Everyone who follows the NFL and the draft knows about the big 3. RGIII, Luck, and of course the fast rising Ryan Tanehill, who may be the most over hyped player since JaMarcus Russell. Every season, there is a few players who seemingly come out of nowhere to take the NFL by storm; this series will depict our top three sleeper prospects at various positions. Let’s get started by talking QB, the leader of the team. A great quarterback needs to have a few elements. Sure it’s great to have a cannon arm, or to be able to run a 4.4 40 yard dash, but neither of those things build a complete Quarterback, See JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young for further proof. There are three players in this years draft which I feel display different aspects needed from a QB which can escalate them to NFL stardom. Those 3 QB’s are this years QB sleepers to watch.
1.) Case Keenum
Here we have one of those situations that is just plain hard to read. On one hand, you have Case Keenum, arguably the greatest College Football Quarterback in history (based off of numbers). On the other hand, the NFL has seen countless QB’s, such has Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell, and basically any other Texas Tech QB ever to play, come from pass heavy offenses, where they put up ridiculous numbers, only to fizzle out the moment their college career is over. So a midst the constant disappointments the NFL has seen, (Chang, Brennan, Harrell) where do we place Keenum? Let’s find out.
Accuracy- This is where Keenum starts to remind us a little of Kellen Moore, but even more than Moore, Case Keenum can be so accurate it is silly. Throughout his career, Keenum has displayed pinpoint accuracy and touch, dropping it over defenders and placing the ball where only his wide receiver can get it. In fact, Keenum is so accurate that in 2011, on a whopping 603 attempts, Keenum posted a 71% CMP, averaging 9.3 yards per throw, with 48 td’s and 5INT’s…that’s right, five. That’s a TD to INT ratio we haven’t seen since that one amazing year Omar Jacobs put up (I have still not gotten over that fact that Jacobs didn’t get a fair shake in the NFL). The bottom line is, if you had one rock, and you had to knock a can off the fence that was 35 yards away or you would be shot in the face, Keenum is the guy you want throwing that rock.
Arm Strength- This is where Keenum really separates himself from the likes of Kellen Moore, and really starts to take on a Drew Brees like feel. Like Brees, Keenum does not have the strongest arm to ever play the game, but also like Brees, Keenum does have the arm strength to make every NFL throw. He can sling the deep out or corner as well as anyone, and unlike a guy like Kellen Moore, he doesn’t have to rely as much on anticipation of a window opening, as even if he is a little late in his read, he can fit the ball in there.
Intangibles- Case Keenum arguably possesses one of the best sets of intangibles in the NFL draft. In his career, Keenum has overcome not one, but two career threatening injuries, yet both times, he has worked hard and come back even better than before. Keenum is a leader on the field, he commands his offense with confidence and is not easily shaken, he knows what it takes to win. When he throws an interception, Keenum doesn’t get flustered, he stays calm, he doesn’t panic, and he goes right back out on the field to lead his team. Keenum is incredibly humble, and never takes the credit for himself, he always gives credit to his wide receivers and offensive line first for making big plays.
Keenum needs to learn to make better reads on the field when the play breaks down. Coming from an offense where he would often get rid of the ball quickly, Keenum showed from time to time that if his guy wasn’t open for the quick throw, he doesn’t always see the field to find the open guy. Keenum also needs to work on his decision making. When watching him play, you will see a couple throws that are characteristic of a guy who maybe just trusts himself too much with the ball. Bottom line though, Case Keenum is a winner. He is the NCAA’s all time leader in passing yards, TD’s, and Completions, and he is the only QB to ever pass for over 5,000 yards in three separate seasons. Granted, Houston’s offensive scheme definitely padded his stats quite a bit, but productivity is productivity, and in the right scheme Keenum can not only excel, but become one of those rare special players. BleepingIdiots says: Keenum is our number one rated sleeper at the QB position.
Who he reminds us of- Keenum reminds me of two NFL QB’s. Physically, I see a lot of Drew Brees in Keenum, similar arm strength, scarily accurate, and not the tallest qb’s to everplay.Although Keenum does have about two inches on Brees. Keenum’s leadership qualities remind me of Kurt Warner. Not a screaming leader, but a quiet and strong leader, who is hard to shake.
Teams for his success- Keenum, like the other QB’s on this list, could exceed in a number of places where good QB coaching resides. I could see him in a spot like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Seattle, Atlanta, and two others which I think would lead Keenum to great success in different ways. The first is the Greenbay Packers, I believe Keenum could take on a Matt Flynn type role and sit behind Rodgers, learning the game from an all pro, and playing sparingly, but in 3-4 years getting traded and becoming a legitimate NFL starter. I could also see Keenum in Oakland, although he would not have the same developing benefits, from a scheme perspective, Keenum is fantastic when surrounded by athletes, relying on his accuracy to get the ball out of his hand early and letting the play-makers make plays. I could see Keenum excelling in a spread set with Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, and Darrius Heyward Bey, not to mention D-MAC
Highlights- Highlight reels are not a good way to evaluate a prospect, they show all of a players strengths and none of his weaknesses, but if you want to see some examples of what Keenum is capable of, watch this:
2.) Dominique Davis
This was a tough pick for me, because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t coming from a biased standpoint. I live about 30 seconds from Dominique and have worked out with him on the field, and attended every ECU home game in the 2011 season. However, on March 22nd, I watched him throw at his pro day, and my thoughts were confirmed. Dominique makes a very appealing sleeper prospect. Here is why.
Arm Strength- At ECU, Davis worked out of a spread, air raid style offense, where he got rid of the ball quick on short routes and screens the majority of the time. In the 2011 season, when Davis did throw down field, he seemed indecisive and over cautious, trying to hard not to make a mistake which actually led to more INT’s and under-throws than if he had just let the ball rip. As a result, many have criticized his arm strength, thinking of Davis as a touch QB with a soft arm much like that of Vince Young. Davis silenced those critics when he displayed his sneaky arm strength, surprising many scouts at his pro day when he really let the ball fly. Davis has a great mechanical delivery, and the ball just flows out of his hand. Davis’s throws cut through the wind with a combination of great velocity and touch; overall, it was an impressive showing. When you put on the tape, and get by some of the over-protection errors Davis displayed in not trusting his arm, it becomes obvious that Davis has the Arm to make all the NFL throws. He displays good strength on the deep outs, throwing it with enough arm strength to keep it high and outside where only his receiver can get it, and in pressure situations, Davis can fit the ball into a tight window.
Accuracy- Davis’s problems throwing the ball have never seem to come from lack of accuracy, but rather lack of anticipation and knowledge of the game; in fact, if you watch the tape, most of his interceptions are actually well throw balls, but they are late reads due to lack of anticipation of the receiver’s route. It should be noted however, that Davis has only been a starting QB for two seasons, and with the right coaching, those errors could be fixed. The accuracy is there, and it is impressive. Davis displays some of the best touch in the draft, able to drop the ball in right over the defenders head, and he, in my opinion, throws the best goal line fade in this draft.
Measurables- This is where Davis really excells. Davis stands at 6’3 1/2 and weighs in at 222lbs. When stacked up athletically against NFL combine performances, Davis’s 40 time of 4.56 is bested by only 2 qb’s, RGIII (4.41) and Russell Wilson (4.55) it should be noted that Davis ran basically the same time as Wilson but is four inches taller and twenty pounds heavier. Davis posted a 36 inch vertical, which would have tied him for 3rd best at the combine. Davis also would have finished in the top 5 in 3-cone drill (6.93) , and would have finished first amongst all QB’s in Broad Jump (10.4 Tied with Luck) and Strength Reps (15) Athletically speaking, it is clear that Davis can compete athletically with any QB in this draft and is in fact the most well rounded athlete at the position behind RGIII. Davis could rise to be a real player in the NFL, I have no doubt about that, his coaches will all say that Davis has one of the best work ethics they have ever seen. Davis is the first to show up, and the last to leave, he is a student of the game, and his athletic numbers reflect his work ethic.
Davis is far from a perfect QB prospect, his high INT rate this season definitely hurt his draft status, and he needs to make a lot of improvement in anticipating his throws and trusting his arm rather than being overly cautious of mistakes. He also tends to lock onto one receiver rather than going through his route progressions. If he can get in the right system I believe he can be developed, and shown how to read the D and anticipate the throws. Bleepingidiots says: Keep an eye out for Davis in the next 5 years.
Teams for his success- As I said before, Davis is far from perfect, and will need to be in the right system to succeed. I could see Davis succeeding at the following spots: Philadelphia, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, and my personal choice for his Landing spot would be the Buffalo, where Davis could bring an athletic component to the offense that would really accentuate some of the things Buffalo’s playbook wants to do
Highlights- Highlight reels are not a good way to evaluate a prospect, they show all of a players strengths and none of his weaknesses, but if you want to see some examples of what Dominique is capable of, watch this:
3.) Kellen Moore
Moore is third sleeper at the Quarterback position. Many scouts and NFL fans alike have come down hard on Moore, citing his lack of height, athletic ability, and arm strength as reason why he should not be considered as a viable quarterback option. Let’s take a look at what it is about Moore that we feel makes him a player to keep an eye on.
Knowledge of the game- Moore is a four year starting QB, and the winningest Quarterback in NCAA football history. Moore has commanded an offense at Boise st. which admittedly helped to pad his stats, yet productivity can not be overlooked. Many critics will say that any quarterback can throw touchdown against Idaho, UNLV, or San Diego state, and they are probably right. Still, In his games against big time schools, Moore has still produced. In his first year starting, Moore put up 386 yards, with 3 td’s and 1 int and a 67.6 CMP %. That is not the only high end competition Moore has faced. He has put up similar numbers against teams like Virginia Tech, TCU, and Georgia. Moore commands his offense like a leader, knowing where everyone on the field is, what reads to make, and how to get rid of the ball quickly
Anticipation- For a QB, anticipation is more important that arm strength. Sure it’s nice to be able to fire the ball into a small window on a late read, but if a QB knows his offense and how to make his reads, he can anticipate the window and hit it. A great example of this is Jeff Garcia, Chad Pennington, and Drew Brees. The first two were pretty good for their respective teams, and Brees of course is a top 4 NFL QB at this exact moment. None of them have elite arm strength for a Quarterback, in fact I’d be willing to bet if Chad Pennington threw a water balloon at you as hard as he could, it wouldn’t pop. Moore displays great anticipation, getting the ball out of his hands before the receiver breaks and making it hard for the defender to get an INT. In fact in 53 games, Moore has only thrown 28 Interceptions. Much of this can be attributed to his anticipation of throws as well as accuracy, but we’ll get to that. Another major knock on Kellen Moore is his height. Moore Measured in at 6 ft. tall. well 5-11 3/4 to be exact. Which is the same height as Brees, Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, and only 1 inch shorter than the aforementioned Garcia. Moore uses his anticipation to compensate for his height, as well as a variety of release points. It is not uncommon to see Moore drop back and execute a throw with perfect form, and then follow it up with a side armed throw, or a hybrid of the two. His ability to anticipate windows and alter his release point allows Moore to get the ball through the D-line without getting many balls batted down.
Accuracy- This is where Moore really shines. The word coming out of the senior bowl was that Moore struggled in practice with his drop backs, as well as accuracy. This worried many NFL scouts into taking an even further step back from Moore. Although I can see their fear as justified, the scouts have nothing to worry about. When you go to the tape, it is clear that Moore has great accuracy and touch. Moore throws the 10-15 yard routes as accurate as anyone in the draft, hitting the receiver in stride, and placing the ball where only his guy can get it. Moore even displays good accuracy on the intermediate and long routes. If you need more proof, take a look at his numbers, and as I said, I understand that Boise’s offensive scheme is QB friendly, but still, take a look. Moore has had CMP% on the season of 64.1, 69.4, 71.3, and 74.3. In those seasons he amassed a whopping 142 td’s and only 28 INT’s which is a TD/INT ratio of 5.1 td’s for every INT.
The final word is in. Bleeping Idiots ranks Kellen Moore as our #3 sleeper prospect at the QB position. I can not deny that Moore will not succeed for every single team, but in the right system, with the right coaching, Kellen Moore can be a star.
Who he reminds us of- Kellen Reminds us of a Drew Brees/Chad Pennington Hybrid
Teams for his success: Moore would be a great developmental player for a teams like, Patriots, Broncos, Eagles, Ram, and the Cardinals, but where I’d like to see Kellen most is the Sainst, where he can spend the next 3 years learning under Brees, and then eventually take the reigns and prove to the doubters what he can do.
Highlights- Highlight reels are not a good way to evaluate a prospect, they show all of a players strengths and none of his weaknesses, but if you want to see some examples of what Moore is capable of, watch this:
Stay tuned for: 2012 Top Sleeper Picks- Running Backs