Old rookies are scary. Why are they so old? What in the hell were you doing for all those years in between? There are some misconceptions in the narrative that I and I alone just created. Let’s quash them with help from 28-year-old Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden’s dreams of becoming a pro athlete started in a different sport. After being drafted as a pitcher in the second round by the New York Yankees in the 2002 MLB draft, Weeden bounced around the minors until he enrolled at Oklahoma State in 2007.
We’ve seen similar career trajectories before. Drew Henson, now retired from everything, left baseball behind for a career in football. Heisman trophy winner Chris Weinke spent six years in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system before enrolling at Ohio State. For Weeden, those comparisons don’t exactly inspire confidence.
Weeden should be different. He’s asked scouts to evaluate him like his younger counterparts. Someone will, and they’ll be lucky they did.
Weight: 220 Pounds
Born: October 14, 1983
40-yard dash: 4.95
Arm length: 31 3/4 inches
Hands: 9 5/8 inches
2011: 13 GP 4, 727 Yards 72.3 Comp % 37 TD 13 Int
2010: 13 GP 4,227 Yards 66.9 Comp % 34 TD 13 Int
Weeden began starting in his Junior season.
What the experts say
His age will likely keep him from going as early in the draft as his talents deserve. But there isn’t a throw this guy can’t make and he has the skill set and mental make-up to mature into a potential starter with some time.
If Weeden were six or seven years younger, he could easily be a top-20 pick. A lot of teams like Weeden, but the reality is that by the time he’s learned the pro-game well enough to be a consistently effective starter, his physical skills will already be on the decline. His status as a 29-year old rookie quarterback is the biggest negative for him.
I’m guessing he’s going to go in the second round. He ran a 4.9 40, he did all the shuttles, he did all the jumps, he’s more athletic than people thought he was. He made every throw you can make. The ones I wanted to see were outside the numbers. I know he can drive it inside the numbers, I know he can throw the seam, the deep in cuts — he showed me that in the game. What I saw today was the ability to drive it outside the numbers. . . . He showed every throw, he made every throw, and it was really impressive.
But at the end of the day, if you counted the top 20 throws that Andrew Luck made, the top 20 throws that Robert Griffin made, the top 20 throws that Tannehill made, Weeden, Kellen Moore, you walk away and you say Brandon Weeden makes the most difficult throws in college football. He’s got a tremendous arm, great anticipation. They have a go‑to guy in Blackmon, and whenever it’s man‑to‑man, they turn the two of those guys loose. It’s a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football. The only downside of Weeden right now is his age. I think he’s the same age I am, 48 years old.
It might feel odd to call a guy who is 28 and likely to go in Round 2 underrated. But evaluators agree that if Weeden were younger he’d be far higher. So what’s my case? I think Weeden projects as a start-early QB who can help a franchise for 7-8 years, easy. And who in this league has a nine-year plan?
Weeden will have the same problem Chris Weinke did entering the 2001 draft. He’s already 28 years old. His injury history will also be noted by scouts. Quarterbacks can play into their mid-30s or later, however, and Weeden insists his football throwing motion does not aggravate his baseball arm maladies. He certainly has the arm strength and size teams look for at the position, so it won’t be a surprise if a team uses a pick in the top half of the draft on his physical attributes if he checks out medically.
It has been well chronicled that his age, 28, is a negative. This would influence my draft thinking and probably move him to the third round. When I watched tape of him, he played like a first-rounder. He plays in a spread offense. He has a smooth and fairly quick release. He has a strong enough arm and throws a very good deep ball with a nice touch. He also is very good at throwing the fade in the red zone. His accuracy is good, but he can be streaky. He shows good field vision and an ability to find the second receiver. I liked his poise. He is not very mobile and is not a threat as a runner. Should be a solid backup in the NFL.
Weeden was the arm behind Oklahoma State’s lethal passing game. He offers what every NFL team wants in a starting quarterback but will turn 29 years of age during the ’12 season, which has some franchises looking away from him.
The amount of times age was cited in Weeden’s scouting reports was nauseating. The pundits who’ve watched Weeden’s game tape agree the guy has what it takes to start and succeed in the NFL. His arm injuries are troubling, and it would be foolish to pretend he’ll be able to play as long in the league as the Lucks and Griffins in the draft.
In rebuttal to that, Mel Kiper said it best: Who has a six-year plan anyway? The NFL is a win now league, and you can win sooner with Weeden than all but two quarterbacks in the 2012 draft.