Late round Quarterbacks of interest, Part V

March 9th, 2012 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Jacory Harris

Written by Kip Earlywine

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

This will be the finale of the this little quarterback miniseries.  Before I get to the final three quarterbacks I’d like to spotlight, let me first cover some quarterback options I suspect will not be drafted by Seattle:

Brock Osweiler / Ryan Tannehill: GM John Schneider had plenty of nice things to say about this pair of quarterbacks at the combine, which probably means he won’t draft them.  Who the heck talks up players they want to draft, anyway?  Its not that I think Schneider was being disingenuous.  Its just that I think that by the time Seattle plans on selecting a quarterback, both of these players will be long gone, and Schneider knows it.  If anything, perhaps its possible that he’s talking these guys up to help them get drafted before Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.

Nick Foles: Foles is pretty much the antithesis of a point guard quarterback.  He has poor mobility, stares down receivers and generally plays in a pure one read spread offense.  Foles was statistically strong in his senior season, but it was purely because of the mindlessly simple offense he played in.  The Wildcats lost eight out of nine games at one point this last season, which helped get the head coach fired and probably strips Foles of any “winner” label.  Foles is as unlikely a Seahawk quarterback as can be found in this draft, and he will probably be drafted before Seattle takes a quarterback anyway.

BJ Coleman: In the comments section found here, I go into detail about why I don’t rate Coleman very highly.  Here’s the abridged version: he lacks charisma/leadership, lacks accuracy, lacks pocket presence, lacks zip, locks onto receivers, was beat out by instant NFL washout Jonathan Crompton when at Tennessee, and he failed to “wow” everyone despite playing small school competition whereas other small school guys like Chandler Harnish put up much more impressive performances.  He’s got size and some mobility, but holy cow, what a project.  The only way I could see Seattle drafting him is if they rule out all quarterbacks under 6’2″.

Ryan Lindley: It wouldn’t shock me if Seattle drafted Lindley.  He’s got good size, a strong arm, under-rated athleticism, solid footwork and impressive mechanics.  There are two major flaws in Lindley’s game that make him a tough sell as a game manager or point guard type though.  The first is his poor accuracy.  The second is the fact that he basically never checks a 2nd read.  In a lot of ways, he’s similar to Washington’s Jake Locker last year, with a lot less talent.  The Seahawks had Locker rated very low on their board last year.  Its not that I don’t think the Seahawks would pass on Lindley in the 7th round, but I think Lindley will probably come off the board in rounds 3-5, and I’m not convinced the Seahawks would rate him high enough to draft him before anyone else does.

Aaron Corp: Other than being a  former USC player recruited by Carroll himself, I don’t see a lot of reasons why Seattle would be interested in Corp.  He’s suffered a ton of lower body injuries which has turned him into a statue in the pocket.  Seattle took Mallett completely off their board because of mobility issues and I don’t see why a guy with a fraction of Mallett’s talent would be any different.  A healthy Corp ran a surprisingly good 4.72, so its not that Corp is innately non-athletic.  Can he stay healthy though?  Richmond was 3-8 with Corp as starter last season.

Chester Stewart / Stephen Garcia / Patrick Witt / Dan Persa: I can see reasons why these guys could interest Seattle, but its very likely they will go undrafted and if Seattle targets them, I don’t think it will be until undrafted free agency.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’ll cover the final three notable quarterbacks that might interest Seattle at some point in the draft (excluding division II or otherwise obscure options).

~

Jacory Harris. Size:  6’4″, 195.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  21

Outside of Luck and Griffin, there are only a three natural point guard quarterback prospects who stand roughly 6’3″ or above:  Ryan Tannehill, Darron Thomas, and Jacory Harris.  The shortest quarterback acquired by this front office to date was JP Losman who stands 6’2″, so it is legitimate to wonder how much height will impact Seattle’s choices in this draft.  If height is indeed a sticking point, Harris could be a late round option.  I suspect height won’t be an issue, but I guess we’ll see.

Harris is without a doubt the skinniest quarterback in this draft class, weighing in slightly below the shrimpy Kellen Moore despite standing five inches taller.  He’s no stranger to injury in college, though his toughness should be commended.  Despite being described as “rail thin” by media outlets and taking some brutal hits as a result of his feather like stature, Harris displayed impressive toughness, missing only 4 starts out of 51 games during his 4 year starting career.  There is of course massive potential for weight gain with Harris, he could probably gain twenty or even thirty pounds of good weight, and he would probably need to at the next level.

Statistically, Harris looked the part last season:  high completion rate, high yards per attempt, and a solid TD/INT ratio.  There was a time two years ago when some draft pundits such as Mel Kiper pontificated that Harris could be a future 2nd round pick.  Then Harris suffered through a disastrous 2010 season in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.  Even after a nice bounce back year in 2011, conventional wisdom is that Harris will not be drafted.  But in terms of raw talent and potential, he’s a lot better than most quarterbacks that fall out of the draft, which means he could be a 7th round consideration for the Seahawks.

Harris has above average mobility and despite his skinny stature he has a heck of an arm.  Harris is also pretty smart about taking some heat off of the fastball when a pass needs to arrive with touch.  I haven’t seen a ton of his play, but when I have, I’ve been impressed by his accuracy and the ease at which his receivers bring the ball in.  Harris is tough, confident, and is no stranger to making plays.  His mechanics are surprisingly solid, as is his footwork.  Harris’ young age coupled with 47 career starts is also impressive.

However, there is one major concern with Harris (beyond his weight).  He’s not a very fast decision maker and he tends to be a 1 read quarterback.  In fact, I’m very tempted to compare him to Tarvaris Jackson minus thirty pounds.  Its not very often that you see a mentally slow 4 year college starter become a quick minded pro.  That probably limits Harris’ upside to that of a quality backup.

I was tempted to include Harris in the list of unlikely draftables above, but I decided to include him as a realistic option in the event that Seattle excludes short quarterbacks and is looking to add another quarterback in the point guard mold.

Expected draft trajectory:  Very late rounds, likely UDFA.

~

John Brantley. Size:  6’3″, 219.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  23

Brantley is another fringe option, but I decided to include him since I feel he is a bit like a superior version of BJ Coleman. Like Coleman, Brantley has NFL size coupled with solid athleticism and a strong arm.

Brantley caught the attention of scouts when he posted terrific numbers in relief of Tim Tebow during the 2009 season (75% completion rate, 8.54 yards per attempt, 7 TD, 0 INT).  Like Harris, Brantley had a miserable 2010 season and bounced back a bit in 2011.

Brantley physically looks the part of an NFL quarterback and is surprisingly polished in many ways.  His delivery is inconsistent- occasionally its a bit elongated- but the ball gets out quickly and he’s got a strong, accurate arm.  His footwork and pocket presence are above average.  If you are looking to roll the dice on a quarterback who could be the next Matt Hasselbeck or Tony Romo, Brantley at least gives you a shot because he has the tools and the look of an NFL quarterback.  On the downside, Brantley can sometimes lock onto receivers and he can get flustered easily.  He might need to go to an offense that uses him in a game manager role and doesn’t ask too much of him.

One obstacle that could keep Seattle from drafting Brantley are his small hands.  His hands measured 8 3/4″, the smallest hands of any quarterback measured at the scouting combine.  Its believed that John Schneider values hand size as it impacts a quarterback’s grip on the ball in poor weather situations.  It’s worth noting that Ryan Tannehill (9″) and Chandler Harnish (9 1/4″) also have small hand sizes.

Brantley’s tenure at Florida was pretty forgettable overall, and if a team drafts him, it will likely be because of his tools and not for his accomplishments.  Still, Brantley could make some sense as a potential long term backup option with starter upside.

Expected draft trajectory:  Very late rounds, possible UDFA.

~

Kirk Cousins. Size:  6’3″, 214.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  23

A few months ago, Cousins would have been a solid bet to reach the mid rounds.  His profile- a moderately talented pro-style game manager with a big personality- is a bit like Ricky Stanzi, himself  a 5th round pick last year.  However, it feels unlikely that Cousins will remain on the board as long as Stanzi did.  After a good Senior Bowl showing, an impressive combine and no doubt countless impressive interviews, Cousins has vaulted his stock into likely day two contention.

Cousins is close to prototypical NFL size and is well regarded for his leadership, intelligence, accuracy and consistency.  Athletically, Cousins has looked stiff and slow in some games while in others he was surprisingly fast on tuck and runs.  Cousins is respected if not revered by everyone involved at Michigan State and despite humble beginnings at the program, he helped vault the Spartans into a perennial top 25 program.  Cousins, a senior quarterback, was a full time three year starter in a pro-style system who posted very consistent statistics season to season.  While Cousins is not an elite talent, his NFL readiness scores very highly, which will certainly interest the Seahawks as they are looking to create competition for Tarvaris Jackson.

A closer look at Cousins reveals some cracks in his armor, though.  Cousins completion rate is inflated by an offense that throws a very high percentage of passes under 10 yards.  Cousins has a decent arm, but I’ve noticed that he tends to look at his receivers instead of the defense, resulting in a lot of blind throws, interceptions and near interceptions.  For his career, Cousins has nearly as many interceptions per attempt as Tarvaris Jackson had per attempt during the Seahawks 2011 season.  That’s worrisome, particularly since Cousins is playing a much easier level of competition and throws short much more often than Jackson did.  Cousins is an intelligent guy and seems to be a quick learner, but unless Seattle could coach him into reading defenses more, I think his upside in the NFL is probably limited to that of a Trent Edwards type player.  Then again, Pete Carroll inquired into Trent Edwards not long after he came here, so maybe Cousin’s low upside isn’t much of a deterrent.

On the positive side, there is no denying that Cousins is a quarterback who tilts the field his way and gets his teammates to buy in.  Cousins is no stranger to leading heroic 4th quarter drives.  Even in the bowl game against Georgia, a game that was one of his worst last season, he completed a nearly 90 yard touchdown drive in two minutes without any timeouts to force overtime.  There is nothing mechanically wrong with Cousins and his footwork shouldn’t be an issue.  He’s essentially an average athlete, but he looks comfortable throwing on the move.  Michigan State used plenty of play action and bootleg plays.

Overall, my stance towards Cousins is lukewarm.  He’s likely to be just a backup at the next level, and as a starter I’m not convinced he’d be a better quarterback in our offense than Tarvaris Jackson.  Seattle can do a lot better than Kirk Cousins, but if all Seattle wants is an NFL ready backup, I expect Cousins will rate very highly.

Expected draft trajectory:  Rounds 2-4.

35 Responses to “Late round Quarterbacks of interest, Part V”

  1. PatrickH says:

    Kip,

    I don’t know if you have seen it, but Matt Waldman has a nice write-up on Kirk Cousins’ flaws in the following link:

    http://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2012/03/08/qb-kirk-cousins-footwork-and-pocket-management/

    If his flaws are still there after all these years as Michigan State’s starting QB, I doubt they could be corrected at the pro level.

  2. david says:

    I personally like Darron Thomas as a late round pick, the Hawks i think would if anything take a QB in the later rounds, and focus on other holes earlier in the draft, but i think it all comes down to what our first pick is.

    I hope D. Thomas gets picked by us to sit for a year and maybe come in the following year and maybe come into compete.

    I just have a question for Rob or Kip, if we do get a Veteran QB like is speculated and draft one like is believed, thats 4 QB’s on our roster does that sounds right? or would we keep our drafted QB on the PS? or would we just cut one of them before the season starts which sounds like what could happen. I’m very interested in Portis so I hope we dont cut him, but I’m thinking he would be the one to be cut.

  3. Jim says:

    Quote: “but I’ve noticed that he tends to look at his receivers instead of the defense, resulting in a lot of blind throws, interceptions and near interceptions.”

    Rob: Per the above quote, are you saying you can tell what the QB is specifically looking at? I find that very dificult to understand, (as a guess, I could see it – maybe). I’m not trying to be smart or rock anyones boat, but come on – how realistic and acurate is this “what the QB looks at stuff? If there is a technique I don’t know about, if so, I’d be interested to learn about it. I also don’t understand how a QB’s going through multiple options/reads (or not) is determined. I would have to guess the QB’s head movement comes into play, however an inch or two of head movement in any direction has to be hard to detect from poor quality films. Can you clue me in on how this is done?

  4. david says:

    Jim-Kip wrote this piece haha

  5. Randy says:

    After watching game tape on Russell Wilson, I want him bad. I really really want him.

  6. Dave says:

    Corp is not immobile at all and to compare him to Mallett in that category is lazy. He ran a 4.72 forty at the combine (very close to Luck’s 4.68), proving he is more than mobile enough for a QB. His 20 yard shuttle is also almost identical to Luck’s. I am not sure how much you have actually studied up on Corp…

  7. Doug says:

    Seems bleak eh, but there has to be a Tom Brady available in rd 6-7 no?
    Just gotta dig him out is all..

  8. Hawksince77 says:

    Kip,

    I have read and appreciated every one of your articles in this series. Question (because I can’t recall exactly how you rated all these guys): what does your QB board look like:

    1 – Luck
    2 – RGIII
    3 – ?

  9. Hawksince77 says:

    Kip,

    Follow up question on the QB board (a two-parter):

    1 – who do you think Seattle will draft? (could be more than one player)
    2 – who do you think Seattle SHOULD draft?

  10. Stuart says:

    Thanks Kip for the fine insight on all your work of these QB’s. Handsize, I seem to recall hearing that before. It would be interesting to know the hand sizes of some of the elite QB’s in the NFL today. It makes perfect sense though. Dave Krieg had small hands and we all know how that played out.

    Wilson has something like 10 inch hands. I have seen it said more than once if he was 6’4 he would be a 1st round pick. Kip, do you think it’s possible that the Hawks could draft two QB’s late, say Wilson in 6th and Davis/Harnish/Lindley in the 7th?

  11. Kip Earlywine says:

    Dave, I caught a little bit of Corp footage a while back and he didn’t look fast at all. Could have been injuries though. Unfortunately, finding meaningful recent video of Corp is pretty tough (what I did see I saw on TV, actually), and even scouting reports on Corp are pretty sparse. I’ll edit your info in. If Corp is healthy then he could certainly be a late round option.

    Jim, it’s pretty easy to tell. If he’s throwing terrible interceptions right at defensive players over and over odds are he’s not looking at the defense.

    ’77, I’ll probably have a QB big board post down the road. Right now my favorite, hands down, is Russell Wilson. I don’t know where I’d rank him though.

    Stuart, I think a two quarterback draft is possible. I have a hunch that if a good QB reaches Seattle’s 4th rounder, they will probably draft one right then. They may also add a QB later after that depending on what the board looks like. This is a good year to draft two QBs.

  12. Hawksince77 says:

    Kip,

    Very nice to hear. Wilson seems very special, and I just read that he had a very good pro-day and his stock on the rise.

    I argue that the bias about his height is similar to the bias against black QBs (I graduated with Warren Moon at the UW and he couldn’t get drafted in the NFL at the time as a black QB – so he went to Canada before finishing his HOF career in the NFL) that existed at one time.

    A similar bias against tall CBs (although I think PC has put that in the trash with the success of Browner and Sherman). Here’s an interesting one: when did the last starting white CB play in the NFL? These bias’s have nothing to do with racism – they are simply cultural bias developed within the NFL, to the point that if a white CB came out of college, even if he was the top-rated CB in the country (like Wilson being the top-rated QB) would still not get a high draft grade. Or maybe the bias happens earlier, in that few white athletes play the position in college. I don’t know, but I don’t believe there is a white CB on any NFL team.

    Back to Wilson. Here’s a guy that has everything – except a couple of inches in height. He has the arm, runs as fast as any WR, plenty of college experience in multiple systems, the last one being almost identical to what Seattle runs, incredible college numbers (his QB rating 20 points higher than Luck’s), played in a major program in a major conference, and was a winner.

    He has already proven he can play behind an NFL-sized o-line. He is accurate and throws a pretty ball. Not only is he straight-line fast – he’s elusive as hell as well.

    In my mind, Wilson is the steal of the draft. I hope Seattle makes the right move to land him.

  13. Hawksince77 says:

    One final comment on Wilson: detracters continue to cite the lack of success for sub-six foot QBs. The statistician in me would ask: how many athletes with top-QB skills that were shorter than 6 foot get drafted into the NFL? (I know of two – Seneca Wallace and Doug Flutie). Within that population, how many succeeded and how many failed?

    Point is, while we have seen countless six foot plus college QBs come into the NFL and leave, we have a very limited experience with shorter prospects. Far too few to make any kind of general comment, especially when considering the talent that Wilson obviously has.

    Would his success be unprecedented? Not quite – Flutie had a decent career. And compared to Wallace – a player many of us know well – Wilson appears far more accomplished and capable, and Wallace started several games just last year.

  14. Kip Earlywine says:

    Fun fact:

    Aaron Corp had just one start at USC, that start was an epic 2009 upset at the hands of the Washington Huskies, who had just snapped a 15 game losing streak the week prior. That was the first and most crucial defeat of Pete Carroll’s final USC season.

    I bet Pete Carroll can’t wait to draft that guy, lol.

  15. Stuart says:

    I think it was John Clayton who said recently that if “Josh Portis was coming out this year with the time spent with the Hawks counting, he would be worth a 3rd round grade. It seems Portis has the physical attributes but mentally he needs time…All we have is TJ and Portis. Even if we draft 1-2QB’s, we still will sign a ready challenger to TJ beca

  16. Stuart says:

    that last post was incomplete, duh. Sorry, tech. difficulties.

  17. Brian says:

    It’s russell wilson or chandler harnish for me in the later rounds (maybe both), i cant say drafting/signing any of these guys would be better than having tjack or portis, even if they sat a year

  18. Ben says:

    Ridiculous haul for the Rams. Traded #2 to Redskins for a lot.

  19. Ben says:

    3 #1′s and 3rd round for #2. Redskins to Rams. Also Sanchez just signed an extension. Tick him off the list.

  20. david says:

    Not much difference, but i think its this years 2nd not a 3rd.

    I still think its Miami Peyton will choose with Moore coming here.

  21. Misfit74 says:

    Crazy trade. It will be very interesting to see how the dominoes fall.

    Oh, Ben, thank God Sanchez is eliminated of having any chance of being traded with that contract. Save me from gagging myself (or shooting myself). Someone needs to drug-test the Jets’ front-office staff.

    C’mon Peyton.

    So, Browns go for Flynn then? Tannehill? What do they do with pick #4? Seems like Richardson would be the best pick to impact their anemic offense given the dearth of QB options. I don’t see Tannehill as a top-15 pick, let alone top-4.

  22. PatrickH says:

    If the Dolphins get Manning or Flynn, will the Browns draft Tannehill at 4? If not, then there’s a good chance Tannehill will be there at 12. Curious to see if the Seahawks will take him then, and whether John Schneider meant it when he said all those nice things about Tannehill.

  23. Misfit74 says:

    I’m not sure I want Flynn. But then, I’m not sure I want Tarvaris another season, either. Peyton, please.

  24. David says:

    Only reason i dont want Flynn, is because there is so much hype surrounding him that its going to drive up the price, and a QB thats played two games against sloppy D i dont trust in.

  25. Ben says:

    Yeah, think you’re right David. Cheers

  26. Aussie Rich says:

    Whats the point of taking a long-term project at QB this year? The ‘hawks took one last season, and is yet to play any regular season games, despite both T-Jacks and Whitehurst playing horribly. The need for a QB is now, why would they draft another late round quarterback when the starter is playing poorly. IMO the seahawks have to make a play at qb, otherwise another year is going to be wasted. I know Schneider doesn’t want to force anything at qb, but sitting back and waiting for something to miraculously happen is not encouraging for the fans.

  27. Jake says:

    Russell Wilson makes perfect sense to me. His height scares me a bit, but hey – you can’t get 1st round talent in the 4th round unless there’s some sort of problem with the prospect. I’d rather take a guy 4 inches too short than a guy who can’t throw the ball well. Funny that ideally I’d like Osweiler, but my second choice is Wilson… 6’7 vs 5’10.

  28. Kip Earlywine says:

    Aussie, I think the way our front office (and Green Bay’s) operates is to draft a quarterback or two EVERY year, even if they have a good starter (which we don’t). John Schneider has his reasons, and he’s decided that no quarterback is worth an early pick this year (Luck/RG3 are impossible so he’s not wasting brain cells thinking about them). Over the long term, its proved a very successful system in Green Bay, unearthing several quality QBs, among them Mark Brunell, Kurt Warner, Matt Hasselbeck, and Matt Flynn.

    I don’t view this decision as procrastination, personally. I see it more as making the best of a tough situation. Most of the quarterbacks I like the most carry mid-round grades anyway. If Schneider feels the same, it makes a ton of sense to target quarterbacks in the mid to late rounds.

  29. dave crockett says:

    @Aussie — I’d add to what Kip said that Seattle will almost certainly add some kind of veteran to compete with or backup TJax, even if they draft someone late. The draftee would come to camp to compete with Portis but would not be assured a roster spot.

  30. AlaskaHawk says:

    If we want a game manager instead of a gun slinger – I don’t see why we couldn’t pick a shorter QB. I like Russell Wilson in the later rounds. Like Hawksince77 said, no team will try them out – so how would they know how successful they are? These shorter QBs are not playing behind sub 6 foot linemen in college. They are playing behind NFL height line and suceeding. So at least give them a chance.

    I like the idea of Portis being worth a 3rd rounder now – but he was never played so how would we know? Given two good games next year we might be able to trade him for a first or second. Lets put him in and find out. But given that PC stuck with Tevaris, I suspect that Portis is not our answer at QB.

  31. jason says:

    rob we know you didnt like Locker but you comparing him to every second day qb prospect is getting a little annoying. And we know Seattle in your words had him rated low you put it with every post you compare him in. Get over him hes in the NFL and has looked good in the few games. Its time to move on. I love your work but please let this go.

  32. AlaskaHawk says:

    Seattle had Cam Newton rated low too.

  33. Aussie Rich says:

    Kip, what Green Bay is doing is a luxury problem and they have worked to be able to be in the position to be able to do it, however they had to start somewhere. Green Bay made a play in 1992 by trading away a first round pick for Favre. The packers now have a great development program for their quarterbacks where the can learn under the best in the business and have good coaching staff available, something that every other team is envious of. I like the GB way of thinking but it will only work when you have the star to have the young guys develop behind, which is why the ‘hawks need to make their play at a QB.

  34. Jim says:

    PC/JS, in their two years here have not been able to aquire a top QB primarily because there just haven’t been QB’s available that meet their specific but reasonable requirements, at a resonable enough cost. IMO, Whitehurst was only a replacement for Seneca Wallace however they also had some hopes that he was the answer at QB. So….they were wrong, but they tried. They seem to have been looking for a sports car when only used Ford Pintos were on the market, thus the selection of T-Jack as an interim place holder.

    In the future years, I sure hope the Seahawks don’t pull a Washington Redskin move and sell the farm for a one year wonder player like RGIII. I don’t mean to imply RGIII isn’t a very, very good player, I’d just rather have Keith Price down the line.

    Personally, I’d prefer that PC/JS get the QBOTF selection correctly rather than quickly.

  35. [...] Stanzi a lot more when I scouted him last year.  You can read my review of Cousins in more detail here, but the main thing is that he’s a mediocre quarterback despite throwing most of his passes [...]