There are certain quarterbacks that you can’t help but admire.
It’s the swagger, the cool and calmness under duress and the audacity to stare down the fiercest defenders in the league, then effortlessly tossing the perfect touchdown pass that catch your eye.
That’s a good description of Tom Brady, if you are so inclined to give him his proper dues. The amazing poise and accuracy, and where did he come from again? Who was drafted ahead of him? How did everyone miss that?
That’s a nice story that teams would love to revise in the form of Tom Brady 2.0, if there is such a thing. But is it realistic to keep searching for the next Tom Brady, or are we just chasing our own tail, going in circle after circle? I bring it up because there have been whispers, however subtle, or not so subtle, that Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi fits the mold.
Peter Schrager, of FoxSports.com, writes that, “on film, several of Stanzi’s college performances remind me a lot of Brady.” (You can read his article here.)
Some see similarities; some don’t. I see more than a few. “He is as an extremely hard worker who has high expectations of himself. He is a fiery, no nonsense type of leader who just wants to win,” writes Bryan Trulen of NFLDraftMonsters.com.
Extremely hard worker. High expectations of himself. No nonsense guy who wants to win. Yep, that sounds a bit Tom Brady-ish.
Brady goes about 6-4, 225 pounds. Stanzi is listed at 6-4, 230 pounds. Brady was viewed as a smart quarterback with intangibles, but was overlooked because he looked unremarkable. Too thin, and not capable of throwing the deep ball. You know, the “measurables” that super athletes like Cam Newton possess.
Similarly, Stanzi has more experience, better mechanics and is thought to be a more NFL-ready quarterback than guys like Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. Stanzi is predicted to go much later in the draft because he didn’t test well at the Combine. He lacks athletic ability, apparently, sort of like what was being said of Brady before his draft.
Never mind that Stanzi is better on tape than he is at a workout. Never mind that he has improved every year at his craft, and in the minds of many college football fans, is a special football player who has that remarkable but hard-to-define “it” quality.
Never mind that Stanzi has played like a big-time quarterback in big-time situations over his career at Iowa. He didn’t test as well as the other guys at the Combine, so he is therefore relegated to the eighth or ninth best quarterback ranking on draft boards.
Is searching for the next Tom Brady a lost cause? Probably. But it's still fun to imagine the possibilities and to hope that your team is the next lucky winner. Ricky Stanzi might not be the next Tom Brady. He may instead develop into Ricky Stanzi, who just may be a fantastic pro quarterback in his own right.
And I like his chances.