Rooting for my alum
Scouting event offers QB perfect stage to show what he can do
Just because he's lounging at home with his new bride, Whitney, doesn't mean Kevin Kolb is a layabout. He worked out in Houston a day after getting married in Stephenville earlier this month.
BRETT COOMER: CHRONICLE
By JOHN MCCLAIN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
KEY DATES FOR KOLB
Sunday: Will participate in all the drills at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
March 23: Pro day at UH, with every NFL team needing a QB expected to attend.
April 28: First day of NFL draft.
Kevin Kolb eyes NFL Draft
Where will Kolb be drafted?
John McClain's analysis
INDIANAPOLIS - The scouting combine is supposed to be Kevin Kolb's coming-out party.
Unlike some quarterbacks, Kolb is going to participate in every drill at the RCA Dome on Sunday because he wants to show representatives of every NFL team that he has the arm, athleticism and intelligence that are necessary to make the jump from the University of Houston.
"I don't know why you wouldn't want to throw here," Kolb said. "I mean, you've got every head coach and general manager in the league watching you. It might not be the ideal situation, because you're not working with your receivers, but that's what your pro day's for.
"I'm very confident in my ability, and I think this is a chance to prove what I'm capable of doing. I'm really looking forward to this experience. I'm not nervous. I look at it as an honor to be here and be able to work out for NFL teams and to meet with so many of them."
By the time Kolb returns to Houston and resumes workouts and continues taking classes at UH, he will have answered a hundred variations of the same question: Is he a product of coach Art Briles' system, or is he a legitimate NFL prospect capable of becoming a productive starter?
"He's got all the tools you want," Texans general manager Rick Smith said Thursday. "But I think people want to see him take snaps from under center, drop back and go through his reads."
At the combine, each team can interview a maximum of 60 players.
"Oh yeah," Smith said. "He's on our list."
At some point after the first round, the Texans are expected to draft a quarterback. The top two are JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, and the competition to be No. 3 is wide open. The third quarterback could sneak into the first round.
"I think Kolb's going in the second round," said C.O. Brocato, the Tennessee Titans' national coordinator of college scouting. "I've watched a lot of his games, and I've liked him for quite a while.
"Some wonder if he's a product of their system, but I don't think he is. Kevin Kolb's a player. He's got everything you want. Not only does he have the big arm, but he can take something off the ball when he has to. And he's accurate."
A common theme among scouts surveyed was Kolb's ability to make teammates better.
"That kid's a hell of a leader," Brocato said. "Art Briles gave him a lot of responsibility, and he handled it and got better every season."
One piece in a logjam
After Russell and Quinn, Kolb is in a QB logjam with prospects like Drew Stanton, Troy Smith, Trent Edwards, Jordan Palmer, John Beck, Chris Leak, Tyler Palko, Jeff Rowe, Isaiah Stanback and Paul Thompson.
"First of all, Kolb's prototypical — 6-3, 220, with a strong arm and good mobility," said Jeff Ireland, the Dallas Cowboys' vice president of pro and college scouting. "He's tough physically and mentally.
"I think what he needs to do the most here is to explain to everybody what he was required to do in Houston's system. I think once people realize how much they challenged him, they're really going to be impressed with what he did."
While Briles' system isn't radical, it is different. It's not a pro-style system. The Cougars don't have a lot of plays — just a lot of options that put great responsibility on the quarterback to make the right decisions.
"There were so many options built into each play, and once Kevin explains exactly what he was supposed to do, they're going to be impressed," said Jerry Rhome, who has been working with Kolb at UH. "He's going to put it in NFL terminology when he's being interviewed, and they're going to go, 'Wow.'
"You have to be very intelligent to do what Kevin was asked to do in that system. ... Now he's got to let the NFL know what he did."
After the Cougars' season ended, Kolb signed with Houston's Select Sports Group. Agent Jeff Nalley hired Rhome, who tutored Vince Young last year, to prepare Kolb for the draft. Rhome spent 33 years in the NFL as a quarterback, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
Won't stop working
"One of the things that's impressed me so much about Kevin is how bad he wants it," Rhome said. "By that, I mean how hard he works, how much time he puts into it, how much he loves the game and everything that's required to be successful at the next level. He never misses a workout or a film session.
"Shoot, he didn't even go on his honeymoon so he could get back to Houston to work out."
Kevin and Whitney Kolb, his high school sweetheart who's an elementary school teacher, were married two weeks ago. The day after they were married, they drove from Stephenville back to Houston so he wouldn't miss a workout.
"We're going to take a honeymoon, but we're going to wait until after the draft," Kolb said.
By then, he should be able to afford a much nicer trip.