The East-West Shrine Game passed without much excitement. John Skelton looked like the play action Howitzer he is. It's a bit of a dying model. Drew Bledsoe, prototype, was quietly an ineffective quarterback for most of his career. Outsiders loved Bledsoe because he started fast and looked classic football, all bombs and strikes, but fans endured Bledsoe.
He bled sacks. When he wasn't sacked, his inability to avoid pressure and throw on the move exhibited itself in incompletions and picks. His early peak was only above-average and away from a tailored system, his weaknesses showed through. Bledsoe, Skelton and of course Joe Flacco, need a run-first offense to thrive in. Even though Flacco is fun and has achieved some early success, his ceiling might be quite low. Drew Bledsoe-low.
Pete Carroll is not likely targeting Skelton. He favors the Mark Sanchez-Drew Brees-Tony Romo type that can negotiate the pocket while still searching down field. A pure passer, so to speak; pure as in pass-first, able to complete a high percentage of passes and able to pass effectively without play-action. The draft has a handful of quarterbacks that match that profile.
The Senior Bowl raises the bar for talent. It's the ultimate college All-Star game. The Shrine Game produces sleepers like Daniel Te'o-Nesheim; The Senior Bowl produces first round picks like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and B.J. Raji. I would love to give real coverage, but that's not happening this year. So, as a tool, here's a list of important names, players that fit PC's profile, and a link to their Google news feed. I'll post a new thread with some new names to consider every day. First, the most important player on the field:
Sean Canfield: Canfield finished a sparkling senior season with an absolute dud of a bowl game. He completed 47.5% of his passes after completing 60%+ in every previous game. He has a professional profile: good height and frame plus experience as a pocket passer. But his arm is only so-so and the Beavers offense was built off the run. He fits the Marc Bulger/Matt Hasselbeck prototype, has that kind of upside, and likely will be drafted in the middle rounds, never to be heard from again.
Zac Robinson: Robinson is a toolsier version of Tony Romo, minus the professional success or likelihood of future professional success. His upside is higher than either Canfield or Skelton, but his likelihood of achieving that potential is much lower. Robinson began a scrambling quarterback, transitioned to a more passing-centric system in 2008, flourished, returned for his senior season, started strong, lost Dez Bryant, and then finished with a ruinous stretch of football. He would have been better off struck by a bus. Robinson must revive his draft stock before reentering the conversation.
Dan LeFevour: LeFevour, on the other hand, is riding a wave of success and must only prove his pro tools to become the class of this also-ran quarterback class. Of course, the path between promising and proving your pro tools can be short and definitive.
LeFevour ran a spread system that relied on yards after catch. In the NFL, yards after catch correlate much more strongly with the receiver than the quarterback, meaning LeFevour likely has bloated stats. He also benefited immensely from a weak schedule and an advantage that won't translate to the pros. LeFevour could out-gap college defenses by aligning shotgun, empty backfield and attacking with the keeper. Think of it like this: what if a team could run play-action without sacrificing a receiver. It would make for some easy passes, and, in the face of blanket coverage, some easy scrambles.
For a highly successful quarterback that beat up on bad competition by distributing the ball and witnessing the resulting carnage, like LeFevour, what matters is arm strength. And the arm strength that matters for LeFevour is short and mid-range zip. LeFevour has Alex Smith-like potential--nothing to sneeze at.
Tony Pike: Pike has injury red flags and the build and pocket awareness to make those flags stick. He's probably playing for his NFL career. It's easy to write Pike off. Florida smacked around the Bearcats in a joke of a Sugar Bowl. Pike was particularly unimpressive. Some would contend that he wasn't even the best quarterback on his own team.
But Pike excelled in a pass first offense; the best offense in college football according to S&P. His potential is still very high. Finishing his career so poorly might make him a value pick. He has great height and good athleticism, enough arm strength, and an excellent record of success on a team without great skill talent. Pike played poorly against the Gators, but his entire team was over matched. The Senior Bowl allows him to compete with and against equal talent. Should he excel, Pike might save his career.
Then of course there’s Tim Tebow. Tebow reflects a certain arrogance shared by the scouting community: A belief that any and all pertinent quarterback abilities can be compartmentalized and evaluated. We can all anticipate the criticism Tebow will face, but does any of it prove he will fail? Lost in the fault-finding one upsmanship is the greatest potential of any player since Michael Vick.