Here’s a terrific piece from 2010 about the recent history of Big 12 QBs. It is undeniable that the conference has had some fantastic college QBs. What did they end up doing in the NFL? That’s another story.
Scott Frost, Nebraska: Led the Cornhuskers to a title, was an awesome run-pass QB. Played secondary in the NFL (for 59 games).
Brad Smith, Missouri: 8,000 yard passer, 4,000 yard rusher … is a Swiss Army Knife player with the Jets & Bills (WR, returns, Wildcat, option)
Vince Young, Texas: Legendary college QB had three good NFL seasons but never lived up to where he was drafted (3rd overall)
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech: Legendary high school QB in Texas put up cartoonish #s for the Red Raiders (and once finished 4th in the Heisman race), but went undrafted.
Chase Daniel, Missouri: ESPN the Magazine cover-boy and Heisman finalist put up prolific stats for the Tigers. Went undrafted.
Those are just five names from the last 15 years. Frost and Smith were never considered traditional, pocket QBs. Young was just too impressive at the college level to pass up. Harrell and Daniel were considered system guys who are currently on NFL rosters. The league traditionally hasn’t produced drop-back, NFL QBs.
In the last few years, these guys have attempted to become legit NFL QBs: Sam Braford, Josh Freeman and Colt McCoy.
All three have kind of had the same career (granted, it’s still very early) – Above average first full season (especially Freeman) and then a step back.
Sam Bradford (1st pick in 2010): Promising rookie season. Significant step back last year (only six TD passes in 10 games), granted the offensive line was awful and Bradford was injured. He also had no weapons.
Josh Freeman (17th pick in 2009): As a rookie backup he threw 18 INTs and 10 TDs, but as the starter in 2010, he led the Bucs to a 10-6 record and threw 25 TDs vs. just six INTs. Last season he regressed – 16 TDs, 22 INTs. His completion percentage was almost the same, but his Yards per attempt went down from 7.3 to 6.5.
Colt McCoy (3rd round pick, 65th overall in 2010): He’s only had 21 starts, and as a 3rd round pick, there’s far less pressure on him to deliver. His completion percentage is on par with what Bradford and Freeman have done.
Which leads us to the alleged bumper crop of Big 12 QBs in this year’s draft: much-loved Robert Griffin III of Baylor, increasingly well-liked Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M and old man Brandon Weeden. I’d proceed with caution on all three, but I’m not an NFL GM (yet).
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