Young still can't shake all doubters
By Chris Mortensen
What a tremendous game played Wednesday night between the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans.
As much as it was a dream game for fans, it was a dream game for NFL personnel men.
And after checking in with a few of them who carry some pretty impressive credentials, you may be surprised that a great performance by Texas quarterback Vince Young does not necessarily leave NFL teams drooling over his eventual arrival into the NFL. The same goes for USC quarterback Matt Leinart.
• "I'd still take Leinart over Young as an NFL quarterback, but Leinart is not a franchise guy in the traditional sense. He's not John Elway, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning
or Carson Palmer
. Now, really, there aren't a lot of those guys anyway. Alex Smith
sure wasn't. When [Texas] blanketed the USC receivers, especially early in the game, you got a glimpse of what the NFL is like. The windows are a lot tighter. Leinart struggled with those. But give the USC coaches credit -- they adjusted and managed to put up, what, over 500 yards against a pretty talented Texas defense?"
• "Young is a great competitor, that's the thing you have to like about him. But be careful about his athleticism. It's a great attribute but he doesn't have Michael Vick's
suddenness. He's got real good speed, but it's not world-class speed, and you see what eventually happens to the guys in this league -- they get beat up and they slow down. He is strong for a fairly lean guy. And you have to like his size. But if you do the film cut-ups on just his throws from last night's game, you're going to be fairly unimpressed."
• "Leinart's clearly a bright guy. He's got better feet than most people talk about. His arm strength is average. He doesn't throw as many pure spirals as you would like. But he's a big guy, he's played a lot of football in a pro-style offense and he's had a lot of success. He's not going to carry a franchise on his back, but if you put talent around him, he's going to be a good quarterback in the NFL. And let's face it, we need more good quarterbacks."
• "If Young's performance did anything, it made a case that he should have won the Heisman, not [Reggie] Bush. But that was splitting hairs. That's not a very good USC defense he faced -- didn't Fresno State put up 40 on them? What I like about Young is that he's gotten better every year as far as throwing the football. He does spin it a lot better than he did before. Arm strength, like Leinart, pretty marginal. He won't have the same success running the ball in the NFL, not even close. But he's a leader, he'll generate some excitement, and then he'll get ripped [by the media and fans] when he doesn't dazzle in the NFL like people think. Still, if I were him, I'd probably come out. He needs a lot of work and he might as well start getting it now."
As for Bush, he still projects as the probable No. 1 pick in April's draft by the Houston Texans
"He still did enough Superman stunts to make you say, 'Wow,'" said one personnel man. "There aren't many players who make you go, 'Wow,' so he's got tremendous value to a team. Maybe he's not a 4.2 guy [in the 40] but he's got plenty of juice."
Now, USC running back LenDale White had all these guys pretty excited. "That's an NFL back," said one scout. "He's 220 pounds-plus and he will be a big-timer in our league. He won't dazzle, but he's the type of guy with the right team who can win a rushing title and score a lot of touchdowns."