2011 NFL Draft: Sleeper Quarterbacks Who Could Be Stars
Beyond the top 10 quarterbacks in this draft, there are other, more undervalued quarterbacks who could be had late in the draft that could still blossom into stars.
Some on this list lack the size and/or athleticism that teams covet, but put up big numbers in college. Others are elite athletes or have elite skills, but never put it together and struggled to find the success you would like to see in college.
Either way, these guys could be big diamonds in the rough for teams that a need a quarterback but don't want to get involved in the quarterback sweepstakes in the first and second round.
Adam Weber, Minnesota
Weber was part of the highly-touted recruiting class Tim Brewster brought in his first year on the job. Weber had an up and down career for the Golden Gophers and his (and the other recruits') inconsistent performance played a big part in Brewster being shown the door after last season.
The raw stats look pretty good. In his Minnesota career, Weber threw for 10,917 yards and 72 touchdowns. That passing yardage is good for first on Minnesota's all-time passing yards list. Weber just never could play at a high level and stay there.
His freshman season, he threw 24 touchdowns and had 19 interceptions. That's a ton of interceptions, but it was understandable given that he was a freshman and his team wasn't any good. He improved his ratio to 15 and 8 as a sophomore, but fell right back to 13 and 15 as a junior. In that junior season, his completion percentage also plummeted to 52 percent.
His solid senior season likely did a lot to alleviate worries scouts may have had about his inconsistencies. Weber threw for over 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns while limiting his interceptions to nine. That's still not ideal, but it was nice to see him bounce back from a tough junior campaign.
The most enticing thing about Weber might be his measurements, though. His height is a little less than idea at 6'1", but he is a stout 209 pounds. He ran the 40 yard dash in 4.73 seconds, but has run it as fast as 4.65 seconds.
Weber right now is little more than a seventh round draft pick. That's almost no risk for a team to take a chance on him. He is a great athlete in a poor man's Jake Locker mold and has a ton of big game experience as a four-year starter in the Big Ten.
Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin
Tolzien would almost surely be a bigger NFL prospect had he played almost anywhere but Wisconsin. There are few teams that run the ball more than Wisconsin and when they do throw it, they aren't known for a downfield passing game.
Tolzien, though, made some delicious lemonade out of the lemons the offensive scheme gave him.
In just two seasons as the Badgers starter, Tolzien threw for 5,271 yards and 32 touchdowns. Things really took off for him in his senior season as he completed 72.9 percent of his passes and had a 16-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio.
Most importantly, he led the Badgers to a one-loss season and a berth in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl game coupled with all those tough Big Ten games means that Tolzien won't be awed by big-game situations, either.
At 6'3", Tolzien has all the height you want and his arm is plenty strong. Teams that are scared off by his lack of gaudy stats at the college level are going to miss out on an experienced, mature, successful quarterback.
Nathan Enderle, Idaho
The negatives that come with Nathan Enderle are obvious. The biggest one, of course, is that he played his college football at Idaho. Not only is that basically college football Siberia, but they weren't very good in his time there. They made it to one bowl game, a Humanitarian Bowl win over Bowling Green in his junior season.
His numbers reflect a quarterback trying to go out and win games himself. He threw for over 10,000 yards in his career and he had 74 touchdowns passes. That's the good. The bad is that Enderle threw 50 interceptions in that time and took 115 sacks.
As I alluded to, the interceptions are almost excusable. Enderle has a very strong arm and he had little offensive talent around him. He was clearly trying to win games by himself. The sacks, though, are a little more troubling. Enderle doesn't move well in the pocket and seeing as his 40-yard dash time is over five seconds, he isn't going to escape pass rushers all that often.
I can certainly see a scenario where Enderle can have success in the NFL. On a team with a solid running game and a good offensive line, Enderle has the arm to win some games for you.
Mitch Mustain, USC
Mustain had one of the more odd college football careers in recent memory. Mustain began his career at Arkansas as a highly-touted prospect out of Springdale, Arkansas. He came to Arkansas along with his coach, Gus Malzahn. That duo was supposed to take Arkansas to the next level as a program.
Mustain was part of a quarterback platoon his freshman season. At one point, he led the Razorbacks to eight consecutive wins. Mustain, though, was ultimately benched in favor of veteran Casey Dick. After that point, Mustain was never given a realistic shot to win the job back.
Mustain then transferred to USC, an interesting choice given the embarrassment of riches USC had on their roster. Mustain was on the roster for three seasons for the Trojans, but only saw the field sparingly. At no point was Mustain even considered a candidate to start for the Trojans.
There isn't a lot of current film on Mustain for scouts to watch, but he isn't without upside. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has the requisite size you want. He also runs a respectable 4.74 second 40-yard dash.
There is also Mustain's pedigree to fall back on. He was a blue-chip recruit for a reason. There's also a reason for his transfer to USC. Someone, whether it was Mustian, Pete Carroll or one of Carroll's offensive coaches, thought Mustain could play at USC.
There's a good chance that Mustain won't be drafted at all come NFL Draft weekend. I would think his pedigree is enough for a team to take a chance that his talent is for real.
Diondre Borel- Utah State
I might be the only one, but I am very intrigued by Diondre Borel as a quarterback prospect.
His primary position is of course quarterback, but his secondary position is listed as wide receiver/running back/kick returner/athlete. That's the type of athlete you are dealing with here. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. That's speed that rivals and even beats the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Jake Locker.
As a whole, Borel's numbers at Utah State are unimpressive, but he did give scouts one glimmer of what his ceiling could be. As a junior, Borel threw for 2,885 yards and 17 touchdowns. He only threw four interceptions and completed 58.5 percent of his passes. He tacked on six rushing touchdowns for good measure.
I'm not going to make Borel out to be anything more than he is. The warts on his resume are obvious. He played on a bad team at Utah State. Other than his junior season, he had more interceptions than he did touchdowns. At only 6 feet tall and 199 pounds, he is also a little shorter and thinner than you would like.
All that being said, Borel is one of the elite athletes in this draft. Forget among quarterbacks, Borel is one of the best athletes at any position. If nothing else, a team can draft him late or sign him as an undrafted free agent. Then they can give him an audition at quarterback. If things don't work out there, there is a litany of other positions he can play.
Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss
The circumstances regarding Masoli's dismissal from Oregon and the relatively tough season he had at Ole Miss make some forget what an electrifying player he was while at Oregon.
In his two seasons starting at Oregon, Masoli threw for just under 4,000 yards and had 28 touchdown passes. As part of arguably the most exciting offense in college football, he also ran for nearly 1,400 yards and had 23 rushing touchdowns.
Masoli was dismissed from the team prior to his senior season for possession of an illegal substance. That's an obvious red flag, but the red flag wasn't big enough for Ole Miss to pass on taking on his transfer for his senior season.
Hamstrung by their more traditional conservative offense, Masoli didn't have as much success there. He did throw for over 2,000 yards, but he had a career high in interceptions and a career low in rushing yards.
Masoli has run as fast as 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash and at 223 pounds, he has the body to take a pounding. He is short, but then again, standing in the pocket and throwing isn't his strong suit anyway. Masoli will have the best success if a team lets him run around the pocket and the backfield and make decisions while on the run.
Adam Froman, Louisville
Froman is a classic high-risk/high-reward quarterback in this draft.
The risks begin with the fact that he doesn't have all that much experience. He was the starter for the Cardinals in parts of two seasons. In neither season was he the starter for every game. There is also injury risk associated with Froman. Adam missed the team's last four regular season games and their bowl game against Southern Miss. In the previous season, he missed a total of five games either to benching or injury.
Real or imagined, Froman also never put the team on his back and won the big games when they needed them. The four losses the Cardinals suffered while Froman was the starter in 2010 came against Kentucky, Oregon State, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Outside of Cincinnati, those might be the toughest teams on their schedule.
To his credit, he did lead his team to a 26-0 victory over Connecticut, a team that ended up in a BCS bowl game.
When a team takes a shot on Froman, though, it likely won't have as much to do with his on-field exploits as it will the way he measures out. He stands 6'4" and weighs a stout 220 pounds. Having run the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds, Froman also has elite speed among quarterbacks in this draft.
Teams drafting Froman will have little idea of what he will ultimately be. Finding out, though, is an exciting proposition.