It's really, really difficult to predict a quarterback's success in the NFL.
Analysts thought Ryan Leaf was the real deal. Apparently, the Oakland Raiders thought the same about JaMarcus Russell. Sometimes, a Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, or Tom Brady appears out of nowhere to dominate.
So which camp does Chad Henne fall under? We all know how high his coaches are on him, praising his performances and discussing his progression. After a succession of quarterbacks drafted in the second round (John Beck, Henne, and Pat White) and a few picked up in the free agency (Daunte Culpepper, Chad Pennington, and Tyler Thigpen), the "Powers That Be" have decided they have a quarterback of the future. But how right are they, really?
There are few factors that in-arguably contribute to a player's success as an NFL quarterback. Height is a legitimate concern when deciding on a passer, and yet Drew Brees stands there, all (debatable) six feet of him, ripping apart defensive secondaries.
Arm strength is difficult to teach and important for making those "NFL throws" the pundits love to discuss, but there's Chad Pennington and his noodle for an arm throwing for 3,600 yards and 19 touchdowns.
But Chad Henne has both size AND arm strength, along with a few advantages that not many quarterbacks can lay claim to.
He won the starting job at Michigan as a true freshman, and finished his career with a fistful of records and a LOT of experience as a field general. This was in the halcyon days of Blue and Maize dominance, so he was forced to learn how to cope with the media spotlight continually trained on him as well.
Being drafted in the second round is, I think, an advantage for Henne. Rather than the #1 draft choice being a quarterback, thus placing the franchise's hopes and dreams squarely on one player's shoulders, the Dolphins selected Jake Long, who has blossomed into an elite NFL tackle. Henne was able to join the Dolphins and fly a little more under the radar than Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco were, and I'm sure that helped with his confidence level.
But physical attributes and college statistics don't tell that much. There's one aspect of Chad Henne's career that I think gives him the greatest chance to succeed.
Look what happened with Aaron Rodgers. Groomed for a couple of years behind Brett "Retirement ADD" Favre, and now he's playing out of the stratosphere as the Packers' signal caller. Look at Kevin Kolb. Learned for a few years behind Donovan McNabb, and though it's not known whether he'll become an elite player, he's done well for himself so far.
Chad Henne has had a mentor as well, and that man not only shares his name, but owns the NFL career record for completion percentage.
What can you learn from a guy who brought a 1-15 team to an 11-5 record and a playoff win? Leadership, toughness, and a desire to win.
What can you learn from a guy with a 66.1% career completion percentage, the highest in NFL history? Accuracy, pocket presence, and the proper method of determining who to throw to.
And when that same guy is behind you on the depth chart? That allows you to take the reins of the team while still having your mentor advise you on how to handle the mantle of leadership.
Size. Arm strength. Accuracy. Leadership. Toughness. Experience as an understudy.
There's a lot going Chad Henne's way, and we'll see very shortly whether he'll take advantage of all of that, and rise to the occasion.