Josh Norris

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Draft 2012: The Quarterbacks

Friday, April 06, 2012

4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Height/Weight: 6'4/221
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
40 Time: 4.87
Comparison: Kyle Orton
2011 Stats: 408-of-564 (72.3%) for 4,727 yds (8.38 YPA), 37 TD/13 INT; 1 RUS TD
Draft Prediction: Browns, 22nd overall

Positives: Weeden had total command of Oklahoma State's quick-hit offense as a two-year starter. When watching game tape, it becomes instantly clear that Weeden is unafraid of placing footballs into tight windows, especially in the middle of the field. His touch is fantastic, putting just enough velocity on passes to shade them toward his target. Weeden shines on 15-yard in-routes over the middle, especially versus zone coverage. He repeatedly made this throw during Senior Bowl week, with his favorite target being Arkansas WR Joe Adams. Weeden is certainly capable of placing sideline throws on the receiver's outside shoulder with good, but not outstanding, velocity. These throws are consistently on a rope and allow receivers to continue their upfield momentum after the catch. Instant pressure does not faze him; Weeden connects on bail-out throws quickly. Having a dominant college receiver is always nice, but I would not be surprised if Weeden actually has more success without Justin Blackmon. He seemed more confident when he could file through the route progressions rather than force throws to a single target dictated by pre-snap coverage.
Negatives: Weeden is 28 years old after a failed baseball career. When highlighting only on-field attributes, Weeden has a deficiency in one major area. Even without pressure, Weeden gets too complacent at times. He throws off his back foot on quick-breaking routes or when trying to buy an extra step versus interior pressure, failing to exhibit the same poise he flashes in a confined or clean pocket. Along with his tendency to fade from the line at times, Weeden occasionally incorporates an off-hand tap which could be used as a "tell" to reveal the target he's locked onto. Sideline bucket throws aren't Weeden's specialty, as he tends to lob them too much, resulting in slight underthrows. Weeden goes through progressions when the situation calls for it, but the reads can be a bit mechanical instead of fluidly diagnosing the coverage.

Outlook: Call me crazy, but I think Weeden suffered from the Blackmon effect at times. A good number of his interceptions came from drifting away from the pocket and throwing the ball up for grabs, usually in Blackmon's direction. Weeden consistently thrived in situations where he chose the target based on what he saw in coverage, rather than coverage choosing the target pre-snap. Weeden's footwork from center was shaky at the Senior Bowl, but he continued to improve each day. It is not a stretch to believe that the backwards momentum from center will help propel him to step up in the pocket versus edge pressure. For a team that believes Weeden can start early and effectively, age should not be a major issue. Those quarterback-needy teams do not have the luxury to wait on a young signal caller. It is tough to project Weeden into a specific NFL offense, but I see Cleveland as a solid fit where Weeden could produce like a quality starter at pick number 22 or early in the second round.

5. B.J. Coleman, UT-Chattanooga

Height/Weight: 6'3/233
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
40 Time: N/A
Comparison: Jason Campbell
2011 Stats: 137-of-225 (60.9%) for 1,527 yds (6.79 YPA), 9 TD/9 INT; 1 RUS TD
Draft Prediction: Broncos, No. 108 overall

Positives: Before transferring into the FCS, Coleman attended the University of Tennessee where he studied film of Peyton Manning. And it shows in his subtle movements, in-pocket tendencies, and throwing motion. This helps define Coleman: He's a true student of the game who transferred down a level of competition to maximize his playing time. Coleman loves the pump fake, utilizing it to move coverage before showcasing NFL-level velocity. Coleman was the only player during East-West Shrine week that displayed pro arm talent. He climbs the pocket well and consistently steps toward his target. Coleman is not the typical small-school prospect, as he has experience changing line calls pre-snap and was asked to complete multiple anticipation throws to targets in windows, which he did effectively. Coleman also flashes downfield passing ability, but those vertical routes succeed far more often when his timing is on point.

Negatives: Coleman tends to aim throws rather than trust his control, leading to sporadic ball placement on intermediate routes. Despite an excellent skill set, he never managed a high completion percentage which is a bit worrisome when considering the lower level of competition. In fact, some games Coleman completely lost it, throwing nine interceptions in a two-game stretch during his junior season. The picks resulted from drifting away from the pocket when facing interior pressure. It is evident Coleman has a grasp for the offense, but his second and third reads never look as clean as the first.

Outlook: Coleman is an excellent contender to hold a clipboard for a few years while potentially developing into a low-end starter down the line. Despite starting for three seasons in college, he still has some discomfort and uneasiness to his game but plenty of talent that NFL coaches can mold. It is frustrating to see, because I think Coleman is on the cusp of grasping and processing the game quickly. He stood out during Shrine week, and even if Coleman never starts he has an excellent foundation as a backup quarterback.

6. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

Height/Weight: 5'11/204
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
40 Time: 4.55
Comparison: Seneca Wallace
2011 Stats: 225-of-309 (72.8%) for 3,175 yds (10.3 YPA), 33 TD/4 INT; 6 RUS TD
Draft Prediction: Panthers, No. 143 overall

Positives/Negatives: Seemingly in college forever, Wilson gave up a promising baseball career to focus on football and shined in his only season in Madison. Wilson flashes tremendous comfort in the pocket and is unafraid of working through progressions, even testing the opposite side of the field. His top- to-bottom release helps calm the height questions, especially after playing behind a massive Badgers offensive line. Wilson panics a bit when his first read is covered, drifting out of the pocket and thinking he has to buy extra time when it's not the case. Wilson does reset well after moving laterally, but in order to maximize his limited velocity he needs to always step into throws. He is a very consistent thrower that can improve his poise when reading progressions after the initial target is covered.

Outlook: I doubt Wilson will ever be asked to be more than a spot starter and NFL backup, but those are two roles he can fill immediately. There are plenty of areas to improve when considering anticipation and comfort in closed spaces, but Wilson will have a long career as a backup.

7. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

Height/Weight: 6'3/214
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
40 Time: 4.93
Comparison: Colt McCoy
2011 Stats: 267-of-419 (63.7%) for 3,316 yds (7.91 YPA), 25 TD/10 INT; 0 RUS TD
Draft Prediction: Chiefs, No. 74 overall

Positives/Negatives: A what you see is what you get player, Cousins is solid and dependable if expectations are dampened. He frequently checks out the collapsing pocket but stands in it, albeit tentatively. Cousins has experienced footwork from center, but the steps look tight and he throws off his back foot when a rusher is closing in. Cousins' arm talent is adequate at best, having to charge into outside or downfield throws, but even these attempts tend to lack ideal velocity. Michigan State's pass catchers -- three of whom will be drafted -- consistently bailed Cousins out of tough situations, winning up-for-grabs balls. Anything within 12 yards can be efficient, but there is certainly a possibility Cousins becomes the next "Captain Checkdown." He flashes commendable pocket movement at times, pressing off his back foot on a second or third read.

Outlook: Cousins is a game manager with an excellent attitude, but will need to enter a controlled environment to succeed. He certainly could keep a game going, but if Cousins was ever asked to start a game the team should look to replace him. His dynamic personality is a trait some team may love, though.

8. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State

Height/Weight: 6'4/229
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
40 Time: 4.90
Comparison: John Skelton
2011 Stats: 237-of-447 (52.3%) for 3,153 yds (7.05 YPA), 23 TD/8 INT; 0 RUS TDs
Draft Prediction: Packers, No. 163 overall

Positives/Negatives: A hot-and-cold passer, Lindley is a conundrum to evaluate. He gets out of center too slowly with a noticeable hitch in his first step, but climbs the pocket nicely after planting off his back foot. If he is given a clean pocket, Lindley completes throws all over the field with a mechanical motion and release. These passes certainly appear NFL caliber, with stick throws into tight windows after briefly looking off coverage. However, Lindley's feet get frenetic as soon as the pocket starts to crumble and he will never look graceful moving laterally. During Senior Bowl week, Lindley struggled immensely, shortarming throws and showing little touch even on intermediate passes. With all that said, it is exciting to see Lindley consistently challenge deep coverage and it is obvious he is confident in his arm. More often than not, however, that confidence gets him in trouble.

Outlook: A favorite of NFL Films guru Greg Cosell, Lindley could be this year's T.J. Yates. He overthrows far too many vertical routes and lacks accuracy downfield, but Lindley has a short memory and an arm to build on.

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Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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