2012 NFL Draft: Why Kellen Moore Could Be the Next Drew Brees—No, Really

Matt MadsenCorrespondent IIJanuary 31, 2012

Winning an NCAA record 50 games hasn't improved the NFL's view of Kellen Moore.
Winning an NCAA record 50 games hasn't improved the NFL's view of Kellen Moore.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

He's too short. He doesn't have NFL arm strength. He didn't run a pro-style offense in college.

We've all heard this evaluation before, usually being spouted from the mouths of either Mel Kiper, Jr. or Todd McShay.

It's always the same. A smaller guy coming out of college after a stellar career. He lit the college football world on fire for a few years, but he can't do it at the NFL level.

Drew Brees faced this evaluation in 2001. After watching him decisively break the NFL record for passing yards in a single season this year, there are more than a few teams kicking themselves about the decision to pass on Brees that year.

So why are we still having this conversation?

Because the NFL is enamored with size, strength and speed. Lack these qualities, and it can be a tough club to break into.

On the flip side of that, if you have a halfway decent college career, you're 6'3"-plus and can launch the ball 60 yards from your knees, you're a shoo-in for a first-round pick.

It's as if NFL coaches are so into themselves that they think they can coach any kid with a strong arm and a prototypical frame the necessities of life as an NFL quarterback (see JaMarcus Russell). Accuracy, pocket presence, leadership, ability to read defenses—none of these are required skills to be a first-round NFL draft pick.

They are only required to be an NFL success.

So here we are, less than three months away from the 2012 NFL draft, and we have yet another quarterback who lacks the traits most coveted by NFL evaluators, but who appears to have all the traits that have defined quarterbacking success at the NFL level.

Without pictures, you might read Kellen Moore's scouting report and think it was written about Drew Brees. Deadly accurate, decisive trigger man, reads defenses as well as anyone in the game. Too short, not strong enough, not mobile enough.

Worked out alright for Brees, didn't it?

Yet for some crazy reason, Moore is projected as a sixth-round draft pick.

I'm no NFL scout, but that can't be right. Moore finished with staggering career numbers at Boise, totaling almost 15,000 passing yards, 142 touchdowns and only 28 interceptions. He is the only quarterback in NCAA history to win 50 games as a starter and finished his career with a 50-3 record. He also led Boise State to a Fiesta Bowl win in 2010.

What more can this guy do?

Brees' stats pale in comparison to Moore's, but he played in the Big Ten, a significantly tougher conference than the WAC. Brees failed to win a BCS game at Purdue, though he did make it to one. He finished with roughly 3,000 fewer passing yards and 52 fewer touchdowns. He played in a system designed for him, which was described as "basketball on grass"—not unlike the system he now runs for the Saints, it was basically a spread offense.

When Kellen Moore enters the NFL, probably as a late-round pick, he will not receive the chances afforded to a first-round pick. He will have a hard time getting reps in practice and may end up in the Canadian Football League, or perhaps the Arena Football League. We may never know what happens to Moore, as he may disappear from football altogether.

Yet he may be one of the best quarterbacks in this class.

It wouldn't be the first time a late-round pick got a chance, though. It actually happens all the time. It's been well documented that Tom Brady emerged from being the 199th overall selection, and his career seems to be going OK.

And his situation mirrors what would need to happen for Moore to gain a foothold in the NFL.

If the team that takes a flier on Moore suffers an injury at the quarterback position, Moore may be placed in a position to compete for the starting job. That would open the door for Moore to become the next less-than-ideal-sized starter in the NFL. Moore's pinpoint accuracy and pro-level anticipation could very well spell success for the Boise St. product, not unlike New Orleans' Drew Brees.