Weeden wowing draft wonks at Senior Bowl

Weeden wowing draft wonks at Senior Bowl
January 26, 2012, 4:31 pm
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There is little doubt that similar to last season, any NFL Draft buzz surrounding the burgundy gold will focus on the drafting of a quarterback in the early rounds. Unlike last season, where I was among those that scoffed at the Redskins supposed passer obsession, it's harder to imagine come April the Shanahan's not finding their signal caller of the future this time around, assuming they pass on any free agent options.Therefore thequestion becomes which young guns are on the short list. One name that keeps popping up, especially during this week's Senior Bowl, has more of a middle age vibe.Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden may not be the ideal choice, but the 6-4 passer is emerging as a legitimate fallback option despite the circles around his QB trunk indicating he will turn 29 years of age during his rookie season.Obviously the Redskins would not hesitate on adding Stanford's Andrew Luck and Heisman Trophy Robert Griffin III, but the former appears to be a lock for the Colts and the price for the latter - not to mention interest from others - couldmake acquiring RGIII problematic. Some have Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill slotted in the first round, but the Aggies star is currently out with a foot injury.The QB rankings behind the top-3 appear wide open according to the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, though those thoughts came before Weeden began wowing the scouting world. Arizona's Nick Foles and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler are considered Weeden's primary next-in-linecompetitionThe 28-year-old Weeden, who some suggest has the talent of a first or second round pick, got a late jump on football after spending five seasons as a minor league baseball pitcher.He made up for lost time by throwing for 9,000 yards and 71 touchdowns the last two seasons with the Cowboys.Weeden hasreportedly been a standout during Senior Bowl practices as a member of the South team. Yes, the same team coached by Mike Shanahan and the Redskins staff. No wonder National Football Post's Wes Bunting suggested on Twitterthat based on how "Weeden has thrown the football this week could def see the Redskins taking an interest in him SeniorBowl."More on Weeden's Senior Bowl effort from Scouts Inc. draft analyst Todd McShay."It's hard not to be impressed with Weeden. From the tempo of his drops to the quickness of his decisions to his consistent accuracy, especially beyond 10 yards, he is putting on exactly the kind of performance he needed. Weeden is proving that he is not a product of Oklahoma State's wide-open system and the talent of standout WR Justin Blackmon, that he can make all the throws and has a legitimate chance to be a starter in the NFL."Russ Lande from the Sporting News put Weeden atop list of players that helped themselves the most this week:"Weeden saved his best day for the final padded practice. He displayed outstanding arm strength, making great throws with excellent accuracy. He showed excellent touch on a fade route into the end zone and the ability to squeeze passes between defenders. It was clear from this week of practice that Weeden was the best quarterback in Mobile and has legit first-round talent."Following his one hour meeting with Weeden, Lande tweeted about certain qualitiesthat couldpush Weeden intoimmediate playing time. Of course, sayingthe28-year-oldis "a very impressive man with the smarts & maturity to start as a rookie in NFL." also identifies the obvious drawback with selecting theno longer ripepasser."However, you can't dismiss the age issue with Weeden," McShay notes in his ESPN Insider report. "The former minor league baseball player will be a 29-year-old rookie when training camp arrives, and the bottom line is that is a strike against him."As McShay notes for comparison purposes, Eli Manning's run to the Super Bowl this season has occurredas a 30-year old quarterback.In 2001 former Heisman winner Chris Weinke was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round as a 29-year-old and started 15 games as a rookie. Using that model, Weeden could make sense for the Redskins as a short-term fix to potentially pair with a returning Rex Grossman.Projecting a man, as Lande described Weeden, and an unproven one on the pro level at that to be part ofany long-term plan, well that's an age old draft question, one the Redskins have approximately 91 days to answer. At least they are holding Weeden's prized hand through the current process.