Question of The Week: Is Josh Freeman First Round Material?

Dino NicandrosAnalyst IApril 15, 2009

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Josh Freeman #1 of the Kansas State Wildcats drops back with the ball during the game against the Texas Longhorns on September 29, 2007 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Kansas State won 41-21.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

One looks at former Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and sees shades of Oakland's JaMarcus Russellphysically menacing with a rocket launcher for a right arm.

While the comparisons are justifiable, is Freeman really the same caliber player? 

When Russell came out of LSU, he was fresh off a Sugar Bowl victory over Nptre Dame and the best season of his career, throwing for 3,129 yards and 28 touchdowns. 

What made Russell such a hot commodity, besides his mutant physical skills, was his success against arguably the best competition in all of college football.  SEC defenses were geared to stop Russell, but he succeeded anyway. 

However,the same cannot be said for Freeman. 

In 2008, his best season to date, Freeman threw for 2,945 yards and 20 touchdowns and added 14 scores on the ground for good measure.  These numbers are similar to Russell's, but the glaring difference is the success each quarterback had in their respective leagues. 

In 2006, LSU under Russell finished 11-2, 6-2 in conference play.  In 2008, Kansas State under Freeman finished 5-7, with a horrid 2-6 record in conference.

Russell was forced to beat the best defenses in the nation week in and week out and succeeded for the most part. 

Freeman had the luxury of facing Big 12 pass defenses that weren't very good across the board, but he was unable to lift his team to a Bowl game, much less a winning record.

That being said, Freeman didn't have much talent around him and the defense was non-existent.  He worked with what he had and did an admirable job.  That's the very reason he's being projected as a first round draft pick in this year's NFL Draft.

Freeman put up pretty good numbers while at Kansas State despite his poor supporting cast.  Scouts salivate over his physical gifts and the fact that he isn't anywhere near his full potential. 

Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez are at the top of this year's quarterback crop.  Does Freeman fit in with them?  In terms of overall skill, perhaps, but as far as the learning curve goes, he has a steep climb.

Freeman will be a late first round pick, but I see him as more of an early to mid-second round pick.  He has a lot to learn about the quarterback position, but he has the skills to succeed.