Mallett Leaning Towards Pros

December 30, 2009

Latest whispers out of Fayetteville are that Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is seriously considering turning pro after one season with the  Razorbacks. The Michigan transfer has measurables off the chart and the strongest arm in college football, but many scouts are suggesting another year to hone his game would be advisable. If he does choose to come out he will definitely be a first round pick, his talent and upside alone make him tough to ignore, especially if he goes to a team where he is no expected to start immediately. Where would he rank in the QB pecking order? Probably 3rd behind Clausen and Bradford. This would give teams a chance later to grab someone like Colt McCoy, a situation that the Rams would love to have after the sure pick of Suh in the first round.

Join the blogging team!

December 29, 2009

Calling all QB Fanatics. QB Central is looking for volunteer bloggers to help us make this the most comprehensive QB-focused blog on the net. We are looking for QB bloggers across a range of topics. Drop us a line if you think you can handle the heat under centre. qbcentral@yahoo.com

As echoed by NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan, the most successful teams in the league have franchise signal callers, in the majority as a result of first-round drafting. (Manning, Rodgers, McNabb, Palmer, Rivers etc.) Of course you have your exceptions (Romo, Favre) who came from other places than the first round, but either way, they are players you can call franchise QBs (even if Favre is only for a season). But there are a handful of teams in dire need of a go-to-guy at QB. Some of these have tried the draft route and failed (Oakland, San Francisco, Cleveland) and others have been putting it off for as long as possible.

Lets start with St Louis. The Rams have gotten by with Marc Bulger for a while now, but he has been injury prone and a longer-term option is vital. The Rams look headed for the first overall pick, but do any of this year’s QBs warrant that selection, with Suh on the board? Maybe they can trade down to get Clausen or Bradford someone else, but either way, they need to get in the mix, and not with a late round option like Null. This blogger thinks they should have taken Chad Henne when they had the chance in the second round last year.

What about Carolina. Delhomme should be gone. Matt Moore has done well as his stand-in, but isn’t a franchise QB. Worth keeping around, but not as the only option. With no first round pick (thanks to a pair of them this year) the drafting option seems out of the question (unless McCoy slides to them), but maybe taking a chance on Brady Quinn, or hoping the Skins let Jason Campbell go would be a worthy exploration.

Oakland thought they had the franchise QB they needed when they drafted JaMarcus Russell, but we all know how that worked out. The Raiders fell apart when they ignored some talented QBs in recent drafts to go in other directions, and then blew their high picks. They will have a shot at Clausen and Bradford in the first, but neither is  the Al Davis type, which we all know that means he is perfect. Do the RAiders explore other FA or trade options? Are there enough viable candidates? Have they given up on Russell? Either way, Raidernation needs something to feel optimistic about under center.

San Francisco has given Alex Smith plenty of chances. He had his best chance ever to prove his worth this season but just hasn’t done enough. Satisfactory, but if a better option can be found, a more permanent option, the Niners have to attack it. Singletary will now know what he has, and what he needs, and that starts at QB.

The Seattle Seahawks have a franchise QB – Matt Hasselbeck – but his time is just about up. Injury plagued, and on a downward path, it is time for the Seahawks to look ahead. They definitely will consider entering the Clausen/Bradford sweepstakes, especially with enough overall talent at other positions. All that being said, whoever is under center next year will need a solid O Line. A healthy O Line.

Buffalo still appears in need of a QB. I was optimistic Trent Edwards was the man for the Bills. We know he is smart. We know he has skills, but does he have the leadership, especially in a T.O. laden locker room. There are way too many holes in the Bills roster to use first-rounder on a QB, so the BIlls will be looking for second round help in all likelihood.

Will anyone give Michael Vick a shot? This season in Philly has hardly given anyone evidence either way of his QB prospects, but there will be teams who will give him a chance, there is few-enough options around to suggest he will be competing for a starting berth somewhere in the NFL next spring.

* A special guest post by Unlucky4Some (Thanks for the great work)

The Draft Tebow tshirts doing the rounds in Jax at the moment are a sign of a town enamoured. Unfortunately for Wayne Weaver, Jack Del Rio and David Garrard, the folk of Jacksonville are enamoured with all things Gator, all things Tebow, not all things Jaguar. As the Jaguars wind up their 2009 season, hoping a win over the Browns will allow them an 8-8 finish, questions remain about the true value of David Garrard. Is he the man to lead the teal to the post-season (again) and beyond? Or is it time to cast him aside as a failed project much-like his predecessor Byron Leftwich?

Before we go submitting our draft card for Tebow or sending Garrard to Salem, we need to seriously consider all the factors. This post will look at 1) The Results  2) The Stats  3) The Supporting Cast  4) The Potential  5) The Alternatives.

Let us start with the Results.  1 playoff season in his time as starter. That is what Garrard has to show for his efforts. A 2007 season that had many pundits nominate the Jaguars as a potential Superbowl team. That all went up in smoke with the OL collapse, and Del Rio’s housecleaning meant 2009 was always going to be a building year. All that being said, the jaguars have possibly exceeded expectations if they can hit .500 in Week 17.

Since joining the Jaguars in 2002 Garrard has played in 71 games.  Only since 2006 has he been the starter, so it is really only relevant to consider those seasons. The 2006-2009 timeframe accounts for 54 of these games. During this time, Garrard has 56 touchdowns, compared to 34 interceptions, adding a disappointing 15 lost fumbles in this time. 2007 is considered Garrards’ finest year, having a Pro-Bowl calibre season en route to the playoffs, including the memorable victory over Pittsburgh. Garard had a QB Rating of 102.2 during 2007 throwing 27 times a game on average. Notable during the 2007 season was the success of the Jacksonville run-game, but we will consider that in a later section. Garrard has been sacked an almost David Carr-esque 39 times already this season, and if it wasn’t for his strong frame and elusiveness, this surely would have been higher. Are these sack numbers on protection, or on Garrard for not getting rid of the ball quicker? The latter assertion one that was a regular criticism of Leftwich during his time in Jax.  A 13-9 TD to INT ratio this season is not sufficient enough production for an offense to be playoff bound, especially minus a stellar defense. To put in perspective, New England’s Randy Moss has 13 receiving TDs on his own, giving an indication of how many Tom Brady has thrown.  So the stats aren’t great for Garrard, but they aren’t that bad either, in-fact there are 22 Qbs who have thrown more interceptions.  Generally, Garrard could be considered a middle-of-the-pack QB statistically this season, his inconsistency (and that of those around him) impacting his statistical case.

So who does Garrard have around him? Clearly the offensive line has been a concern for the past 2 seasons, Garrard well up in the sacks and knockdowns categories. With two rookie tackles this season he was always bound to be under pressure in passing situations, and with the limitations the rookies’ presence placed on the run-game, the pressure was already increased on the passing game, and in-turn on Garrard. Maurice Jones-Drew is a star and he has been the workhouse, accounting for approximately 50% of all touches this season on offense, but he too has suffered from the offensive line woes. The receiving corps has been as good this year as it has been since the halcyon days of Smith and McCardell. Marcedes Lewis has emerged as an elite tight end, Mike Sims-Walker has stayed healthy and developed into a legitimate #1 receiver, rookie Mike Thomas has been a revelation as a receiver in the Steve Smith mold and others have made a contribution in this all-new receiving depth (following the departure of Reggie Williams, Matt Jones etc). Torry Holt was the free-agent acquisition, but he has provided veteran leadership more than star performance at WR. The defense has struggled mightily as a unit, placing extra pressure on the offense with poor field position, and the inability to stem the flow of points. But ultimately, the offense has underperformed. Should this fall on Garrards’ shoulders?

Is DG a quarterback capable of leading the Jags back to the post-season? My thought is yes. He has done it before (although so did Derek Anderson once in Cleveland), and it is clearly not through his fault alone that the Jaguars have again fallen short. He has the leadership, skill-set and moxie to make Jacksonville a contender.

With that contention, it could be argued there is no point discussing the alternatives, but this blog needs the debate. If we look at the Jags current depth chart, there is no QB controversy brewing. Luke McCown is a very viable backup, and could lead a team to success, but perhaps isn’t the franchise quarterback. The free-agency market is likely to hold a few players who have suffered through their own problems in current locations – Brady Quinn and Jason Campbell –  but none who you could categorically suggest are upgrades. When you consider the draft and the Jaguars likely position in the late teens selections, you may have the chance to draft a Colt McCoy or a Ryan Mallett (if he declares) and you would have a clear shot at Tim Tebow, who we will discuss in detail shortly, but the draft is an unknown entity and there are just too many holes to fill (shall we start on defense). I don’t see the draft being the source of a better option.

We must, as requested, discuss the purple elephant in Wayne Weaver’s room – Tim Tebow. Tebow’s  status as Florida’s most beloved was reaffirmed recently when the state governor contacted Jags owner Wayne Weaver to express his view that Tebow (a Jax native) would be a great addition to the Jaguars. And you know what, I agree. Tebow in a Jags uniform would be great for ticket sales and for the team’s profile. I just don’t believe that it should be as QB. Nor as a regular FB or TE. As the face of the franchise, he would be a star, just don’t hand over the keys to the offense. Now all that being said, having Tebow on the roster would only serve to ignite the locals into calling for Garrard’s head and the insertion of Tebow to run the offense…heck lets get stressed-out Urban Meyer to come in as HC instead of JDR…then you’d see the Jacksonville Gators, oops, I mean Jaguars) capture the public’s heart. Although I believe that this heart would be broken when Timmy couldn’t do the same things in the Pros as in the SEC. And a folk hero like Tebow doesn’t deserve to have this happen.

But back to the question at hand. Should Garrard be the QB in 2010 and beyond? My answer is yes, at least for 2010, when a more experienced line, a group of developing WRs and a defense that couldn’t be worse should give a fair indication of where the franchise is headed.

NB. For the purpose of this piece, all players who were QBs in college are being evaluated.

The class of 2009 has seen 4 Quarterbacks start games under center for their new teams. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) and Matt Stafford (Det) were opening day starters, mixing standout performances with rookie debacles over the course of the year. Late first round pick Josh Freeman took over the Buccaneers job mid-way through the poor Tampa season. Keith Null started late season for St Louis when their depth chart collapsed and left only him.

Of the others, Curtis Painter had a poor debut in relief of a resting Peyton Manning, the rookie not likely to forget that game in a hurry. Apart from this appearance, there was little sight of the others apart from carrying the clipboard. There were also cases of position changes in full view – New England Patriots drafted Kent State’s Julian Edelman and turned him into Wes Welker lite, Edelman performing admirably in his new role. Jacksonville turned option Quarterback Zach Miller into a tight end, the Jaguar earning quality playing time. College standout Pat White got his Dolphins flipper wet in the WildPat set for the Fins, not able to seriously contend for a regular QB position.

So how does the class rate? Stafford and Sanchez have shown they have the skills, and the stones, to be the main man, and Freeman, the biggest project of the top picks, has illustrated his huge upside and more advanced development than was expected at this point. Ultimately, with Stafford on IR, Freeman only with a half-season of time, the nod has to go to Sanchez, who, although having a couple of shockers, has the Jets on the brink of the post-season. Time will tell, but I think these first round gunslingers will go on to lead productive careers in the big leagues.

Early QB Bowl Performances

December 27, 2009

At this stage in bowl season, it his hard to go past the performance of SMU Freshman Quarterback Kyle Padron’s performance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl as the top game by a signal-caller. Padron threw for 2 TDs in a 32-41 performance racking up 460 yards in a huge end to the Mustangs season. Fellow freshman matt Barkley probably sits second with 2 passing Tds and a rushing TD in a game important to Barkley and the Trojans looking ahead. Utah;s Jordan Wynn bounced back from an early INT to play a fantastic game in the Utes post-season game. But it will be the performances of Tebow, Pike, McCoy, McElroy, Pryor, Masoli and the other key players that will ultimately determine the fate of the season and of the future, with the bowl games serving as NFL auditions. See ESPN’s bowl statistics here.

Power Struggle?

December 23, 2009

The Brad Childress v Brett Favre discussion has taken on epic proportions. After initial suggestion from the Vikings camp that it related to a disagreement over whether to keep Favre in the game when being physically manhandled, fresh discussion has emerged about a dispute over the use of audibles by Favre. Alternatively, it was Favre’s frustration at not being given free reign to make audibles. Either way, it smells of a power struggle.

We hear that Favre argues that he has spent basically his whole career in the offense and has the knowledge and experience to make the right audible adjustments. You can’t argue at all with that assertion. But does that mean he should openly challenge his Head Coach? Former teammates are coming out to suggest that Favre has diva-like tendencies and that Childress and the Vikings should have known that.

Favre has added plenty to the Vikings and legitimised their title contention, but has he overstepped the mark?

They aren’t usually a predictor for the Heisman, but Texas QB Colt McCoy has started the hardware season well, picking up the Davey O’Brien Award for the top QB and the Maxwell Award for the Nation’s best player. Naturally, all awards are voted by a subjective poll, so the Heisman could be a different story. Read CBSsportsline’s coverage of his wins here.

CLAUSEN DECLARES HIS INTENT

December 8, 2009

The minute Charlie Weis was fired it was a sure-thing, but now Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen has made official his intention to declare for the NFL Draft. Clausen will be among a group of QBs vying for top billing, sharing this quest with Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, who remains with mixed views on his pro potential. Washington’s Jake Locker could also declare early, his stock improving this year in his first season in Steve Sarkisian’s pro-style offense. See the previous article on Locker’s prospects. It was suggested prior to the season that Jevan Snead could be an early entry, but surely after the disappointment of this season with the Rebels, Snead can see another year as beneficial. Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett is another who would generate discussion, but another year would definitely help his stock.

As expected at the beginning of the season, Florida’s Tim Tebow and Texas’s Colt McCoy are among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy following the announcement this week of the Top 5. Unlike what was expected, the duo are not joined by Sam Bradford, nor is a QB favoured to win the award. In what could be considered sacreligious in a QB site like this one, QB Central is tipping a non-QB as the winner. Mark Ingram, the star RB of Alabama, Toby Gerhart the RB from Stanford and the big Nebraska DT Suh are all ahead of the passers in my view, especially following weekend action. Suh is the best, most dominant player in college football, but his position may see him miss out. Ingram and Gerhart could face-off for the prestigious award and be the first running back to win since Reggie Bush. Tebow’s performance in the SEC Championship game could see him slide in the pecking order and McCoy too struggled for much of the Big 12 game. Stay tuned for a review of Heisman proceedings after the ceremony in New York.