Now, I'm not a huge NCAA football fan, but when a good game coincided with a bigtime QB prospect, I watched it. I watched TCU/Wisconsin, VT/Stanford, and the national championship. I know that's not a huge group of games, but that means that I've seen Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, and Scott Tolzien in their most important games against high quality competition. All of those guys are thought of as top 10 QB's, even though Tolzien is a little lower down the list and likely a 6th round pick if he's taken at all.
Let's start with the obvious: Andrew Luck.
Luck: First off, have you seen Luck's stats? Incredible. 70% completions, 32 TDs to 8 INTs. Then the commentator said that Luck's playbook has about 350 plays to choose from. I started drooling. Then I saw him throw. I had to go change my pants. I will say this right now: I will be absolutely shocked if he is NOT the next Peyton Manning. Actually, that's not entirely right, because Luck would never sack himself or pout on the sideline. He's just a complete QB who is very accurate and can handle learning a gigantic pro-style offense. He's the perfect specimen. The Panthers are probably still swearing about his decision to stay in school.
Tyrod Taylor: I watched Taylor, and quite frankly I wasn't impressed. He never really seemed to use his arm. He was a big dink n dunker in the game, and there was one play in specific that was concerning to me. It was a 3rd and medium-long, and Stanford rushed 5. His O-line picked up all their blocks, but Taylor didn't expect them to, so rather than holding the ball and looking downfield, he looked to find a hole to run through. Needless to say, Stanford held the line and Taylor was left with nothing to do but get outside the pocket and throw the ball away. Run first QBs do not fly in my book. I think he'll a Vick-ish player in the NFL. And by Vick-ish, I mean a little bit better than Marcus Vick. He's likely to be a late pick, possibly at WR. I don't expect much from him at all.
Tolzien: Tolzien is interesting. I'm not sure what to make of this guy. He seems to have a pretty accurate arm. He's certainly not a scrub player or anything like that, but he's on a run first, run second, run third team, so he never got a chance to show what he can do. I don't know if that's a trust thing or if it's just the way the team is, but I get the feeling that given the shot, he'll impress somebody enough to get drafted. He does run a pro-style offense, and does so fairly well. I think he's likely to have a good combine performance, and that'll lead to somebody wanting him in the late rounds.
Dalton: All right, are you ready for this? Dalton is in my top 3 favorite QBs in all of the NCAA, and as far as bang for your buck, you will not do better. I watched his first drive of the game and here's what I saw: He threw one of those ten yard outs, and it had good enough zip to get to his guy without any threat of it getting intercepted. He then ran for some yardage. He finished the drive by standing in the face of the rush and delivering a perfect seam pass to his TE over the top for a 23 yard score. That was all I needed to see. He's pretty accurate. He can put some touch on the ball, but he also zipped his passes enough to hit the deep outs and beat safeties down the sideline in cover 2. If he's not taken in the 2nd round, he'll be taken in the 3rd. Count on it.
And last but not least,
Cam Newton: Cam is an important person to break down because he's likely to be someone's 1st round pick. Still, when it comes to the question of "what did I see last night?" SEC fans might not love my answer. I saw in Cam Newton a little hint of Jamarcus Tebow. He's got the Tebow dual threat thing going, and he works it pretty hard. He's a strong runner, but I tend to think of that as a bonus and not a core skill for a QB. As far as passing, he dink n dunked pretty much the whole game, and never really seemed to take any big shots deep or anything like that. He might have a big arm, but he didn't even try to use it last night when it mattered. He had a 30 yard TD pass, but really he just put the ball on his guy and let him run. Basically, I'm not impressed. We'll see what the combine brings, but as of right now, I'm not sure I'd be OK handing this guy the reigns, even if he was gonna sit for a year or two before seeing the field.
I should say, I'm pretty picky when it comes to QBs. I didn't expect to have anyone actually impress me, so Kellen Moore, Dalton and Luck (my personal top 3 NCAA QBs) have been great surprises for me. Any of these guys could turn out to be good QBs, but that's just what I saw in watching games this NCAA postseason.