NFL draft preview: Quarterbacks
02:33 AM CDT on Thursday, April 16, 2009
By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News
There's quality at the top in Stafford, Sanchez and Freeman and then a dramatic drop-off. There may not be another quarterback drafted until the third round. Stephen McGee has been the fast riser this draft season.
THE TOP 15
Player School Ht. Wt. Noteworthy
1. Matthew Stafford Georgia 6-2 225 25 TD passes in 2008
2. Mark Sanchez So Cal 6-2 227 64 percent career passer
3. Josh Freeman Kan St 6-5 ½ 248 Only 8 INTs in 2008
4. Pat White West Va 6-0 197 56 career TD passes
5. Stephen McGee Tex A&M 6-2 ½ 225 1,750 career rushing yards
6. Rhett Bomar Sam Hstn 6-2 225 Transfer from Oklahoma
7. Tom Brandstater Fresno 6-5 220 4.87 in the 40
8. Brian Hoyer Mich St 6-2 215 6,159 career pass yards
9. John Parker Wilson Ala 6-1 ½ 219 Started 40 games
10. Drew Willy Buffalo 6-3 215 65 percent passer in '08
11. Mike Teel Rutgers 6-3 225 59 career TD passes
12. Julian Edelman Kent St 5-10 195 1,370 rushing yards in '08
13. Hunter Cantwell Louisvlle 6-4 235 1-year starter
14. Nate Davis Ball St 6-1 226 74 career TD passes
15. Graham Harrell Tex Tech 6-2 223 Unitas Award winner
Potential first-round picks in bold
Spotlight on: Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Most quarterbacks on this draft board are passers. Graham Harrell was a field general for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. He had more autonomy than any quarterback in this draft.
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"He [Leach] gave me complete freedom," Harrell said. "He said, 'You can check any play you want from goal line to goal line. If you're backed up on the 1, you can call any play you want. If we're going in on the 1, you can call any play you want.'
"His deal was whatever he signals in was merely a suggestion and if you don't like it, call something else. If you get to the line and like something better, call it."
Harrell did quite well with his freedom. He led the NCAA with his 5,111 yards and 45 touchdowns passing.
"I'd change about half the [sideline] calls," Harrell said. "Coach puts a lot of responsibility on the quarterback – probably more than any other quarterback in the country. The responsibility of playing quarterback at Texas Tech isn't matched by many other places. It gave me an advantage, and it helped prepare me for the next level."
Harrell became the only quarterback in NCAA history with two 5,000-yard passing seasons. He also threw for 5,705 yards in 2007 in winning the NCAA passing title.
Harrell won 28 of his 39 career starts, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 15,793 yards and 134 touchdowns.
The best: Matthew Stafford, Georgia
Stafford became the first true freshman to start for Georgia since Quincy Carter in 1998. Like Carter, Stafford opted to pass up his senior season to turn pro. Unlike Carter, Stafford projects as a first-round draft pick. Carter was a second-round selection by the Cowboys. Stafford started 32 games and won 25 of them. He set school season records for touchdown passes (25) and total offense (3,499 yards) in 2008. He steered the Bulldogs to three consecutive bowls and was named MVP in two of them.
Sleeper: David Johnson, Tulsa
Johnson sat on the bench and watched Paul Smith quarterback the Hurricane for his first three seasons. When he got to start as a senior, Johnson (6-1, 219) passed for 4,059 yards and 46 touchdowns to finish second in the NCAA in passing efficiency. He threw for 400 yards in three games and 300 yards in three more. Johnson won 11 of his 14 career starts and was an academic All-Conference USA.
Best of Texas: Matthew Stafford, Georgia
The Highland Park product captured a state title as a senior and then won all three of his bowls at Georgia. Stafford passed for 8,711 yards and 92 touchdowns in his high school career and 7,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in his college career.
Draft projection: Top 10
Early outs: This draft's top three quarterbacks – Stafford, Sanchez and Freeman – elected to leave eligibility on the table to turn pro. Nate Davis also left school early to enter this draft.
Legends: Graham Harrell of Texas Tech set an NCAA record with his 134 career touchdown passes and finished second all time in passing yardage. He is Texas Tech's all-time leading passer. Other quarterbacks who left campus as their school's all-time leading passers are Rhett Bomar (Sam Houston), Chase Daniel (Missouri), Nate Davis (Ball State), Josh Freeman (Kansas State), Chase Holbrook (New Mexico State), Mike Teel (Rutgers), Drew Willy (Buffalo) and John Parker Wilson (Alabama).
Here's to the winners: West Virginia's Pat White became the first quarterback in NCAA history to win four bowls. He won 34 career games, tops on this draft board. Here's a list of the quarterbacks in this draft with the most wins.
Quarterback, school Starts Wins
Pat White, W Va 42 34
Nathan Brown, Cent Ark 40 30
Chase Daniel, Mizzou 41 30
Mike Teel, Rutgers 42 29
Graham Harrell, Tex Tech 39 28
Rudy Carpenter, Ariz St 43 26
Matthew Stafford, Georg 32 25
John Parker Wilson, Ala 40 25
Curtis Painter, Purdue 44 23
Nate Davis, Ball St 35 22
Tom Brandstater, Fresno 37 20
Ball security: Missouri's Chase Daniel threw 254 consecutive passes without an interception in 2007 to set a Big 12 record for interception avoidance. Buffalo's Drew Willy had streaks of 235 and 131 consecutive passes without an interception, and Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter had streaks of 228 and 131. New Mexico State's Chase Holbrook had a streak of 179, Clemson's Cullen Harper 165, John Parker Wilson 132 and Josh Freeman 106.
Legging it out: Pat White set an NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,480. He rushed for 200 yards in a game four times and 100 yards on 12 other occasions. Kent State's Justin Edelman rushed for 2,483 career yards with 11 100-yard games. Josh Freeman rushed for 14 touchdowns last season.
Home grown: Eight of the Top 25 quarterbacks on my draft board are from Texas: Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Highland Park, Stephen McGee of Texas A&M and Burnet, Rhett Bomar of Sam Houston State and Grand Prairie, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech and Ennis, Chase Daniel of Missouri and Southlake Carroll, Chase Holbrook of New Mexico State and Hurst L.D. Bell, Sean Glennon of Virginia Tech and The Woodlands and Kirby Freeman of Baylor and Brownwood.