Prospect QBs Go Camping

June 29, 2009

Plenty of summer camps happening at the moment, with 2010 and 2011 keen to expand their offers.

Here is the Scouts Inc report from the Elite 11 QB camp in Las Vegas.

See Bruce Feldman’s Rising Stars camp report here.

Roper a Grizzly

June 28, 2009

Oregon Spring FootballFormer Oregon QB Justin Roper has shifted base from the Pac-10 Conference to the Big Sky Conference, opting to join the University of Montana program. After being beaten out by Jeremiah Masoli for the starting job in spring, Roper opted to transfer and will sit this year out in Montana before likely assuming the starting role next year. Senior Cole Bergquist will start for the Grizzlies this year, and Sophomore Andrew Selle will likely offer competition for the top job under center. Roper is best remembered for his standout bowl game at the end of 2007. Roper and Masoli split reps early last season before Masoli assumed the full-time role, he too capping the year with a standout performance in Bowl Season.

hendrixIt means very little until National Signing Day, but a trio of highly regarded QBs have made their college choices. UCLA landed Brett Nottingham (Danville Monte Vista, Cal), who subsequently withdrew from this week’s USC Rising Stars Camp. The Michigan State Spartans were a change of heart for local product Joe Boisture who changed his commitment from Boston College to State. Notre Dame was the happy recipient of Moeller HS product Andrew Hendrix (pictured) who boasted some impressive offers. Hendrix was likely the beneficiary of Nick Montana’s decision to got oW ashington over the Irish.

JESSESCROGGINS3_13150USC’s Rising Stars camp is usually a who’s who of College Prospects, with an offer from USC among the most coveted by recruits. But at the QB position, with the 2010 not viewed as depp as some others, there were only a handful of big-name signal-callers keen to impress the Trojans. It could be argued that the #1 reason for that is Matt Barkley. Barkley, the current Freshman QB who is still a legitimate contender to start this year, is only 1 year in and for this class, would present at least two years of competition ahead, assuming he only stays for his Junior year. With this fact, many top passers have accepted offers elsewhere rather than hide behind Barkley.

The Tropjans stated publicly that there is only one Qb scholly on offer for 2010 and that performance in this camp would go a long way to determining that. Enter Jesse Scroggins III (pictured). Scroggins was the best of the bunch in the early camp going, overshadowing the other likely contender Chase Rettig. Scroggins was given an offer at the end of Day 1, showing enough for USC QB coach Jeremy Bates to recognise Scroggins with a scholarship opportunity. Scroggins has, however, stated that he won’t rush to decide, with USC joining Tennessee and Florida in his Top 3.

The depth consideration is a big-one for recruits, who see the college game as their audition for the NFL and need maximum chances to show their wares. Not every QB can be a one-hit wonder like Sanchez. See yesterday’s  Friday Audibles for discussion on this very issue.

p1_barkleyYou are a Blue-Chip quarterback prospect. You have a slew of offers from all of the top football programs in the country. Every type of weather, style of offense, supporting cast, coaching staff, facilities, acadmeic programs and location are at your disposal. How do you choose? Do you choose what is best for the next 4 years of your life? Or do you choose what is the best for your post college-football life. The answer? Where can I play the most?

Obviously, there is a balancing act in this decision making process. Sure, you could play from Day 1 at at lower division school, or even a mid-major program, but you have to factor in the other previously mentioned considerations as well. But in the discussion between Football Powerhouse A and Football Powerhouse B or Football Powerhouse A and Strong Division1 Program recruits are more concerned with the depth chart.

Unlike some other positions, not all QBs are looking for the chance to start right away, in fact, many will be happy to spend a redshirt year ensuring they hit the field running when they do get the starting shot. They just hope that shot isn’t in their senior season. The USC Rising Stars camp this week was an example of how much the depth ahead is a factor. Class of 2009 USC commit Matt Barkley (Mater Dei HS, Cal – pictured) is in the midst of his pre-season preparations for the Trojans season. Already he has been mentioned as a possible surprise starter in LA. This fact alone has top QB prospects wary of heading to USC. No doubt the program produces outstanding players at the position and gives those players NFL shots, but when you are buried on the depth chart, that chance is not always forthcoming (note the exception re: Matt Cassel). Many of the nations top 2010 QB recruits looked away from USC this past year, not keen to enter a situation where they were destined to sit. And these are QBs who thrive on competition, who play with a point to prove constantly.  So the benefactors there are schools like Washington, Arizona, BYU, UCLA, Notre Dame, Tennessee etc. who don’t have to battle with USC. With clear opportunities ahead at schools like UCLA, Washington and Tennessee, it is no surprise to see players such as Nick Montana go that way.

Let’s look at someone who wasn’t dialled into that type of thinking – Notre Dame understudy Dayne Crist. Crist was a top prep player out of California and signed with teh Fighting Irish as part of the 2008 class. Notre Dame had only just the year before signed consensus #1 Prospect Jimmy Clausen. Crist now finds himself looking down the barrel of another year at least behind Clausen, who, unless he sets the world on fire this year, is likely to use up his full eligibility, giving Crist likely only 1 year at the helm.  The talented Crist would likely be able to start for many of the BCS Conference teams at the moment, goodness knows Lane Kiffin would love to have him in Knoxville this year.As discussed in a previous FA column on transfers, a school-change is often the only option for a QB buried on the chart, costing wasted years.

College Football is an extended interview for the NFL. Pro teams want to assemble a bank of footage and a body of work on which to pick apart and scour over. 1 year isn’t always going to cut it. There are exceptions – Mark Sanchez being the most recent – but generally a recruit is looking to showcase his skills to the next level, and when there someone else under center stealing your limelight, chances are, you are looking elsewhere. And in this scribe’s opinion, that is only a good thing for college football!

1) Minnesota Vikings. Favre? Jackson? Rosenfels? They say if you have 2 quarterbacks you have none. What if you have 2 and one more possible? The Vikings would want to hope Favre comes back, because the damage to Rosenfels and Jackson could already be done.

2) San Francisco. Are either of these QBs really capable of doing the job? Shaun Hill is likely to start after Alex Smith’s role of franchise QB didn’t get continued. The Niners should definitely be in the market for whichever Cleveland QB doesn’t end up starting.

3) Tampa Bay. Josh Freeman is the future of the franchise, but he is not ready to start. Or is he? Byron Leftwich is clearly not the answer, and McCown will be servicable, but Raheem Morris will be wondering when the time is to start looking ahead.

4) Cleveland Browns. Unlike most of the other teams here, I don’t think the Browns can make a wrong decision. Both Qbs are youngm Pro Bowl or potential Pro Bowl caliber signal callers. Mangini will sort them out and the other QB should be on the trade block by the end of training camp.

5) Tie. New York Jets and Detroit Lions. Both teams have hostshot new Qbs in town. They also have veterans not ready to give up the spot without a fight. Both Head Coaches will be preaching about playing the guy who gives the team the best chance to win. But the $ are a big factor here. Expect Sanchez to start in NY and Stafford to have to wait until mid-season to take over in Motown.

As owners and league commissioners begin preparations for upcoming Fantasy Football drafts, QB Central looks at the top 5 2009  Quarterbacks in fantasy play.

1) Tom Brady – New England. If he is fully healthy, which by all reports he will be, Brady will put up big numbers for the Patriots. Add his yardage and TD value and the general lack of mistakes, Brady is the QB to have.

2) Drew Brees – New Orleans. Brees is Head Coach Sean Payton’s personal firearm, gunning passes all over the field for the Saints. His point scoring potential is huge and an easy first round fantasy pick.

3) Peyton Manning – Indianapolis. The offense is less about Peyton than it used to be, but it is still about Peyton. No Harrison means the other WR should increase in value, but Manning has plenty of targets to rack up the points.

4) Kurt Warner – Arizona. Whisenhunt likes a pass or two and Warner is a fan or throwing it to his star wideouts. Yardage and TDs should continue in the desert and be worth an early pick for a fantasy owner.

5) Matt Ryan – Atlanta.  Ryan was a good scorer last year as a rookie and with his explosive receiving options now including Tony Gonzalez, look for plenty more offense.

tb_sp_boeckman300Todd Boeckman was captain of the Ohio State football team last season. He also spent 3/4 of the season as backup to superfrosh Terrelle Pryor.  He also spent time as the pocket- passing caddy to Troy Smith. Boeckman knows what it is like to be anywhere but on top of the depth chart. Now, as an undrafted rookie, Boeckman is getting another chance at the clipboard duty, although this job comes with a paycheck. Boeckman is expected to compete for the #3 job in Jacksonville with Paul Smith of Tulsa, after the Jags released last year’s #2 Cleo Lemon. In 2007 Boeckman led the Buckeyes to the National Title game and it was his strong performance in his first and only full-season as a starter that he showed his wares for NFL scouts. The intangibles that a guy like Boeckman brings to the table is undeniable, a leader, a winner and the carrier of an NFL skill set. The tales of players like Matt Cassel and Tony Romo will give Boeckman hope as he looks to secure an NFL future with a strong training camp performance.

Dallas+Cowboys+Minicamp+56nhpzN_KPalWe haven’t even seen the completion of the NFL ‘pyjama party’ that is OTA’s, but how are the rookie QBs shaping up?

Let’s start in the Big Apple. Mark Sanchez begins his NFL career with a huge burden. Not the burden of learning the offense, or of keeping the fickle fans at bay, but the burden of expectation. The Jets gave up a fair bit to make the bold move to secure their QB of the future. After signing the huge deal recently that has made him the highest paid player in the history of Gang-Green, those expectations may have heightened, if that is possible. After  a rocky start to his practices with the Jets, Sanchez has started to get some comfort with the system, the staff and the role. Kellen Clemens is probably maintaining the #1 spot for now, but that is as much about politics as anything. Sanchez is expected to start and expected to lead the Jets to the playoffs. If the Jets brass can keep Thomas Jones and Leon Washington happy (plus the newly signed rookie Shonn Greene), the Jets running game should do plenty to take the pressure off Sanchez. The veteran OLine is among the strongest in the NFL so #6 should have time in the pocket to spare to find his underwhelming receiving corps. Sanchez will be one hoping that Plaxico Burress stays in NY as a Jet.  So, in rating Sanchez’s progress compared to expectations, I will call Sanchez = (equal to e xpectations).

As we move to the motor city, the financial expectations that Sanchez inherits are even more profound for Matthew Stafford. Stafford was viewed as the long-term face of the Lions, but also given the grace that with Daunte Culpepper in silver and blue, not expected to start on Day 1. Sanchez has shown all the things that made him a draftnik favourite – strong arm, good mobility etc. but also the things that made him a draftnik doubt – inconsistent accuracy and needing to improve his reads.  The cynical evaluators will see Stafford as having the chance to be another Jeff George.  The optimists will see another Brett Favre.  Neither expectations are fair to Stafford. The word out of Detroit is that Stafford is progressing at a similar rate to most rookie QBs, but it won’t be until training camp until we find out how far along he is. At this point, he gets an =.

Down in Tampa, the final first-round QB is looking ahead of the curve. Of three QBs taken in the first, Freeman was considered the biggest work in progress. His big-time tools were standout, but more was needed to develop his big-time game.  At his point in preparations, it appears as though Freeman may have risen to #2 on the depth behind likely starter Luke McCown. Byron Leftwich was brought in to compete for the top job, but the same flaws that saw him depart Jacksonville have reemerged.  We speak of course of that long delivery and penchance for holding onto the ball too long. So if not by his own efforts, Freeman is now sitting pretty behind McCown. It doesn’t appear likely that Freeman is ready to take the reigns yet, but expect to see some of Freeman during the regular season. If they Bucs can keep a healthy backfield, these opportunities can only improve for the Kansas State phenom. For this reason, Freeman gets a +.

Another QB that couldn’t be overlooked is Stephen McGee (pictured) over in Dallas. McGee perhaps has found an ideal location to be the surprise star. Tony Romo is part fan-favourite, part pet-peeve with the Cowboys, unable to decide if he is the man to lead America’s Team back to the promiseland. QB Coach and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has gushed over the diamond-in-the-rough that he may have found in McGee, who was stifled in a poor scheme fit in Texas A&M before Mike Sherman brought his pro-style offense. McGee, as a mid-round draftee carries far less expectations than a first rounder, and by all reports is performing strongly in early work as the #3 behind Romo and Jon Kitna. This bloggers early view is that McGee will have the chance to compete to start by Year 3. Accordingly, he gets a + evaluation.

QBcentral will review these players progress at the end of training camp.

brady_quinn(3)It was widely speculated during the off-season that although it was a 2-man race for the starting job in Cleveland under new HC Eric Mangini, that Derek Anderson would likely take the job with the Browns to shop Brady Quinn to possible suitors. The argument was that Mangini wasn’t a big Quinn fan. [An interesting sidebar –  Mangini and Quinn’s college mentor Charlie Weis were on the same New England Staff a number of years ago] Latest word out of Browntown is that Quinn’s OTA work has been strong and that it is likely him who will open under center in September. Further digging reveals suggestions that the public support for Derek Anderson was in fact something of a smoke and mirrors trick to increase the trade value of Anderson. Either way, it is hard to see a decision made pre-training camp, even if that does restrict possible destinations for the leftover QB. My instinct says that San Francisco should be seriously considering working out some trade parameters for whichever QB doesn’t get the top spot on the depth chart. Both offer franchise QB potential and significant upgrades over Shaun Hill and onetime #1 pick Alex Smith. But will they pull the trigger?