NFL draft guru and ESPN Radio analyst Mel Kiper Jr. doubtless spends more time analyzing college talent than just about anyone on the planet.
Naturally, the man knows way more about more college football players than I do. Fine.
But Kiper hasn't seen Pat White play more times than I have.
So when Mel casually tossed out this little bon mot in his chat on ESPN.com today, it begged for reply:
Justin (Sandusky, OH): West Virginia running back Steve Slaton has filled out the papers for the NFL draft but has not yet signed with an agent. Do you see Slaton, or Pat White, making the move to the NFL?
Mel Kiper: I wouldn't be surprised with Slaton. He's not going to get any bigger. He's not going to be a featured back. He'll be an accent piece. That's not going to change this year or next year. In terms of White, he's going to play WR at the next level. So he has to decide if he wants to go play WR or if he wants to come back and try to win the Heisman in college.
How glibly Kiper decided that Pat White is going to play wide receiver—not quarterback—in the NFL.
I'm not sure I agree with Mel's assessment of Steve Slaton—but at least it's not wildly wrong, as is his assessment of White.
Pat White is not a wide receiver. Pat White is a quarterback. I don't think I ever fully understood what it means to be a quarterback until I watched Pat White play.
It's easy, and understandable, to focus on size, speed, arm strength, Wunderlich score—all the tangibles.
Kiper's logic is obvious, in fact: Pat White is only 6'1" and 190 pounds. He's too small to play quarterback in the NFL.
But quarterback is as much a mental position as it is a physical one. You have to have great judgment and a quick mind. And you have to be a winner.
Pat White has all those qualities.
There's a reason—beyond WVU's offensive system—that White is an efficient passer who doesn't throw interceptions:
There's a reason that White is Coach Rich Rodriguez's point guard in a complex offense that requires him to make several correct decisions in a mater of a half-second:
His quick mind.
There's a reason that, with White as a starter, WVU is 25-3:
White is a winner.
Consider the games White has essentially won on his own—the Louisville game in 2005, last year's Gator Bowl, this year's Louisville game...the list goes on.
Injured, vomiting, delirious, concussed, whatever—White gets it done.
Critics will say you can't run the spread-option zone-read in the NFL—and that you can't run your franchise player, your quarterback, 15 to 20 times per game on purpose.
You don't have to.
White's speed and elusiveness will be just as effective when he's looking downfield to pass.
My final argument is the following: Pat White has all the tools Michael Vick had—he's as fast, he's probably more elusive, and he's got the same arm.
But White also has Tom Brady's head—he's smart, hardworking, analytic, calming, and competitive.
Pat White has never been a wide receiver in college, and he won't be one in the pros. Pat White is a quarterback.
Beyond his arm and his feet—in his head he's a quarterback.
And Mel Kiper's just flat wrong.