Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler has declared for the 2012 NFL Draft and is now being mentioned as a possible round two or possibly round three candidate for the Seahawks. Though the buzz is fairly subdued right now, there are things about Osweiler that could make his stock skyrocket as we get closer to April 26th and I think it's very possible we see a Colin Kaepernick style rise up Draft Boards before it's all said and done.
Let's run through why this is a distinct possibility. First off - his size stands out. Osweiler stands 6'8 and weighs 240 pounds but moves less like you'd expect a gangly and tall football quarterback to move (think Tom Brady) and more like a basketball small forward to move - think, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, or Paul Pierce.. or something? Mobility, agility and height aren't mutually exclusive outside of basketball and Osweiler is not on par with those mentioned above but he moves better than most guys you see his size. And it makes sense - prior to committing to Arizona State to play football out high school in Montana, Osweiler was originally recruited for and had verbally committed to playing hoops at Gonzaga. He's got a quickness and smoothness to his running style him that makes him an intriguing athlete, and his years playing basketball undoubtedly helped with his balance and coordination.
At 6'8 he'd easily be one of the tallest QBs in the NFL, and though I'm sure people will compare him to Ryan Mallet, the only similarities between the two is that they're both tall and possess strong throwing arms. I'm not going to say that Osweiler has a superior arm than Mallett, but from the video I've seen it's plenty strong to make downfield throws with velocity, and importantly, accuracy.
The main difference though, between Osweiler and Mallett, is that Osweiler can move around a bit. This is a very important skill when we're talking about the Seahawks because Pete Carroll and John Schneider have said time and time again that mobility at the quarterback position is important in the type of offense they're trying to install. The quarterback becomes an extension of the run game and should be able to get out of the pocket on rollouts and bootlegs with ease. He should be able to throw on the run and escape pressure. Osweiler satisfies these basic requisites, and because of that his height becomes an intriguing and very uncommon advantage.
It's no secret that there are certain height ... I'm not going to say "requirements" because there are always exceptions to the rule (Drew Brees yadda yadda yadda)... but there are certain measureables for an NFL QB and one of the first always mentioned is height. Simply put, a quarterback has to be able to see over his offensive line. The best quarterbacks in the NFL generally are at least 6'2, and probably the quintessential QB of our time, Peyton Manning, is 6'5. Vision is an important element to playing the quarterback position and having the height to see down the field, scanning for receivers and defensive players, is huge. With the Seahawks too, in particular, Tom Cable has shown a predilection for taller offensive linemen and the shortest currently of the starting five is 6'4. When looking left off the snap, a Seahawks' QB has to see over 6'5 Russell Okung and 6'7 Robert Gallery.
I realize this is all very logic based and obvious, but the bottom line is that Brock Osweiler's mobility and arm, combined with his extraordinary height, make him an extremely intriguing prospect. So, why is he not talked about in the same breath as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin? Well, simply, he's very raw. He has started at Arizona State for only one year and change. He actually broke several ASU passing records in 2011, his only full season, and spent part of this record-breaking campaign knowing that his coaching staff would not be returning.
Many thought he would be best served to return to ASU for another year to refine his skillset and work on his mechanics but he decided otherwise - some surmise it's because he wasn't pleased with the change of direction that the university was taking.
Regardless, what you have in Osweiler is a bunch of raw tools and enticing measureables. To add to that, reports I've read say that he's very mature, hard-working, and has displayed excellent leadership skills. Some team is going to fall in love with the idea of what Brock Osweiler could become and they'll take a chance on him. The big question, of course, becomes where?
I had the chance to chat with Seahawks Draft Blog's Rob Staton on Wednesday, and he had this to say on Arizona State's former QB:
He's got unnatural height for the position, yet moves around the pocket easily and can even extend plays and make first downs. He's possibly got the strongest arm in the class, although it's close with Robert Griffin III. There really isn't anyone quite like Osweiler in the NFL, which makes him even more intriguing. The problem is, he isn't an incredibly accurate or consistent quarterback and I've seen him get quite rattled when things go wrong.
Some of that may be sheer frustration - he discovered there was going to be yet another coaching change at ASU during the season and things kind of fell apart after that. He's played basketball and only had one year starting as a quarterback. He needs a settled environment, he needs a good quarterback coach. His upside is very high, but there's also a complete unknown as to whether this type of QB can make it at the next level and whether he can make the necessary improvements.
He's very inexperienced and it shows, while his situation at Arizona State has been a complete mess with all the coaching changes, different playbooks and now an unexpected decision to turn pro. From a physical standpoint I like a lot of what he has to offer. I can see him throwing passes in the NFL, I can see him being succesful in the NFL. But at the same time, I can see a team taking that gamble and using him too early - which would be a bad decision.
He needs time, he needs to settle into an offense and master that playbook. He needs to learn not to trust his arm too much and make better decisions. He's unique in many ways because of the height, mobility and arm strength - in rounds 3-4 I'd consider drafting him as a project. If he goes in the first two rounds, I think you're reaching a little bit too much on the unkown.
Staton then went on to watch a little more tape on Osweiler, specifically a matchup against Utah from this season, and had a little more to add at the Seahawks Draft Blog.
Brock Osweiler's performance against Utah flashed first round talent. Simple as that. His decision to turn pro was greeted with a mixture of surprise, confusion and criticism - yet when you watch a performance like that, you start to appreciate why he made the decision. He was facing the prospect of working with yet another different offensive coordinator and another playbook - and he decided he might as well be learning NFL plays instead. Maybe this was the right choice after all?
So does he fit with the Seahawks? I would think so, yes. He has the mobility to get outside the pocket and make things happen with his feet and athleticism. He's not Michael Vick or even a guy like Alex Smith when it comes to scramble ability and he's not going to be a run-first quarterback, but that's not what this front office wants anyway. They want a player that can extend plays that break down, improvise, throw on the run, and distribute the football. Maintain possessions, play 'point guard.' When asked, they need someone that can throw the downfield, surgical strike, which is also an important part of this offense. Osweiler has the arm to make those throws. He's a leader, he's competitive, and confident - hence his decision to go pro.
If the Seahawks did show interest they would probably do so with the intention of developing him for several seasons so this could make the fanbase quite uneasy. Seattle would be faced with the specter of another year or two with Tarvaris Jackson under center, barring some surprise free agent signing in addition to this draft pick. That said, if Osweiler could improve on some of his decision making and mechanics, get the offense down pat, and become more accustomed to the pro-style of offense, his skillset and tools could be put to good use. At this point in time I would hope he'd last into the 2nd round and wouldn't have many qualms about the team using their draft pick there on a high-upside, potential franchise quarterback.
I'm of the opinion that if you're going to be spending a draft pick on a quarterback, it's a better investment to look for a guy with high potential, high ceiling, room for growth, and enticing measurables. Intangibles are a good bonus. What I don't want to see is one of these higher picks go to a low-cieling, 'safe' pick with little apparent room for improvement, poor measurables, or, to put it another way, nearly peaked. We already have that on the roster. And, there are plenty of these types of players in free agency. I don't want the Seahawks to use draft capital for a guy that you're hoping turns into, say, a Chad Henne or Colt McCoy type.
If you're not going to move up in the draft for elite talent like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin, I would be happier taking a guy that has the tools and physical makeup - height, weight, accuracy and arm strength - that could be developed, hopefully, into an elite status.
Check out more scouting by Rob Staton at Seahawks Draft Blog and check out video of the former ASU QB at Draft Breakdown. After that, make sure you check out Field Gulls.