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Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

What About Stafford?

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Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach is unhappy that Graham Harrell, his latest quarterback project, was not invited to Saturday's Heisman awards. Only Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Colt McCoy of Texas, and Tim Tebow of Florida (the incumbent Heismanite) are scheduled to be in attendance. Leach may be right in his opinion that Harrell deserves a chair, but the real question for Harrell going forward is whether he has a real shot in the NFL. Leach's spread offense allows quarterbacks to throw for ungodly yardage, but what happens next? Ask Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons, Sonny Cumbie, and Cody Hodges, who have all thrown for over 4,000 yards in a season under Leach since 1999.

Who? Precisely.

Quarterbacks in certain systems just don't transfer well to the NFL, and the odds aren't on Harrell's side. Bradford plays more pro-style, and that gives him a better chance right off the bat. Tebow, who may pick up his second Heisman this weekend, is projected by many as a possible H-back at the pro level. Vince Young, McCoy's predecessor at Texas, was fine in the pros as long as he had a set number of option plays. If you look at last year's quarterback stars who made the transition -- Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco -- you'll note that they each played in more pro-style offenses, though Flacco used more shotgun at Delaware. Certain teams like the Packers and Jets employ hybrid examples of the spread, but it's not something that's ever worked at the pro level for too long.

McCoy's worth watching in that he does have good mechanics under center, he can make deeper throws and sell play action, and he's staying for his senior year. The quarterback who showed me the most pro potential this season was also omitted from the list -- Georgia's Matthew Stafford. He's got the skill set that transfers, and the offense that makes sense at the next level.

It would never happen because it would be one more bargaining chip for draftees and their agents, but I've often thought that NFL scouts and personnel execs should vote publicly on college players per position, giving us a sense of who the NFL thinks has the ability to take the next step. The more you see of spread offenses in the NCAA, the more the NFL will have to view the stats they're seeing with a careful eye.

By Doug Farrar  |  December 12, 2008; 12:19 PM ET  | Category:  College Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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