Weeden may emerge as top QB in NFL

Sameer Bhuchar

Do something, anything other than watch the first 20 minutes of the NFL Draft.

Surf YouTube, start whatever research paper you’ve neglected for the semester, figure out your summer plans, but just don’t sit through the inevitable, because if you don’t know by now I’ll just tell you. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be bang-bang No. 1 and No. 2 picks.

Sorry Minnesota through Miami (picks 3-8) fans. Any of you hold-outs that think your team could have snagged one of those top prizes in a steal is sorely mistaken.

But don’t be sour that the top two quarterbacks are already taken. In fact, the third quarterback that should come off the board has a shot at providing as much as Luck or Griffin at the NFL level because of his talent and accuracy. And yes, I’m talking about Brandon Weeden.

Forget his age. In this case, Weeden is like a fine wine. He’s better as he gets older, and is immediately palatable for a team seeking instant wins. In fact, the case that he is too old is almost nonsense given that the average starting age of NFL quarterbacks is just about 28 years old — Weeden’s current age.

Weeden has outdueled opposing defenses throughout his time at Oklahoma State like a teenager bullying children on the playground. He’s amassed nearly 10,000 yards as a Cowboy and tossed 75 touchdowns. He’s so pro-ready that he makes watching him toss the pigskin look almost boring.

Scouts know he’s good and he’s got the wins and numbers to prove it, but they just gauge his age as too much of a risk.

Analysts would bark at such an endorsement as they’ve been quick to jump on the Ryan Tannehill bandwagon as the No. 3 guy. Tannehill did have impressive numbers at Texas A&M this season. He shattered records during his career under center, including single game passing yards (449 vs. Texas Tech, 2010), single season passing yards (3,744, 2011) and completion percentage (65.0, 2010). He ran his offense with pro terminology and understands how the West Coast system works. Not to mention that at 23 years old, he can be molded. On the surface it seems all there, so much so that people are willing to take a risk on a guy that spent most of his time as a wide receiver.

But dig a little deeper and teams should take notice that he’s a wild card of a pick. The intangibles, in this case, do matter between Weeden and Tannehill. Weeden has outdueled opposing defenses in high pressure situations. He had an incredible Fiesta Bowl performance, throwing for 399 yards and three touchdowns and went on to beat the consensus No. 1 pick, Luck. The game came down to the wire, but Weeden was poised in the pocket the whole time.

Tannehill played games with a fire under his behind in the first half of games, but couldn’t make throws down the stretch when he needed to. He was noticeably rattled and sometimes throws came out of his hands that made fans scratch their heads. Weeden, no matter how many times he was picked off or made an errant throw, was able to dig his offense back into the ground and forge forward.

Texas safety Blake Gideon has played both of the possible third selection quarterbacks. He thinks they are talented in their own ways, but his praise for each differs. He said Tannehill is a great first round quarterback, but not a top-10 get for any team. But he sees Weeden entirely differently.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I faced in four years with how he diagnoses the game and how fast he makes his reads.” Gideon said. “It’s unfortunate that he’s fallen into the situation he has … just because he’s an older guy.”

Are you listening, Miami?

Printed on Thursday, April 26, 2012 as: Weeden makes case for third-best QB in draft