Free Agency and Draft Plans, Part 2

Link to Part 1

In my last article, I took a look at five quarterbacks available in this draft and eliminated them as candidates for Seattle’s QB of the future based on two criteria: 1) availability, and 2) ability to run a west coast offense.  I will now attempt to break down the remaining QBs most scout agree have the potential to become franchise quarterbacks as rated by Walter Football (which, incidentally, has changed its rankings a bit following various teams’ Pro Days).

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3. Christian Ponder, Florida State
6’2”, 229 lbs
Combine 40 time: 4.67
Projected round: 2nd
College Highlights

Pros: Ponder is accurate throwing between the hash marks and completes a high percentage of his passes.  His drops have good depth, and he excels at selling play fakes due to his ability to hide the football.  He’s got good athleticism and can run when he needs to and make things happen when plays break down by keeping his eyes downfield.  Ponder is a leader on and off the field, and he’s tough so he can and will play through pain and injury.  He stood out at the Senior Bowl and was considered the best QB at the Combine, plus he’s intelligent (he finished his B.A. in two and a half years).

Cons: Ponder has never put up big numbers, partly because he has trouble throwing medium and deep routes due to his poor rotation on throws which also causes him to float balls on sideline throws.  He has a tendency to show up against weak competition and not play up to tougher opponents, and he regressed after a great junior year.  His decision making is questionable; he threw too many balls into double coverage, stared down receivers, and needs to speed up in his progressions and his reads of defenses.  He missed the last four games of the ’09 season with a separated shoulder, then was hampered by an elbow injury in ’10 and left the Chick-Fil-A Bowl with a concussion, so he may also have some durability issues.

Verdict: Being named MVP of the Senior Bowl has only helped Ponder, and so has having the best combine of any QB and just nailing his pro day.  Some say he’s pushed himself up into the bottom of the 1st round, which incidentally is right where the Seahawks pick.  However, if the Seahawks trade out of their 25th pick, they could throw in a 6th rounder to pick up an additional pick in the top of the 2nd and replace their pick in the 3rd (this is doable according to the draft pick value chart).  In my opinion that is what they may try to do, thus their working out of Locker, and Mallett as possible targets to draft with a pick in the top of the 2nd, though as I stated in my previous article neither really fit philosophically with a West Coast offense. Consider them plan B, just in case plan A (aka Christian Ponder) fails to come to fruition.

6. Andy Dalton, TCU
6’2”, 210 lbs
Combine 40 time: 4.84.
Projected round : 2nd-3rd
College Highlights (sort of — it’s TCU’s, but still

Pros: Dalton has above-average arm strength and accuracy, and throws well on the move.  He’s athletic enough to make plays with his feet and possesses good speed for a QB (1600 yds rushing, 22 rushing TDs).  He sells pump fakes well and has good footwork.  He makes good decisions with the ball, rarely throwing into double coverage and does well moving through his progressions.  He’s a leader, and teammates respond to him well on the field, plus he’s a winner, having lost only three games as a starter.

Cons: Dalton’s size is a concern, particularly his height, and he’ll be 24 his rookie season.  He played in a spread offense in college, so he’ll need time to develop as an NFL QB, particularly when it comes to his ability to take snaps from under center.  He appears to be already playing at or near the limit of his physical gifts, so don’t expect much improvement there.  When he gets into trouble he has a tendency to run instead of keep his eyes downfield, and he sails a lot of balls when he throws off balance.  His three-quarters release on throws is also a concern.

Verdict:  Dalton’s lack of height, and age are of concern; at only 6’1” or 6’2” (depending on who you ask), he will have trouble seeing over the heads of his linemen in the NFL.  At the ripe old age of 24, teams will no doubt consider him to have a low ceiling.
8. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
6’4”, 223 lbs
Combine 40 rime: 4.93
Projected round: 3rd-5th
College Highlights
Pros: Stanzi was a three year starter, played in a pro-style offense, has great size, is a good leader, and has oodles of confidence.  He has decent arm strength and is capable of making short and intermediate NFL throws.  Ricky has nice throwing motion and knows when to zip passes and when to take something off them.  He shows the ability to go through his progressions, read defenses, and audible out of plays when defenses show him something he doesn’t like.  He has good mobility in the pocket and steps up into the pocket when throwing.  When Stanzi is forced out of the pocket he keeps his eyes downfield and is an extremely accurate passer on the run.  He play fakes well and is at his best in clutch time.  His being available in later rounds is also a plus.
Cons: A lot of Stanzi’s pros are also his cons, because while he shows the ability to step into his throws, he doesn’t always do it.  He shows ability to go through his progressions, but sometimes he doesn’t, instead locking in on a specific WR.  Even though he has good mobility in the pocket, his pocket awareness is not great.  Sometimes he will take off when he doesn’t have to and holds on to the ball to long instead of throwing it away.  His footwork is inconsistent, which will lead to intermediate accuracy issues.
Verdict: Stanzi was considered by many to be the best college QB in the nation.  He has the size and experience, he played in a pro-style system, he has a decent arm, he’s a good leader, etc. If he puts all of these together CONSISTENTLY he will shoot up draft boards. His biggest problem is inconsistency. His footwork is inconsistent, his accuracy is inconsistent, he stares down his WRs sometimes while other times doing a great job of looking off the safety and going through his reads.  With a few years learning under his belt, he could be an ideal WC QB. He was 3rd in the nation in passing efficiency, had a 167 QB rating, and is considered one of the smartest QBs in the draft. A lot of draftniks compare him to Tom Brady because the reason he is rated so low is his physical tools: his arm strength is only middling, and he makes some questionable throws at times. Still, he had a 67 % completion rate on his passes, and it seems to me that even though JaMarcus Russell had a freaking cannon for an arm, that alone didn’t do him much good — give me a guy who can read the defense like a book and make short and intermediate passes all day, any day.

No scout in his right mind sees these next few guys as anything other than a backup in the NFL (of course they are often wrong), so it would make a tough sell for upper management to tout one of these guys as the QB of the Future.  That being, here are the best of the rest:
Nathan Enderle, Idaho
Throwing accuracy and arm strength are concerns, but could possibly be helped by refining his mechanics.

Greg McElroy, Alabama
Lacks physical tools, but has a high Football IQ and scored 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic.

Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin
I love Scott Tolzien.  He has great character, but is smallish and lacks arm strength, so I doubt he can make all the throws required of NFL QBs.

Pat Devlin, Delaware
Has some character concerns and showed up late to his own workout.