In fairness to Jeff Tuel

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.


  1. j

    Saying that there is a correlation between playing QB for bad football teams and not being good in the NFL is foolish. Bad football teams typically have bad QBs (inaccurate, no arm strength, poor decision makers, etc.)- which is the reason why a) their teams are bad, and b) they fail in the NFL. To diminish a player with tools (a strong arm, accuracy, decision making, escapability, etc.) is getting the correlation wrong. I’m not saying that Tuel has these attributes, but if he does, that is all that should matter. Playing on a bad NCAA team has nothing to do with his chances at success.
    For example, I could say that, since most HS QBs are never good in the NFL, we should never draft a player who played QB in high school. Or since most HS football players are never good in the NFL, why field a team at all?

    Second, in terms of looking at Tuels production, you have to look at the talent around him. Tuel the worst o-line in the NCAA, no run game, and was constantly playing from behind when the opposing defense knew that the Cougars were going to pass.
    You compare him to Jake Locker, but when the Huskies were bad, it was a coaching issue – the Huskies still had talented players to help Locker out. The Cougars had Marquess Wilson and nothing else.
    Finally. the Locker comparison is a bit off – Locker was a first round pick, while no one is recommending drafting Tuel any where near the first.

    • j

      “Foolish” may go a bit far – I do not mean to offend or insult anyone.

      • bobk3333

        It’s okay. We have thick skins.

        This has been a topic conversation among NFL pundits after Greg Cosell wrote an article last year saying that we should rethink the value of “being a winner” after Tim Tebow was labelled a winner during his comeback streak.

        The question is how much should a quarterback’s won-loss record and ability to win close games and big games count when evaluating him?

        For this current draft, the question has been applied to Ryan Griffin of Tulane who was the quarterback of a 2-10 Tulane team, but who has excellent tools. He is sometimes compared to Jay Cutler who played for a bad Vanderbilt team and was passed over for Vince Young and Matt Leinart who played on winning powerhouse teams. Cutler, of course, has been more successful in the NFL.

        As I said in a post yesterday, college running backs and quarterbacks should be discounted a little bit if they are on powerhouse teams with huge, talented offensive lines full of 5-start recruits. They won’t have that luxury in the NFL. Young and Leinart are perfect examples. So if they are winners because their teams had 5-star athletes going against 3-star and 2-star athletes, being a winner shouldn’t count as much and the focus should be more on their performaces against other powerhouses and how much they showed winner characteristics in big games against other powerhouses.

        Being a winner is definitely an important factor for evaluating quarterbacks, but it is not the only factor. Tim Tebow definitely has value as a winner and the only question is whether that value is enough to compensate for 8his poor passing.

        Having a poor won-loss record should count against Jeff Tuel, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. As I remember, Matt Lobenstahl (sic?) came in as a replacement when Tuel was hurt in 2011 and won all three of the games he started by a wide margin. As I said in another post, they should start recruiting Tuel as an undrafted free agent, or if they see a lot of good things in their film and in-person evals, they should consider using a 7th round pick on him.


    • Kip Earlywine

      Well there is a very strong correlation. You can look it up. It’s a fact.

      Now, you can debate if it’s coincidental or not. That’s fair game. I’m undecided as to whether it’s coincidental or meaningful, it’s too hard to tell. But just the same, if the history of the NFL shows something, I wouldn’t just brush it off.

  2. Andrew G

    I appreciate the quick write up on tuel. I was shocked to see he ran a 4.62 forty for his pro day. I also remember him as scaring his fair share of PAC-12 coaches. In my mind, his biggest downside my be that he never learned how to trust his oline. How many qbs have been beaten up so badly only to develop happy feet and never fully reach their potential? His highlight reel is full of him escaping pressure only to make the 60 yard throw. Very few of them are of him staying in the pocket and making a tight throw. However, I am a sucker for a guy on a downtrodden team. Makes for good print.

  3. Maz

    Thanks Kip, I appreciate the writeup on Tuel. I always thought the Cougs O line was horrible, even a great QB can look bad. Definitely not saying Jeff is great. I just think he has the Tuels we will look for in a late round QB.

  4. fausti

    As stated above no QB is guaranteed success at the next level, including Tuel. But I don’t think this write-up delves nearly enough into just how bad those WSU teams were. It could be argued that Tuel had enough “it” to lead those severely out-manned and downtrodden teams to even a few victories

  5. Michael (CLT)

    The homer in me is rooting for Tuel. Reality is laughing.

  6. Miles

    Tuel will be signed as a UDFA by Green Bay and get sacked 12 times by Greg Scruggs during preseason.

    And then cut.

  7. mjkleko

    Okay, so I watched every game Tuel every played in at WSU. Do I think he has a future in the NFL? Doubtful. At worst, he doesn’t even make a training camp and plays some CFL or worse football for a year or two and is gone, never to be heard from again. At best, manages to stick on with a team through training camp, manages to land on a team that regularly keeps 3 QBs has major holes at signal caller. Sticks on as 3 QB and maybe progresses to the point where he has a Charlie Whitehurst (w/o the Seattle hiatus) like career as a perennial #2/3 quarterback under an offensive coordinator that has job stability.

    As said before, Jeff Tuel had a seriously god awful offensive line. There was a point last season where the Cougs where down to 6 healthy linemen and there were 3-4 redshirting players who clearly should be playing. At times during his career, the offensive line averaged ~270lbs in the Pac-12. It’s a small miracle that he only suffered the injuries he did and hasn’t been concussed out of football.

    That said, and I find this absolutely unbelievable, he leaves WSU as the all-time leader in completion percentage. He throws an accurate pass and gained valuable experience throwing deep balls to a receiver capable making plays on the ball down the field. I find that to be a very underrated factor in a players college career as it is a skill NFL QBs must have the ability to do with some regularity. In addition, Tuel has long been under the tutelage of respected QB coaches and has been preparing for a life in football for a long time. The point is, he has connections and based on this I have to think he’ll find a spot to sling it for an NFL team in camp this summer.

    Perhaps his worst trait has been his tendency to hold the ball forever. He is one of those guys that will wait and wait and wait….and wait some more, then get creamed. You’d think a QB who knows his O-line is god awful would know how to get the ball out a bit quicker, but he seemed to get worse in this regard throughout his career. To his credit, he does a quality job at keeping his head up and his eyes downfield. Even with angry linemen baring down on him, he still is focused on finding a target and I’ll give him credit for that.

    There are many college QBs who succeed with non-NFL traits and it’s always a matter of “well, maybe he can gain this-or-that,” but Jeff is an interesting case in that although he routinely failed, he seemingly has the traits you’d see in an NFL quarterback. Prototypical size, determination to get through his reads. the ability to stand tall in the pocket, and perhaps his most important trait, accuracy. I can’t stress enough that Tuel throws a tight spiral and has a sound release. He can give a player a good ball on a crossing route and I could see him learning how to throw a true NFL slant. If you need a comparison, I’d say when Jeff is playing at his best he reminds me quite a bit of Joe Flacco (the bad version).

    All biases aside, I would have loved to see Jeff get the chance behind a good o-line in college and a running game. These two things were devoid at WSU during his career and he suffered as a result. Ultimately, the biggest factor in Jeff putting together a professional career is finding a QB coach or O coordinator who believes in his skills, although this is true of many fringe players.

    • JW

      Nice post, mj. I also saw all of his games at WSU, and agree with this analysis.

  8. Hi from Pullman

    Don’t forget that Tuel had an unofficial 40-time of 4.55 seconds at his pro-day last month here in Pullman.

    That would have been the fastest time at the Combine this year. Geno Smith ran a 4.59, E.J. Manuel ran a 4.65.

    Tuel only rushed for positive yardage one season (199 yards in 2010). Of course, he took a ton of sacks in his career, so that will skew his rushing numbers, but I don’t remember seeing that kind of straight line speed.

  9. ICDogg

    I like the kid a little. Needs coaching and the right system. He’s a project but late round picks/UDFAs typically are. Not sure the Seahawks are the right team for him. Maybe Chip Kelly would want to develop him for the Eagles.

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