The Super Bowl put a cap on the last live football we'll see until spring games and the last true game we'll get until Labor Day weekend. Seeing the Saints beat the Colts, for some, marked the end of football season and time to transition into "basketball mode." However, for us real football fans, especially of the college persuasion, the Super Bowl acted as a marker for two reasons.
First it signified that we're roughly one month from spring ball. Spring is where teams are made, where blood is shed and fights break out after fifteen days of battling and so much self scouting and film evaluation is done depth charts go from pencil to ink. March is just around the corner folks and that is when die hards start to catch the fever.
Secondly, Sunday's close signaled the true beginning of the NFL draft season. Sure the senior bowl was a nice appetizer and teams like the Lions, Rams and Bucs have been thinking about the 2010 draft since they signed all their 2009 picks but now it officially starts. The Saints are the champions the 2010 NFL season must start with the 2010 draft and as we watch our guys go from collegiate stand outs the ranking, rising and falling, weight gain, weight loss and daily performances will color the months before the April 22nd draft.
Drew Brees and Peyton Manning truly confirmed what most of us already knew, in today's NFL you have to have a franchise quarterback to be able to compete on a week in and week out basis. With the draft coming up teams at the bottom will be looking for their guy and 2010's quarterback class features some of the most popular college football studs of all time.
As we kick off our draft coverage we'll take a quick look at the most important position on the field, according to a lot of people, and where the five most popular prospects stand in the grand scheme of things.
There will be plenty of in-depth coverage to come but for now read more for the state of the quarterback position through the five most discussed quarterback prospects.
The position is quickly eroding to put it bluntly. The NFL has guys like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer populating the second tier of quarterbacks behind the Brees, Manning and Brady elite. The league also has Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford as the new up and comers waiting to grow into pro bowl caliber quarterbacks.
What separates this season's draft class from the aforementioned QB's is the amount of flaws each player brings into the NFL draft. Everything from footwork and mechanics to arm strength and ability to read defenses is called into question.
This kid is without a doubt the most talked about player in recent draft history; if it isn't his commercial that ended up being the ultimate non-story then it is the speculation over his NFL future. You'll see ITB's official stance on Tebow unroll as the draft approaches as he's a topic that is unavoidable.
Tebow's flaws are the most glaring as he has so many negatives from the start of a passing play. The senior struggles taking the ball from center, has horrendous footwork, read defenses slowly and then upon finally deciding to throw he has poor mechanics that have been lovingly nicknamed the frittata by Spencer over at EDSBS. We'll not get into a Tebow slamfest as the kid is a hard worker but the fact is he is no where near ready to be an NFL back up, let alone the player a franchise uses as the cornerstone of their team.
While his throwing motion is the product of growing up throwing wrong the footwork, decision making and inability to take snaps is a direct result of his offensive system. The spread took a guy with a possibly correctable problem and made everything worse.
Bradford's another product of the spread offense but in Kevin Wilson's system he played both from under center and out of the shotgun so he's got a leg up on Tebow in terms of footwork and the ability to play from under center. He was an absolute prolific passer when he was healthy for the Sooners; throwing to wide open receivers all over the field enroute to one of the best seasons the nation's ever seen.
However, Sam's question marks revolve around his ability to read defenses, his toughness and a bit about his athleticism at the position. Reading defenses comes into question because of the offense's roots in the "Air Raid" style that is, essentially, the point and click scheme ran at Texas Tech and by Oklahoma quarterbacks like Jason White, Nate Hybl and Josh Huepel. None of these guys did much in the league so Bradford's success would be a first.
A sprained AC joint is a painful injury, but by most accounts it is not a season ending injury. Bradford has to not only prove that he is fully recovered from the injury but that he can take hits from NFL defenders on a regular basis. He also has to prove he's athletic enough to either avoid hits or fall to not hurt himself. The "re-injury" against Texas was a case of a guy falling straight into an injury in probably the most awkward tumbling I've seen after a standard tackle.
As accurate as they've come in recent years McCoy's completion percentage is the biggest draw as he threw the football to spots with pin point accuracy. He hasn't played from under center and at the combine in February we'll finally get to see how big he really is. The problem for McCoy revolves around his arm strength and the final two games of his career as a Longhorn.
The senior was clearly flustered in the Nebraska game as he nearly cost the Longhorns the game after being abused by Ndamukong Suh. His decision to loft the ball out of bounds raised several questions about his decision making and ability to handle the big moments. Against Alabama the toughness and injury history questions were raised as he went out with an apparent nerve injury that was never truly revealed.
He'll have to prove he's not only healthy but also prove, like Bradford, that he is capable of enduring serious body blows without injury. All SEC homerism aside, if McCoy can make it through all Big XII season without missing a snap but plays a few minutes and can't go against Bama how can he withstand the NFL's battleground?
Pike is the new vogue pick because of his height, the way he won in college and his unquestionable toughness. He's a guy that showed he can stand in the pocket, take a hit and is tough enough to play injured. He's a product of the spread similar to McCoy and Tebow, so he's never played much from under the center. While Pike was a survivor in the Big East he was clearly outclassed when he played Florida's defense littered with NFL talent.
The 6'6" quarterback drew mixed reviews at the senior bowl: folks loved his height and were surprised by his arm strength BUT they weren't in love with his frailty. He's only 225 making him a thin prospect at the next level and Mardy Gilyard's senior bowl performance cast some dispersions on who was truly making the plays.
Hands down the least negatives of the five popular picks but that doesn't make Jimmy a home run by any means. He's coming from the same NFL offense that made Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady successful. He's got acceptable size and weight but Clausen also has injury questions. He recently had surgery on his toe to repair ligament damage and played much of the season on bad wheel caused by an ankle injury. Clausen did tough out each injury, limping to the line to make plays and with a 28:4 TD to INT ratio he showed he could be effective through the pain.
Clausen's major drawback is Brady Quinn. A quarterback who, like Clausen, appeared to have it all when he came out of college. Pro offense experience, great measurables and the Notre Dame pedigree that scouts absolutely loved. Quinn hasn't been able to establish himself in the NFL and the Browns may be looking to head in new direction with all the transition in the organization. If Clausen is going to be successful he not only has to prove it in the weightroom, combine and workouts but he's got to differentiate himself from the underachieving Quinn.