Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Jul 2005

Is Vince Young an NFL Prospect?

Watching the Rose Bowl with my wife this year, she asked me where I thought Vince Young would be drafted. Until she asked, I honestly had never even thought about him becoming a pro. His throwing motion is so bizarre that I just can't imagine him being an NFL quarterback. And yet, as I watched him make the Michigan defense look like a high school team, I realized that he's just too good an athlete not to find a spot somewhere on an NFL roster.

According to this article, most scouts think his pro prospects are quite good, as long as he's willing to play a position other than quarterback. I think he should root very hard for Matt Jones to have success as a receiver -- if it works for Jones, every team will think big, athletic quarterbacks have a future in the NFL.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 19 Jul 2005

25 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2006, 2:35pm by Dan Babbitt


by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 12:05pm

Is there a track record of what QB-turned-WRs have achieved in the NFL?

by blueStarDude (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 12:07pm

Commentators always talk of Vick as representing the "new breed" of QB. Problem is it's still pretty much a breed of one. There just aren't enough coaches around ready to adjust their offenses to fit a Vickian skill set, i.e. to offset the throwing deficiencies with one's quick and elusive running ability. OCs w/ great imagination are needed before guys like Young can have a solid chance of making it as QBs. Anyway, w/ a little more development and increased accuracy, I can see a best-case scenario for Young as a kind of Kosar on Vick legs, which wouldn't be too shabby.

by Luz (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 12:16pm


i guess it depends on your standards for success. hines ward certainly would qualify, while he played running back and reciever at georgia his primary position was quarterback. antwaan randle el was an option type quarterback at indiana. drew bennett of the titans was also a quarterback, i think. there are probably several more that i'm missing.

by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 12:35pm

There have been a few college QBs who came into the league as WRs. IIRC, Rod Smith was one of them. He turned into a pretty good WR. Randle El was a QB too. I think it was more common a few years ago, or maybe you just don't hear about it as much.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 12:53pm

I thought Ward only threw about 10 passes at Georgia and was primarily a WR. Anyway, having personally witnessed Young's shredding of the Michigan defense in Pasadena, I agree there should be a place for him as a WR/KR/PR in the NFL. With Young's weird throwing motion, as noted by MDS, his throws are much weaker and even much less accurate than Vick.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 1:02pm

Can someone describe how different his throwing motion is?

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 1:16pm

Click my initials for a picture of Young throwing the ball. I'm certainly not an expert on throwing mechanics, but when I look at him I think of a shot putter. He holds the ball way too low and too close to his shoulder. A scout in the linked article compares his throwing motion to Phillip Rivers', and I think that's a good comparison. (I think Rivers was a bad pick for the Chargers and thought that even before Brees had such a good year.)

Vinny, Ward threw 120 passes in his career at Georgia, caught 144, and had 203 rushing attempts. Does anyone know of another player who had that kind of versatility?

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 1:52pm

I believe Bert Emanuel was a QB in college.

by mistamaxwell (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 2:20pm

Woody Dantzler and Ronald Curry were QB's in college. Vince Young makes a very Kordell-like statement about not wanting to play anything besides QB. Kordell could've been such a good WR, compared to a very mediocre QB. Also, Marlin Briscoe was the first african-american starting QB in the league, and became a pretty decent receiver in the '60's/70's.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 3:24pm

I can't even fathom the idea of Young being a QB prospect at this point. Admittedly I didn't see much of him in the Rose Bowl, but I saw at 5 or 6 Texas games during the season. This guy couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door. He has a long way to go to prove that he could play in the NFL as a QB or anything else.

by somebody (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 3:50pm

I wish there was a college DPAR so we could see what young's rushing was in the rose bowl probably something in the triple digits. That game was probably the reason that ernest shazor didn't get drafted. When people are watching college football this year don't forget to watch virginia tech's new quarterback, he's had some off the field troubles lately but he has lot's of nfl potential his name slips my mind though ..... oh yeah marcus vick.

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:02pm

Don't you mean Ray Mexico?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:19pm

#2 is an interesting comment, but it causes me to wonder how viable such an approach is. A system planned around a quarterback who doesn't throw well, but is a great runner may work in spurts, but it also may place your fate too much in the hands of the injury gods. Vick has already missed most of one season to injury, and the problem is that having a back-up which approximates such a skill set is very diffcult, so an o.c. is then forced to make some pretty huge mid-season adjustments. It isn't like replacing Phil Simms with Jeff Hostetler.

Who knows? Maybe Vick-sytle Q.B.s are no more prone to injury than other quarterbacks, but it sure seems that such a q.b. is exposed to more hitting, assuming a competent o-line. Of course, if an o-line stinks, Vick's style probably lessens the chance of injury. Then again, nobody ever won a Super Bowl with a lousy o-line anyways.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:24pm

Hey, remember when Michigan lost the Rose Bowl when they effectively shut down a top-5 NFL draft pick RB but couldn't manage to tackle the quarterback? That was awesome. Actually, it was a great game, and I would think that even if Michigan hadn't lost. Can't wait to see Young being chased down by Hawk at the Shoe - I can't remember such a big non-conference interstate game so early in the season (USC/Auburn comes close, but I don't think anyone knew just how good SC would be that year). Kudos on the scheduling, gents.

As for college QBs switching positions, Kordell was probably the scariest receiver I can remember, Randle-El is solid, Emmanuel (go Rice go!) was pretty good, Dantzler hasn't been great but had that ridiculous kickoff return last year. One of the Nebraska QBs (Scott Frost?) switched to safety and has been pretty decent (still with the Jets?), and if Crouch had been willing to switch positions as a rookie instead of insisting on playing QB he would probably be in the league either as a receiver or safety. Oh yeah, and don't forget the immortal Tom Tupa, the best-passing punter since Baugh. And Drew Henson, switching from overhyped QB to overhyped 3B, back to overhyped QB. What a career!

On Roy Mexico - it's tempting to think he'll be another Ron, but let's do him the favor of letting him prove himself on the field. So far he hasn't shown nearly the talent Ron showed in college. Suffice it to say, Ron never would have been beaten out by, um, Randall? I totally forget VT's QB's name. Anyway, I know Roy had his off-field troubles, but the other guy was simply a better QB when they split time, and it actually wasn't all that close. So let's hold off before we annoint the Hokies champs based on having a healthy crime-free Roy this year, at least until he shows something.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:51pm

Alright, we need a concensus is it Roy or Ray? I prefer Roy because its only a one letter difference.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 6:28pm

I thought Brad Smith was the next Mike Vick?

by Sebastian (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 8:19pm

Caught a few Texas games last year, I didn't see a future NFL QB. What I saw was somebody who's throwing motion was "unusual", to say the least. If you'd insist on finding any pattern in his decision-making and throwing, I'd probably be "consistently poor" with some flashes of promise, not the other way around. If he doesn't make some kind of quantum leap, I don't see him playing QB in the league. Unless you're taking of the "Arena League", of course.

by Glenn (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 8:41pm

Everyone is missing the major point of this thread:

MDS' wife watches bowl games with him and analyzes draft positions!

Is this a blessing or a curse?

by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 2:11am

"One of the Nebraska QBs (Scott Frost?) switched to safety and has been pretty decent (still with the Jets?), "

Frost actually never amounted to anything - Parcells had drafted him high, 3rd round I think, and he only lasted a couple years, never was a starter or top backup, basically just a special teams guy.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 9:42am

A good friend of mine at law school is a big UT fan, so we talk about the Horns a fair amount. Another problem VY had last year was his receivers were terrible- I think Young was the best receiver on the team. Basically, you had a QB with accuracy problems that couldn't help the receivers throwing to unreliable receivers who couldn't make the QB look good- it was a perfect storm of sorts. It wasn't pretty. Vick at VT at least had Andre Davis to count on (and I think there was another good receiver there at that time, although I'm drawing a blank). Plus, anytime Mack Brown is involved, he can always be blamed.

If UT has competent receivers this year, Young's numbers will at least artificially increase- even if he's not actually better, the talent around him will make him look better. He'll probably be better this year with a full season as QB under his belt, but I don't see him as an NFL QB unless he makes quantum leaps with his throwing ability.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:28am


If you recall that draft discussion, I stated that Rivers was not a good pick and got slammed on this site. You have been warned...

by Vinny (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:07pm

MDS - You're right. Ward was a full-time receiver his junior and season seasons, which is what I remembered. But looking at Georgia's football site, he was a running back his freshman year (77 rushing attempts that year) and was forced to play QB his sophomore year (when he attempted 112 of his 120 college career passes and 70 more rushing attempts) when Mike Bobo got hurt.

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 4:11pm

John Lynch played QB at Stanford, didn't he?

by Sean D (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:20pm

Charger Fan here. Rivers is, has been, and always will be a bad pick.

by Dan Babbitt (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 2:35pm

"According to this article, most scouts think his pro prospects are quite good, as long as he’s willing to play a position other than quarterback."

I wonder if those days are over?