Vince Young fever. I don't have it. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely am in awe of what Young did in the last two Rose Bowls, and he was the epitome of class before, during, and after the Rose Bowl this year. He was humble when he should have been pointing at various college football writers and reporters and asking them about their all-time great USC team and the all-time OMG BEST RUNNING BACK EVER Reggie Bush, who was apparently too busy curing cancer to be on the field on USC's critical fourth down play late in the fourth quarter. And I fully believe Young made the right decision entering the NFL Draft one year early. After these last two Rose Bowls and the season he just had, was there anything left for Young to do in college besides either 1) get hurt, or 2) get in trouble somehow? Furthermore, I think Young is going to be a pretty good pro. But let's not drug ourselves into thinking that Young is a better pro prospect than Matt Leinart.
I don't buy into the logic that running QBs can't win in the NFL, but even I have to admit that it's somewhat telling that the only QBs left in the playoffs are mainly pocket passers, with the possible exception of Grizzly Plummer in Denver, who still throws a lot more than he runs. The league caters to "pocket passers" because it's hard enough for a "pocket passer" to avoid injury. Running QBs take more hits, and thus are more prone to injury. And over the course of a season, a running QB is going to slow down a bit from all the hard contact. When that starts to happen, it becomes harder for that QB to elude the rush, and he needs to rely on his passing ability.
Young is a great athlete, but I'll cede to the scouts with ESPN Insider, who have already written about Young's passing skills:
Shows decent but not good arm strength. His mechanics need a lot of improving. Shows a low release point and, for the most part, shot-puts the ball as a passer. A better runner than passer at this point. Does not show a good comprehension of reading defenses and making progression reads. Is extremely raw as pocket passer and will need a lot of developmental tutelage in that area in the NFL. Still lacks ideal decision-making skills. Tries to force things when they are not available. Must learn to better protect the football. Takes too many chances when protection is breaking down and throws too many passes up for grabs. Is impatient in the pocket. Frequently takes off too early and does not allow his receivers enough time to separate.This isn't to say that Young doesn't have upside, or that Young can't be great in the NFL. And it's not to say that he's foolish for leaving early. If you're going to be a top five pick, you're better off getting paid to learn the game.
I just think it's foolish to compare Young to Michael Vick, whom he's bigger and stronger than but doesn't have the passing skill of, or to Matt Leinart, whom he's faster and a better athlete than but doesn't have the passing skill or poise of. Young is probably a top five pick because of his upside, but many of the comparisons I've been reading lately are completely ridiculous. Let Young be Young.
Then again, these same guys can't let Tom Brady be Tom Brady, so I guess I understand where it's all coming from.