Our Next Backup Quarterback: Who Fits?

With Kevin Kolb on the trading block (such as it is) and a starter who takes a lot of hits, it's only natural that the Eagles would decide to work out 5 quarterbacks in the offseason.  Is this indicative of an intention to draft a backup early on, possibly even a future starter?  It seems pretty likely.  Time will tell, but for now, let's analyze these QB Quintuplets and see how well each would fit into our system...

ANDY DALTON, TCU - 6'2", 215, 4.87 40 TIME


2007: 222-371 (59.8%), 2459 yds, 10 TDs, 11 INTs

2008: 182-307 (59.3%), 2242 yds, 11 TDs, 5 INTs

2009: 199-323 (69.6%), 2756 yds, 23 TDs, 8 INTs

2010: 209-316 (66.1%), 2857 yds, 27 TDs, 6 INTs

TOTALS: 812-1317 (61.7%), 10314 yds, 71 TDs, 30 INTs

Pros: Dalton has above-average throwing strength, and is a high-velocity passer.  His accuracy is better than middling, and most of his throws come between the numbers.  He was a 4-year starter at TCU, where he was very productive.  His footwork is good, he can sell the pump fake, and he can throw pretty well on the run.  He's an effective, energetic field general, and his players feed off his energy.  He only lost 3 games as a starter in college, and can be a very effective scrambler (1600 rushing yards, 22 rushing TDs).

Cons: He lacks ideal size for an NFL quarterback, and he will already be 24 during his rookie season.  The big concern among scouts is his 3/4 release, which could affect his draft stock.  He played in a spread offense at TCU, and is considered to be pretty far removed from being a finished NFL product, as he didn't take too many snaps from under center.  He does not possess any distinguishing physical characteristics to give him an edge over other QBs in his class.  His throws have a low ceiling, and his off-balance passes will often miss receivers by a mile.  He sometimes looks to run too quickly, rather than keep his eyes downfield to find an open receiver.

How He Fits: Dalton's ability to run is definitely a plus, considering our suspect offensive line and Andy's penchant for fielding scrambling QBs (McNabb, Vick).  However, in an offense that is so heavy on the pass, Dalton will struggle to sustain drives when he is not used to taking snaps from under center, and I'm not sure Reid would be willing to replace one scrambler that takes a lot of hits with another.  His accuracy issues could be helped by a talented receiving corps, and his quick release could synch up with DeSean Jackson's and Jeremy Maclin's speed.  However, he simply doesn't have all the tools to become an NFL starter someday, and Dalton does not fit too well into Reid's offensive scheme as he is not a pocket passer.  DRAFT PROBABILITY: <15%

COLIN KAEPERNICK, NEVADA - 6'4", 233, 4.53 40 TIME


2007: 153-247 (53.8%), 2175 yds, 19 TDs, 3 INTs

2008: 208-383 (54.3%), 2849 yds, 22 TDs, 7 INTs

2009: 166-282 (58.9%), 2052 yds, 20 TDs, 6 INTs

2010: 233-359 (64.9%), 3022 yds, 21 TDs, 8 INTs

TOTALS: 740-1271 (58.2%), 10098 yds, 82 TDs, 24 INTs

Pros: Has good arm strength, and is the only active college football player to accumulate 10000 yards through the air and 4000 yards on the ground.  His completion percentage improved with each progressing year, he has an over-the-top NFL-style release, and is a good decision-maker who will not turn the ball over very often.  He has prototypical quarterback size, yet is extremely mobile despite it (4112 rushing yds, 59 TDs!).  He not only can make defenders miss in the open field, he can outrun them as well with his impressive top-end speed.  He has a good, strong build, and he is reportedly a very likeable and coachable player.

Cons: He hails from a less-competitive college program.  He has too much loft under his deep throws, which gives corners too much time to adjust and does not benefit our height-challenged receiving corps.  He misses more easy throws than he should, and his receivers have been forced to adjust to too many of his passes.  His throwing style, though over-the-top, is still awkward, as it consists of an elongated release wherein he pauses at the top of his motion before flicking it downfield.  This will cause him to take a lot of hits.  After playing in Nevada's Pistol offense, he'll need to learn to take snaps under center.  More often than not, he'll take off under pressure rather than stepping up and throwing in the face of it.

How He Fits: Kaepernick has undeniable physical gifts, but he is definitely a project and needs plenty of coaching in order to succeed at the pro level.  The upside of this is that he's an affable, very coachable player who is willing to take instruction, something that Andy highly values.  His ability to be a two-dimensional player is something the Eagles will definitely be interested in, and his speed and size could give them plenty of options.  He needs to learn to throw under pressure, however, but with the right coaching, he could get there.  DRAFT PROBABILITY: >50%


JAKE LOCKER, WASHINGTON - 6'3", 231, 4.59 40 TIME


2007: 155-328 (47.3%), 2062 yds, 14 TDs, 15 INTs

2008: 50-93 (53.8%), 512 yds, 1 TD, 0 INTs

2009: 230-395 (58.2%), 2800 yds, 21 TDs, 11 INTs

2010: 184-332 (55.4%), 2265 yds, 17 TDs, 9 INTs

TOTALS: 619-1148 (53.9%), 7639 yds, 53 TDs, 35 INTs

Pros: He possesses a strong arm, and can make all the throws.  He routinely hits receivers on deep routes, and when he plants and throws he is capable of firing missiles.  His mechanics are NFL-ready, as he has no wasted motion and a very quick release.  His arm strength allows him to thread the needle when the situation calls for it.  His footwork is commendable, and allows him to roll out and make plays, which is when he is truly at his best, and he has the mobility to elude pressure.  A tremendous athlete, Locker was taken in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB draft.  He is an inspirational presence on the field as well as in the locker room, and is the kind of player who will willingly put a team on his shoulders.  His stats are not indicative of his NFL potential; he played for Steve Sarkisian, long considered to be one of the best QB coaches in college football, and he played in a pro-style offense at Washington.

Cons: On some short passes, he will throw the ball as hard as he can, which leads to the ball sailing on him.  For a player of his talents, his completion percentage is surprisingly low.  He forces a lot of throws, which has led to turnovers.  In the past, he has had trouble reading blitz packages and coverage at the line of scrimmage, and as a result has not proven himself to be a very consistent performer.  Despite his perfect mechanics, he will routinely miss open receivers.

How He Fits: Locker may be the most prepared for the NFL of the 5 quarterbacks listed here.  He is a pocket passer who played in a pro-style offense.  However, his lack of consistency paired with a lousy senior season and Senior Bowl showing will definitely raise some eyebrows.  Once considered a top-5 prospect, Locker has seen his stock dip dramatically, although it is highly unlikely that he will slip past the second round.  His deep-ball ability will be attractive to us, but in Andy's offense, he would need to be more consistent, especially when making short throws.  His leadership ability and his athleticism will help him, as will his pedigree in a pro-style offense, but for the Eagles to seriously consider taking him, he'll need to show he can improve on his lackluster completion percentages.  DRAFT PROBABILITY: <40%


GREG McELROY, ALABAMA - 6'1", 220, 4.87 40 TIME


2007: 8-9 (88.9%), 73 yds, 1 TD, 0 INTs

2008: 8-11 (72.7%), 123 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

2009: 198-325 (60.9%), 2508 yds, 17 TDs, 4 INTs

2010: 222-313 (70.9%), 2987 yds, 20 TDs, 5 INTs

TOTALS: 436-658 (66.2%), 5691 yds, 39 TDs, 10 INTs

Pros: McElroy is one of the most intelligent QBs to come along in a long time.  A 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic attests to that.  He has decent size and the mobility necessary to extend plays, and for the most part is consistently accurate, particularly on the short and intermediate throws.  Being smart, he has a good feel for the pocket, as in when to step up, when to side-step the rush, and when to scramble.  He is good at isolating defenders and making them commit to him, which is when he will flick the ball over their heads.  He will have absolutely no problem reading and memorizing an NFL playbook, which coaches will love.  Alabama's pro-style offense will help him in his transition, as he will be more comfortable than some others going through reads and making his progressions.  His mechanics, while unspectacular, are sound, and he has good experience dropping back from center and executing the play-action fake.

Cons: McElroy tends to stare down his targets, a habit gained from throwing to uber-talent Julio Jones.  Outside of ten yards, he will struggle with ball placement, which will put a lot of coaches off.  He sometimes struggles in leading his receivers, such that he will underthrow them or slightly overthrow them, making catches more difficult than they should have been.  His anticipation of throws leaves something to be desired, and he will sometimes hold on to the ball too long and take sacks as a result.  His intelligence sometimes leads him to think too much, as he does not want to risk passes that could wind up as interceptions.  The anticipation issue could affect his timing, which will lead to INTs at the pro level.  He has mediocre arm strength and accuracy, and a rather slow throwing motion.

How He Fits: Andy appreciates intelligence, and he will take a close look at McElroy for the plain reason that he will have less trouble than others at figuring out the Eagles' complicated offensive schemes.  Though McElroy does not suffer from a lack of size (he's the same height as McNabb), he isn't quite athletic enough to offset our issues on the offensive line.  His problems with accuracy when throwing deep are not congruous with the abilities of either Jackson or Maclin, which could detract from our offensive production.  His pro-style pedigree raises his stock a few points, but Andy will be looking for someone with a quicker release and better accuracy. DRAFT PROBABILITY: >20%



2007: 72-143 (53.7%), 927 yds, 5 TDs, 3 INTs

2008: 99-173 (57.2%), 1036 yds, 2 TDs, 7 INTs

2009: 136-243 (56%), 2311 yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs

2010: 188-315 (59.7%), 2743 yds, 24 TDs, 5 INTs

TOTALS:  497-874 (56.8%), 7017 yds, 44 TDs, 20 INTs

Pros: Taylor is big enough to be an NFL quarterback even if he lacks ideal size for the position.  Michael Vick, a fellow Hokie, is almost the same size, at 6 feet and 215 pounds.  And, like Mike, Tyrod is very elusive and excels at buying time with his legs in and out of the pocket.  He has kept many a drive alive with his ability to scramble and pick up yardage (2196 yds, 23 TDs).  He is a fluid athlete for a QB, and possesses good arm strength; with a flick of his wrist, the ball just flies off his hand.  He throws a good deep ball and he places his passes well, since he does not have serious issues with accuracy, which he has developed nicely.  He has grown as a QB, showing willingness to step up in the pocket and scan the field, buying more time to find a throwing lane.  He has a lot of starting experience, and consequently he has fundamentally sound decision-making skills.

Cons: Taylor's accuracy and pocket poise may be good enough for college ball, but they aren't on the level of an NFL-quality starter, at least not yet.  He will struggle to see over offensive lines to find throwing lanes, and he does not have a substantial feel for the pocket so that he can move within it.  On short and intermediate throws, he will struggle with placement, and and he does not go through his progressions very well.  As a result, he drops his eyes and looks at the rush, in attempts to improvise and escape the pocket, and too often he will do just that, leaving the pocket prematurely when he senses pressure. 

How He Fits: Essentially, Tyrod Taylor can best be described as Michael Vick Lite.  He possesses a strong arm (though not nearly as strong as the Howitzer that is Mike's), and great mobility (though nothing like the lightning bolts with feet attached that are Mike's).  Still, Taylor should show up on a lot of final draft boards, including ours.  His athletic ability is more than intriguing, and should Andy decide to draft him as a backup, he could step in and perform the things that are expected of Vick.  He has matured as a QB, and could fit very well in our system.  He could be a solid game-manager for us when called upon, and could spell Vick very well if such a situation arises.  Still, he's a project, but he could also thrive under Andy's tutelage.  DRAFT PROBABILITY: >35%

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