The Texas QB will be fine in the NFL, sidearm and all
Posted: Wednesday March 8, 2006 12:25PM; Updated: Wednesday March 8, 2006 6:26PM
Vince Young has drawn criticism for his Wonderlic score and passing motion, but you can't measure heart.
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Five and Out visits three old friends: Vince (Wonderlic) Young, Drew (Give me some love) Brees and Bode (Winning isn't the only thing) Miller.
1) Would you pass on Vince Young because of a lousy score on a written test?
Let me offer this disclaimer: I am a sportswriter, not an NFL general manager. Those guys get paid big salaries and work under intense pressure while trying to project which college players can play effectively in the NFL. Projection is an impossible job in any sport at any level, whether it's recruiting high school players or drafting college athletes. If it was an exact science, Tom Brady and Joe Montana would have been drafted in the first round. So props to the GMs of the world. They cannot win.
That said, this whole Young business is nuts. Absolutely nuts. I keep hearing that whatever Young scored on the Wonderlic, it will be insignificant if he can sit face-to-face with his potential employers and convince them of his intellectual readiness to play in the NFL. (Presumably, watching a DVD of the Rose Bowl has failed to sufficiently convince anyone in the NFL that Young can play, which is even crazier than the Wonderlic Madness.)
I had the opportunity to sit face-to-face with Young for an aggregate total of probably eight hours over three days last summer in advance of his senior season at Texas. Here's what I found:
He's a grownup. You interview enough college athletes, it gets pretty easy to discern which ones are really young men and which ones are 21 going on 15. I don't know whether Young liked me (don't care, either) or was flattered at being courted for Sports Illustrated's cover. I just know that he was a mature conversational partner, not a juvenile.
He's no fool. I talked with Young about football, college life, families, girlfriends and about more other subjects than I can remember without going back and listening to the tapes. He gave as good as he got. I don't care what he scored on a test or how he expresses himself; he's no fool.
He'll study the game. One afternoon in Austin, I sat down with Young and watched game films for two hours. It was superficial stuff: Vince narrating Vince while sitting in a chair in offensive coordinator Greg Davis' office. Still, it was impressive watching Young troll through the games, finding certain plays and situations. I know that all quarterbacks watch tons of tape. Well, fine. So does Young. Rave all you like about his instincts, which are breathtaking, but he works at the game, too.
2) But does he have the physical game for the NFL?
He sure does. OK, so he throws sidearm, but accurately. Young's mentor, Steve McNair, tried to get him to bring the ball up off his right ear. Davis and Texas head coach Mack Brown also tried to clean up Young's delivery. It didn't work. In fact, it messed Young up. So everybody just left him alone a couple of years ago. Davis has a theory about this.
"A lot of kids nowadays grow up going to all sorts of camps, and they're taught to throw perfectly, with perfect footwork and a perfect release,'' Davis says. "Well, Vince grew up in inner-city Houston and he taught himself to throw the football. He didn't learn at all those camps.''