Greetings from Hawaii. Well with all the troubles with the CBA, this makes the 2011 draft not only the most important part of the off-season, but arguably one of the most drafts ever. Why? Because teams more than ever will reach and draft for need. Tennessee, Arizona, Minny, and Miami are all teams that desperately need a quarterback, the most important position in football. They can't sign a season vet like Marc Bugler or trade for a young talented signal caller like Kevin Kolb. They must address their needs and for now the draft is the only way possible. This makes things more interesting, talented players will fall more than ever, and talented prospects who need work may fall completely out of the first two days or even the draft. That's why a hand full of teams including the Eagles can befit probably the most. And Reid will have the best draft he has ever had with the Eagles this year.
So rather than hashing out top prospects like Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, Gabe Carimi, and others, I'd like to introduce ten players with "blue chip" potential, but need work. I'll introduce and evaluate why they can become great players in this league with proper coaching, something the Eagles usually have had under the Reid Era.
So how who do you start off a series? Well, you start of with a bang. And that is what I intend to do. Todays, prospect is my second most interesting quarterback prospect after Cam Newton, is arguably more athletic than Newton, has a equal arm, yet won't be selected till the fifth round at best. Give up? More after the jump...
Ah yes, Tyrod Taylor. Probably one of the most underrated players coming out this year. Many are down on this kid, but here is why they shouldn't.
1. The evolution of the quarterback position in the NFL
The game has changed significantly since Lombardi won in 1967 and Barry Sanders was juking defenders out of their socks in the 90's. Gone are the days of a dominating defense and a smash mouth running game. Today, you need fast play makers and a field general that can take over the game with a oddly shaped ball. This was proven thought the 2000's. However, the quarterback position has changed again entering the new decade. Gone are the days of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. While you need a quarterback that can impact a game like those two, you need two element that those two don't have. Elusiveness and Athleticism. Pure pocket-passers are a dying breed, just look at some of the best quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo , Donovan McNabb (pre-D.C.), Philip Rivers, and yes our very own Micheal Vick from last season. These guys can make time in the pocket, roll out, make pass-rushers miss, and take off 10-15 yards down field. Guys that stand there like statues will get killed, pass-rushers today are big, fast, and physical even with the best offensive linemen.
Don't believe me? Vick makes a compelling argument.
That was one of two amazing runs. Without them, we would have definitely lost this game. Both gave huge sparks to two drives that help us score. That is why I see Cam Newton being able to adjust a little easier because he can rely on his pure athleticism that can beat most defenders. He'll be able to set up his team into good position and let his running back do the rest.
Most try to compare Cam Newton and Michael Vick, however Newton's running style is more like Ben Roethlisberger but faster. Tyrod Taylor is a young Vick athletically speaking. He is shifty and extremely athletic. He is arguably more athletic than Cam Newton, but that is another argument. Taylor also ran the fastest 40 time for quarterbacks at 4.52, Newton on the other hand ran a 4.58.
2. Size Matters Not
One knock against Taylor is his size at 6'1'' 217 lbs. Most like the huge giant quarterback like Joe Flaaco or Ben Roethlisberger, a 6'4'' mammoth. However a large amount of successful quarterbacks have been Taylor's high or shorter. Michael Vick (6'0'' 215 lbs), Drew Brees (6'0'' 209), Doug Flutie (5'9''), and more. Here is an interesting article I suggest you read on short quarterbacks. http://www.growtall.com/shortest-quarterback-height.htm. Also a long list of short quarterbacks here. http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~maxymuk/home/passing/qbshort.html.
3. Arm Strength
One of his strengths is Taylors rocket arm. He has amazing arm strength and can zip the ball down the field with velocity as good as anyone in this draft. All of his scouting reports have his arm strength as a positive.
Fires passes with a good deal of velocity and and consistency to make the throws he wants. Has above-average arm strength.
Underrated arm strength
He is very mobile, athletic and has a solid arm to make all the throws.
Above-average arm strength... Gets good velocity on his throws...
Andy loves strong armed quarterbacks, we have had a little over a decade of long bomb passes: McNabb's scramble and heave to Freddie Mitchell against the Cowboys, 3rd and 24, and Vick's multiple first play passes to Desean Jackson this year. Andy doesn't run a true West Coast offense, and that is why Talyor can attempt all the throws Andy calls for right now.
4. Virgina Tech Offense Scheme
One of the biggest problems quarterbacks have coming out from college is the pro-style of offense; under center taking 3-5 step drops and reading the field for the open receiver. The pro-style offense is a dying breed in the college level, more and more schools are moving toward spread or option offenses. Teams are looking to win rather than developing players into the best they can be. It's a shame but it's the coaches job to win games. Well, fortunately Taylor has an advantage that most quarterbacks in this class don't have. A foundation with the pro-style offense. No, VT did not run a true pro-style with Taylor, but it was based and has pro-style concepts. He has played under center during his career, especially early. He doesn't have to learn the center exchange, the footwork to his 3, 5, and 7 drops, or the footwork in the pocket. This can allow him to work on his needs. He was allowed to make one read and run in college, something in the NFL he needs to learn. But that doesn't put him behind any other prospects, Cam Newton a top ten prospect, can't read the field at the pro level either. His experience and knowledge from under center gives him a huge advantage to learn at the next level.
5. Slinging the Pig Skin
The biggest scrutiny of a quarterback in the draft process, the throwing motion. It is kinda silly when you think about it. It's kinda like saying when you evaluate a runner or a running back running at the combine, I don't like the way he swings/pumps his arms when he runs. Tim Tebow is a prime example. Heisman winner with a big arm and probably one of the greatest quarterbacks at the college level was beaten like a dead horse over his throwing motion. I understand it's important to some.To me, as long as you can get the ball out fairly quickly and accurately, it doesn't matter if you spin you arm 720 degrees before you let that ball fly like a heat seeking missile and hit the receiver for the touchdown. Fortunately, you can all let a sigh of relief when I tell you that Taylor has a good throwing motion.
Here's his scouting reports
Positives: Numbers steadily improved each season he has been at Virginia Tech... Was much more efficient as a passer as a senior... Above-average arm strength... Gets good velocity on his throws... Has a good throwing motion, proper over-the-top motion with a good release point... Extremely mobile, runs like a halfback... Has a ton of open field moves and is tough to bring down when he gets to the second level... Developmental prospect who could be a solid backup in a couple years.
- Athletic wildcat QB/WR prospect
- Vastly improved as a passer in 2010 - 24:5 TD:INT ratio
- Dangerous outside of the pocket
- Underrated arm strength
- Hard worker who has vastly improved as a senior
- Good/speed and agility makes him a big play threat on the move
- Dangerous runner - 659 yards rushing in 2010
Taylor has been compared to former Virginia high school great Ronald Curry for his combination of passing skills and athleticism. The most dangerous quarterback in the country when things break down, Taylor is still a passer first. He has a very quick release that comes from just below his ear and an over-the-top motion that helps make up for his height disadvantage. He has excellent zip on his intermediate ball and can make all the throws with touch and accuracy. Taylor has tremendous instincts and feels the pass rush well. He makes smart pass/run decisions and gives linebackers and safeties fits when approaching the line of scrimmage on a scramble. Taylor is at his best when heâ€™s outside the pocket and is very comfortable throwing on the run. He has advanced leadership skills and doesnâ€™t rattle easily. He needs to get stronger and thicker to play a dual-threat style in college and sometimes tries to do too much on the field. Taylor has quick feet and excellent speed and could play an option style at the next level with a little added bulk.
Not only does he have a god throwing motion, but he has greatly improved as a passer his senior year.
Things that are good about these stats.
1. Has throw the ball more and more each year, showing that he is relying more on his arm.
2. Huge yard improvement from 2008 to 2009, and 2009 to 2010.
3. High yards per pass.
4. Probably the best, an amazing TD: INT ratio his senior year.
I'd like to see a higher completion percentage on his throws, but he not a perfect prospect. If he had a higher completion percentage, he'd be a second rounder. But his senior year was very impressive no the less. Virgina Tech had an amazing running back with Ryan Williams and Taylor was surrounded by a bunch of no name receivers and he was able to put those numbers up? It's kinda amazing that Cam Newton, who is a great football player no the less, gets more recognition in just one year than Taylor, who has proven himself over 4 years at VT. I'm not saying that Taylor should go before Cam, but where is the love?
6. Impact Player
Plainly put, he changes the game with a big run or a amazing pass. His body of work with VT proves it. He is a proven winner and very experienced with 34 wins, the most in school history. Had over 650 rushing yards his senior year, over 2,000 yards rushing in his career, and over 7,000 yards passing in his career. Cam Newton had a great year, but I doubt he could have over 7,000 yards in 4 years. He was also named ACC player of the year. Here is probably my favorite play from Tyrod Taylor.
Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor Throws Amazing TD vs. Stanford(HD Quality) (via Tadeleh)
I could write an edition of illegal forward pass on this play. But I'll be brief. This play illustrates two parts of Tyrod's game, passing and elusiveness. It is easy to see his amazing athletic ability avoiding the defender and using his strong arm to rocket that pass into a tight window. However, there are three different things that Taylor accomplishes that are either overlook, yet are things that people have problems with that he answers on this play. One, his footwork. One of the things that he has that isn't a weakness but not a strengths, he used his athletic ability to avoid the defender. But after the defender falls, he resets his feet perfectly by setting himself inside the boundary and wide enough to be balanced and make a good throw. Two, accuracy. Probably the biggest question mark in his game right now is his intermediate and deep accuracy. However, on this play after reseting his footwork extremely quickly, he hits his receiver right where only he could get it in traffic and placed it right in front so that the receiver could run onto the ball yet could still keep his feet in bounds, rather right at him where he would have to stop to make the catch. And lastly, probably my favorite part about the play, was his eyes. While he was rolling out of the pocket, his eyes were down field, right before he jukes out the defender he is looking down the field, and while setting his feet his eyes were down the field. He may have a way to go in terms of reading the field, but he is showing that he is making progressions.
7. The Key Ingredient: The Eagles Big Three (Andy, Marty, Michael)
So what he's got all the tools? There have been athletes from VT just like him like Marcus Vick, Bryan Randall, and until Philly Vick at quarterback, yet have failed, why should he be different? Well my friends, it's like being a scientist to an extent. Like any scientists, you write down your steps in an experiment so that you or someone else can copy your work and see if they can get the same results. Let's apply the same concept here.
First let's start with Michael Vick. Tyrod Taylor and Mike Vick know each other and stay connected, both when to Virgina Tech and it has been reported that Vick kept continual contact with Taylor throughout his senior season. So they have a chemistry already and there will be no "animosity" toward his "heir". Taylor can get advice on progressions, throwing accuracy, etc from someone that had the same problems, which is huge when your teacher knows why you ask or knows why it is hard and what was the best way to fix it.
Next, we have the big guy, Andy Reid. He loves toys to work with in the draft, developmental guys that he can develop over the long haul. Tyrod Taylor is an empty canvas for Reid to create a superstar. Reid will look like a genius when Taylor emerges right after Vick and continues to reek havoc on opposing teams just like Vick. He knows how to build the offense around him so that he can succeed. If Andy drafts Taylor in the 5-7 range (where he is predicted), it's a no lose situation. If Taylor busts, it was a low pick and a low investment. If he succeeds and Taylor becomes a beast, Reid looks like a genius and pays Taylor little money.
Finally, Marty Mornhinweg. Marty can create an player that can become more explosive that Mike Vick, a Vick 2.0. Easier to correct because Taylor is young and less wear and tear than our current Mike Vick. I am confident that Taylor can become a beast with and only with the proper and best coaching, which Andy and Marty offer. If Marty succeeds, I think he easily becomes a hot head coaching candidate again.
What should people see with Tyrod Taylor? A high ceiling guy like Cam Newton, with more tools and more to work with immediately at a low cost. With proper coaching I see a blue chip quarterback. If selected in the 5-7 rounds, it will be one of the biggest steals Andy has ever done (Key words: 5-7 rounds).
Remember: Tyrod Taylor + 5-7 round + Eagles Coaching = Philadelphia Eagles Vick -10 years