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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Will Vince Young Succeed in the NFL?

In the wake of Vince Young's single-handedly winning the national championship for Texas last night, there's plenty of speculating about whether Young will enter the NFL Draft (he previously said he was coming back, but was noncommittal in the postgame) and if so, where he should be chosen. Has he surpassed Matt Leinart as the top quarterback prospect, and should he be the #1 pick, ahead of even the vaunted Reggie Bush?

A lot of people seem to be saying yes to these questions, many more than 24 hours ago.

I see two primary impediments to NFL success: continuing doubts about Young's throwing ability, and concern about having a quarterback that runs too much

First, on passing, here's Ivan Maisel:

Young ran for 200 yards and threw for 267, completing 30-of-40 passes with a motion that still makes NFL scouts reach for their Rolaids. But even the pickiest of scouts knows how to read a scoreboard.

Bill Simmons made the same criticism by comparing Young's throwing arm to Johnny Damon's.

Second, on running, I think it's obvious why no NFL team runs the option or has the quarterback running this much: teams don't want their QBs being killed (and NFL defenses are too fast). It's true that Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham put together impressive highlight reels in the NFL, but neither could get away with tucking the ball away on every other play like Young did last night. It's just not possible at the pro level, so Young will have to be more of a traditional downfield passer. Whether he can transform his game to match the NFL style is a question mark. How much of Young's passing success this year is based on defenses fearing his running ability to an extent that they won't on Sundays?

Young and the Texas fans probably don't care so much about this all right now as they savor the championship. I'm just giving you a heads up as to what Mel Kiper will be yammering about on ESPN in three months or so.

I'll close with a quote from Deadspin: "it’s a shame that just seconds after Texas quarterback Vince Young became a college football deity on a supernatural fourth down touchdown run, he had to be attacked by a giant fuzzy cow."

UPDATE: Tons of articles on Young are coming out, of course. Mike Wilbon says Young should enter the draft, while Young told Jay Leno he's undecided. Another critic of Young's passing is Joe Theismann:

But Joe Theismann, the former N.F.L. quarterback turned television football analyst, said it would be "a big mistake" if Young decided to turn pro this year because he "throws the ball a little bit low," in a sidearm motion.