The 2009 NFL Draft is one-month away. I’ve been thinking a bit about what guys are the best of the best in their positions. Let’s take a look at the three top-rated quarterbacks who have a shot at having an impact in the pros.
The top-three prospects look to be Matthew Stafford (Georgia), Mark Sanchez (USC) and Josh Freeman (Kansas State).
Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
Stafford should be a number one pick. He is ranked above average or exceptional in almost every category. He possesses a big league arm and is an accurate passer with good game management skills. His work ethic is excellent. He is extremely durable and has the potential to be a solid producer on the field. Stafford has a true passion for the game and is determined to succeed. The QB has a toughness that will serve him well in the NFL.
He does need to work on his body strength and toning. NFL linebackers and linemen have no pity on QBs. His height is adequate, and he shows good speed. There’s concern regarding his focus as he has made simple mistakes in games such as mishandling snaps and throwing into traffic, forcing his passes.
Can this guy be another Tom Brady? Maybe. But there’s work to be done.
Mark Sanchez (USC)
Sanchez is definitely a step below Stafford. He has only 16 college starts and has shown a proclivity towards injury. Durability is definitely a question. His strength is his quick release. Sanchez controls the ball nicely and makes Dan Marino-like underneath throws. He can make all of the pro passes but does not possess anything better than average arm strength. Still, his timing is good and his intermediate throws get to receivers quickly. His vertical passes need more zip.
The good news is that Sanchez, who has been hampered by reoccurring injuries, has not missed a start. He does possess toughness and determination to play that certainly give him professional potential. One question is will the injuries he sustained in college ball continue to plague him in the pros? Overall, his character is solid. But he was accused of sexual assault in 2006. The charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. Since that time, he has had no off-field problems.
Sanchez shows good leadership potential, assumes responsibility with verve and works hard. He is serious about being a solid role model and this bodes well in a league where the weekly rap sheet sometimes seems longer than the number of yards gained by every team.
QB is always a tough pick in the NFL because it usually demands a lot of development. Sanchez could be the right pick for the right team.
Josh Freeman (Kansas State)
The enigma man in the draft is QB Josh Freeman. He has decent experience as a starter, especially in his sophomore and junior years where he started all 24 games. Physically, Freeman has the body of a NFL quarterback. He’s tall, moves well and possesses a strong build. Freeman is flexible and durable. He started 32-straight games at Kansas. One of the biggest questions regarding the quarterback is his leadership potential and, along with that, game management abilities. He’s proven to have a tough time when under pressure and although he’s done some good things during some difficult seasons, he’s also capable of making the wrong decision.
But Freeman has played on teams that had gaping holes in many spots, which meant he was often asked to perform with sub-par teammates. When you consider how well he did on teams that were not very good, the QB starts looking pretty interesting. His arm strength is first-rate, mobility is better than average and accuracy is good. The big question concerns his release, which includes a three-quarter delivery. Some are not concerned by this fact since Freeman is so tall he can overcome his delivery issue. But he can take his time throwing passes and that could hurt him.
The best value of the three could be Freeman. Why? Well he does possess some of the best skills and physical attributes of the three. His problems are certainly coachable. Working on his game management technique and developing a quicker release could secure him a starter spot. With the right team, he stands to be a starter in three years or a better-than-average backup.
It looks like Stafford will go first and then Sanchez. Both have first-round potential. Freeman should be picked later. And although he may end up being a second-round pick, there’s something about Freeman that makes him a valuable entity. It’s worth gambling on Freeman.