2012 Ticket City Bowl: Case Keenum Elevates NFL Draft Stock with Strong Game

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2012

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02:  Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars carries the TicketCity Bowl trophy after a 30-14 win against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Cotton Bowl Stadium on January 2, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Case Keenum's draft stock got a major boost with a scintillating performance in the Ticket City Bowl. And he needed it.

Entering this game the prolific QB was widely projected as a sixth round QB. That projection seems a little low for a QB that just led a team to a one-loss season, had a QB rating of 177.9, threw for 45 touchdowns, over 5,000 yards and had a completion percentage of 71.7. 

However, there are some serious question marks about his potential in the NFL. He eased some of those concerns on Tuesday. 


Ticket City Bowl Performance

Keenum led his Cougars to a convincing 30-14 victory over No. 22 Penn State. He did that by going 45-of-69 for 532 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a nearly flawless performance.

In this performance he answered some big question marks about his NFL potential. 


Impact on Draft Stock

Keenum has a few knocks on him keeping him from being an elite prospect. One is that he has less-than-ideal size. He is listed at 6'1" or 6'2". He isn't likely to grow anytime soon, so there is nothing he can do about this. 

He also couldn't do anything about concerns over the system he played in. Keenum is in a stat-friendly spread offense. This is very different than anything he will run in the NFL. Scouts are always wary of QBs coming out of these kinds of systems.

Playing in this kind of system certainly doesn't mean he will be a failure in the NFL, it just means it can be hard to get a good read on the prospect. However, he certainly eased some of those concerns in this game because of the team he beat. 

Another big question mark with Keenum was that in Conference USA he had played less than elite programs. Penn State is coming off a solid year, and they have an accomplished defense. 

Opposing QBs had a rating of 115.65 against PSU. They allowed just 14 touchdown passes this season and hauled in 10 interceptions. 

Keenum shredded this defense like he was playing in a non contact 7-on-7 practice. With his prolific performance he erased any doubts about his ability to handle a stiff defense. 


Projection for Keenum

Kennum has a decent, but not elite NFL arm, and he combines this with his less than ideal size. This will keep him out of the first two days of the draft. 

However, he has a quick release, amazing accuracy and good leadership skills. And while his arm is less than elite, he can make all the NFL throws. 

He will be a valuable backup with the potential to develop into a solid starter as he gets used to a pro-style system. Expect Keenum to be drafted in the fourth round.