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Must-see QB

Cutler is passer worth watching at combine

Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 11:10AM; Updated: Wednesday February 22, 2006 4:20PM
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Jay Cutler's draft status has been rising throughout the offseason.
Jay Cutler's draft status has been rising throughout the offseason.
US Presswire

Of all the NFL prospects streaming into Indianapolis for this week's Scouting Combine, only one really holds my interest: Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. If you follow the draft, you've heard the name by now. If you don't, you soon will. He's the little-known signal-caller who has found a place alongside Matt Leinart and Vince Young because of his big-time arm, his surprising mobility and his smarts. But I like the kid for a different reason this week. He's simply not afraid to compete.

While Young and Leinart will do as little as possible to risk their draft stock at the combine -- reportedly neither player is going to throw this week -- Cutler will do whatever is asked of him. It's an attitude he's had for the last couple months, and I'm glad to see he hasn't lost it now, when he's become the prospect who's created more buzz than Dancing with the Stars. He's not merely passing through town to meet with teams and go home. He's in Indianapolis to prove that all the hype is legitimate. He's here to show why he has gone from an obscure name to a probable top 10 pick.

Granted, attitude alone won't make him a better quarterback than Leinart or Young. However, it does make him a quarterback worth believing in. Throwing at the combine is supposed to be a difficult ordeal for most highly touted quarterbacks because they're throwing to unfamiliar receivers, which means their timing could suffer. They could flutter passes or struggle with their touch, all while the major decision-makers in the league are charting the proceedings. It could be a nightmare if everything goes wrong, but Cutler doesn't seem to care about that. All he's concerned with is another opportunity to bolster his status.

This is refreshing because too many elite pro prospects, particularly those at the skill positions, now treat the combine like it's a waste of time. They show up to get weighed and measured. They interview with teams. They take their Wonderlic tests. And then they go back to wherever they train in order to prepare for their own personal workouts. It's become the popular approach to making money in the draft. The less you show in Indianapolis, the less risk you have of losing millions in April.