler and cannot escape the rush. Will require time adjusting to a conventional passing tree and making NFL-style reads.
Summary: Has an intriguing mental makeup to develop as a backup and could blossom under the tutelage of an experienced offensive mind capable of harnessing his mechanics. Toughness, intelligence and competitiveness are all pluses worth noting that could allow him to exceed expectations.
NFL projection: Mid-to-late draftable pick.
8. QB Daryll Clark
Penn State senior
Ht: 6-1 7/8 | Wt: 235 | Sp: 4.65e | Arm: 32 3/4 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: A partial qualifier out of high school, Clark attended prep school in 2004 before redshirting with the Nittany Lions in ’05. Saw action in seven games in ’06, completing 14-of-27 pass attempts (51.9 percent) for 116 yards without throwing a touchdown or an interception. Also rushed 15 times for 48 yards (3.2-yard average) with three touchdowns. Suffered a concussion against Michigan. While serving as Anthony Morelli’s backup in ’07, saw limited action in eight games, tossing 6-9-31-0-0 (66.7) with 12-78-2 (6.5) rushing. In ’08, won a preseason battle with Pat Devlin (who later transferred out of the program) and engineered the team’s “Spread HD” offense, starting all 13 games and totaling 192-321-2,592-19-6 (59. through the air with 79-282-10 (3.6) on the ground. Was forced out of the Ohio State contest in the third quarter after sustaining a concussion (his third since high school). Earned a fifth year of eligibility in ’09 by virtue of completing at least 80 percent of his classes needed to graduate. Was the first QB in school history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season, as he started all 13 games and threw for 232-381-3,003-24-10 (60.9) with 84-211-7 (2.5) rushing. Team captain.
Positives: Very strong, physical, thickly built athlete with a powerful arm. Has a fluid, compact delivery. Is strong in the pocket and difficult to bring down. Very good balance and body control and can brush off the rush and bull through tacklers. Rifles the ball with great velocity. Can hasten his delivery and throw with accuracy on the move. Vocal leader. Tough, intense competitor - does not want to leave the field and can inspire a huddle. Has a passion for the game. Is motivated by a challenge and very persistent. Has been extremely durable.
Negatives: Has bad lower-body mechanics and footwork that need to be retrained, and his accuracy is affected by it. Inconsistent decision maker - can be confused by pressure and press too much. Field vision is developing - misses some wide-open receivers, does not gauge the power in his arm and makes his receivers work hard adjusting to the ball. Did not fare well against better competition - see Iowa and Ohio State in ’09 - and can get in a funk for stretches. Will need to be brought along slowly and taught to learn how to read complex coverages.
Summary: Required time to acclimate to the college game and not surprisingly struggled in a new environment at the East-West Shrine Game. Despite settling down in his second year as a starter, he is still far from a finished product and will require three years in an NFL incubator before he is ready, similar to Jaguars 2002 fourth-rounder David Garrard(notes). Would highly benefit from stability on the coaching staff and would be best in a play-action offense where he can work outside the pocket and capitalize on his athletic ability. Has eventual starter potential.
NFL projection: Fourth- to fifth-round pick.
9. QB John Skelton
Ht: 6-5 3/8 | Wt: 243 | Sp: 4.91 | Arm: 32 | Hand: 9 3/4
Notes: Father played at UTEP; uncle played at Columbia; and brother, Stephen, is a tight end at Fordham. John also competed in basketball, baseball and track as a prep. Very lightly recruited and was offered a scholarship only by his hometown UTEP. As a true freshman in 2006, played in nine games, starting seven (including the final five), and completed 74-of-167 pass attempts (44.3 percent) for 960 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Started all 12 games in ’07, passing 216-383-2,650-22-11 (56.4). Also rushed 96 times for 275 yards (2.9-yard average) and six TDs. Started all 11 games in ’08, tossing 228-372-2,605-15-7 (61.3), despite tearing posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee against Colgate in September. Finished career in ’09, starting all 11 games and throwing 284-441-3,708-26-10 (64.4). Threw for at least 300 yards in 8-of-11 games, including four 400-yard efforts. Is Fordham’s all-time leading passer with 9,923 passing yards, 802 completions, 69 touchdowns and 10,486 yards of total offense. Two-time team captain.
Positives: Has exceptional size to see the field and is difficult to knock down. Can fit the ball into tight windows, flick it effortlessly and stretch the field horizontally and vertically. The ball comes out of his hand with velocity, and he can make all the throws. Feels the rush and can get rid of the ball quickly. Exceptional career production. Has been very durable, not missing any time to injuries and showing he will play through pain.
Negatives: Tends to throw off his back foot and rely too much on his arm strength, and his accuracy suffers as a result. Does not gauge his arm strength well. Faced marginal competition in the Patriot League. Operated heavily out of the shotgun in an offense featuring simplified reads and will require an adjustment period to a pro-style offense. Footwork is inconsistent - will require a lot of work on his mechanics and reads. Too streaky. Timing and anticipation are off. Tends to glide in his setup and is late on some throws. Does not have a strong on-field demeanor or play with fire. Mental toughness and competitiveness need to be examined closely. Wore a big brace on his left knee, and scrambling ability is limited. Has carried nearly 260 pounds and at times looks too heavy in his movement and overall release.
Summary: A strong-armed pocket passer whose career has been too defined by hot and cold performances. Was limited by a marginal supporting cast and did not consistently elevate the play of his teammates. Has the arm talent to warrant developing but, to be more than a backup, still must prove he can hone his decision making and accuracy and adapt to the speed of the NFL game.
NFL projection: A fourth- to fifth-round pick.
10. QB Mike Kafka
Ht: 6-3 1/8 | Wt: 225 | Sp: 4.93 | Arm: 33 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/4
Notes: Four-year high school starter in Chicago’s Catholic League who also played baseball as a prep. Redshirted in 2005. Played in five games in ’06, completing 55-of-96 pass attempts (57.3 percent) for 494 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions. Also rushed 48 times for 263 yards (5.5-yard average) and two TDs. Was the starter in the Wildcats’ first four games before straining his left hamstring against Nevada and ceding the job to C.J. Bacher. A backup in ’07, Kafka attempted just three passes. Played eight games in ’08, starting two (Minnesota, Ohio State) in place of an injured Bacher, and tossed 32-46-330-2-3 (69.6) while rushing 68-321-1 (4.7), including 217 yards against the Gophers, which set a Big Ten record for QBs. Sustained a concussion against Michigan. Started all 13 games in ’09, totaling 319-492-3,430-16-12 (64. through the air with 150-295-8 (2.0) on the ground. Left the Penn State contest with a strained left hamstring. Team captain.
Positives: Athletic enough to escape the rush and eats a lot of ground with his long strides. Has a rubber arm, snaps the ball off quickly and throws a very catchable ball. Can move around the pocket and throw with accuracy on the move. Feels pressure and knows when to throw the ball away. Good short accuracy and anticipation. Is tough and will play through pain. Gym rat. Smart. Carried the offense as a senior. Played with good tempo in a fast-paced offense.
Negatives: Raw positional instincts and footwork as only a one-year starter. Still makes some boneheaded decisions and forces the ball into coverage - see five interceptions vs. Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Has only decent arm strength and really struggles with deep accuracy. Has a tendency to bail out of the pocket too soon and let his eyes drop to the rush. Worked almost exclusively out of the gun in a spread-option offense and threw a lot of high-percentage passes that padded his production.
Summary: Nearly rallied the Wildcats back to victory in a record-breaking Outback Bowl performance and followed up with a solid showing at the East-West Shrine Game, when he was named the Offensive MVP after leading a come-from-behind victory on the game’s final drive. Is still raw and developing but has enough size and athletic ability to be groomed as a potential backup or minimally a No. 3 QB.
NFL projection: Mid-to-late draftable pick.