Age could affect former Oklahoma State QB Weeden's draft status

Posted Thursday, Apr. 19, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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The consensus opinion among NFL scouts and general managers says the top three quarterbacks taken in Thursday's NFL Draft will be Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill.

The undeniable truth is that Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden led his team to victories over opponents quarterbacked by each of those higher-rated prospects last season.

But Weeden, 28, is a former minor-league baseball player who will turn 29 on Oct. 14 -- less than halfway through his rookie season in the NFL. His skill set, along with his 23-3 record as a starting quarterback in college, suggests a first-round grade to many scouts.

His age does not.

That makes Weeden, who led OSU to last year's Big 12 championship, one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. Weeden (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) has been climbing most teams' draft boards, based on a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and during private workouts, since being projected as a third- or fourth-round pick in January by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.

Kiper and others have upgraded Weeden's stock in recent weeks, with most analysts projecting him as a second-round selection who could squeeze into the first round if a quarterback-hungry team wants him to be an immediate starter.

But there is reluctance among NFL general managers to build an offense around a 28-year-old rookie. The closest historical precedent to Weeden is Chris Weinke, a 28-year-old quarterback from Florida State who won the 2000 Heisman Trophy and went to Carolina with a fourth-round pick (No. 106 overall) in the 2001 draft.

Weinke spent most of his NFL career as a backup. Many NFL insiders see a higher upside for Weeden.

Jon Gruden, former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, met with Weeden and nine other draft-eligible quarterbacks as part of his preparations for ESPN's draft telecasts. Gruden, a Monday Night Football analyst, said Weeden impressed him.

"Brandon Weeden makes the most difficult throws in college football. He's got a tremendous arm, great anticipation," Gruden said during a recent conference call. "It's a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football. If you want a quarterback that's tough as hell, that's a winner ... I would find something for him to do."

Gruden is not alone. Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network, said: "Everyone wants to compare him to Weinke because of his age. But he's a lot further along than Chris Weinke was. ... If he goes to a team that would start him immediately, they may take him late in the first round. Otherwise, he's a second-round pick."

Among scouts, age is not the lone nitpick about Weeden. Mayock said Weeden "struggles when he resets in the pocket" because of a strong pass rush. Similar observations have come from ESPN analyst Todd McShay and Dane Brugler, an independent NFL draft analyst who worked for the North Texas Super Bowl Committee.

Brugler said Weeden gets "lazy with his mechanics" at times but has the arm strength and velocity on throws that NFL teams covet. McShay agreed, adding that Weeden is used to throwing into tighter windows than most college quarterbacks, "which should help him at the next level."

Weeden likes to point out that his 28-year-old body avoided five seasons of football-related contact (2002-2006) while he played minor-league baseball. He also took minimal hits in college compared to most peers. OSU allowed only 12 sacks in 13 games last season, ranking 11th among the nation's 120 FBS schools.

"My game translates well to the NFL," Weeden said. "People are starting to realize that the age thing isn't an issue and that I can play at that level."

If the right team adopts that mindset, Weeden could become a rarity: a 28-year-old, first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

Numbers other than age

The only number separating Brandon Weeden from the other first-round QB prospects is his age. Weeden will turn 29 this fall and that might be enough to push him down most teams' draft boards. A look at how Weeden's 2011 stats measure up against Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill:

Player

Comp.%

Yards

TD/INT

Luck

71.3%

3,517

37/10

Griffin

72.4%

4,293

37/6

Tannehill

61.6%

3,744

29/15

Weeden

72.3%

4,727

37/13

Big 12 draft prospects

A look at where high-profile players from Big 12 schools are projected to be drafted by NFL scouts. The three-day draft begins Thursday in New York:

First round

Robert Griffin III

Baylor

QB

Ryan Tannehill

Texas A&M

QB

Justin Blackmon

Oklahoma St.

WR

Kendall Wright

Baylor

WR

Tweeners (late 1st or 2nd )

Jamell Fleming

Oklahoma

CB

Brandon Weeden

Okla. St.

QB

Second day (rounds 2-3)

Kheeston Randall

Texas

DT

Ronnell Lewis

Oklahoma

OLB

Leonard Johnson

Iowa State

CB

Markelle Martin

Oklahoma St.

S

More Tweeners (late 3rd or early 4th)

Keenan Robinson

Texas

OLB

Ryan Broyles

Oklahoma

WR

Philip Blake

Baylor

C

Donald Stephenson

Oklahoma

OT

Final day (rounds 4-7)

Cyrus Gray

Texas A&M

RB

Terrance Ganaway

Baylor

RB

Jeff Fuller

Texas A&M

WR

Michael Egnew

Missouri

TE

James Hanna

Oklahoma

TE

Jacquies Smith

Missouri

DE

Frank Alexander

Oklahoma

DE

Travis Lewis

Oklahoma

OLB

Emmanuel Acho

Texas

OLB

Coryell Judie

Texas A&M

CB

Levy Adcock

Okla. St.

OT

Bubble riders (7th or free agents)

Fozzy Whittaker

Texas

RB

Bryce Brown

Kansas St.

RB

Cody Johnson

Texas

FB

Jerrell Jackson

Missouri

WR

Zach Hanson

Kansas St.

OT

Dan Hoch

Missouri

OT

Jarvis Jones

Oklahoma

OT

Jeff Spikes

Kansas

OT

Clyde Aufner

Kansas St.

OT

David Snow

Texas

OG

Tray Allen

Texas

OG

Stephen Good

Oklahoma

OG

Robert Griffin

Baylor

OG

Lonnie Edwards

Texas Tech

OG

Austin Wuebbels

Missouri

OG

Jeremiah Hatch

Kansas

C

Grant Garner

Okla. St.

C

Jamie Blatnik

Okla. St.

DE

Dominique Hamilton

Missouri

DT

Nicolas Jean-Baptiste

Baylor

DT

Tony Jerod-Eddie

Texas A&M

DT

Garrick Williams

Texas A&M

ILB

Terrence Frederick

Texas A&M

CB

Lionel Smith

Texas A&M

CB

Randy Bullock

Texas A&M

K

Note: Remaining Big 12 prospects project as free-agent signees.

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