You won't find many people out there, well, maybe outside of Manhattan, Kan., at least, that'll bang the table for their NFL team to draft Collin Klein as their team's quarterback of the future.
Klein has become one of the most interesting players in the upcoming draft for a number of reasons. He dominated college football last season en route to finishing in third place in the Heisman Trophy race while completing almost 65 percent of his passes and combining for 39 touchdowns.
But he still won't crack any debate on quarterbacks your team should be looking at in the upcoming draft. Let's take a closer look at why that is and whether that should be the case.
+ Size and strength
+ Leadership, work ethic
+ Anticipating routes
+ Accuracy on deep throws
Klein possesses excellent size and strength at the quarterback position. He checked in at 6'5", 226 pounds and has excellent mobility for a quarterback at that size.
He possesses good speed and maneuverability within the pocket in terms of short-area athleticism. He doesn't have a dynamic burst but is faster than he's widely given credit for.
He has very good arm strength, which he demonstrates on short and intermediate routes by putting good zip on the ball outside the hashes to his receivers.
Collin Klein is everything you want in a quarterback from a leadership, work ethic, character and intangibles standpoint. That's not really the issue with Klein, and if it weren't for a certain polarizing quarterback in New York taking headlines for holding a clipboard, he'd be a good comparison from an intangibles standpoint.
Klein came to Kansas State as a wide receiver after having a very successful career at Loveland High School in Colorado at quarterback. He eventually made his way back under center after a couple of years at Kansas State and in 2011 and 2012 he combined for 79 touchdowns and 6,600 yards of offense.
You'd also have a hard time finding a tougher player in the country than Collin Klein. He took punishment every single week throughout the course of the season when teams knew he was the heart and soul of the Kansas State team. He hopped back up each time and played through injuries that most people will never know about.
Much is made about Collin Klein's ability to throw the football, and for good reason. But arm strength is not one of the major issues in discussing Klein's potential at the NFL level.
He has the arm strength to get balls outside the hash and can stretch the field by getting the ball downfield through the air. He shows good zip on intermediate throws and can get the ball outside the hash on out-routes.
He can't make every throw needed at the NFL level, but it has more to do with his anticipation, mechanics and footwork than it does with his actual arm strength.
Klein struggled to lead receivers down the field on angled routes and doesn't often anticipate the receivers being open. He won't throw wide receivers open but rather wait until the receiver was at the top of his route before throwing the ball.
This works at the collegiate level and especially in the shotgun-spread, read-option offense that K-State ran with Klein last season. But it won't work in the NFL where you have to throw into windows and anticipate routes before they're actually there.
Many of Klein's big plays at Kansas State in the passing game were without defenders draped all over the receiver or where he had to lead the receiver open. Teams were selling out against the run, and these play-action passes left wide receivers running free down the field in open space.
Klein struggled at the East/West Shrine Game anticipating routes and showing the same effectiveness on offense he had in the Kansas State system.
Collin Klein has a major hitch in his delivery. He refined his mechanics after the 2011 season and we saw major improvement in that area in 2012, but it's still very long and very slow. That development was a major reason Klein went from a 57.3 completion percentage in 2011 to 64.8 percent in 2012.
It's a good sign that Klein was able to show development over the course of an offseason and gives you hope that he could continue developing that part of his game given more time.
But it's still a major issue for his development as a possible NFL quarterback that he'll need to continue overhauling his throwing mechanics. He's got the arm strength and athleticism to play the position but it's just a matter of his throwing motion being too long and deliberate.
It gives plenty of time to an NFL defensive back to make a break on the ball and get that extra count to break up or even intercept a pass.
Klein will also need to work on his footwork inside the pocket to play quarterback in the NFL. The majority of K-State's offense was run out of the shotgun formation. Which isn't as big of a deal as it was five years ago, but it didn't allow Klein to properly develop his ability to drop back and deliver passes at the top of his drop.
Many NFL offenses and passing games are built on timing and that means the quarterback needs to be precise on his three-, five- and seven-step drops before planting, driving and delivering the football.
This is an area where Klein doesn't get enough credit. Despite his issues with throwing mechanics and footwork, Klein was very good at moving around the pocket and going through his progressions. His internal clock when feeling pressure was rarely off and he had a knack for always knowing when the pocket was collapsing and when he needed to tuck and run.
Klein always looked in-control when inside the pocket and made calls and audibles at the line of scrimmage for K-State's offense.
Klein would stand tall in the pocket and despite his abilities as a runner, he'd keep his eyes downfield looking for a receiver to break open in front of him.
Klein became a fantastic college football player because of his ability to run the football. The development and understanding of K-State's offense and his calmness inside the pocket is what made him a Heisman finalist.
Klein runs with good pad level between the tackles and has the lower-body strength to break tackles if the defender isn't properly wrapping him up.
He's a better open-field athlete than he's given credit for and has outstanding vision and patience when running behind blockers. He would routinely stop moving his feet completely and allow his blockers to create a lane before heading down the field.
He understands how to set up blocks and create lanes when they're available. He'll also lower his shoulder and plow forward if that's the best option.
Future role/scheme versatility
Collin Klein showed enough improvement between 2011 and 2012 with his throwing mechanics that an NFL team might give him a shot to continue developing at quarterback. He still needs a lot of work but before he transitions to another position like tight end or running back, he'll get a shot as a quarterback.
A creative offensive coordinator could be able to find a role for Klein somewhere in their offense. He has a unique skill-set that would be of value to teams in the red zone.
Whether it's as a late-round pick or as an undrafted free agent, Klein will get a chance to make a NFL roster. He's the kind of guy you want on your team and a guy that's been bet against for a while now, and he just keeps proving people wrong.
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