By Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
Hello Patriots Daily readers and welcome to another year of College Scout.
This year we’re going to vary the format a bit. Each week College Scout will bring you our ranking of different positions. Towards the end of the year, we’ll update those rankings and see how the players have done through the year and into the post-season All-Star Games. This year we’ll profile both juniors and seniors throughout the season. We’ll still highlight games many of the ranked prospects will be on TV and we hope it helps you watch the best players when you tune in. And, as always, we’ll try to occasionally rate the prospects as to how they’d fit with the Patriots organization and the current state of the team. So, lets start this week with the quarterbacks.
1.) Jake Locker (#10) Washington: The undisputed top QB prospect in the draft, Locker really is one terrific athlete. A big kid at 6’3″ 226, he is known for his mobility and pure athleticism. He also has a rocket arm. If he needs to work on anything, its his accuracy which has yet to hit 60% in any year of his career. However, that did improve significantly last year, his first year under Head Coach Steve Sarkisian and should continue to. His play is sometimes in the reckless abandon mode and that has led to some injuries. Locker is also a big baseball prospect with a 95 MPH fastball, but his NFL stock has improved to the point it looks like he is headed for a football career. Because he will be drafted so high, its unlikely the Pats will have any shot at him. Still, he is fun to watch and quite a competitor. A great game to catch him in would be when the tough Nebraska defense visits on September 18th at 3:30 PM EST. The game will be shown on either ESPN2 or ABC depending on the network choice that week.
2.) Christian Ponder (#7) Florida State: Ponder really came into his own last year after ordinary performances as a freshman and sophomore. Last year, however, he blossomed with a excellent 68.8% completion percentage and a 2-1 (14-7) TD/INT ratio. He was hurt in the 9th game and did not return. This year he is healthy again and ready for a big senior year that could secure his spot as a first round pick. He stands 6’3″ and 227 but does have surprising mobility. The September 11th matchup should be telling when he goes on the road to Oklahoma and how he handles that pressure cooker could be a good test how he’ll adapt to the NFL. The game will be on ABC locally at 3:30 PM.
3.) Andrew Luck (#12) Stanford: Luck was somewhat of a game manager last year as Stanford’s powerful running game led the way. For the year, he only threw 4 INTs. A smart kid who avoids mistakes, there is throwing talent there. He needs more experience, but he has only played one year after redshirting freshman year. He could theoretically come out after this year, but will have two years of eligibility left and is unlikely to do so. Still, watch for him to possibly progress into Stanford’s biggest quarterback prospect since John Elway.
4.) Terrelle Pryor (#2) Ohio State: Pryor is a junior who has been as hyped a quarterback prospect as college football has seen in some time. He has actually caught some grief from Ohio State fans for not being an immediately dominating player. People forget he didn’t start until very late his freshman year, so last year was really his first year as a full-time player. Still, he put up solid numbers with a 56.6% completion rate and 18-11 TD/INT ratio. He also ran for 779 yards and his huge 6’6″ 235 lb. frame is very difficult to bring down as he combines that size with elusiveness, power and speed. He is a definite Heisman Trophy candidate and if he can develop a bit more touch on his throws, could be the #1 NFL draft pick at some point. Miami comes to town in a good matchup at 3:40 PM EST on ESPN September 11th. Watch to see how he performs versus their fast defense.
5.) Case Keenum (#7) Houston: Keenum is a slightly undersized QB who has put up phenomenal numbers in the Cougars all-out air attack offense. He’s thrown for 102 touchdowns in his career so far, including 44 last year. He plays exclusively from the spread and needs to bulk up. His arm strength is decent, but the question will be how much the system accounts for his stats. He probably won’t be a first round pick and will need coaching to a NFL offense. Watch him light up the scoreboard on a Friday night game, September 10th at 10:15 PM EST on ESPN when UTEP comes to town.
6.) John Brantley (#12) Florida: Brantley has the unenviable tasks of following perhaps the most celebrated, legendary college quarterbacks of all-time. Additionally, he follows one of the most successful quarterbacks of all time. Of course we’re talking about Tim Tebow. So what of Brantley? Well first of all he was very, very highly recruited out of high school himself. And he is much more conventional with excellent size, ability, touch and mechanics. The arm is very strong. When he has had a chance to play, he has put up a 10-1 TD/INT ratio in two years of spot duty. Just a junior, its unlikely he’ll come out this year, but it should be fun to watch him start to get his chance. Florida will be on TV a lot this year, but their first big game without Tebow comes on September 18th when they travel to Tennessee to take on the Vols. The game will be shown on CBS at 3:30 PM EST.
7.) Greg McElroy (#12) Alabama: McElroy is a workman-like quarterback who doesn’t do anything flashy and gets too little credit for what he does do. And that includes leading Alabama to a national championship last year in his first year as a starter. That makes his career record 30-0 as a starter including high school. That’s right folks, he has never lost a game as a starting quarterback in high school or college. He didn’t start in high school until his senior year as he was behind Chase Daniel, who is trying to make it as a rookie into the NFL this year out of the University of Missouri. With their terrific running game and dominating defense, McElroy isn’t called on to do a ton. But he makes plays when needed and avoids mistake, only throwing 4 INTs last season. There is a ton to like about his game, including leadership and smarts. These are the kind of traits the Patriots love, so if they’re going to start to look for the eventual successor to Tom Brady somewhere down the road, this would be a good guy. McElroy’s father works for the Dallas Cowboys. Greg and The Tide have a huge game when they travel to Arkansas on September 25th at 3:30 PM EST on CBS. Check him out then.
8.) Ryan Mallett (#15) Arkansas: If you watch that game, you can also check out this guy. A huge 6’7″ 238 lb. kid, he was the #1 high school quarterback recruit a few years back and went to Michigan. After starting 3 games as a freshman, he transferred out to Arkansas when new coach Rich Rodriguez brought in an offense in that didn’t really fit Mallett’s game. After sitting out a year, Mallett started last year for Arkansas and tossed 30 TD passes. He may have the best arm of any quarterback in college football, including Locker. His problem is he is a bit unrefined and not real elusive in the pocket. He is a statuesque pocket QB who throws a great ball and can rifle it into traffic when needed. He still has two years of eligibility left so whether he comes out depends on how much he improves this season.
9.) Jerrod Johnson (#1) Texas A+M: A big, scrambling QB with good speed and a 6’5″ 243 frame, Johnson can really throw it too. He also tossed 30 touchdowns last year and added over 500 running. He is now playing in a pro-style offense so that is positive experience for him. He needs to get a bit more accurate, but he improved a lot last year. Watch him take on Oklahoma State on the road in an ESPN Thursday night game September 30th at 7:30 PM EST.
10.) Adam Weber (#8) Minnesota: Weber’s game took a big a step back last season as he was taken out of the spread and moved to a more conventional offense in ‘09. While that could be good for his NFL prospects, his game and stats suffered tremendously. After compiling a 39-27 TD/INT ratio as a freshman and sophomore, Weber slipped to 13/15 last season. And he only completed a very poor 52% of his passes. Still, there is a lot to like about this 6’3″ 221 four year starter who throws very well on the move. He is a leader, tough, strong armed and experienced. If he makes strides this season and shows he finally has grasped the pro-style offense, it could send him climbing up the draft charts. Watch this sleeper on September 18th at 3:30 PM on ESPN when Minnesota has a huge challenge in USC visiting them in Minneapolis. If Weber can perform well against that competition, it’ll show he’s finally on his way to being a sure fire NFL quarterback. Its unlikely he’ll be a first round pick, but given his positive aspects, he could be the type of project the Patriots like. They do seem to like Big 10 quarterbacks.