Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler
I know this doesn't concern the Pats, but I have found this year's draft regarding QB's really interesting, and it's given me some distraction from Patriots discussions about various 2-year free agent contracts. Just click back if you don't care about the top of this year's NFL draft.
I just spent the past half hour checking out the Jets and Titans message boards, and I'm surprised at the thoughts over there. The majority of Titans fans seem to want Vince Young as the top pick, and Jets fans either 1. have no faith in their FO, 2. think picking QB's is a crapshoot so they either want Mario or Ferguson, 3. Equally want Young, Leinart, or Cutler for mostly random non-football reasons.
I want to make a case that picking Matt Leinart first among QB's is a NO BRAINER. Forget all the press/hype he has gotten, the Heisman, and his two championships. I went through the numbers of the top three QB's, and this is what they have done the past three years:
YEAR CMP ATT YDS CMP% TD INT SACK
2003 255 402 3556 63.4 38 9 15
2004 269 412 3322 65.3 33 6 24
2005 283 431 3815 65.7 28 8 17
2003 . 84 143 1155 58.7 6 . 7 10
2004 148 250 1849 59.2 12 11 9
2005 212 325 3036 65.2 26 10 13
2003 187 327 2347 57.2 18 13 16
2004 147 241 1844 61.0 10 5 24
2005 273 462 3073 59.1 21 9 23
1. What immediately jumps out to me is the interception statistic. Leinart is the stingiest QB at throwing picks, even though he has faced top competition all year, every year for three years.
2. Speed for a quarterback is not important; From Brady, we've learned that the important factors are quick decisions and little sidestep movements in the pocket to buy seconds. Leinart actually had less sacks than Cutler, so mobility, speed, and escapability is not an issue, in my opinion.
3. In terms of composure and heroics, what Young did in the title game was amazing, but people forget that Leinart also kept bringing USC back in the title game as well. Also, who can forget Leinart's last-second audible on fourth down in the 4th quarter against Notre Dame? The guy has as much ice in his veins as Young does, but he is by far the more cerebral and aware passer.
Just for kicks, here are Peyton Manning's numbers at Tennessee, and Carson Palmer's numbers at USC (final three years)...
YEAR ATT CMP YDS CMP% TD INT
1995 380 244 2,954 64.2% 22 4
1996 380 243 3,287 63.9% 20 12
1997 477 287 3,819 60.2% 36 11
2000 415 228 2,914 54.9% 16 18
2001 377 221 2,717 58.6% 13 12
2002 489 309 3,942 63.2% 33 10
Again, Leinart has superior interception and completion% numbers to Manning and Palmer. Leinart has had three seasons comparable to Palmer's very best season. So basically, I think Leinart is as good, if not a better prospect than Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning were when they came out.
Thanks for reading, and for letting me vent my frustration at people (mostly at Titans and Jets fans) who don't see what I am seeing - the best QB prospect to come out in the past few years.
Leinart highlight clip that BoxoRocks posted awhile ago:
wow, great post, i agree 100%
Leinart is the best QB to come into the draft in quite a few years. Better than Palmer IMO.
I would take Leinart first of the three as well, but the difference between him and Palmer and Manning is that he doesn't have the big arm that they possess.
There is something about Lienart that just leaves me cold. Maybe it's the California disconnect attitude, the concussion history or that fact that dispite childhood corrective surgery he's borderline cross-eyed. He was also at the helm of a fairly established college offensive dynasty and his own HC swears it was a virtual tossup between him and our own Matt Cassel in 2003-2004. I think Palmer was the pick of the USC litter, he got it started, and I'd take Cassel in the 7th round to Lienart in the top 5 of the first round. I really think the transition from college to the NFL is that difficult to predict for QB's.
That said, I'd take him if I had to over Young who will be a project if he does succeed, and Cutler doesn't even belong in the first round. Give me a guy who faced adversity and competition and battled his way to the post season because he was determined to play against the big boys in the deep grass and prove he could win. Vanderbilt??? They don't even play a competitive schedule and still they lose. I watched Cutler at the senior bowl and he didn't impress. I watched him at the combine too, but only because I was bored. I think the combine is an over hyped, measurables driven waste of time (much as BB believes).
Because they apparently do need a QB and with the Chow connection Tennessee is probably a better than average fit for Lienart. If I were the JETS I'd take Ferguson this year and maybe even Mangold to replace Mawae (or a pass rusher to help replace Abraham or a RB to replace Cumar) with my second first round pick and hope that by next season I'd have a team with a fighting chance of keeping a franchise QB upright for more than a year. Then skip a Young or Cutler and shoot for another Weis tutored kid named Brady in 2007, even if I had to throw my meaningless 2006 season to take him with the first or second pick of the draft. He could probably help Mangini get an offense installed. Unfortunately few HC's or GM's or owners would have the stones to take that approach. I bet JETS fans would actually buy in though. They know that team isn't going anywhere anytime soon regardless of what Tangini says. Better to get it right for a change. They've got so many holes at this point QB is the least of their worries. Let Ramsey or Pennington or Bollinger absorb the punishment in transition.
I could not disagree any more about Cutler, Jay Cultler probably faced the same if not tougher competition than Young or Lienart did in the regular season. When Cutler went out he did not have running backs, receivers or lineman who were vastly superior to the other teams talent. He produced with less talent. His arm strength is so far ahead of Lienart and Young. Don't get me wrong I think Leinart will be a great pro, but I think Jay Cutler could be John Elway reincarnated.
That argument is double-edged. Some QB's play against the best while having talented teammates, and others play on a bad team while facing mediocre talent. The last time I checked, arm strength was down the list among important QB attributes.
Can't comment on Cutler as I've never seen him play, but living in LA I've seen plenty of Leinhart. I can remember his first season thinking that he was the next Brady. Just really smart with the ball. Which really doesn't come across in stats. But the guy just doesn't make dumb throws.
That is probably THE most critical atribute a QB must have: Don't make dumb throws. Its what separates the Bledsoes & Collins from a Brady. The former have better arms and average (at best) heads. Then you have your Brady's, who average arms but superior smarts.
Give me a $1.00 arm and $10.00 head for a QB anyday of the week.
IMO, Leinhart fits this mold. Another thing to like about him is he has played well in big games. Also, he is already well-used to the spotlight and being "The Man", which IMO is going to have him adjusting better to the pro game.
While some may argue Leinharts canoodling with the Jessica Simpsons of the world is detrimental to his game, let's not forget who Brady was dating. ;)
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