NFL scouts like what they see from Texas A&Mís Stephen McGee
By CHAREAN WILLIAMScjwilliams@star-telegram.com
INDIANAPOLIS ó In the same conference with Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman and Chase Daniel, Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was overshadowed before last season even began. He was all but forgotten after injuring his throwing shoulder.
But Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak knew exactly who McGee was when the two ended up on the same plane flying to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine.
McGee is the highest-rated A&M quarterback since Kubiak was an eighth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1983. Reggie McNeal was a sixth-round choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006, but he was drafted as a receiver.
"Stephen is a very athletic young man who has some problems this year injury-wise that held him back," Kubiak said. "But heís got the ability, the athletic ability, the arm, the brain, the competitive nature to play in this league.
"A lot of times youíll see guys who go through rough spots like that in college, and all of a sudden, theyíll blossom when they get to our level. So it wouldnít surprise me if he was able to do that. Ö I think heís got a chance to be a very good player."
Scouts have McGee rated higher than any other draft-eligible Big 12 quarterback except Freeman. The Web site NFL Draft Scout ranks McGee eighth among quarterbacks, as does Scouts Inc., and projects him to go in the fifth round. Pro Football Weekly has McGee seventh among quarterbacks.
"I think youíre going to start to see what I can do physically," McGee said. "Once you get to the NFL, everything is going to become more fair. Obviously, you have to produce as a quarterback. ... I know I have what it takes. Iíve always been a great quarterback. Just because I ran the option or got hurt, that doesnít take away from that."
McGee played in a pass-heavy offense in high school, throwing for 8,265 career yards and 101 touchdowns at Class 3A Burnet, but former A&M coach Dennis Franchione installed the zone option. McGee rushed for 1,565 yards and nine touchdowns in his 26 starts in 2006-07, while throwing for 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns.
He stayed for his senior season in hopes of excelling in the pro-style offense of ex-Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman. But McGee was injured in Week 2 and started only three games, with 586 passing yards.
"You can always say what if. I wish I could have done this; I wish I could have done that," McGee said. "But I look back at my 5 1/2 years, and thereís not one regret that I have. I always gave it my very best. Thereís never a moment that I wish I could have gone back and changed something. I always laid it out on the line. My goal was always to get the team in the end zone, and thatís what footballís all about.
"I could have thrown for more yards and been a more highly publicized quarterback, but thatís all right. Iím still going to get my chance and my day is coming, and Iím going to be right there with everybody else Day One of training camp."
Scoutsí first impression of McGee was a good one. He had a solid week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game before throwing a touchdown pass during the Westís 24-19 loss to the East last month.
"Iím very impressed with him," Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. "He seems like a nice young man, first of all. Heís a gifted athlete. He looks like he can run with the ball very well. I thought he threw the ball well. He looked to me to be one of the better players there. I think he had a pretty good game, too."
McGee helped himself at the combine, too. He measured 6-foot-3, weighed 225, ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash, which ranked second among quarterbacks, had a 33-inch vertical leap, which was third at his position, and went 9 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump, fourth at his position.
The only question about McGee was the torn labrum in his shoulder, but a team doctor who examined McGee at the combine said there are no concerns.
Now, McGee is ready to shoulder the load in the NFL.
"I know I belong here," McGee said. "I wish I could have [had] more on-field success at A&M. But it just didnít work out like that. Itís part of life. You have your ups and downs at the quarterback position, and itís so important to have those lessons. Thatíll make me a better professional.
"I may not have the exposure that a lot of these guys have had, but that doesnít make me any less of a player."
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760