Before I get to the “saying nice things” about Jeff Tuel part, I need to explain why I don’t particularly like him as a quarterback.
The first is that he has a career record of 4-22. Now, I’m not big into terms like “he’s a winner” and I recognize that Washington State was not a good team during his time there. That said, there is historically a very strong correlation with having a losing college record and not panning out in the NFL. Even among loser quarterbacks, Tuel fails to distance himself. I hate to use a rival example, but Jake Locker was not a great quarterback, and lost a lot of games. Yet he clearly elevated a terrible team in a way that Jeff Tuel did not.
Tuel does not have good college production either. He had 6.5 yards per attempt in 3 of his 4 seasons, and his senior numbers in a very pass heavy offense were his career worst. You could argue that he didn’t fit Mike Leach’s style of offense, but even that offense will seem easy compared to learning the ropes in the NFL. Tuel had just 6.3 yards per attempt last season, with a pick for every touchdown pass. Depressingly, those numbers were only slightly lower than the rest of his career outside of 2010. Tuel did have a nice 2010 season, nice but not amazing. Keith Price had an amazing 2011 season, which just shows you how long ago 2010 is.
This is a guy that never really struck fear into opposing teams when he faced them. He never showed any real intangibles, no “it factor.” Nothing. Though he bombed horribly in the NFL, Ryan Leaf was a terror during his Pac-10 days. He scared the heck out of some good Huskies teams before finally kicking their asses in the ’97 Apple Cup. I remember Drew Bledsoe as an over-rated, but highly competent quarterback, kind of like the Andrew Luck of his day (minus the mobility). I remember Jason Gesser from the early 2000s. He was a pesky dude. His worst season was about as good as Jeff Tuel’s best. Alex Brink played for some awful WSU teams but put up numbers for his career that equaled or exceed Jeff Tuel’s best season. Those guys weren’t constantly fighting off backup quarterback scrubs for their starting jobs like Jeff Tuel was, either. Say, whatever happened to Gesser and Brink in the NFL, anyway?
There are no game compilations online for Jeff Tuel, so I have to go strictly off memory with him. I watch a lot of Pac-12 football and I’ve always considered WSU to be my second favorite team even though I’m a Husky fan. My memory isn’t the best, but the Jeff Tuel I remember was a consistently beatable quarterback. Even his impressive 4th quarter rally in his final game felt less like an achievement and more like the beneficiary of an epic meltdown by a fading Huskies team.
All that said, I’m being unfair to Jeff Tuel, because I actually know him well. I don’t know anything about guys like Nathan Stanley or Clay Belton, other than that they have impressive physical tools. Jeff Tuel has some pretty good tools too. He has solid mobility and excellent pocket escapability. He has a plus arm. He has no glaring issues with his mechanics or footwork. He’s capable of progressing through reads. And unlike many late round standouts, Jeff Tuel isn’t under 6’2″. It’s unfair of me to imply hope for prospects like Stanley and Belton when Tuel has the same kind of positives going for him. Jeff Tuel does indeed have the physical ability to be a point guard at quarterback in Pete Carroll’s offense.
So if you just want a “tools” option late in the draft, I won’t hold it against you if you are rooting for Jeff Tuel. In all likelihood, he wouldn’t be much different as a prospect than many of the players in the late rounds that I highlighted on Wednesday. I don’t want to see the Seahawks pick him, but if they did, I’d give Pete the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best.