Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Decision Time: QB Mark Sanchez, USC


Why Sanchez Should Play on Saturdays in 2009

1. Pad the resume –
Sanchez did not become a full time starter until this year, though he did start three games for John David Booty in 2007. Sanchez has the raw talent to play with anyone, but it’s hard to imagine a team confidently picking him in the first round when they have so little tape to go on for him as a starter.

2. Develop those skills – Sanchez is a pretty solid quarterback, but is prone to the occasional bad decision. He’s often able to get away with those decisions--his receivers are able to recover bad throws due to their size advantage--but he won’t have that luxury in the NFL. Another season under the USC coaching staff’s excellent pro-style tutelage and he’ll learn how to be more careful with those throws and become a far more valuable commodity.

3. It’s not when you go, it’s where you go –
At this point, given his lack of starting experience and occasional bad decisions, it’s unlikely Sanchez will maximize his draft potential. With all but two starters returning to the offense next year, Sanchez will be in a perfect position to not only improve his game, but improve his stock for the 2010 draft.

Why Sanchez Should Play on Sundays in 2009

1. Scarcity of position depth –
While there are some decent quarterbacks, none of the senior class is terribly impressive overall. Even if Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow declare, the class still will lack depth (and one could argue Tebow wouldn’t change that at all anyway). Sanchez may benefit from that lack of depth and wind up being drafted by a team desperate for potential and a pedigree like his…one willing to overlook his flaws.

2. Been there, done that – Yes, he’s only been a starter for a season. Sure, he needs some seasoning. But really, what does he have to prove? The 3,207 yards, 34 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions speak very well of his capabilities. So do his 164.64 quarterback rating and a 65.8 completion percentage. Another season of reps would be a good thing, but it would still only be college football-–he could be learning behind an NFL quarterback from an NFL staff.

3. Accidents happen – Sanchez already suffered a freak injury once, hurting his knee messing around in a summer practice. We all know that anything can happen on the field as well. Sanchez risks serious injury at his position and while it is noble to finish your degree, it’s something a player can do later on without risking the immense amount of money and his NFL career.

Garda's Take: Sanchez appears to have the potential to be a solid NFL signal-caller but right now, that’s all it is--potential. While he could gain the experience he needs while sharpening his skills in the NFL, it’s a tricky business, one that has wrecked the careers of multiple players who came out too early. With most of his offense coming back and a coaching staff as close as you can get to an NFL staff at USC, Sanchez is far better off returning for his senior season and getting his skill-set improved in a less pressure-filled situation that still is top notch.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USC)