CNHI News Service
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden should be the first of the second-tier quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft April 26-28 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, ESPN NFL Analyst Jon Gruden said Wednesday.
Gruden worked out and interviewed 10 NFL quarterback prospects, including Weeden for his 2012 Gruden’s QB Camp on ESPN. Weeden’s 30-minute segment already has aired. A one-hour special will be broadcast April 19 on ESPN.
Most mock drafts have the Indianapolis Colts taking Andrew Luck and the Washington Redskins selecting Heisman Trophy-winner Robert Griffin III with the first two picks.
Those mock drafts have the Miami Dolphins grabbing Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick.
In a telephone conference call from Tampa, Gruden said he sees Weeden, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson as the fourth, fifth and sixth quarterbacks selected.
“I love Brandon Weeden if you want a quarterback that’s tough as hell and that’s a winner. He’s already beat Nick Foles in a bowl game two years ago. He beat Robert Griffin 59-24. He beat Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl. He beat Landry Jones. He beat (Ryan) Tannehill. I like Weeden as you can tell. I would find something for him to do.”
Wilson’s mobility is a plus, but his height at 5 feet, 11 inches is a negative, Gruden said.
“He’s a tremendous kid. His intangibles are off the charts,” he said.
Cousins, a three-time captain at Michigan State, is a leader with NFL-prototype quarterback size, he said.
“He has a very bright future in the NFL because he’s all business all the time. He is a meticulous preparation freak,” Gruden said.
Weeden made the most difficult throws in the 2011 season while playing for one of the most unique offenses in college football, Gruden said.
“They do some wicked things to defenses with the no-huddle tempo and the way they used Justin Blackmon.” Gruden said.
Weeden completed 409 of his 565 pass attempts for 4,727 yards. He tossed 37 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions this past season. He compiled a 23-3 record as OSU’s starting quarterback.
Gruden said he reviewed the top 20 passes by Luck, Griffin, Tannehill, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Weeden.
“You walk away and you say Brandon Weeden makes the most difficult throws in college football,” Gruden said. “He has a tremendous arm and great anticipation.”
Weeden was surrounded by great players, especially his go-to guy Justin Blackmon, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, Gruden said.
“Whenever it was man-to-man (coverage) they turned those two guys loose,” Gruden said. “It’s a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football.”
Weeden’s age is the only thing that will keep him from being drafted earlier. Weeden will be a 28-year-old rookie quarterback.
Which team will draft Weeden?
The Cleveland Browns have two first-round draft picks and an early second-round pick. The Browns are one of the teams that have expressed interest in Weeden.
The Browns should stick with former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Gruden said. They should take Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the fourth pick and use the 22nd and 36th picks to surround McCoy with talented receivers.
The mock drafts have Blackmon going to either the Minnesota Vikings, Browns or St. Louis Rams.
Gruden also praised Blackmon’s big-play capabilities.
“If you don’t like Justin Blackmon, you don’t like football,” Gruden said. “There’s not a lot that you can’t like about Blackmon. When you watch film of Justin Blackmon, he’s a difference maker. I expect that to continue at the next level. ... He is clutch in clutch situations — third down, red zone, big games.”
CHRIS DAY is sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.