Monday, 10 August 2009

Stay away from the spread?

Matt McGuire at posted a blog entry today with a simple message - avoid spread quarterbacks. His example, the NFL career of Vince Young. Last night's underwhelming performance in the Hall of Fame game just a year after threats of retirement further emphasised the struggles Young has faced in Tennessee. All this after a bright start and appearing on the cover of Madden 08.

The two highest ranked senior quarterback prospects this year are Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. The pair both compete in a spread offense, with eerily similar question marks to that which Young faced upon entering the league. When discussing Tebow with me recently, College Talent Scout's Kyle Rota actively compared the Gators' star to Young.

"Like Tebow, he played out of a spread-option system in college. Like Tebow, he went to a major program, got playing time early and won a national championship as a starter.Like Tebow, his college stats were impeccable but his throwing motion gave scouts cause for concern. Like Tebow, this quarterback was renown for his leadership, size, and mobility. Tim Tebow shares an eerie resemblance to Vince Young." - Kyle Rota

Matt McGuire warns prospective buyers that a spread option signal caller wouldn't be a wise investment for a team looking at QB's next year:

"When zone-read quarterbacks who rely on their legs in college get to the NFL, they have a very hard time adjusting to an NFL playbook. The vast majority of the time, an elite work ethic can't overcome this adversity. The timing a quarterback needs when dropping back (awareness, footwork, vision, etc.) isn't developed at some schools in college. They don't make true coverage reads or go through multiple progressions. Usually, if the first option is not open, the quarterback ducks his head and runs in a gimmick scheme." - Matt McGuire

So what words of advice does McGuire offer to anyone contemplating taking a spread QB in the future?

"Don't buy into the Colt McCoy/Tim Tebow/Dan LeFevour hype going into the 2010 NFL Draft. They rely on their mobility, run spread option offenses, lack footwork proficiency, are heavily hyped by the media, and have inflated statistics in the passing game."

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or email


Mind of no mind said...

Would that list also include Sam Bradford? I thought he was a spread QB too.

If you had to make a list of the top 2 or 3 non-spread QBs that we could see in next years draft, who would be on the list, and where would you expect them to go? Do any of them seem to fit the Ruskell criteria?

The only name I can think of is Jevan Snead, but I don't really know anything about him, other than that he's supposed to be good.

Rob Staton said...

I think I should stress at this point that my opinion differs from McGuire's. He makes a very valid argument, but I tend to believe that things are never that black and white. Not every spread QB will fail. The majority might, but that doesn't mean everyone does. Going to the right team, with a solid foundation, good coaching and most importantly - time to learn... there's no reason why a guy can't be productive.

If Tim Tebow was drafted by the Pats for example and given three years as Brady's backup to learn/adapt with Belichick as his coach, I'd put money on him being a success.

If he was drafted by the Raiders and made a week 1 starter, I'd put money on him failing.

Mind of no mind - OU runs a spread but Bradford is more of a pocket passer than your traditional spread QB. Still - he carries question marks like the rest.

I'm not sure what Ruskell's criteria would be specifically for a QB. That would depend on what he, Mora and Knapp want from the offense in the long term. I could see a situation where he just falls for Tim Tebow and everything he stands for and drafts the guy in round one, before building an offense around him.

On the other hand, I can see Ruskell being put off the mechanics, slow release and footwork like a lot of GM's will and preferring that pro-ready, accurate drop back passer with an arm.

It all depends what they want from that offense in the future. I personally believe we'll see big changes soon on the offense. They're very much in 'win-now' mode on that side of the ball, but pretty soon they'll have to consider what happens post-Hasselbeck.

We all know what Ruskell's preferences are in the draft. Big school, bigger production, four year starter, good character. Would he take an underclassman QB? I'm not so sure, I suppose he would if they were Peyton Manning good, of course he would. But that isn't likely is it?

Would he have taken Matt Stafford?
If so, would he take Jevon Snead if he ends up being in a very similar position at the end of the year?

All we know is - Seattle have been 'in the zone' for a young QB the last two years. That will only intensify as time goes by. With two first rounders next year, Seattle has the ammunition to either trade up and take a QB, or sit tight and get one anyway as a future investment, whilst still owning a pick for a more immediate impact player.

It's worth keeping an eye on the college QB's this year, spread or no spread.

Naks said...

I think the seahawks will get a qb this year or next year in the draft. However, I don't agree that being in a spread offense hurts you as a qb. I think Rob is correct in that the situation the qb is put into matters a lot. Look at our wr situation last year. We had players with natural ability and potential, but weren't ready yet and needed to jump in. It'll be interesting who makes the #5, maybe 6th wr spot. My biggest intangibles for qbs are accuracy, reads & footwork to be deceptively elusive.

germpod said...

I think I would tend to stay away from spread option QBs in the early rounds. With a high pick and the money that goes with it, it is too big of a gamble to draft a spread QB and hope he bucks the trend.

I think Ruskell is a smart guy, and that he would see the danger in spread QBs, plus the need for a QB speeding up, so even though Snead is a Jr. I think he may break his own guidline if he has a good year and shows what him and his staff is looking for in a QB.

Does anybody know why NFL teams do not go more to the spread offense? It seems to make drafting doubly difficult when the college game has largely gone to the spread, which does not convert in the NFL.

akki said...

I'm with Rob. If you paint with a broad brush, it's good for attracting readers to your article, and it's great for political expediency, but the world rarely operates that way. Despite his statements, McGuire seems to be acknowledging that by sticking Bradford at the top of next year's draft list. Yes, Bradford operates from under center more, and has more route progression reads than many spread offense qbs. Is his offense as complex as an average pro-style offense? Probably not.

It's pretty evident that there is some additional degree of risk in drafting a qb that has the word "spread" in his profile, and McGuire suggests that risk is enough to take him out of the first couple of rounds. At the same time, if you need a qb badly, you can't just eliminate these guys and pick the highest ranked pro-style qb in a lean year.

I know that this next year qb dilemma will all solve itself if everyone's hope Jevan Snead has a great year, but he has as much to prove as the other qbs. This year he's losing 2 OLs including Michael Oher and his top WR in Mike Wallace. Cullen Harper was hyped up while going into a similar situation with Clemson last year, and he failed.

Rob Staton said...

Germpod - I think we're seeing variations of the spread with certain teams. However, it seems to be the general consensus that with the talent level being much higher in the NFL at CB and DL it wouldn't have the same level of success if it was fully implemented.

Akki - I like Snead a lot but you make a very valid point. Are we simply looking for the guy who most resembles a pro-prospect? Are we trying to hard to find Matt Stafford mark II? Snead will have to perform this year, but if he does - he could very easily be the top QB pick next year. Lots and lots to look forward to this year, should be a great college campaign and even more interesting considering Seattle owns two first rounders.

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