Developmental QB prospects

Posted April 12, 2012 @ 12:31 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

This is the first in a series of 10 features profiling late-rising prospects from the pro-day circuit or developmental talent that just missed the cut in PFW's 2012 Draft Preview, offering a more condensed scouting report than the 400-plus in this year's Draft Preview. Results from more than 175 pro days are now featured online in PFW's draft database.

While it is unreasonable to expect a Kurt Warner- or Tony Romo-type exception to the rule to emerge from this year’s group of down-the-line QB prospects, an NFL team would love to stumble upon the next Billy Volek or Shaun Hill — a viable arm with some developmental value to hold down a roster spot beyond training camp. Here are a handful of prospects with a chance to stick in the right situation, listed in alphabetical order:

QB-SS Zach Collaros, #12
Cincinnati            PFW grade: 4.75
Ht: 5-11 1/4 | Wt: 217 | Sp: 4.67 | Arm: 30 1/4 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Also played baseball as an Ohio prep. Had a 41-1 record in three years as a starter, winning a pair of state titles and being named Division III Player of the Year. Committed to then-head coach Brian Kelly and the Bearcats and redshirted in 2007. Saw limited action in eight games in ’08, completing 1-of-4 pass attempts (25 percent) for two yards without a touchdown or interception. In ’09, tossed 93-124-1,434-10-2 (75.0) in 12 games (four starts). Did not play against Florida. Started all 11 games in which he played in ’10, passing 225-383-2,902-26-14 (58.7). Injured his right knee against South Florida and did not play against Syracuse. In ’11, started all 10 games in which he played — the first nine and the Liberty Bowl against Vanderbilt — and totaled 166-272-1,940-15-10 (61.0). Fractured his right ankle against West Virginia, had surgery and missed three games. For his career, rushed 268 times and netted 809 yards (3.0-yard average) with 16 touchdowns. Team captain. Had a 16-9 record in 25 career starts.
Bottom line: Short, tough, highly competitive quarterback with sandlot instincts that enable to him to scramble and run around to create plays. Could be a practice-squad candidate, but height, limited arm strength and inconsistent accuracy work against him. Could be tried at safety.
NFL projection: Free agent.

QB Devin Dominguez, #3
Alabama State            PFW grade: 4.60
Ht: 6-3 5/8 | Wt: 231 | Sp: 4.71 | Arm:32 3/8 | Hand: 8 7/8
Notes: Also played baseball as a Fort Wayne, Ind. prep, where he won a state championship in football. Redshirted in 2007. Saw action in one game (Grambling) in ’08, completing 2-of-5 pass attempts (40 percent) for 20 yards without a touchdown or interception. Added three carries for 20 yards (6.7-yard average) and zero touchdowns. Played receiver in ’09 when he caught 19 balls for 190 yards (10.0) and a touchdown in 10 games. Under center in ’10, started 10-of-12 games played and passed 126-255-1,536-19-15 (49.4). With a new offensive coordinator in ’11, lost the starting job — played seven games, starting three as an injury replacement, and totaled 77-143-962-5-2 (53.8) passing.
Bottom line: A converted receiver who doubled as a pitcher on the baseball team, Dominguez is a big, raw, inexperienced, athletic Division I-AA quarterback who could be worth a flier as a vertical-throwing camp arm. Has bulk, mobility, competitiveness and enough arm strength to warrant a look, though baseball participation affected his football playing time and development.
NFL projection: Free agent.

QB Jarrett Lee, #12
LSU            PFW grade: 4.80
Ht: 6-0 3/8 | Wt: 209 | Sp: 5.03 | Arm: 30 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Also played basketball as a Texas prep. Redshirted in 2007. Following the dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux, was forced into the lineup in ’08 — started 8-of-11 games in which he played and completed 143-of-269 pass attempts (53.2 percent) for 1,873 yards with 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions (seven were returned for scores). Sprained his right ankle against Mississippi and missed the final two games. Backed up Jordan Jefferson in ’09, appearing in seven games (one start) and tossing 16-40-197-2-1 (40.0). Only saw relief action in ’10 when he totaled 54-89-573-2-1 (60.7) in 12 games (did not play against Texas A&M). With Jefferson suspended the first four games of the season in ’11, he played 13 games — starting the first nine contests and passed 317-565-3,949-32-21 (56.1). Hurt his ankle against Northwestern State (La.), but did not miss a start. Lone DNP was the BCS championship game against Alabama when Jefferson played the entire game. Team captain. Had a 14-4 record in 18 career starts.
Bottom line: Undersized, college game manager with functional arm strength. Generally gets rid of throws quickly and knows where to go with the ball. Is fairly accurate and shows nice touch. Mentally tough and well-respected. Short-to-intermediate passer should get the chance to serve as a camp arm. Solid showing in the Casino Del Sol All Star Game could be enough for a precision passing offense to take a Matt Flynn-type flier in the seventh round.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

QB Bo Levi Mitchell, #9
Eastern Washington            PFW grade: 4.70
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 197 | Sp: 5.01 | Arm: 30 3/4 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Prepped at Katy (Texas) High, where he threw 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a senior en route to an undefeated state championship season. Began his college career at SMU and started all 19 games in which he played over two seasons — completed 236-of-410 attempts (57.6 percent) for 2,865 yards with 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in 2008 (12 games); and passed 149-266-1,725-12-10 (56.0) in ’09 (nine games). After he suffered a separation and slight labrum tear in his left (non-throwing) shoulder against Houston, ceded the job to Kyle Padron. Transferred to Eastern Washington and made an immediate impact — started 14-of-15 games for the I-AA national champions and broke school records for attempts, completions and touchdowns by amassing 300-505-3,496-37-15 (59.4), including Most Outstanding Player accolades in the title game. Did not start the second game of the season against Central Washington. Won the Payton Award (top I-AA player) in ’11 when he led the country in passing yards (also broke school record) and touchdown passes, throwing 318-503-4,009-33-13 (63.2) in 11 starts. Two-time team captain. Had a 23-21 record in 44 career starts.
Bottom line: An SMU transfer, Mitchell was highly productive for two years at an elite I-AA program, capturing a national championship and a Payton Award (top I-AA player). Quick, compact release. Nice feet to roll the pocket and throw on the move or escape the rush. Shows poise and anticipation. Undersized with merely functional arm strength — cannot drill velocity throws on a line. Operated mostly out of the gun in a fairly simple spread offense, but is smart and experienced, having started right away at both SMU at EWU. Athletic ability, production and competitiveness give him a chance to stick as a dink-and-dunk clipboard holder.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

QB Nick Stephens, #3
Tarleton State (Texas)           PFW grade: 4.75
Ht: 6-3 1/8 | Wt: 230 | Sp: 4.87 | Arm: 31 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/2
Notes: Also played basketball as a Texas prep, though he sat out his junior season as a transfer student. Committed to Tennessee and then-head coach Phillip Fulmer and redshirted in 2006. Sat behind Erik Ainge and Jonathan Crompton in ’07. Started 6-of-7 games in which he played in ’08 and completed 63-of-130 pass attempts (48.5 percent) for 840 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Under head coach Lane Kiffin, broke his right (throwing) wrist during ’09 spring drills and backed up Crompton in the fall, passing  9-13-142-1-1 (69.2). Was demoted by new head coach Derek Dooley during ’10 spring practice and transferred to Division II Tarleton State, where he started all eight games played and passed 132-258-1,774-9-12 (51.2). Suffered a separated shoulder injury in the season opener against Northeastern State (La.) that required surgery and sidelined him three weeks. In ’11, started all 11 games and passed 242-429-3,005-20-8 (56.4). Had a 10-15 record in 25 career starts.
Bottom line: An overaged one-time starter at Tennessee, where injury and coaching turnover affected his development, Stephens has bulk and arm talent to attract interest. Shows good arm strength and touch, but needs to improve accuracy and decision making (see red-zone interceptions vs. Abilene Christian). Operated a pass-heavy, shotgun spread and will have to adjust to pro-style, dropback passing to develop into a backup.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

QB Alex Tanney, #11
Monmouth (Ill.)            PFW grade: 4.85
Ht: 6-2 7/8 | Wt: 223 | Sp: 4.96 | Arm: 30 5/8 | Hand: 10
Notes: Engaged. Father, Don, played basketball at Monmouth and was a Hall of Fame high school football coach in Illinois. Brother, Mitch, also played quarterback at Monmouth (2002-05) and was National Player of the Year runner-up before playing professionally in Europe and in the Arena League; and brother, Matt, is a recruiting compliance director at Oklahoma. Alex was a three-sport standout as a downstate Illinois prep — was a record-setting quarterback, his school’s all-time points leader on the hardwood and placed at the state track and field finals. Left high school with state records for career pass attempts (975) and completions (606), piling up 7,157 yards in three seasons. Started all 47 games of his college career. As a true freshman in 2007, completed 242-of-376 attempts (64.4 percent) for 2,678 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions; totaled 318-462-3,624-50-8 (68.8) in ’08; tallied 339-484-3,856-44-7 (70.0) in ’09; finished with 25-41-224-1-2 (61.0) in ’10 when he suffered a season-ending torn A-C joint injury in his right (throwing) shoulder in Week Two; and passed 281-393-3,867-38-8 (71.5) in ’11. Won the Melberger Trophy (national player of the year) in ’09, was a Gagliardi Trophy (national player of the year) finalist in ’09 and ’11 and was the Midwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year in ’08, ’09 and ’11. Owns NCAA career record for touchdown passes (157) and the Division III record for passing yards (14,249). Three-time team captain. Graduated. Had a 39-8 record in 47 career starts.
Bottom line: A coach's son bred and experienced in the spread game dating back to his sophomore high school season, Tanney is a good-sized, highly decorated Division III star who posted rare career production as a four-year starter. Orchestrated a snappy, efficient spread offense, feasting on marginal competition and displaying athletic ability, a loose arm and short-to-intermediate accuracy. Takes care of the football — had better than 5-1 TD-to-interception ratio for career. Did not compete in a top all-star game, but will get the chance to earn a practice-squad spot and could prove worth developing.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.