Gil Brandt's Analysis By Position: Quarterbacks

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The quarterback position is the ultimate team need. That's why 26 quarterbacks have been selected first overall since the beginning of the draft in 1936.

In the last five drafts, and seven of eight, a QB was selected No. 1 overall. In 2000, Cleveland took defensive end Courtney Brown with the first choice. Chad Pennington was the first signal-caller taken, but he wasn't plucked off the board by the Jets until No. 18.

Of the past 11 quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall, nine have led their respective teams to the playoffs. The only exceptions, so far, are David Carr (Houston, 2002) and Alex Smith (San Francisco, 2005). With experience on their side, don't bet against Carr and Smith in the near future.

Since 1970, four quarterbacks taken with the first overall selection started on teams that have won a total of 11 Super Bowls -- Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three) were with the same team that drafted them. Also, Jim Plunkett (two) and John Elway (two) were with clubs other than the ones they were drafted to.

Tom Brady was the 199th player selected in the 2000 draft. And at 28 years old, Brady has already won three Super Bowls.

The last time a quarterback was not taken in the first round was 1996, which was the eighth time in NFL history that has happened. In 1988, no quarterbacks went in the first two rounds, with Chris Chandler being the first one off the board at No. 76 in the third round.

In the 1958 draft, two quarterbacks were selected from the same school, Rice University. The Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona) took King Hill with the first overall pick and the Los Angeles Rams (now St. Louis) chose Frank Ryan at No. 55. Hill played 14 years and Ryan played 13. Also, two QBs from the University of Washington were taken in 1993. Billy Joe Hobert was a third-round pick of the Raiders and Mark Brunell was the Packers' fifth-round selection.

I have spent many hours trying to figure out who the best quarterback is; I'm still working to separate the big three. I do believe that all three have the ability to be very productive in the NFL in the future.

Size & Speed

The averages of the 25 quarterbacks at this year's Combine were:

Height: 6-21/2

Weight: 222

40 time: 4.76

Vertical jump: 33 inches

Short shuttle: 4.31

Three-cone drill: 7.17

1. Vince Young, Texas (6-4 5/8, 228, 4.58)

Young did not work out at the Combine. He did some things on March 22 at Texas' Pro Day. He ran one 40 in 4.58. He played quarterback and started for three years in high school. He passed for 35 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a senior. Young ran for 1,274 yards and 24 TDs the same year. He played baseball (pitcher, outfielder), averaged over 20 points a game as a four-year member of the basketball team, and also ran track. Young redshirted in 2002, started the final seven games in 2003, and all 25 combined games in 2004 and 2005. He had 26 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions as a senior and completed 212 of 325 passes for a 65.2 percentage. Young has the size you want for the position. His release is very quick and he has the ability to take over big games and come back to win on a big play (2004 vs. Kansas, 2005 vs. Ohio State and Oklahoma State). Wants to be good, works hard to get better and has a passion for the game (last summer he wrote on a blackboard in the locker room, "Everyone who wants to return to the Rose Bowl, meet me everyday for practice."). He was outstanding at the Texas workout. Young dropped back to throw to show people what he could do. The accuracy was very good. He is careless at times. The big question is do you want to play against this guy?

2. Matt Leinart, USC (6-4 7/8, 223)

Leinart did not work out at the Combine, but he did have a 37-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-5 long jump at the USC Pro Day on April 2. He played quarterback in high school but did not play as a sophomore due to a rotator cuff injury in his throwing shoulder. He redshirted in 2001 and became the third-team quarterback in 2002. Played in three games and didn't throw a pass. Started 13 games in 2003 and threw for 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions in leading the Trojans to the national title. He started 13 games in 2004 with 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the way to a Heisman Trophy and a second national championship. In 2005, he had 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He passed for a total of 10,683 yards and 99 TDs with just 23 picks in his college career. He also had a 37-2 record as a starter. Leinart plays with great confidence and has a great understanding of what is going on. He can throw with accuracy and has very good leadership. Players respect him both on and off the field. Leinart is a rhythm passer with very good decision-making ability. He wins big games on the road, like he did against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. He lacks the top-end arm strength and mobility to escape when under pressure, but his understanding of defenses will help him with his areas of weakness. Leinart will be a fine player in the NFL with the ability to take a team to the playoffs.

3. Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt (6-31/4, 226, 4.80)

Cutler had a complete workout at the Combine. Ran two 40s in 4.76 and 4.83, had a 4.25 short shuttle and a 7.10 three-cone drill. He played quarterback and safety on his high school team that won the state title his senior year. Cutler scored the game-winning touchdown on a lateral. He also played baseball and was an all-state selection in basketball. He batted over .400 for the baseball team. Cutler was redshirted in 2001. He started 11 games in 2002, missing one, and then started every game for the next three years as the team captain. He has the size and athletic ability you want for the position. Has a very strong arm, good, quick delivery and did well on a weak team. At times, Cutler will throw off his back foot and make bad decisions. But because of his ability to throw with velocity, I think he will be good enough to get his team to the playoffs.

4. Kellen Clemens, Oregon (6-1 5/8, 224, 4.99)

Clemens only did field drills at the Combine but didn't run or jump because he wasn't fully healed from a broken left ankle. He did work out at Oregon's Pro Day on March 16. Ran two 40s in 5.00 and 4.97, and had a 4.58 short shuttle. He played quarterback and safety in high school, intercepting 23 passes in his first two years. He holds the state of Oregon record with 8,646 passing yards and 102 touchdowns. Passed for 3,464 yards and ran for another 325 with 52 total touchdowns as a senior. Clemens redshirted in 2001, then played but didn't start in 2002. He started 13 games in 2003 and 11 games in 2004. Once went 178 attempts without an interception. He started eight games in 2005 before the ankle injury. Clemens may have the best combination of arm strength and mechanics of all the quarterbacks in this draft. He has outstanding leadership, good accuracy on roll outs and bootlegs, and is a very good competitor. So far has come back from the ankle injury more quickly than people had originally thought possible. I think he can run better when his ankle is 100 percent and be a very solid player. Clemens got married on June 24 of last year (wife's name is Nicole).

5. Brodie Croyle, Alabama (6-21/2, 205, 4.92)

Croyle had a complete workout at the Combine. Ran his 40s in 4.85 and 4.99, had a 301/2-inch vertical jump, 8-foot-6 long jump, 4.25 short shuttle and 7.34 three-cone drill. He did not play his senior year in high school because of an ACL injury, but still passed for 9,323 yards and 105 touchdowns, establishing an Alabama state record. He played on the varsity team when he was only in the eighth grade. Croyle redshirted in 2001, played in 12 games in 2002, starting two, started 11 games in 2003 and became the first sophomore in Crimson Tide history to pass for more than 2,000 yards. In 2004, he tore the ACL in his right knee in the third game but came back to start 12 games as a senior in 2005 with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He has a thin build with a slim upper body, which should be corrected with some weight room work in the NFL. He is very smart, has a quick release with a strong arm, and has good athletic ability. Croyle played on a team without a very good offensive line and no stud receivers after Tyrone Prothro was lost for the year in the Florida game with an ankle injury. The big question is medical history and whether or not he can stand up injury-wise at the next level (a good player when healthy).

6. Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson (6-43/4, 223, 4.75)

Whitehurst had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 4.75 and 4.75 seconds. He also recorded a 33-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-4 long jump, a 4.14 short shuttle and a 7.00 three-cone drill. He played quarterback in high school, but missed most of his senior year with an injury. He also played baseball. Whitehurst redshirted at Clemson in 2001 before starting five games at quarterback in 2002 and all 13 games in 2003, and he played well. He started all 11 games in 2004 and did not look like the same player from the previous year. He started 11 of 12 games in 2005, and had shoulder surgery after the last regular season game, but he came back to play in the bowl game. He has a strong arm when his shoulder is O.K. He has a good delivery (quick) and he is tough. He's not a great decision maker and has played mostly in a shotgun offense. He has a different sort of personality -- he did not interview well and there are mixed opinions on him. I do think he has talent. He needs quarterback coaching at the next level.

7. Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State (6-2, 226, 4.72)

Jackson had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 4.69 and 4.75 seconds. He also recorded a 311/2-inch vertical jump, an 8-foot-10 long jump, a 4.38 short shuttle, a 7.40 three-cone drill and 22 bench presses. He played quarterback in high school. Jackson played as a true freshman at Arkansas and was granted a medical redshirt after missing all but three games due to injury. He then played in eight games in 2002 at Arkansas before transferring to Alabama State. He started 36 games over the next three years, passing for 7,838 yards and 67 touchdowns. He's a very good athlete with a strong arm and a very strong-looking body. He needs to throw with more touch and needs lots of technique coaching -- which he will get in the NFL. He looked good at the East-West practices. He's not a great scrambler. This player has a lot of upside.

8. Michael Robinson, Penn State (6-1 3/8, 227, 4.57)

Robinson did not work out at the Combine, but he did work out at Penn State's Pro Day on March 16. He ran his two 40s in 4.56 and 4.58 seconds. He also recorded a 321/2-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-11 long jump, a 4.41 short shuttle and a 6.96 three-cone drill. He was a starting quarterback for four years in high school and also ran on the track team. He's a very good athlete who has played a lot of positions at Penn State, though he started all 12 games at quarterback in 2005. He will play in the NFL, but no one is sure whether it will be at quarterback. He might get a look on defense because of his toughness.

9. Darrell Hackney, Alabama-Birmingham (5-11 5/8, 239, 4.87)

Hackney had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 4.82 and 4.91 seconds. He also recorded a 311/2-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-2 long jump, a 4.69 short shuttle and a 7.40 three-cone drill. He was a high school quarterback. Hackney has a very quick release with a very strong arm. His height is not ideal. He needs to control his weight -- he has been up over 270 pounds at times.

10. Reggie McNeal, Texas A&M (6-2, 195, 4.41)

McNeal had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 4.40 and 4.42 seconds. He also recorded a 32-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-1 long jump, a 4.12 short shuttle and a 6.83 three-cone drill. He has straight-line speed. He doesn't have real good accuracy. He was the MVP of the East-West game. He may be a player at another position.

11. Bruce Eugene, Grambling (61/2, 260, 5.12)

Eugene had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 5.10 and 5.14 seconds. He also recorded a 271/2-inch vertical jump, a 7-foot-10 long jump, a 4.80 short shuttle and a 7.97 three-cone drill. He needs to lose weight. He has a big arm. Eugene started 39 games in his college career, passing for 13,482 yards and 140 touchdowns.

Sleeper

Travis Lulay, Montana State (6-2 3/8, 216, 4.73)

Lulay had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his two 40s in 4.71 and 4.75 seconds. He also recorded a 35-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-3 long jump, a 4.17 short shuttle and a 7.13 three-cone drill. He's a good athlete and leader. He needs to shorten his delivery. He's good throwing on the run.

Looking Ahead

An alphabetical list of quarterbacks to look for in the 2007 draft:

  1. Jason Beck, BYU
  1. Sam Keller, Arizona State
  1. Chris Leak, Florida
  1. Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh
  1. Jordan Palmer, UTEP
  1. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
  1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
  1. Drew Stanton, Michigan State
  1. Drew Tate, Iowa

Inside The Scouts

Critical factors

  1. Character
  1. Ability to learn football
  1. Competitive toughness
  1. Work habits
  1. Athletic ability

Position specifics

  1. Leadership
  1. Poise
  1. Touch
  1. Accuracy
  1. Quickness to set up
  1. Quick release
  1. Arm strength
  1. Read the defense
  1. Movement in the pocket
  1. Scrambling ability

Did You Know?

Jay Cutler, Matt Leinart and Vince Young were all born within 19 days of each other. Cutler was born April 29, 1983, Leinart followed on May 5 and Young was born May 18. Cutler should be drafted on his birthday, as the first day of the draft is April 29.

Charlie Whitehurst's sister (Carrie) is a member of the Clemson women's basketball team.

Over the past ten years, 13 quarterbacks have been selected in the first 10 picks of Round 1. Six have started a playoff game, while seven have not been in the playoffs.

Four quarterbacks in this draft have won 30 or more games in their college careers (Leinart, 37; Paul Pinegar, 32; Young, 30; Bruce Eugene, 30).

Eastern Washington quarterback Erik Meyer has been drafted three times in the MLB draft (Reds, 2003; Giants, 2004-05). Meyer hasn't played baseball since high school.

Leinart is one of three players in USC history to be a two-time captain. The other two are Chad Morton and Troy Polamalu.

Brad Smith of Missouri is the NCAA's all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks with 4,289 yards.

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