Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Most Underrated Quarterback In The 2011 NFL Draft

Although I said I was going to write this last week, some things happened, and this post got delayed a week, but that only makes it stronger as the most underrated quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft finally had his pro day to impress the scouts.  Scouts from all 32 teams went to this workout, if you subtract 31 teams from that number. But at least the Seahawks showed up. That's right, the guy I see as horribly underrated is a National Champion Quarterback, from The University of Alabama, G-Mac, Greg McElroy.
Greg McElroy has gotten the most pre-draft for hype for something that had nothing to do with slinging the pigskin as it was reported that he got a 48 (since changed to a 43) on the Wonderlic. Does this make him a better quarterback prospect? Not in my opinion. The Wonderlic is issued because it is supposed to measure how well a person can process information. I tmight be successful in that, but figuring out when a train will reach Chicago is quite a bit different than figuring out who to throw it to when faced with a zone blitz. I don't care if any quarterback is a genius, he'll never be The Genius.

Since no quarterback could ever be The Genius, let's focus on what they can be. Greg McElroy led Alabama to a national championship in 2009 (technically, they won the title in 2010, but the years will refer to the season that they played their regular season games in). Yes, he had a ton of talent around him, but when they needed him to make a play, he was able to do it. He threw 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, while completing 60.6% of his passes. That's a good year. It's not great, but it was enough to win a national title, so it'd be awfully hard to complain about it.

Even though 2010 did not lead to a national title, McElroy was definitely not the problem. He threw 19 touchdowns, five interceptions, improved his completion percentage to 70.6 while throwing for over 50 yards more per game. He improved in every single way. Somehow, nobody has any interest in this. I understand that it is unwise to take stats at face value, but I do think that you can use them to judge improvement, and it is clear that McElroy improved greatly from 2009 to 2010.

But in projecting to the next level, it doesn't matter how good of a college quarterback he was, it matters how good of a pro quarteback he can be. The stats show that he threw accurately and didn't hurt his team with mistakes, but not much else. The biggest question with McElroy is his arm strength. He doesn't have Jake Locker's arm strength, and he never will, but I do think that it is underrated by most. When I watched him play this season, I thought he put good zip on the ball on outs and slants. His deep ball has a little flutter on it, but it's not bad, and he puts enough drive on the football to make defenses pay if they try to cheat up on him.

I know this is a highlight video, but if he couldn't throw the deep ball, they wouldn't be able to show this many examples of solid deep balls. I'll admit there's a few weaker ones in there, but it still shows he has the arm strength to get the ball down field at the next level (and it's the only highlight video set to music that doesn't suck).

The most impressive thing I saw from McElroy was his game against LSU. That is when he went up against the best cornerback (and best player in my opinion) in the NCAA in Patrick Peterson. Most quarterbacks would do everything in their power to avoid throwing towards Peterson, but McElroy used his number one target, Julio Jones, and were able to attack Peterson's side of the field on more than one occasion. Jones even caught a touchdown on a slant pattern with Peterson covering. Now Julio Jones is a talented receiver, but he's not going to beat Peterson without good balls from his quarterback and McElroy delivered that.

To say that McElroy is a first round talent would be excessive, even for me. I really only see Cam Newton as a first round talent. But I think McElroy is greatly underestimated as a 6th-7th round pick. I see him as having third round talent, and I'd be jumping on him in the fourth round if I needed a quarterback, or waiting until the fifth if I already have a starter in place.

Is he ever going to be a Top-5 quarterback in the league? I highly doubt it, but he's a guy you can win with, and that's pretty damn valuable in the National Football League.


P.S. I'm really disappointed that I didn't know that you could bet on WrestleMania until after WrestleMania was over. Michael Cole had ridiculous odds.

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