Instant impact (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday April 17, 2007 12:57PM; Updated: Tuesday April 17, 2007 5:38PM
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
But I'd take him right now over the quarterback options in NFL locales such as Oakland, Cleveland, Minnesota, Miami and Kansas City. And thinking longer term, you could add Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo and Green Bay to that list. Quinn has his critics, but as others have already pointed out, overexposure to his game might be the biggest factor he has working against him. We've seen so much of him over the past few years that flaws -- both real and imagined -- have appeared and taken on meaning.
They say Quinn hasn't proven he can win the big game, but they said that about Peyton Manning coming out of Tennessee, and last year at this time, Matt Leinart's stock was slipping in part because he got out-played by Vince Young in his final collegiate game. Last I checked, Manning's career has turned out OK, and Leinart didn't exactly get exposed as a rookie fraud in 2006.
Quinn's experience in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense at Notre Dame is a huge plus, not a cause for concern. You already have proof of his production in such a system. Unless you're planning on installing the Wishbone offense, what's the big fear? By midseason, Quinn will have the look. The look of a quarterback star in the making.
Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
He used a superb Senior Bowl week to climb into first-round consideration. He was even more impressive at the combine, and came out of Indy as a solid mid-first round prospect. And then he ran well on his pro day (4.88 at 302 pounds) and teams continued to upgrade his stock, all the way into the second half of the top 10.
His athleticism at size is eye-opening enough, but when you factor in his maturity level, poise and intelligence, Okoye bears all the traits of the classic overachiever, who will adapt well to whatever situation he lands in. NFL coaches love this type of player, because there just aren't as many self-starters making it to the league these days, and far too many unfinished products.
If Okoye had the fortitude to handle high school before he was a teen, and didn't get overwhelmed by college life at 16, something tells me he won't crack under the pressure of trying to produce right away in the NFL. He doesn't even know he's not supposed to succeed at this level at his age. All he has to go on is how well everything has worked out at every step along the way. That's not a bad way to go through life.
"I got teased all the time,'' Okoye said. "At the Senior Bowl they called me 'Phe,' short for phenom. It comes a lot.''
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State
This year's most likely to succeed (right away) candidate is Posluszny. He's a tackling machine, and the former Butkus Award winner can handle either the strongside slot or the middle, where he played the last four games of his senior season. He's a physical, sideline-to-sideline pursuer with a superb feel for the flow of the ball, but the part of his game that NFL scouts should be most impressed by is his intelligence and ability to read an offense. He'll fit best in a system that covets heady linebackers, like New England's or Philadelphia's, where traditionally the franchise's defensive leaders have played that position.
Posluszny is a proven talent who played in a program known for its great linebackers. Whatever limitations his game might have -- he tends to over-pursue at times and can struggle in underneath coverage duties -- he makes up for them by making plays in critical situations.
He may not have as much upside potential as many prospects in this draft, but that's because he's already an NFL-caliber player who will step into a starting role and hold it for the next 10 years or so. Whoever drafts him gets a polished and productive player from day one. Potential is a wonderful thing, but the NFL will take a combination of brains, pedigree and experience any day.