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Says Jackson, "When we saw that throw, we'd seen enough." One scout told George, "On a scale of one to 10, you were a 12." Even Bellamy was impressed. "I've never seen him throw that long or as hard as he did that day," he says.
It's downright strange, really. George had thrown 965 passes in high school, 1,016 in college, thousands more in practice, yet this one spectacular ball, thrown at a distance rare in NFL play, was the most significant of all. "I'm sure they didn't remember all those 10-yard ins I threw, but I know they remembered the 81-yarder," says George. "I think that when I threw it, the scouts said, 'Maybe this guy can do it all.' What I do best is throw, so why not show them? It's the same patterns and same drops I've been doing since I was eight." In the afterglow of the 81-yarder, some scouts went with George to look at films for another hour, peppering him with questions about defenses he had seen and why he had selected the receivers he did.
So it was that the Workout King was elevated to the throne. The April 5 workout was a replay for scouts from nine more teams—minus an 81-yard heave. "Indianapolis is getting a pretty good player," says Packer coach Lindy Infante, who largely directed that workout. George tacked on additional glitter, as if it were needed, when Davis asked him to do some sprint-out passing of the kind required by the run-and-shoot offense that Detroit operates.
Said George after a few sprint-out throws, "I really like this."
Replied Davis, "Well, I just fell in love with you."
When the Workout King performed outdoors in Indianapolis a week later in the cold and wind, he shone even brighter. Says Jackson, "He was exactly the same as when he was in the bubble." A bigger crown and a larger throne were ordered the same day.
There is, clearly, a lot to like about George. At 6'4", 220 pounds, he is the perfect size for an NFL passer. He combines a powerful arm with an artist's light touch. He demonstrates electric velocity. He tends to thrive under pressure. "Pressure is what makes the game fun," says George, who, in the final seven minutes of the Illini's games last season, connected on a total of 28 of 35 passes for 355 yards and five touchdowns. Says former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, "He has moxie." Cumbee says George "might be the guy who can elevate a team one more level than the personnel around him."
But there is also a lot not to like about George. He is not terribly mobile, although he insists that people "who say that haven't seen me play. I consider myself a scrambler."
O.K., maybe the films are wrong. Cincinnati Bengal special teams coach Mike Stock says he equates George's movement with that of Dan Fouts, who was most definitely not a scrambler. George also tends to release the ball too low, which leads to blocked passes. Thomas accuses George of "pointing fingers" the minute things go wrong. Another critic, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., deducts points from George for lack of leadership. Says Kiper, "What Indianapolis is getting is basically an average quarterback." Even Cumbee concedes that George "will be going into a huddle with guys eight to 12 years older than he is, so he'll have to grow up fast."
Some of George's critics like to point out that he has not completed what he started in football since he graduated from high school. He walked on Purdue, he stiffed Miami, he dumped Illinois. Says one of college football's best coaches, "If I'm drafting him, I have to think that if things don't go right, it's real likely that George will scream loud and early, 'I want out.' "