Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler is not as well known as Southern California QB Matt Leinart or Texas QB Vince Young and he does not have a Heisman Trophy or a national championship. However, he does have an abundance of talent and a good shot at being a top 15 draft pick.
Playing for Vanderbilt kept Cutler under the radar for the majority of his college career. However, when you continue to produce, especially with a lack luster supporting cast, people will take notice... They sure have. Scouts have been raving about Cutler since the Senior Bowl in Alabama and for good reason.
Cutler has many of the tangibles needed to be a successful National Football League quarterback. He has a good arm, mobility, leadership and toughness.
Cutler was also able to show significant improvement throughout his college career. In his first two seasons he only completed 53 percent of his passes with 28 touchdown passes compared to 22 interceptions. During his last two seasons he showed much improvement, completing a higher percentage of passes (59 percent), cutting down on his interceptions (14) while still throwing a high amount of touchdown passes (31).
Cutler's athleticism is also one of his biggest strengths. He is built like a pocket passer (6-3, 223 pounds), but looks can be deceiving. Cutler rushed for over 200 yards in each of his four college seasons and over 300 yards twice. He also recorded 17 rushing touchdowns in his college career. Perhaps even more impressive, of his 453 rushing attempts, he did not fumble.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Cutler showed tremendous skills in the passing drills, he ran well in the 40 by posting a 4.77 time and wowed most scouts along the way.
Many of Cutler's strengths cannot be measured with statistics. He has displayed great leadership while with Vanderbilt. Also, he has shown tremendous heart and determination, never giving up on a team that wasn't nearly as talented as some others.
As with every other quarterback to ever be drafted there are some concerns with Cutler.
His mechanics need improvement. His foot work can be sloppy, and his ball placement is not always textbook. These problems become evident at times in games. For example, Cutler had a strong practice week during the Senior Bowl; however, he didn't have nearly as strong of a showing in the game (6-for-19, 69 yards, one touchdown and one interception).
Another of Cutler's weaknesses is his risk taking. He will unnecessarily force passes at times. He can seem to be inpatient and reckless. Cutler views this as taking "calculated risks", much like one of his idols, Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre, has been known to do from time to time.
Cutler's competitiveness, which can be a positive in most cases, at times can be a weakness. It can get the best of him. For example, in 2004 he was hit hard by an opposing team linebacker, who then stood above and taunted him, Cutler responded by attempting to kick him.
Two other major concerns about Cutler are products of his team. He has not enjoyed much success in terms of team winning in his college career. Also he took a beating playing for Vanderbilt. He was sacked 47 times over the last two seasons and hit dozens of other times. His body has absorbed a lot of punishment for someone his age.
Projected Draft Sport
Based upon talent, many would argue Cutler is a late first- round to early second-round pick. This same contingent would point to his hype, so he is a polarized character due to this.
Since he has performed so well at the combine his Senior Bowl will likely be forgotten. He has a cannon of an arm and should be a top 15 selection come draft day.
The New York Jets (No. 4), Oakland Raiders (No. 7), Detroit Lions (No. 9), Arizona Cardinals (No. 10), Baltimore Ravens (No. 13) and Miami Dolphins (No. 16) are all possible places for Cutler to end up. The Dolphins are the most likely of the teams to draft him, assuming they cannot land free-agent-to-be QB Drew Brees (San Diego Chargers).
Cutler is enjoying some major hype from scouts, fans and media. His stock has skyrocketed over the last year, and he has an outside chance of being a top 10 draft pick.
Cutler is the third ranked quarterback in the 2006 draft class. The situation is similar to the 2004 draft with QBs Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger all being highly regarded coming out of college. Manning and Rivers both were drafted in the top five (like Leinart and Young will most likely be), while Roethlisberger was picked 11 (Cutler could be picked in that area). Since that draft Manning has been inconsistent, Rivers has been a backup for the San Diego Chargers and Roethlisberger has lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. Only time will tell if history will repeat itself.
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