Wednesday, April 13, 2005

2005 NFL Draft coverage - Quarterbacks

As the draft approaches, we are going to begin a series of breakdowns of the top players, most overrated players, and sleepers by position. It starts today with the field generals.

Top dogs
1. Aaron Rodgers, California. Rodgers is the most complete package in this class. He has a strong arm, is an accurate passer, and is very smart in his reads. He makes good decisions, and has shown tremendous leadership ability. There are minor concerns about his level of experience, as he only has two years as a Division I-A starter. However, he shows the intelligence, grit, and talent to be a very good NFL quarterback. He should be the first overall pick. Projected: 1st round.

2. Alex Smith, Utah. Smith doesn't have Rodgers' physical ability, but makes up for it with an uncanny understanding of the game. Smith is the smartest QB in this class. He makes very quick decisions, understands defenses, and is a huge threat to make plays on the run. Smith's arm, however, isn't as strong, and he comes from a gimmicky offense where he lined up in the shotgun almost all the time. Smith should be a good one, but he isn't enough of a "total package" to go first overall. Projected: 1st round.

3. Jason Campbell, Auburn. Talented passer who might slide into the first round. Campbell gets brownie points because he had to work in four different offensive systems in his four years at Auburn. Campbell had a fine senior season in Al Borges' offense, throwing for 2,700 yards with an impressive 20-7 TD-INT ratio. He's not as highly regarded as Smith or Rodgers, but his intelligence and physical attributes will give him a chance to develop into a solid NFL starter. Projected: 1st or 2nd round.

Adrian McPherson, Florida State. McPherson was a first-ever Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball winner in Florida, whose college career was derailed in 2002 by a gambling scandal. He turned pro after being kicked off the FSU roster, joining the Arena Football League. McPherson has had success in the AFL, and decided to make himself available for the draft. His baggage will probably cause him to stay on the board until Day 2, but McPherson has a chance to succeed in the NFL if he can harness his tremendous physical gifts. Projected: 4th round.

Derek Anderson, Oregon State. Anderson is a big, strong passer who has improved his decision-making skills in college. Anderson still forces too many passes into coverage, and he isn't very mobile. He also doesn't have a very good sense of the pass rush, causing him to take too many hits. Anderson will be drafted either late in the first day or early in the second, but if he continues to improve his decision-making and develops a better pocket sense, he will have a chance to start. Projected: 3rd round.

Charlie Frye, Akron. After Frye had a pretty good Senior Bowl week, he began to move up some draft boards, with some projecting him as a first-round pick. However, his arm isn't very strong, and he has a slow delivery. Frye is a tough player with good leadership skills and a good presence in the huddle. But his funky release and average arm strength, along with questions about the level of competition he played against in college, hurt his overall potential as a pro. He'll be picked probably a round earlier than he should be. Projected: 2nd round.

Kyle Orton, Purdue. Orton is an accurate passer with a good arm. He knows how to read defenses and understands how to attack them. The knocks on Orton revolve around consistency. He seemed to go into a funk after his team's undefeated season was spoiled by a late comeback by Wisconsin last season. Part of his problem late last season was a hip injury, but his lack of consistency in college is somewhat alarming. To make it in the NFL, Orton will have to be even quicker in his decision-making and more effective against heavy pass pressure. Projected: 2nd round.

Other prospects
Andrew Walter, Arizona State - 2nd or 3rd round
David Greene, Georgia - 3rd round
Dan Orlovsky, Connecticut - 4th round
Timmy Chang, Hawaii - 4th or 5th round
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard - 5th round
Jason White, Oklahoma - 5th round
Gino Guidugli, Cincinnati - 5th or 6th round
Chris Rix, Florida State - 5th or 6th round
Stefan Lefors, Louisville - 6th round
Jared Allen, Florida Atlantic - 7th round
Darian Durant, North Carolina - 7th round

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