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    2007 DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES: QBs

    (Ed note: Players not necessarily listed in order of grade)

    JaMarcus Russell, LSU... 6-6, 258, JR... Imposing physical player who has all the tools to be this year’s Vince Young; isn’t quite as mobile as the former Texas star who was the 3rd player selected at the 2006 draft, but is tough to bring down in the pocket because of his size and strength; Russell also has exceptional arm strength and velocity; indeed, the consensus in the NFL community is that Russell may have the strongest arm in all football, college or pro. Made major strides in his accuracy and decision-making this fall as he completed 68% of his pass attempts and had 28 TD passes versus only 8 interceptions; will still force passes where they shouldn’t go at times; also still locks in on receivers too often and will miss open ones; of note missed spring practice recovering from surgeries on his wrist and non-throwing shoulder… Summary: Russell has a freakish size and arm strength combination and should be in the mix for the #1 pick overall when all is said and done this coming April.

    Brady Quinn, Notre Dame… 6-3.5, 230, 4.70, SR… Still the favorite to be the #1 pick at the 2007 draft despite a slight drop-ff in productivity this fall when he struggled in a couple of early games. Still completed 63% of his pass attempts but threw for 'only' 3,300 yards this season down from 4,000 last season. Also threw 35 TD passes this fall against only 5 interceptions. Has excellent size for a pro pocket passer and the arm strength to make all the throws; smart player and a hard worker who is very good at reading coverages and makes good decisions; accurate passer who throws a catchable ball on short and intermediate routes. Shows nice touch on deep passes. Has a high release point although delivery can be a little deliberate. Throws well on the run, but will force some passes when he gets out of the pocket. Not a gazelle but has surprising mobility with 4.70 speed; shows good awareness in the pocket and can slide away from trouble, although his footwork isn’t always text book; can also take off when the pocket breaks down. Smart, hard worker who has clearly benefited from playing under the tutelage of Irish head coach Charlie Weis. Great intangibles. Summary: Elite prospect who is about as ready to play at the next level as any QB coming out in the past decade or so.

    Troy Smith, Ohio State… 6-0, 215, 4.65, SR… The “x” factor in the 2007 draft class; no question that Smith is an outstanding athlete playing QB, but has he improved his passing enough to rate as a potential elite QB prospect this coming April; has put up eye-popping numbers this fall and looks to be a lock to win the Heisman Trophy; has completed close to 70% of his pass attempts and has only thrown a couple of picks while tossing over 20 TD passes; Smith is both quick and strong and has the ability to scramble out of danger and turn a potential loss into a big gainer; unlike past years though when Smith was most likely to simply take off, this fall he has been keeping his eyes downfield and has been throwing much more off the scramble; has a quick release and gets good velocity on short and medium passes even if his feet aren’t totally set; has the ability to take a couple of quick steps out of trouble, reset and qet quick pass off; also throws well on the run; doesn’t have a super strong arm, but can make most of the passes; has decent accuracy on the deep ball; is very patient, reads the field well and takes what the defense gives him; only real question for Smith is that he isn’t all that tall at barely 6-0 and may have trouble seeing downfield at the next level; mentally tough player who is very competitive and known to spend a lot of time in the filmroom, but raised eyebrows when he took money from a booster and was suspended for Ohio State’s 2004 bowl and the 2005 season-opener. Summary: Smith will be compared to former Texas QB Vince Young, the 3rd player chosen at the 2006 draft, but better comparison may be the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb, the former Syracuse option QB who wasn’t considered to be more than a marginal prospect early in his Orange career, but rocketed up draft boards his senior year before being taken second overall at the 1999 draft by Philadelphia. Smith certainly has the qualities to be at least a first day prospect including great athleticism and a decent arm, but will be downgraded because of his lack of prototype pocket size.

    Drew Stanton, Michigan State… 6-3, 230, 4.78, SR… Entered the season rated as a potential top 5-10 pick but has struggled throughout a sometimes senior campaign to date. Very athletic QB who has over 1,000 career rushing yards; indeed, has been used extensively by MSU on designed running plays; moves well in the pocket and can throw on the run, but isn’t a true blazer with a 40-clocking close to 4.8; has nice size and will take a hit in the pocket to make a completion, but isn’t necessarily the prettiest passer out there, has a strong arm and quick release, but release point is a little low and doesn’t always set his feet; reasonably accurate passer with a career completion mark around 65%. Reads the field well and can find the open receiver; can also fit short and medium passes into tight spots, but at times tries to make plays that aren’t there and will be picked off; in fact, has been intercepted 20 times over the course of the past couple of seasons; also has been somewhat inconsistent over his career, looking like a future Pro Bowler one game, followed up by a poor one. For the record, he has more on games than off but he needs to be more consistent. Known as a tough player with the intangibles pro scouts like; indeed, Stanton has had to one down his game as he had a tendency to take too many big hits when running with the ball; missed time earlier in his career with shoulder and knee problems. He is a pocket passer that will sit in the pocket and deliver a strike, and take a hit. He has the arm to fire the ball down field, and the accuracy to deliver strikes on all throws. Stanton also brings excellent mobility, and has the ability to make plays with his feet when plays break down. Summary: Tough, hard-working kid with the size and arm strength to be a solid pro down the road, but lack of polish and consistency will likely push him down into the early second round at the 2007 draft.

    Kevin Kolb, Houston… 6-3, 220, 4.90, SR… Four-year starter who has been one of the most productive passers in college football the past couple of years; Is closing in on 12,000 career passing yards with 73 TDs; had some issues with accuracy early in his career when he only completed around 60% of his pass attempts over the course of his first three years which isn’t all that good in a dinf-and-dunk offense that the Cougars, but has been much more on the mark this fall hitting at close to 70%; also cut down dramatically on interceptions with just two this fall though the first 8 weeks of the schedule, compared with 15 in 2005; Has decent size and a live arm with a quick compact release; stands tall in the pocket and has a high delivery point; has quick feet but footwork in the pocket isn’t always textbook; throws well on the run and can be inventive on the move; has good knowledge of the offense and does a nice job going through progressions; throws a catchable ball; still better throwing touch passes underneath than going long; has the arm strength to get the ball deep but doesn’t always set his feet properly on medium and long passes; in fact, mechanics will be a key for Kolb when he gets to the pros as he runs a junk offense at Houston working mostly out of a shotgun formation; Kolb also has very good mobility with almost 900 career rushing yards although he has only average speed with a 40-clocking in the 4.9 range. Summary: Kolb has all the tools to be a top second-tier draft pick, however, there have been questions about his decision-making in the past; and like former Utah QB Alex Smith, the #1 pick overall at the 2005 draft by the 49ers, Kolb will have to learn how to run a pro offense from under the center.

    Jordan Palmer, UTEP… 6-5, 230, 4.90, SR… Brother of the Bengals’ Carson Palmer, the first player selected at the 2003 draft; certainly looks the part of a prototype NFL pocket passer with excellent size, a live arm, and solid work ethic. Indeed, Palmer has already passed for over 9,000 yards and 75 TDs in his career. Has the arm strength to make all the throws and a nice high release point; also no gazelle but can maneuver around the pocket to avoid the rush; also can throw on the run. However, Palmer doesn’t read the field all that well; doesn’t always find the open man, has a slow release and will throw the ball into coverage; as a result, Palmer has been turnover prone throwing 60 career interceptions; also was not an overly accurate passer early in his career with a sub-60% career completion % entering the season, but has improved that to 70% this fall. Summary: Interesting prospect with some upside including a strong arm and a gunslinger’s mentality, but makes too many mistakes to be considered more than an early second-day prospect at this time.

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