ESPN: Smith, Campbell rated ahead of Cal QB
By Len Pasquarelli
Here is how ESPN.com rates the top nine quarterback prospects in the draft:
Smith led Utah to a BCS bowl game.
• Alex Smith (Utah)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-4 1/8, 217 pounds, 4.71 in the 40.
Numbers game: Graduated in only two years with his degree in economics, and with a 3.74 grade point average, and is already working on a master's. Started in 22 of his 25 appearances and completed 389 of 587 passes for 5,203 yards, with 47 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Carried 286 times for 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns. Posted a 21-1 record as a starter and, dating back to his final two high school seasons, is 46-2. A finalist for the Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award. All-conference in 2003 and '04 and was the Mountain West Conference's offensive player of the year in '04.
Upside: Smart not only in the classroom but on the field, a team leader, possesses all the intangibles you want at the position. Like having a coach on the field. Manages a game nicely but also athletically gifted enough to make plays when things break down and improvisation becomes a must. Understands the game and is spatially aware. A strong background in calling audibles at the line. Wise enough to get his team out of some bad situations when he knows the play call isn't a good one. Solid enough arm strength, especially in the 18- to 20-yard area. Uncannily accurate on the short ball, throws virtually everything on the receiver's break, and can make the tough throw on the run. Quick enough to make plays with his feet. Plays with poise and maturity and, while he isn't a particularly vocal guy, teammates will rally around him.
Downside: Some scouts feel the offense in which he played inflated his numbers. Worked mostly out of the shotgun formation and will have to improve playing from under center and also get better with his overall ballhandling. A thin frame and would likely benefit from another 10-15 pounds. Needs to get a tad more consistent with his release point. The deep balls tend to fade on him and he'll have to work on arm strength and long touch.
The dish: Probably won't be the first quarterback selected but is the one that everyone after San Francisco covets more. Has marketability. If the 49ers take Aaron Rodgers at the top, teams will be trying to move up to take Smith, and he probably will be the No. 2 overall choice. Lots to work with here, a solid foundation, and he won't even turn 21 until two weeks after the draft.
• Jason Campbell (Auburn)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-4¾, 230 pounds, 4.67 in the 40.
Numbers game: A Parade Magazine All-American in high school and was the Gatorade high school player of the year in Mississippi as a senior. Played in 46 games and started in 39 of them, with 552 completions in 854 attempts for 7,299 yards, with 45 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions. Had 249 rushing attempts for 307 yards and eight scores. Posted a 31-8 record as a starter. Finished career with the second most passing yards and best completion percentage in school history. A semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award and the Unitas Award. The SEC's offensive player of the year in 2004.
Upside: Terrific overall size, a long frame, physically looks the part. Stands tall up in the pocket and his textbook, high release makes him even longer. Can see the whole field, scans nicely, patient in going through his progressions. Lots of zip on the ball, more than enough strength and velocity to throw the ball outside the numbers, and has demonstrated much improved accuracy on deep passes. In fact, his accuracy in general has improved. Completed more than 60 percent of his passes in all four seasons as a starter. His worst season, a 61.8-percent accuracy rate in 2003, is better than the best completion marks for most of the top-tier prospects in this draft. Got better every year as a passer. In 2004, he connected on 69.6 percent of his attempts. Good, quick feet and that has translated into nice footwork as well. Tough, durable and a leader. Played under four different offensive coordinators in four years and survived that ordeal.
Downside: Has what scouts refer to as a "whip" in his delivery, not necessarily a "hitch," and will have to get more compact. Can get outside the pocket and move around, but will lose some accuracy when he is on the roll. Takes a few too many sacks. Not nearly as polished in the all-around game as Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith and may take a year or two of intense instruction until he's ready to play.
The dish: One of the fastest rising players at any position. Teams hoping he will fall to them in the second round might want to re-think that approach. Just a hunch, but we're guessing that some resourceful team in need of a quarterback for the future will deal up into the bottom of the first round to snatch him.
• Aaron Rodgers (California)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, 4.76 in the 40.
Numbers game: Spent one season at Butte (Calif.) College before transferring to Berkeley in 2003. Appeared in 25 games and started 22 of them. Completed 424 of 665 passes for 5,469 yards, with 43 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. Carried 160 times for 336 yards and eight touchdowns. Had one reception for 10 yards. Chalked up a 17-5 record as a starter. Completion percentage is the second-best in school history. Tied an NCAA record with 23 straight completions to open the game against Southern California in 2004. Counting the three completions he had against Oregon State the previous week, set an NCAA mark with 26 straight completions. An all-Pac-10 choice in '04.
Upside: Makes tough reads and good decisions. Has played in a sophisticated passing game and authored terrific performances against superior teams. Short, compact delivery, and can get the ball from the tee and into the secondary in a blink. Has a fairly consistent release point and throws a very catchable ball. Economical in everything he does. Good feel for where everyone is in the passing tree and has enough confidence to just throw to spots at times. Deceptively quick feet, can slide and get out of trouble, buy himself some time to make a play. Tough and poised, borderline cocky, a good leader whom teammates will follow. Has a nice overall grasp of the game.
Downside: Taller than people thought he would be at the combine but still does not have prototype size. Doesn't play as quick as his stopwatch speed and won't make plays with his feet and outside the pocket. Very mechanical, almost robotic at times, in his overall mechanics. Played in an offense that largely emphasized the short and intermediate game and wasn't asked to throw deep very often. Might be more a product of the system in which he plays, and perhaps the latest Jeff Tedford-coached quarterback to fall short at the NFL level.
The dish: Yeah, we know he'll likely be the first player selected overall, and that some will be ready to send over the guys with the straitjackets for rating him as only the No. 3 quarterback prospect. Maybe he'll become the first Jeff Tedford protégé to succeed in the NFL, but we're going to wait and see, and maintain a healthy skepticism.
• Andrew Walter (Arizona State)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-6 1/8, 233 pounds, 4.86 in the 40.
Numbers game: Played in 48 games and started 35, finishing his career with 777 completions in 1,416 attempts for 10,617 yards, with 85 touchdowns passes and 36 interceptions. Carried 175 times for minus 475 yards (sack yardage is counted as rushing yards in the NCAA) and no touchdowns. Rang up an 18-17 record as a starter. His 85 touchdown passes are the Pac-10 career record and he also holds the conference mark for most passing yards in a game. Threw four or more touchdown passes in 10 games. Holds virtually every Arizona State passing record and several conference marks. The team's most valuable player and captain in 2004. Underwent surgery in January for a third-degree separation in his throwing shoulder and still not fully rehabilitated.
Upside: Super-sized prospect who stands tall in the pocket. Productive throughout his career and has put up big numbers. Kept his team in a lot of games against superior competition. One of the strongest arms in the draft and can make all the throws, even those off his back foot, with big-time velocity. Good throwing mechanics and, while he uses a variety of release points, the ball still comes out quickly. Tough guy who will hang in the pocket and not blink even against the strongest rushes. Very good at looking off receivers and finding alternate targets.
Downside: The right shoulder surgery three months ago means he hasn't been able to get in a full workout. Threw a couple weeks ago for scouts but, since he still could not cut loose on all the routes, the biggest benefit of the audition was that teams were able to better gauge where he is in his rehabilitation. For all his arm strength, lacks touch and accuracy, especially on in-between routes. Might have a little too much confidence in his arm strength, because he forces too many passes, assuming he can get the ball into the small creases. Probably has to shorten his release a bit. Very much a streak shooter who, when he cools off, is pretty erratic. Despite 40 time that was faster than most anticipated, not exactly noted for making plays with his feet. Takes a ton of hits in the pocket.
The dish: If teams determine his shoulder is sound, and that he will be recovered in time for most of the mini-camp action, could go on the first day. Certainly an intriguing player with a lot of upside.
• David Greene (Georgia)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-3½, 226 pounds, 4.78 in the 40.
Numbers game: Started every game, all 51 of them, in his career and is the only quarterback in Bulldogs history to do so. Was 849-for-1,440 for 11,528 yards, with 72 touchdown passes and 32 interceptions. Rushed 204 times for minus 258 yards and five touchdowns. Engineered seven fourth-quarter comeback wins, including five against ranked teams, and three in one season. Holds the conference mark for most passing yards. Was 42-9 as a starter and set an NCAA mark for most wins by a starting quarterback, breaking the old record set by Peyton Manning. Received an NCAA scholar-athlete award.
Upside: Hard to beat his intangibles. A strong leader, terrific character play, and has an unbelievable work ethic. Bright on and off the field, very mature, a student of the game. Knows how to manage a game and, obviously, a winner. Solid arm strength, feel and accuracy in the middle of the field. Doesn't miss many receivers between the hashes, or even up the seams, and can rifle the ball in those areas. Very consistent release point, high and over the top, and adds an inch or so to his pocket stature. Good feel for the pocket, can buy himself some time with subtle lateral slides, and is able to see the field even when he is flushed. Tough and durable.
Downside: Isn't quite as accurate, especially in the "fine" areas, as the perceptions of him. Will struggle to throw the deep out; his passes flutter after about 20-25 yards, and does not gun the deep ball. Limited athletically and, while he surprised scouts with his good 40-yard time at the combine, that doesn't translate into "escapability." Sometimes tends to play things safe in red zone situations.
The dish: He didn't win 42 games just by being a stiff, so there is definitely something here. Has slipped in recent weeks and might not go off the board now until early on the second day. But someone will get a competitive, studious prospect, one who will play in the league for 10 years.
• Charlie Frye (Akron)
Vital statistics: 6-foot-3 7/8, 225 pounds, 4.76 in the 40.
Numbers game: Started in all but two of his 46 career appearances. Completed 913 of 1,436 passes for 11,049 yards, with 64 touchdown passes and 32 interceptions. Had 375 rushes for 429 yards and 19 touchdowns. Holds every school passing record and threw for 2,000-plus yards in all four seasons. Was All-Mid-America Conference twice, three times was his team's offensive player of the year, and twice was a captain.
Upside: Good size and stature, good enough arm strength, and has been productive every season as a four-year starter. Admirable work habits, a student of the game, knows what everyone's role on the field is supposed to be. A leader in the huddle. Nice accuracy and touch. Excellent vision, sees the field well, and usually makes good decisions. Pretty good delivery. Tough guy, durable, will play hurt.
Downside: Doesn't get many RPMs on the ball, even in the 15- to 18-yard range and will need to somehow upgrade his fastball. Doesn't handle the quick, inside pressure well and will hurry passes, and throw into a crowd, in those situations. Delivery is a bit sluggish. His 40-yard time, better than expected, doesn't translate into elusiveness. There are some scouts who question his leadership.
The dish: A lot of positive buzz a month or so ago, but some of that has quieted, maybe because teams have put him under the microscope more. There is a perception that he is the next standout quarterback from the MAC, but he doesn't appear to be in the same class as Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich or Ben Roethlisberger. Study him on tape and he sure looks pretty ordinary. He could go as high as the second round, given what some teams are still saying about him, but we obviously think that's way too high.
"The dish: One of the fastest rising players at any position. Teams hoping he will fall to them in the second round might want to re-think that approach. Just a hunch, but we're guessing that some resourceful team in need of a quarterback for the future will deal up into the bottom of the first round to snatch him."
Let's hope we're the team on the receiving end of this trade.
Here is how i have the top 5 (yes you read that right no jason campbell):
1. Aaron Rodgers, Cal
2. Charlie Frye, Akron
3. Stefan Lefors, Louisville
4. Alex Smith, Utah
5. Andrew Walter, ASU
I would put them like this:
Alex Smith is the only one that I would spend a first round pick on. Derrick Anderson would be the QB I would want based on value...Probably could grab him in the 4th or 5th round.
McPherson would be second on my list if his background checked out at an acceptable level.
Here is my top 5 and bare in mind I'm a AU fan and have seen JC play since his freshman year religously:
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Alex Smith
3. Jason Campbell
4. Charlie Frye
5. Andrew Walter despite his shoulder injury
You not have McPherson in the top 5 based on ability or just leaving him off the board due to trouble issues?
Oh my gosh, he slipped my mind. I like the kid and think he has learned his lesson from his mistake when he was at FSU. I'm high on him and his potential. I gotta redo my list.
Read in the ESPN Mag that Frye has extremely small hands (Smaller then 8 1/2), many teams are wondering if be able to hold onto the ball if he's hit.
McPherson is a lot like Chris Henry to me....Afraid to pass on such a talent and also afraid to have him blow up in your hands.....The fact you can get rid of a player quickly that you don't spend first round money on much easier than you can aquire the guy if he works out leaves me more afraid to pass up the talent than to worry about them blowing up on your watch...
''The experience is the only factor he lacks,'' DeBerg said. ``Elway came into the NFL having played a lot in college. Adrian hasn't done that, so he has to learn. But if you're talking about just physical talent, Adrian is as good as anyone I have ever seen.
``He's a tall version of Michael Vick.''
When the Vick comparison was relayed to an NFL head coach who primarily handles offense, the coach took it a step further. A big step.
''That's an insult to this kid. This kid has a much better arm than Michael Vick. [McPherson] can throw,'' the coach said.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, whose brother Jay coached one season against McPherson in the Arena League, told McPherson he was the best quarterback in this draft when they met at the Senior Bowl in January.
Meantime, McPherson's qualifications -- at least physically -- to be an NFL quarterback are stunning. During his personal workout March 29 in Bradenton, he took off his shirt before he ran the 40-yard, revealing a body that would shame Adonis.
The only person to win both Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball in Florida, McPherson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds. On grass. That's blazing, making him faster than most of the running backs and wide receivers in any year's draft.
He posted a 40 ½-inch vertical leap, and blazed through a cone drill in 6.78 seconds.
Then there's the arm. The release may be a bit different, but it's quick, accentuating a pass that is both powerful and picturesque. McPherson fires everything with a perfect spiral. He capped his 65-throw performance at his March workout by flicking a pass from a standing position more than 70 yards.
''He's a physical freak,'' agent Leigh Steinberg said in one of the few times that agent-speak wouldn't qualify as hyperbole.
Scouts and coaches who have seen McPherson practically laugh when comparing the physical skills of McPherson with top quarterback prospects Aaron Rodgers of California and Utah's Alex Smith.
''It's not close,'' one scout said. ``Even with the intangible stuff. This kid is very bright. He's not as smart as Smith, but he can pick up anything you need to teach him with no problem.''
McPherson's high school football and basketball coaches rave about his talent and talk about what a generally good kid he was in school. The third child of Henrietta and Floyd McPherson, he grew up in a middle-class setting.
But there is a catch.
''It gives me goose bumps just thinking about him playing,'' said Southeast High football coach and athletic director Paul Maechtle, who during his 20-plus years at the school also has coached Peter Warrick.
``There's nothing he can't do on a field. Nothing. . . . He's always polite and he always practiced hard. He was a good teammate.''
But ''his life was always like a two-minute [drill], figuring out what else he could squeeze in,'' Maechtle added. ``If he had five minutes before a meeting and thought he could go to Burger King, he'd try to slide it in.''
Im hoping for Walters with #101, He is a can't miss QB that will be a great backup at the worst.
All the stats and BS being spewed about McPherson are great hype, but the guy is a risk. At the right spot -- 3rd round? -- I'd be okay with the pick. But let's be realistic, he has played very little ball against a high level of competition. Add to that the pressure of being a QB in Denver and it could be a disasterous recipe.
I like the way NaptownChief said it: "Afraid to pass on such a talent and also afraid to have him blow up in your hands....."
Mcpherson is the ultimate boom or bust player. He is the type of guy that teams will look back on and say either DAMN or PHEW!
What he does have is the mobility and Arm strength to play in this system. That is why I was considering him last year as a Darkhorse replacement for Jake down the road. His ability is phenomenal and he needs time to develop. Two years minimum. But he could be a franchise QB.
Sometimes players who have had it handed to them the whole way, Like Mcpherson did before getting kicked off FSU, have not had to face adversity and conquer it. This makes them less mentally tough coming into the league. What he has had to go through and overcome speaks to his current character. Yes, he made poor choices at FSU. And he is paying for it right now in Financial and relational terms. However, I think it will make him a better Pro than just not getting caught like most guys.
Honestly, with how Shanahan and Sundquist normally draft I'd be willing to take McPherson with our 2nd rounder. He's a big gamble, but anyone this FO takes is, since they seem to spend more time looking for that darkhorse who'll be a steal down the road instead of getting that known quantity who can produce for your team.
As for my top 5 QBs:
1. Adrian McPherson - Only one with star level NFL talent, him overcoming the ever popular "character issues" is his only obstacle.
2. Aaron Rogers - Really nice arm, but lacks a lot of the other measurables, and played in a real QB friendly system, suspect as a future star, but should be an above average starter at worst.
3. Alex Smith - Similar to Rogers, I see him being a long shot as a perenial pro-bowler, definately not on the level of Big Ben, Payton's baby brother, or even Rivers, but has game and should at worst be a productive starter for some team for many years.
4. Andrew Walters - On the right team he'll be a great downfield passer. Dallas, with Parcell's preference towards these types of QBs, whould be a great home for him. Shoulder surgery makes him a question mark, but if he comes back healthy and lands in the right spot he'll be making some trips to Hawaii
5. The rest of the mess. By that I mean that every other QB is basically a project, with their own pluses and minuses. Frye has only average arm strength and doesn't have anything outstanding about his measurables. Campbell hasn't played up to his potential until last year, with an elite team around him. I put both of those two here at 5, but I also lump LeFors and Orton in here as well. LeFors is interesting, but I have a feeling that he just won't be able to get it done as a starter on the NFL level, could be a valuable backup though. Orton I think is a real darkhorse. He's got a power arm with a lot of accuracy, real good size, sound fundamentals, and is a strong team leader. He's gotten severely downgraded because the Boilermakers fell apart last season, but from how I saw it they were playing too far above the team's talent level early on and were due to come crashing down. Orton has fallen with them and could be a real steal for us in the 3rd round.
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