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GRIDIRON: Senior quarterbacks show potential

first_imgTen years ago, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were leading their respective college football teams, impressing professional scouts with every pass they threw. In the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts were subsequently left with the seemingly impossible, at the time, task of choosing between Manning, the Volunteer and Leaf, the Cougar. Imagine that.Each year, NFL scouts try to predict which NCAA signal callers will become future Pro Bowlers and which will become the next Leaf, Tim Couch or Akili Smith.This year, scouts and fans alike have a lot to dissect, as this 2007 senior quarterback class is loaded with talent. Could it really compare to the 1983 class featuring three Hall of Famers: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino? Let’s take a look:Brian Brohm, LouisvilleWhen you watch Brian Brohm manage the quarterback position, the names Tom Brady and Carson Palmer come to mind. The 6-foot-4-inch Louisville native is a true pocket-passer, a characteristic NFL scouts drool over. He stands calmly poised in the pocket, plus he’s got the body, height, arm strength and accuracy needed to succeed in the NFL.Brohm has thrown for 2,765 yards, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions this year, while completing more than 67 percent of his passes. Needless to say, Brohm has not been the reason for the Cardinals’ struggles this season; it’s been the Louisville defense. He has already tied a Big East single-season record by throwing his sixth 300-yard game of the season.Prediction: Top 5 PickPossible Fit: Chicago Bears. If the Bears don’t earn a top-five pick they could likely trade up to get Brohm, the most NFL-ready quarterback of the bunch. Brohm is accurate enough that he could immediately step in for Chicago and manage a conservative offense while making few mistakes, something Rex Grossman couldn’t do.Andre’ Woodson, KentuckyAndre’ Woodson’s stock was already high, but a triple-overtime, come-from-behind victory over No. 1 LSU sent it through the roof. Combined with Daunte Culpepper size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and a rocket-launcher arm, Woodson has all the tools necessary to compete in the NFL and complement his natural leadership abilities.His over-the-top ball delivery makes it difficult for batted balls at the line of scrimmage. Along with his sheer strength, Woodson also has great touch on balls over the middle and throws one of the nicest deep balls in college football. Woodson’s accuracy is somewhat of a concern, but his raw talent is as good as anyone’s in the country.Prediction: Top 10 PickPossible Fit: Minnesota Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson just doesn’t cut it in Minnesota. They are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. Woodson seems just right.Matt Ryan, Boston CollegeFans in Chestnut Hill will tell you, if former BC quarterback Matt Hasselbeck could become a Pro Bowler, there’s no reason Matt Ryan can’t. Ryan has led the once-unranked Eagles to No. 3 in the nation, and is on pace for more than 3,600 yards passing and 29 touchdowns this season. More importantly, though, Ryan’s a winner. He’s got a quick release and, like Brohm and Woodson, stands a tall 6 feet, 5 inches in the pocket and delivers the ball accurately and on time to his receivers. Although he’s not a running quarterback, Ryan has excellent mobility in the pocket and can also scramble for first downs and throw on the run when necessary.Ryan’s stock continues to rise and a quality performance in a BCS Bowl (like we saw with JaMarcus Russell against Notre Dame in last year’s Sugar Bowl) would certainly help his draft status.Prediction: Top 20 PickPossible Fit: New York Jets. Chad Pennington’s reign in New York should come to an end after this season. The Jets need a pocket passer that can throw a consistent deep ball to wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jericho Cotchery. Ryan would be a perfect fit.John David Booty, USCCarson Palmer has become one of the elite quarterbacks in football, Matt Leinart has shown glimpses of greatness since leaving Los Angeles, and even Matt Cassel, Palmer and Leinart’s backup, now plays behind Tom Brady in New England. John David Booty has shown that he too has the skills to go from Trojan to NFL starter. His stock suffered somewhat since throwing four interceptions against Stanford, but his performance against Michigan (a defense full of future NFL starters) in last year’s Rose Bowl was enough for NFL teams to give him a chance.Booty has the arm, accuracy and leadership to win consistently on Sundays.Prediction: Early Second Round PickPossible Fit: Kansas City Chiefs. Neither Damon Huard nor Brode Croyle are likely franchise quarterbacks. If Booty is around for KC in the second round, they won’t be able to pass him up.Colt Brennan, HawaiiColt Brennan is the wild card in this quarterback equation. His decision to return to Hawaii for his senior season may have been a mistake, given the intense competition in this year’s class compared to a mediocre 2006 class featuring only Russell and Brady Quinn.Brennan has shattered every WAC passing record, but WAC defenses aren’t exactly equivalent to those of the SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII or ACC. However, if Hawaii remains undefeated and can sneak into a BCS Bowl (much like Boise State last season), Brennan would be able to show off his talents in front of a national audience against what would most likely be a formidable defense. If he could lead the Rainbow Warriors to victory on that stage, NFL teams would be more inclined to gamble on him on the first day of the draft.Prediction: Late Second, Early Third Round PickPossible Fit: St. Louis Rams. Marc Bulger’s health is a main concern in St. Louis. That said, they need a new franchise quarterback who is accustomed to throwing 35-plus attempts consistently. After a year on the sidelines, Brennan could revive Kurt Warner’s Greatest Show on Turf.last_img

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