By John Murphy, Yahoo! Sports
A conference-by-conference look at the top senior NFL quarterback prospects.
Matt Ryan, Boston College – A classic, drop-back passer who has very good physical tools and the necessary toughness/intangibles to become a starter at the next level. He's a better athlete than he is given credit for and can move around the pocket with enough presence to avoid pass rushers, while putting good zip on most of his throws. He does not receive the level of hype of others in this category, but could become a solid second-round choice.
Kyle Wright, Miami, FL – Wright is currently backing up Kirby Freeman. But USA Today's top-rated quarterback coming out of high school is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and runs 4.6 in the 40. That will surely get him a free agent shot, even if he remains on the bench all season.
Brian Brohm, Louisville – Brohm is the top-rated senior quarterback and has a chance to be the No. 1 overall choice in next year's NFL Draft. He will post great numbers in the team's wide-open offensive scheme, but will spend the postseason proving he can do the same if stationed under center (not out of the shotgun). Some teams aren't sold on him because he has not always been durable and other QBs who played in the same offensive scheme have struggled in the pros. Brohm has shown the necessary smarts, work ethic and physical tools to make believers out of all critics.
Chad Henne, Michigan – Henne was hoping for a possible Heisman campaign and national championship run. Instead he enters Week 2 with an 0-1 record. He has struggled in some big games. That creates doubt in the minds of NFL evaluators. Henne has good, but not great tools and really needs to step up his game or risk falling to the back end of the draft pool.
Anthony Morelli, Penn State – Morelli could make the biggest jump. He has all the qualities of a top-rated quarterback and is now surrounded by solid upperclassmen. He is a tough, smart kid with a nice arm and can rise up the charts by cutting down turnovers and proving he knows what it takes to carry a team.
Sam Keller, Nebraska – Arizona State transfer who made his way to the Midwest for the chance to start. Keller sat out last year, but learned the offense and has looked very sharp throughout spring and fall drills. He has good size and a strong arm. He could be a surprise third- to fourth-round choice by year's end.
Bret Meyer, Iowa State – An athletic, dual threat who has fallen off in scouts' eyes because he forces too many balls and has committed too many turnovers. He needs to prove he is more of a passer than thrower in his final season.
John David Booty, USC – Booty has one of the most high-pressure positions in college football. He has proven to be a solid replacement to Matt Leinart. He throws a very accurate, catchable ball, but does not wow you with any one portion of his game. A good, but not great athlete, surrounded by USC's unreal talent level. Booty is still not the most vocal of leaders and might not crave the spotlight. He started the season with the Heisman Trophy and a national title within his reach. He needs to achieve those goals in order to prove himself as more than just a caretaker.
Andre' Woodson, Kentucky – Hot commodity entering his final season. Woodson has cut down on turnovers and shows rare athleticism for a 6-4, 225 pounder. He can make all the necessary throws and shows impressive zip on his deep throws. Has led the Wildcats to a bowl game two consecutive years. Has learned how to settle his feet, step up and work from the pocket, but can still make plays on the move. A big year could catapult him into the Top 20 of next year's draft.
Erik Ainge, Tennessee – Looks to be the top guy in the SEC and a first-round pick. But he is inconsistent and has failed to deliver in several big situations. He is still only 21, so there is time for him to mature and develop. His raw athleticism might be too much to pass over if he improves in other areas. He has battled injuries (MCL, pinky) over the past few months.
Matt Flynn, LSU – A first-year starter who has shown the athleticism and arm strength to ascend into the upper echelon by year's end. Smart, hard worker who waited his time behind JaMarcus Russell. He could be a solid mid-round choice with upside, similar to how the New England Patriots were able to grab former USC backup Matt Cassel.
Colt Brennan, Hawaii – Brennan has a great release, is highly accurate and shows more than enough zip on his short-to-intermediate passes. He has learned and grown from his early mistakes and become a true team leader. Has a chance to win the Heisman. Lacks the big-time frame of other passers in this year's group, but has the size to fill out to around 210 pounds. The drawbacks are his lack of experience under center and in a true pro-scheme. Is not called upon to throw a lot of deep or vertical routes.
Josh Johnson, San Diego – A superb athlete who grew as a QB the past few years under the guidance of new Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. He heads into his senior campaign with many evaluators eyeing him as a possible surprise first-day draft choice. Johnson was suspended for one game after violating team rules in the offseason. He combines 4.5 speed with a strong arm and has become more accurate.
Joseph Flacco, Delaware – University of Pittsburgh transfer who brings excellent size (6--6, 230) and above-average arm strength to the field. He moves well in the pocket and completed 63 percent of his passes as a first-year starter last season. Has a chance to move up into the middle rounds of the draft with a big senior season.
Ricky Santos, New Hampshire – Has just average size (6-1, 215) and does not jump off the page when you see his workout numbers. But he is a highly accurate passer with great intangibles. He plays in a bit of a wide-open offensive system, but is able to find the open man and throws a very catchable ball.
Luke Drone, Illinois State – A two-sport star who has developed into a high-caliber performer. Lacks ideal size, but is very athletic, throws a good ball and has produced consistent results over the past two years.
Kyle Spotts, Kutztown – Came to the Division II program as a transfer from Colgate, and has made his mark as both a passer and runner. Has decent size, a good enough arm to be evaluated by NFL scouts and can make plays on the move as both a runner and passer. Does not have a great upper body build and has taken a few shots by holding onto the ball too long. But you like his toughness and ability to make plays.
Casey Hansen, Norfolk State – A big, strong-armed QB who could create some waves in the MEAC. He's 6-5, 220 pounds and a classic, drop-back pocket passer.
Brad Roach, Catawba – Possesses NFL size (6-6, 245), but will need to cut down on his turnovers, make better reads and increase his completion percentage in order to catch the eye of scouts this season. He is also not the swiftest player on the field, so making the right reads from the pocket and improving his footwork will be the keys for him to get next-level consideration.
Buddy Rivera, Northern Michigan – Has led the team in passing while also finishing as one of the top three rushers the past two years. He passed for over 300 yards in the opener and has proven to be a very good leader.
Known as the “Secret Weapon of the NFL Draft”, NFL Draft Bible head scout John Murphy is also Yahoo! Sports' NFL personnel and college prospect evaluator. Read more from Murphy at http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/expertsarchive;_ylt=AkkzD1soYcLK7hf0JkhVA6EuatAF?author=John+Murphy.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
By John Murphy, Yahoo! Sports