MMQB: Arms Race

Peter King puts on his scout hat and goes to work on this year's quarterback draft class. In the news of the creepy, Mark Brunell apparently has a Myspace page, and finally, no King column would be complete without a mention of Brett Favre.

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52 comments, Last at 19 Mar 2008, 10:00am

1 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

"His agent, Tom Condon, and his coach, Jeff Jagodzinski, advised him to skip the events because, as the lead dog in the hunt, he had nothing to gain. Truthfully, that's right, but you'll still find some teams who hate when a player has a chance to show his wares in front of the entire league and passes."

After De'Cody Fagg, can you really blame him?

2 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Then, a dog barked, and the video ended.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

3 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

we might still be drinking Soviet beer and trying to divine the funky language.

That's some old beer, Peter. Did you just learn of it?

4 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Very interesting info about Pat Tillman. That's something I've always suspected and wondered about, but you just don't hear many first-person accounts from Afghanistan.

5 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I agree with the surprise of Brohm's free fall, especially with the person ahead of him is Matt Ryan. Brohm's TEAM had a bad season, they scored 35 points per game...they allowed 31 points per game. They got boned in the UConn game, they allowed a last second TD pass against Kentucky.

Pretty much that is the difference-Boston College had a good season, Louiville did not.

6 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

and sorry for the double post.
but quickly Hall is becoming an underrated, overrated CB. An above average corner only! That's a godsend in the NFL. Thankfully Samuel was on a good team so he is bonafide.

7 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Joey Jo Jo - I was mixed on the Tillman thing, because that quote was very moving.
("And once he entered the service, it grated on them that he was treated like a celebrity, in life and in death. "If he dies, he dies, and he's a soldier, just like the rest of those who died,'' one of the Rangers said. "I respect what he did, but once he enlisted, he's the same as everyone else.'")
[Warning, maybe too serious /political - I will agreeably accept deletion from an admin]
But if he doesn't have that celebrity status, do we learn about friendly fire and coverups? And would it have even been covered up if he wasn't a celebrity?

I linked the Mike Fish investigative report. This, as well as the .pdf's of the courtroom stenograph, are equally as moving.

8 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

In case you don't feel like reading the whole article, here's my 30-second summary:

* No one knows how good a drafted QB will be.
* Bill Parcells and Jason Taylor might not get along.
* Matt Millen is a lousy GM.
* Kirgystan is corrupt.
* About twenty random things with no relation to much, except that Randy Moss is admirable, and King loves Brett Favre.

9 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

'a. Cost of Being a Journalist Dept.: The Newark Star-Ledger reported that the call girl at the center of the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal grew up in the lively Jersey shore town of Belmar. This is what the paper reported Friday about a fact-finding trip to Belmar: "A man who answered the door at the family home in Belmar last night declined to comment and spit at a reporter."'

Well, gee. I am surprised. What did the reporter expect when he knocked on a stranger's door and said "Hi, I hear your daughter/sister/whatever is a hooker. Any comment?" If it was me I'd probably have punched the guy, never mind spitting on him.

As for the QB discussion, I completely agree that the fall in Brohm's stock is inexplicable, but what I find even stranger is the notion that Colt Brennan might not be one of the first eight quarterbacks selected. I'm not saying King's wrong; he probably talks to a lot more NFL scouts than I do. But as best I can judge, Brennan was seen as a possible first round pick right up until the Georgia game. Ok, so he threw three picks, took 8 sacks and only completed 58% of his passes. That's a bad game, but NFL players have had worse, and it's unlikely any of them have ever had to deal with a team talent imbalance as severe as Georgia-Hawaii. Well, except for Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo. Point is, any quarterback is going to look awful when his line is getting killed that badly. Tom Brady didn't exactly post a sexy line in the Superbowl. Downgrading a player 4 rounds based on one bad performance in horrible circumstances is ludicrous. Ok, so his arm strength isn't great, but its accurate, and his stellar accuracy is a more important attribute in the modern NFL anyway. Hopefully his outstanding combine performance will allay some of the doubts.

10 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I think the 'drop' of Brohm and other QBs in this class is largely related to the league drafting so many QBs early in the past few years.

In my estimation there are only 10 teams that would even consider taking a QB in the first two rounds this year (NE, Seattle, StL, Chicago, TB, Atlanta, Carolina, Balt, Indy, KC). and of those ten only four (Chicago, Balt, Atlanta, KC) have 'unsettled' QB situations. The other guys would be drafting for depth or several years in the future.

13 teams have drafted QBs in the first two rounds in the past 3 years. Those teams aren't likely to jump back in 2008. Another 9 teams are clearly commited to relatively young starting QBs. Doesn't make sense for them to use a high pick on a QB either.

I'm not convinced this year's QB class is any worse than average, but I won't be surprised if fewer of them go in the first two rounds just because there are relatively few teams looking to draft them there.

11 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

The Tillman situation is a complex one. It's likely he thought the war against Afghanistan was a war crime after he got there. He intended to visit Noam Chomsky after he got back, and had scheduled and planned a meeting in preparation.

The basic story there is that he was turned into a hero by the media who intended to push up patriotism and blind allegiance to the war. The truth is that once he got there, he believed it was a war crime and was dealing with that issue.

He was killed by friendly fire, and the truth was hidden to continue the lies that he adamantly disagreed with.

12 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

No mention of Colt Brennan, despite his having the best combine of any quarterback. Poor guy should have come out last year.

13 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

name linked to Pat being quoted calling the war illegal, etc.

14 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I'd love the Colts to grab Colt at some point deep, and start developing him as the longterm backup to Manning.

15 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

"8. I think if I were you, I would be concerned about a labor dispute in this sport sometime in the next three years. Very concerned. When the league holds its annual meeting in Palm Beach beginning March 29, the sabers will be unsheathed and they'll begin to rattle."

King's metaphor just committed sepukku. You rattle a saber when it's still in its sheath, hence the rattling. There's some saying that rattling a saber makes noise, but drawing it does not.

His Lions listing is sobering. I mean I knew it was bad, but as a Lions fan, I think above average is pushing it for LT Jeff Backus, who's best attribute has been durability and toughness. He's a bit prone to lookout blocks, but the Lions made the right move at the time paying him because there wasn't anything better available in the draft or free agency. (If they'd gone draft, they'd probably have taken Winston Justice).

C Dominic Raiola moves very, very well. They use him to pull often and he makes blocks on the outside, but as a center he doesn't have the power to push big D tackles.

So, the only real sucesses in the top rounds of the Millen draft era are Roy Willians and Ernie Sims.

16 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Tillman called the war in Iraq illegal (or BS or whatever), but I've read in places other than your link that he believed 9/11 justified the war in Afghanistan.
I won't judge either way, I just think that was his general sentiment.

To make things lighter, I double-subject, yet still off football topic:

Are bagpipes not the worst sound of any musical instrument ever? And for that matter, I have some cross heritage in Ireland and Scotland, and my assumptions were that bagpipes, although they have history in both, are primarily Scottish. (same with kilts, but that's another off-topic near-threadjack for another time.)

17 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Do you think Peter King ever looks at his own column and thinks, "Boy, that was a lot of words."

Because I sure do.

18 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I think the thing with Brennan isn't that he was rated as a sure first-rounder, just a possible one based on his performance against weak competition. People were saying "well, we don't really have any idea how good or bad he is, so he could be a first-rounder". Certainly his stats made him look like first-round material, but most people weren't sure.

The Georgia game was a big test for him, and sorry to say, he didn't pass. I know it's not entirely (or at all) his fault, but I think that game convinced a lot of people that he wouldn't be able to replicate his success against top-flight competition.

19 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I know it did; my submission is that that conviction is groundless. Brennan spent most of his career playing against weak competition with weak team mates. He was then asked to play quality opposition with those same weak team mates. His performance in that game cannot reasonably be compared to that of Ryan, or Brohm, or Henne in any of their games, because their team-mates were never overmatched to that degree. Brady Quinn's game against LSU comes closer (and I said at the time and since that Quinn fell too far because of it) but even that wasn't on the same level.

I would view Brennan as an outstanding value in the third round, never mind the sixth.

Then again, Nathan, I've got to say that I think the Colts are one team who shouldn't be thinking about Brennan too much, because they already have an excellent young back-up in Jim Sorgi. If I were an NFL GM looking for an affordable young QB who was ready to start, I would look very seriously into trading for Sorgi.

20 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

One scout wondered if his height (6-6½) and mediocre mobility will hurt him, because no quarterback that tall has ever been a great one.

People said Drew Brees was a bad prospect because he was too short (6'1") and this guy is a bad prospect because he's too tall (6'6"). So basically there's a five inch range that determines whether a QB will be good or not.

21 Re: MMQB: Arms Race


But you are ignoring the most important aspect. His name is Colt. It's destiny for him to be on the Colts.

Peyton would be a great teacher, and while Sorgi has performed decently in Peyton's absence, I'm really shocked to hear someone say a team should trade for him.

Maybe he's developed that perception from us discussing him, but what have you seen of him that gives you any indication he could be a starter in this league?

I just don't see it. I talk him up in jest. He doesn't look lost on the field, but he looks like in a different offensive system with less talent, he would be terrible.

Maybe he could go to the Vikings and succeed. That's about it that I'd even try as a GM.

As a backup, sure. Ok. but I don't think he's like Shaub who actually played some full games well.

22 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I understand that PK wrote about politics in this week's column, but we'd rather link to the column for its football content and avoid the political content in our discussions than not link to it at all. So please avoid it. Thanks!

23 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I love when King posts texts that he gets from people. It's very obvious that he likes to do it because he thinks he's so cool for texting people.

24 Re: MMQB: Arms Race


Thats because the Lions screwed up when they drafted Big fat Mike Williams instead of Jammal Brown.

That was a terrible draft-I am not sure who was at fault, Millen or Mooch, but we also traded up for Shaun Cody-the Titans used the 2 picks to grab their starting LT (Roos) and RT (Stewart).

25 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I hope I'm not making a political comment by saying that I thought it was nervy of PK to write honestly about the resentment those soldiers apparently have about the treatment Tillman got.

Writing anything about Tillman other than that he was a saint and a hero puts any sportswriter in an awkward position, and he could have very easily just tucked those comments away but he didn't. Good job by King.

26 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Can't we have a compromise on this 'political discussion' ban?

I'm thinking, perhaps:
"I'd like to say something politically oriented. Link in name".
And then have a link to a specific folder on the FO message boards for politically charged discussions?

27 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

The primary reason for Ryan moving up over Brohm is that he's 6'5" while Brohm is 6'2". The last time a 6'2" quarterback went up at the top of the first round and panned out was in 1999 with Donovan McNabb. It doesn't help Brohm's cause that he's had trouble staying healthy, either.

28 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Colt Brennan belongs in Baltimore. All Colts belong in Baltimore.

As for Brennan's performance in the Sugar Bowl, the only team that could use that as a preview is the Raiders.

29 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

The important issue for Brohm this year was the change in offensive systems. I thought Kragthorpe was a good hire, but he didn't have a good first year and Brohm didn't look nearly as comfortable as he did junior year. The previous guy who I thought did the same thing was Grossman, who went from Spurrier to Zook; now, he and Brohm are different guys but that's not an encouraging comp.

30 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Except Grossman's completion percentage dropped 8% after Spurrier left, and Brohm's increased 2% this past year. And Brohm's yards per attempt dropped by about 1, while Grossman's dropped by about 3. So, Brohm was not nearly as hurt by the change in coaching.

31 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I find it very sobering that PK speaks of the impending labor strife in 2-3 years. I don't want to get into an economics discussion, but it's deflating to hear reports of the owners making money, just not enough (in their opinion). I get the feeling Roger Goodell is forced to clean up a lot of things Tags put a band-aid on.

Also, I am sure a lot of us have opinions on Pat Tillman. An excellent author named Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air) will be releasing his next book in the fall and Pat is the subject. Jon does a fabulous job writing about personalities who push themselves to the extreme. Hopefully it answers some questions we all have about Tillman's experience.

32 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

#31: You have to understand the way the current salary cap works now. It used to be that the owners were virtually guaranteed to make a profit: how much depended on the skill of the owner, but the salary cap was tied to revenue that was shared among the league, so player salaries couldn't grow faster than you could deal with them.

Now, however, it's not: the salary cap is tied to the total revenue of the entire league. This means that the owners have to keep up with each other in terms of making money.

So when you hear owners say "yeah, we're making money, just not enough" - it's basically the smaller clubs saying that they're worried that they're not going to be able to keep pace in the next couple of years.

It's not too outrageous a worry. The high-end teams - Washington, New England, Philadelphia, etc. - are all experiencing massive growth, whereas the low-end teams (Carolina, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, etc.) are all pretty stagnant.

For reference, take a look here. Note that most NFL teams are around $190-200M in terms of revenue, except for the Patriots, Redskins, Texans, Eagles, and Cowboys (and to some degree the Dolphins and Broncos).

33 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

#32, great points and I think I was guilty of simplifying my concerns. The high revenue clubs have streams that aren't available to the lower ones. I know guys like Richardson in Carolina do a great job in marketing, but that only goes so far when you're competing against teams from the NFC East (for example). Jerry Jones can sell naming rights to anything that doesn't move (insert silicon cheerleader joke here). The owners are obviously wealthy for a reason, and they are smart people. With all the bright minds in this league, I can't imagine a model doesn't exist that would make 32 owners happy (even Mike Brown and Ralph Wilson). Teams with new stadiums have debt payment responsibilities that complicate the argument and a cap comparison can be very misleading. I'm fearful of the NFL someday being as competitive as MLB, and only a few teams are truly contenders. Or throw in a work stoppage and watch fan apathy start to creep in.

34 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Big surprise that PK loves john Grisham. Completely didn't see that one coming.

35 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Is he trying to stir up that "McNabb won't be in Philadelphia in 2008" nonsense again? Hey, Pete, you clod, McNabb is the QB. Accept this and move along.

36 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Re #30
Thanks for adding the stats. My impression was subjective, but what I saw from Louisville this year was lots of passes not very far downfield (5-8 yards), with the occasional deep chuck mixed in. What I didn't see much of were intermediate passes 10-20 yards downfield. And the increased comp% and ypa both support this, as does a ypc that falls 2.25 yards, especially when you consider the deep passes weren't often that successful. There are a lot more questions about Brohm in my mind now than there were a year ago, though "does Steve Kragthorpe know how to coach good players?" is another new question in my mind.

37 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Re #32
Right, and what I think Upshaw and Tags tried to do with the last CBA was force something through trying to get the high-revenue owners to share more of their money. Now that Tags isn't around, it doesn't seem like Goodell can/wants to keep that relatively fragile peace in place.

38 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Big surprise that PK loves john Grisham. Completely didn’t see that one coming.

:: Disco Stu — 3/17/2008 @ 8:50 pm

Yeah, I damn near fell out of my chair. I think it's amazing that he considers "Playing for Pizza" to be terrible because he thinks it's unrealistic. Yeah this is exactly how any attorney feels about every other Grisham novel Pete!

39 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

People said Drew Brees was a bad prospect because he was too short (6′1″) and this guy is a bad prospect because he’s too tall (6′6″). So basically there’s a five inch range that determines whether a QB will be good or not.

I didn't get this either. How big is the sample size for quarterbacks 6'6" and above? The only guys I can think of are Dan McGwire and Derek Anderson, who actually looks like he might be pretty good. Based on that data set, you could conclude that quarterbacks whose surnames start with vowels are sure bets and those whose start with consonants are sure busts. Or that having a first name starting with "D" gives you a 50-50 shot at being a successful NFL quarterback. Or that having a brother who once held the single season major league home run record and lied to Congress about taking steroids should be major red flags for NFL scouts.

I can see how lack of mobility could hurt a guy. But how would having an extra inch and a half of height over, say, Peyton Manning, hurt him? If the argument against short quarterbacks is that they can't get the ball over the outstretched hands of defensive linemen, shouldn't exceptionally tall quarterbacks be able to get the ball over the hands of defensive linemen by that much more?

40 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

At certain heights most humans tend to have certain attributes. These are not hard absolutes, but tendencies. If you notice most Cornerbacks tend to be under 6'. Why? Many of the receivers they are covering are 6' 3"? Evidently around 5'10" or 5'11" tends to be about the maximum height where most Cornerbacks are still flexible enough (in the hips, mostly) to adjust quickly (and catch up - most funners are not 7' tall, for instance). I suspect the rationale for QB's (tall enough to give more visibility, but short enough to be quick and flexible and less prone to injuries) may be similar.

I respected Tilman's decision to join the forces and serve what he believed was a good cause. In WW II the majority of pro athletes did the same, knowing that they had physical abilities and training beyond many others. However, once serving our country I do respect that they are all giving everything they can and I wish them all the best. In a similar (although much less serious manner), I appreciate the pro athletes risking injury to entertain us and hope that they do not become too injured. However, even the lowest paid professional player in the NFL gets paid far beyond the highest paid enlisted man (or officer?) in the Armed Forces (and with less risk of death or dismemberment, although far beyond what I face at my desk job).

41 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

RE #39/#40 : I don't have a problem with the concept of a QB being too tall, but I find it odd that in a couple of places I've seen a kind of hard line. Like 6'5" is OK but 6'6" isn't. I've gotta think that the roll-off is more gradual than that, and you can't be sure based on height alone.

As for why height in a QB might be a disadvantage? Mobility, quickness, flexibility might be a problem, but I was thinking of the amount of movement and time it takes to actually throw the ball - in other words, would it lead to a slower, longer release movement?

42 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Re 41:
Well, maybe a longer arm results in a longer wind-up, but since the issue has only come up for one player it should be easy to actually look at his release and make a determination that way.

43 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I'm glad he left us with that last little nugget about Favre. The media just hasn't given that story enough attention.

44 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

The talk around Boston this week is about Matt Ryan, questioning why he can control NFL scouting so much. The naysayers are pointing at interceptions and Ryan's Bledsoe-like ability to throw them at the wrong time.
Having watched him a lot this year, he does lack the discipline to not chuck the ball up for grabs when all else fails. In big games, the overall flow of BC's games were almost Elway-like (not that Ryan will be John Elway). They could afford to play poorly and get behind early, because for some reason, a switch goes on and the QB's arm will bring it right back at the end.
Ryan will flop if he doesn't have the right teachers instilling NFL level discipline. But the tools are all there; if he can learn 60 minute game management, he'll be very good.

45 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Are bagpipes not the worst sound of any musical instrument ever?

To some extent I agree with you. If I look at bagpipes through a Forensic Musicologists mind-set I would have to assume they were created (similarly to bongo drums) to be played as loudly as possible to drive any possible invaders away from your hill-fort.

Having said that there are occasions where pipers fit the bill exactly. Lone pipers at funerals (only if you are/were actually Scottish), Scotland Test Rugby matches at Murrayfield and that bit in 'A Bridge Too Far' where the lone piper starts off across the bridge on his own with his regiment stumbling after him.

Incidentally bagpipes were originally used by Turkish Jannisaries who were some of the most feared regiments of their era to transmit orders to the units over the dn of battle. So in a way they have been driving people away for hundreds of years.

46 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

I honestly think any of these guys can be solid, dependable NFL QBs...its just a matter of coaching. Coaches don't seem to hang around long enough anymore, and young QBs don't seem to ride the pine long enough either.

47 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

Being taller can make it harder to gracefully take a snap too.

48 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

MJK, Thanks for the readers digest version. As usual, the commentary is better than the original.

Bagpipes: Never a big fan until Plebe year at the Naval Academy, where a classmate was a piper and the powers that be let him do the marching music every once in a while--much more pleasant to march to than endless loops of snare drums and bugles. 25 years later, I'm a somewhat fan.

Regarding QB height, I bet in the 70s they figured 6-5 was freak-show tall and too risky. I recall them talking about Tarkenton being too short at 6-0 (IIRC) and assume the ideal back then was 6-2/6-3. Pretty sure Sorgi is 6-6, not that it means much. Hey, if OL end up being 6-6 350 lbs (where is the limit?!?!), the QBs will creep up in height too; in 25 years we might be having a discussion about 6-8 QBs and referring to Dan McGwire as a pioneer, instead of the string-beany brother of two steroid freaks.

49 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

QB height has remained constant for a while now. PFR did a quick study on player size a little while ago. If you click my name, you can check it out.

50 Re: MMQB: Arms Race


I really have no idea about size of QBs, what is good, what isn't. But is it at least possible that the reason there is such a small sample size of QBs over 6'6" caused because they might have some intrinsic problem making it in the NFL?

51 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

40- At certain heights most humans tend to have certain attributes. These are not hard absolutes, but tendencies. If you notice most Cornerbacks tend to be under 6′. Why? Many of the receivers they are covering are 6′ 3″? Evidently around 5′10″ or 5′11″ tends to be about the maximum height where most Cornerbacks are still flexible enough (in the hips, mostly) to adjust quickly (and catch up - most funners are not 7′ tall, for instance).

I think this is because cornerbacks and receivers need similar physical attributes, but a receiver is slightly more valuable than a cornerback. Having a great cornerback only negates one player on the opposing team, while having a great receiver can negate several opponents (as coverages move towards him) or allows the offense to move up the field at will.

All other things being equal, the tall quick guys in high school and college are put at receiver, while shorter quick guys seek opportunities at cornerback. At the end of college, those tall guys who won't make it as NFL recievers are too far behind to learn the corner position as well as those shorter guys who've been playing it throughout college and high school.

50- I really have no idea about size of QBs, what is good, what isn’t. But is it at least possible that the reason there is such a small sample size of QBs over 6′6″ caused because they might have some intrinsic problem making it in the NFL?

Maybe people who are tall with a quarterback's build are pushed into focusing on basketball? If you're that tall and athletic in this country you'll have every relative/parent/PE teacher telling you you should be in basketball from the time you're in middle school. They'll probably be a starting forward for their high school basketball team before they can get a starting position for the football team. If they play football as well, the coaches will probably see a good tight end prospect before they think QB.

52 Re: MMQB: Arms Race

36: Kragthorpe coached some good players at Tulsa, so he can coach good players.

A large part of Louisville's problems stem from some of the low character guys that Petrino recruited over there and was able to cover up some of their antics. Kragthorpe cleaned up a lot of the mess there by suspending or dismissing some of those guys at the expense of on the field success.