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10 Apr 2008

The Decline and Rise of Chad Henne

by Doug Farrar

Three Below

If Boston College's Matt Ryan is the lead dog in this year's draft class of quarterbacks -- and there's no doubt that he currently is -- there are three others who have been near the pole position at various points in their careers. Louisville's Brian Brohm, Delaware's Joe Flacco and Chad Henne of Michigan are potential franchise quarterbacks -- and potential journeymen. At least, that's what the experts say.

It wasn't supposed to be this way for Henne. He was the one destined for the accolades, the sure-thing first-round draft position, and the bright NFL future. Rated as quite possibly the best high school quarterback in the country as a senior in 2003, Henne started his very first game for the Michigan Wolverines and enjoyed the best season by a true freshman quarterback in Big Ten history. His play in 2005 and 2006 just added to his resume, and his 2007 season was supposed to place him in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy as his team contended for greatness.

Reality was an entirely different matter. Any hope the Wolverines had of taking the national championship disappeared on September 1, when Appalachian State pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history by beating Henne's team, 34-32. As if the shock of the opener wasn't bad enough, Henne, who started every game in his first three years, began racking up injuries at a frightening rate. The one that haunted his season was the separated shoulder suffered against Illinois on November 20. This caused him to sit out the following game, returning just in time to re-aggravate an earlier ankle sprain. In what could have been a lost season for himself and the team, Henne took shots in a shoulder that kept popping in and out in order to keep on playing.

That toughness was rewarded by a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl. Henne redeemed himself in the eyes of many, showing pro-level command during practices and throwing two touchdowns in the game. This established him firmly into the top-to-middle portion of the second round in the eyes of most analysts -- certainly not what he expected earlier in his career, but a decent indicator that plenty of people believe that Chad Henne can lead an NFL team.

The Golden Child

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on July 2, 1985, Henne is proud to be a part his home state's quarterback legacy. "With the Marinos, the Montanas and the Unitases ... (there's) definitely a great tradition from Pennsylvania," he said in a recent interview. "You learn something about it in the growing-up process and hopefully you can become one of them some day. It's a big part of your life if you come out of Pennsylvania. We pride ourselves on that. We always play Ohio in an All-Star game called 'The Big 33 (All-Star Classic)' -- the top 33 players from Pennsylvania and Ohio. We've got a lot of good football here, and a lot of great players have come out of here."

In four years at Wilson High, Henne set the Pennsylvania District III records for passing yards and touchdown passes (7,071 and 74) and was at or near the top of every possible list compiled to rate high school prospects. He played in the Big 33 and the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Game, competed in track and basketball, and had, by his own estimation, "65 to 70 different offers" from colleges.

"The top five that it came down to were Michigan, Penn State, Miami, Tennessee, and Georgia," he says. "I picked Michigan because of the tradition at quarterback, and the school, and getting to know Coach (Lloyd) Carr, I felt it would be a great opportunity to play for him. My quarterback coach, Scot Loeffler, recruited me heavily. He was a quarterback at Michigan in the early to mid-1990s. He got me in, and I just fell in love with what he was doing and how he does it."

Whatever happened, it worked right away. Henne started his first collegiate game, a 43-10 win over Miami of Ohio, throwing for two touchdowns. The hits kept on coming. There was the 87-yard game-winning drive he led against Minnesota, the four-touchdown performance in a comeback triple-overtime victory over Michigan State, and the four-score encore in the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines lost the game to Texas by one point, but the NCAA had been put on notice: This kid was for real. With 240 completions in 399 attempts for 2,743 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, Henne put up an opening act for the ages.

"(Loeffler) prepared me very well for it -- just knowing the process," Henne says. "He had coached the Tom Bradys and Brian Grieses of the world, so he had the experience. He could tell me, 'Just be yourself and be disciplined. Just go through your progressions and hit the first open receiver. Be decisive, and be a leader on the field -- just go out there and play your game.'"

"We had a lot of great players, and just to be around them -- we had Braylon Edwards at that time, and we had a lot of great senior leadership on that team," Henne adds, when asked how he was able to succeed right away. "They guided me for the first four or five games, and once I started to get the hang of it, being the leader of the offense and the quarterback of that team, I started feeling a lot more confident. Things got better, and I learned how to prepare, and things just kind of went on from there."

Henne's sophomore and junior seasons did little to tarnish his reputation. He cut down on his interceptions, throwing eight each in 2005 and 2006, and his junior year looked like a precursor to greatness when he finished 26th in the NCAA in passing efficiency. The word "Heisman" was used in connection with his name more than once in the 2007 preseason, and expectations were high for Henne's Michigan team. The loss to Appalachian State started a free-fall that gave Henne more than he bargained for.

Reality Bites

"Going in, we were ranked either fourth or fifth in the country," Henne says of the loss. "We had a great offense coming back with key players. We definitely went into that game overconfident. It definitely showed on the field -- we thought we could just run down the field and score at will, and that didn't happen. They had a great offense, and some key players that shook up our defense, and we got in the hole. That was the first real test -- to see what kind of team we were. Could we come back from a deficit or a loss?"

"After losing that game, our senior leadership came through," he continues. "We had to wipe that from our minds -- it was an embarrassment to ourselves and to the program, but we still had a lot to play for. That was the key point that we made."

What he was to play with, however, was the string of injuries that compromised his effectiveness. Between knee, ankle, and shoulder problems, Henne suffered his worst statistical year to date as his team worked to make something out of a season that came up lame out of the blocks. It got even worse when Oregon humiliated Michigan the following week in a 39-7 thrashing. Henne threw an interception in the game's opening drive and hurt his lower leg later on. Physically, the worst was yet to come.

"I injured my shoulder in the Illinois game -- separated it and got an injection to numb it up so I could still play," he says. "It was definitely hard for me to keep going under center, because my shoulder kept sliding in and out. It wasn't the greatest feeling I've ever been through, but I just went though it week by week. I couldn't really practice at all -- I could only come out on Thursdays for walk-throughs and to throw five or ten balls. There was so much pain; I could only throw with an injection. I played that way all year, but I wanted to see what I could do, and hopefully guide my team to some wins."

Henne said that the game plans didn't change because "I asked the coaching staff not to change it up for me. I'd go out there, and I'd do as much as I could. We stayed similar to what we did -- we kept the deep ball in there and I fought through the pain."

The Wolverines finished the 2007 season with a 9-4 record, and Henne closed his college career with a 41-35 win over the 12th-ranked Florida Gators on New Year's Day in the Capital One Bowl. Though he threw for three touchdowns in the game, Henne's two interceptions, three sacks and one intentional grounding penalty outlined the scouting debits that Michigan's all-time leading quarterback will take forward with him. Questions about his decision-making and mobility kept him out of any first-round estimations, but his Senior Bowl week showed bright flashes of the Chad Henne so many expected in his senior season. His leadership ability with the North team in practice, and his two touchdown passes in the game itself, provided a nice bounceback from a season in which Henne felt himself to be a forgotten man.

"Just going out there and being healthy and just showing the scouts that I'm the same guy I was before my senior season. The Florida game and the Senior Bowl hopefully brought back my stock and (I was able to show them) what they are looking for in a quarterback. I have the same potential and hopefully they realize that. I'm the same person and can still play the same way."

The Seventh Day

NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang says that while the issues that some have with his abilities are warranted, "Henne is the most physically talented passer in this year's draft. He boasts one of the draft's strongest arms and accuracy to all levels of the field -- a combination that makes him a fit in every NFL offense. Due to his arm strength, trajectory, and deft touch, he ranks among the elite deep ball passers, as well."

"The concern with Henne is two-fold," adds Rang. "There is a perception that Henne struggles under pressure. Losing all four starts against rival Ohio State is perhaps an unfair manner in which to assess Henne's performance, but it is one that some scouts will use. In my opinion, he proved his mettle in upsetting Florida in the Capital One Bowl to close out his and Lloyd Carr's career and by enjoying a dominant performance throughout Senior Bowl week.

"The perception that Henne struggles with pressure, however, is legitimate. He has a tendency to press when things go wrong. He will hold on to the ball too long, at times, and took needless sacks throughout his career rather than throw the ball away. Because of this tendency, Henne's other liability -- his lack of foot quickness -- is a slightly greater concern than normal. Henne senses pressure and will step up in the pocket to avoid the rush and complete the pass, but struggles to get outside of the pocket and is very little threat to defenses to scramble."

Henne addressed the mobility issue in our interview. "A lot of (analysts) question me getting outside the pocket and making throws on the run since, at Michigan, we didn't throw a lot of bootlegs or throw on the run. Hopefully, I extended that out at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. I made a lot of different throws during my Pro Day where people saw that I could throw on the run and be accurate."

Former NFL scout Tom Marino told me that while Henne has some finishing work to do ("He has a tendency to eyeball receivers and needs to develop better throwing touch. He will throw into some very tight windows."), he can develop in to a solid starter at the NFL level.

FO's Russell Levine, Michigan alum and our resident Seventh-Day Adventurist, had this to add: "I watched the guy take just about every single snap of his college career, albeit with a biased eye. A couple things about him stand out. One, he has an NFL-ready arm. Not just a "can throw it 70 yards" arm, but can throw the deep out and the skinny post over the LB and in front of the corner (before the safety gets there) arm.

"He also played in pretty much a pro-style offense, which is part of the reason why Michigan quarterbacks have all been able to at least play at the next level if not excel there.

On the downside, his accuracy is inconsistent. He spent much of his sophomore year throwing to what Brian Cook of Mgoblog referred to as "Tacopants", who was not-so-affectionately known as Jason Avant's imaginary 11-foot-tall friend. Henne really improved as a junior and senior (when healthy) but still tends to airmail the open guy from time to time, and also comes up with the occasional head-scratcher of an interception."

Last week, four teams made their way to Ann Arbor to work Henne out -- the Buccaneers, Seahawks, Dolphins and Falcons. Though the West Coast offenses run by Tampa Bay and Seattle would provide serious complexity, Henne said that he's got a head-start in that area.

"When we first went into meetings (preparing for the Senior Bowl with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who coached the North squad with Lane Kiffin's Oakland staff), mostly all of the terminology was the same as what we ran at Michigan. I know a lot of teams run the West Coast and obviously I'm accustomed to that and a pro-style offense. Hopefully, that will be an easy adjustment when I get to the next level." Visits to Baltimore, St. Louis, and Washington are next on Henne's agenda.

He has displayed the very highest level of pure potential, and been brought back to earth by different shades of adversity. If the upside has defined him, the downside has toughened and shaped him beyond the first blush of would-be greatness. In the end, it is how he has reacted to the hard times that will make it possible for Chad Henne to exceed even his own expectations.

Many thanks to Justin Schulman from Athletes First, LLC for his help in setting up this interview, and to Scott Eklund for his transcription assistance.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 10 Apr 2008

31 comments, Last at 13 Apr 2008, 5:15pm by PaulH


by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 6:13pm

OK, I'll do it:

What were his career completion % and number of starts? (I assume both were high, so he should project well in Lewin's system if he goes in the 2nd round.)

by Will B. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 6:24pm

If Henne didn't have Braylon Edwards his freshman year, would we view his career any differently? The general feeling I get about Henne is that he never got any better after his freshman year, but that forgets the fact that Braylon Edwards was unstoppable that season. If you discount his freshman year just a bit, you can see quite a bit of improvement until his Senior year.

I don't doubt that Henne will be successful in the NFL. He's played behind strong lines in college, but has only had one elite skill player (Edwards).

by Will B. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 6:27pm

RE: #1

828/1387 = 59.7%
7 yards per attempt

Started every game except for three his senior year, but played very little against Wisconsin last year.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 6:47pm

Judging by this article and my eyeballs, Henne will probably be something along the lines of a Drew Bledsoe/Kerry Collins type passer. Nice thrower with good accuracy, but like a statue. I can't help but think defenses these days salivate at immobile QBs like that.

by formersd (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 7:03pm

Going into his senior season, I had Henne as a must watch due to his high number of college starts and his improving completion percentage. Given his struggles, he's obviously taken a hit in most people's eyes, but I think he can be a solid NFL QB, though his superstar potential has dimmed considerably in my mind...

by *Legion* (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 8:10pm

Chad Henne? He's a joke.

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 8:52pm

Re #1: He started 47 games and completed a bit less than 60% of his passes. I believe that Lewin's recent research has found that games started becomes less important in the second round, where Henne is likely to be drafted, than in the first round, while completion percentage is equally important throughout. So, he'll probably have a decent projection, but nothing earth-shattering.

Judging by this article and my eyeballs, Henne will probably be something along the lines of a Drew Bledsoe/Kerry Collins type passer.

I can definitely see that.

Nice thrower with good accuracy, but like a statue. I can’t help but think defenses these days salivate at immobile QBs like that.

Careful here. Tom Brady's a statue, too, and he's got a very low sack rate. And Bledsoe's sack rate was average or better for the first 7 years of his career. And Kerry Collins has had a fairly low sack rate throughout his career, and as recently as 2004 had a lower sack rate than Tom Brady. Immobile doesn't always mean sack-prone.

And, on the other side, mobile doesn't always mean good at avoiding sacks. Aaron Brooks was mobile, but mobility doesn't help much when you use it to take a 30 step drop and then get sacked.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:31pm

re 6: i only watched it once, but I think there were either 3 or 4 passes that went straight to the receiver and the receivers dropped it, and you cant really blame him when his LT misses the block and he gets blindsided >_<

but yeah, i dont know anything about college football, so he might actually be a joke, just a bad compilation to convince me that he is in my opinion :P.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:47pm

828/1387 = 59.7%
7 yards per attempt

Started every game except for three his senior year, but played very little against Wisconsin last year.

If you are correct on the starts, that would put him at either 46 or 47 starts, depending on how you count the Wisconsin game.

So, for a projection, he's looking at 46/47 starts coupled with a 59.7% career completion rate. That sounds like a pretty good projection.

All told, I think Henne is a decent prospect who will get drafted pretty high, and play a while in the NFL. I could see him starting for a few years, and doing fairly well. However, I don't really see him ever becoming an elite player though.

by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 12:00am

47 starts. I should have included that!

by bradluen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 1:59am

So Henne or Joe Flacco for third QB taken? Similar players, seems to me you should pick Henne, who's played and produced at the top level, even if Flacco has the better arm.

by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 4:00am

Re: 11
I'd have to lean towards the guy who takes injections into his arm so that he can stay on the field and compete over the guy who passed on going to Pitt in favor of Delaware. And I'm not one who places as much on intangibles as most. But that speaks to something about the two QBs in my mind.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 7:38am

I've seen a fair amount of Henne while he was at Michigan and I think he's a pretty good pro prospect - considerably better in my estimation than Drew Stanton drafted early in round two last year. Henne has a terrific arm and his college stats have been a little depressed due to Michigan's conservative approach during his career there. The mobility question is a legit one. He is never going to be a guy to run around like Roethlisberger. Can he develop the ability to buy a little time by sliding around in the pocket just a little bit? If so, I think his chances for success are pretty good. If not, I doubt he becomes a consistent starter.

by Gill Brandt (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 8:42am

:: Doug Farrar — 4/10/2008 @ 11:00 pm
Are those 47 starts inclusive Bowl games??

by mrh (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:10am

#14: a little raiderjoe spelling and grammar going on, but well done

by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:13am

Bowl games included.

by Doug English (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:25am

Occasionally imagines a target box 10' in the air, occasionally throws head scratching interceptions... but a great arm. Having only seen Henne play occasionally I don't know if this is accruate, but is Eli Manning a fair comparison?

by Theo, Netherlands (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 10:14am

:: mrh — 4/11/2008 @ 8:10 am
I still had some yesterday night in me when I typed that.
Translated into Dutch, it would make perfect sense.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 11:09am

Here's what Lewin says about Henne:

Henne was never all that accurate at Michigan, but his college pedigree and skill set are similar to Brady Quinn's. With loads of starts against top defenses, Henne established that he can play at a pretty high level. Scouts do not miss on guys who started all four years. Henne is probably the No. 2 quarterback in the draft, behind only Brohm, and just ahead of Woodson and Ryan.

Article linked on my name where he evaluates all the '08 quarterbacks.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 12:02pm

The real question is...Mike Hart, is he going to do anything in the NFL?

by JoRo (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 12:37pm

I have to ask, how much does the injury figure to hurt him though as a prospect down the road? I mean... Most of us assume that Henne being healthy would have had a higher completion % and games started... so would that mean he still has the potential to be a superstar? Or no...?

I am a Bronco fan, but as a draft fan I am curious

by Will B. (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 1:16pm


Mike Hart = no. He succeeded because of a great offensive line at Michigan. He runs his mouth too much and is not especially talented. Against top level defenses:

Ohio State '04 - 18 car 61 yds
Penn State '05 - 23 car 108 yds
Ohio State '05 - 9 car 15 yds
Nebraska '05 - 19 car 74 yds
Penn State '06 - 26 car 112 yds
Ohio State '06 - 23 car 142 yds (suspect defense alert)
USC '06 - 17 car 47 yds
Penn State '07 - 44(!) car 153 yds
Ohio State '07 - 18 car 44 yds
Florida '07 - 32 car 129 yds

Other than the Ohio State game in 2006, his numbers are either crappy or workmanlike against these top level defenses. And the Ohio State defense of 2006 was really exposed by Michigan and Florida.

by Patrick (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 1:29pm

Untitled Document

The scouts have legitimate concerns about Henne's accuracy, decision-making, and footspeed. But see also the best description of robo-Henne from mgoblog:
"This weekend, now-senior Chad Henne strode onto the turf at Spartan
Stadium facing a ten point deficit. He was 6 for 19 for 83 yards at
that point, 47 of which came on a single bomb to Mario Manningham. The
clock read 7:35."

"On the last two drives he was 12-14 for 129 yards, flinging wide open outs, finding Mathews on a critical third and long, and looping perfect touchdown passes to Greg Mathews and Mario Manningham. He was ruthless, precise, and busy calculating digits of pi deep into the millions. He has a heart of nails and lungs made from old tires; his hair consists of pipe cleaners cropped short and his bones are discarded pipes. You have to whack him in just the right spot at just the right time to get his late-model Soviet guidance chip to seat itself in his shoddy southeast Asian motherboard."
If you can correct some of Henne's mechanics at the pro level, he might turn into a superstar.

by J (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 5:32pm

One thing to keep in mind about Henne is that Michigan QBs don't have high completion percentages as a rule almost. Tom Brady appears to have the highest completion percentage of Michigan QBs (all Michgan stats are avaliable online), and it's 62%. Henne's predecessor, John Navre (sp?), had a 55%. So, Henne's 59.7% is pretty good. They edge out Brady Quinn, who had 45 starts and 58.0%, but for 47 starts he doesn't have that many attempts, just like Donvan McNabb didn't. I expect, like McNabb, Henne will underperform his projection a bit, but I think his 59% isn't something to worry about.

I think Brohm (33 starts, 65.7%) will underperform his projection a bit too. Unlike Michigan QBs' lower completion percentages, Lousville QBs have routinely completed a high number of their passes. Brohm's predecessor, Stephan LeFlors (sp?) completed more than 66% of his passses. he's playing in Canada now. Before that, Chris Redman completed around 63% of his passes. I think Brohm may underperfom a bit, but I still think he'll be decent until he hits 30 years old. He'll be exactly like Pennington. His injuries will catch up and just sap him of whatever ability he has to throw the ball. Brohm's been injured every year (injured himself in last game in college, but still finished game).

I think Flacco could be the latest QB to have the "stupid human tricks" factor going for him, like Kyle Boller (more than 40 starts, 47%) and JaMarcus Russell, which makes coaches and GMs ignore his stats in favor of his potential. He's only started 26 games in college and completed 63% of his passes in division I-AA. below the 30 plateau, not good. He also couldn't beat Tyler Palko out at Pittsburg. Kiper has Flacco rated (this week, anyway) number 24 on his big board, but no matter how bad of a Pitt head coach Wansted (sp?) is, you would think that he could recognize someone with potential first round ability in comparison to someone who wasn't even drafted. By the same token, maybe Flacco was really beating out Palko and thought he didn't get a fair chance. Maybe, but I doubt it. As a Ravens fan, I'd be happy with Ryan, Brohm, or Henne.

by John Morgan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 6:40pm

Reading Lewin's take on Woodson, I have to say, it's won't take a coach tinkering with his delivery for him to fail. Unless he gets his sack problems under control, he's practically guaranteed to fail. Pocket presence matters.

by Chip (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 3:16pm

#25 That was my initial reaction too, but I remembered a PFW article on this year's QB draft class that included essentially an adjusted sack percentage (couldn't find the link though). They quoted the sacks per pass attempt, but here are the adj. sack % for the top four (from memory):
Ryan 1/30 (3.3%)
Brohm 1/25 (4.0%)
Henne 1/17 (5.8%)
Woodson 1/14 (7.2%)

Ryan's is excellent considering the style of offense, while Brohm's is more disconcerting. Henne/Woodson's aren't great, but considering the pro-style offense, they're not that bad. Sub 4% is good for top three per FO stats, while Henne would be good for 14th in adj. sack rate last year, while Woodson would be around 18th.

Oh, and this is a great line: "You have to whack him in just the right spot at just the right time to get his late-model Soviet guidance chip to seat itself in his shoddy southeast Asian motherboard.”

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 4:03pm

As a Texans fan, I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that a quarterback's play has a big impact on his sack total, but the offensive line makes a big difference too. Ryan's was very good. Woodson's was not. I'm not saying Woodson couldn't do a better job of avoiding sacks, but just quoting college sack rates doesn't give the full picture.

by JoRo (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 6:02pm

#24 I think that Henne or Brohm is the way to go in this draft. Both seem to have solid backup or decent starter with some upside on them, and I trust their Lewin projections better than Ryan or Flacco (small school guy with few starts doesn't impress me with a cannon) I am sure glad Denver got their starter. ON A SIDE NOTE: if any of you wanna check out a cool new football rpg type site click on my name and sign up it is free.

by Chip (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 11:39pm

#27 Agreed. I was headed there in my post but didn't finish my thoughts.

Jay Cutler is an example of a successful college QB who played on relatively less talented teams against top competition. Cutler had a 7% sack rate over 4 yrs at Vandy, but has averaged 5.5% during his first two years in DEN. One data point, obviously, but intuitively QBs who lead less talented teams in tough conferences ought to see a drop once they make a move to the NFL.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Sun, 04/13/2008 - 10:53am

Re #22
I wouldn't be quite so ready to write Hart off based on that. Check out Larry Johnson's stats his senior year at Penn State against Top 50 rush defenses. They look an awful lot like those Hart numbers you posted.

I think Hart's capable of being a marginal-quality starter or good backup in the NFL.

Going back to the original topic of the post, I think Henne would best succeed like Derek Anderson did last year-good skill position players, deep passes so the Tacopants lapses aren't quite as important, good offensive line so happy feet and Tacopants don't put in as many appearances. Then again, watching Derek Anderson as OrSU, I never dreamed he could do what he did last year.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 04/13/2008 - 5:15pm

Jay Cutler is an example of a successful college QB who played on relatively less talented teams against top competition. Cutler had a 7% sack rate over 4 yrs at Vandy, but has averaged 5.5% during his first two years in DEN. One data point, obviously, but intuitively QBs who lead less talented teams in tough conferences ought to see a drop once they make a move to the NFL.

I agree with that to an extent, but I think Woodson is going to be a good bit different than Cutler. I wouldn't be shocked if his sack rate came down a tad, but he's always going to get sacked a pretty high amount unless he has a great offensive line in front of him. He struggles with pocket presense, rarely breaks out of a tackle when the pressure gets to him, and he has a pretty slow and unusual release. I imagine he will always get sacked a good bit in the NFL.