In the upcoming 2006 National Football League Draft, there is a quarterback available that can accurately be described as big, strong, athletic and talented. No, not Vince Young. We're talking about 22-year-old Bowling Green QB Omar Jacobs. After a down season as a redshirt junior in 2005, Jacobs won't be competing for draft position with quarterbacks like Matt Leinart (USC), Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) or the aforementioned Young (Texas). Instead, he will probably be vying for position with the likes of Northwestern's Brett Basanez and Charlie Whitehurst from Clemson. Don't be fooled when he is drafted however, because Jacobs is a very skilled player who has all the tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL.
Jacobs arrived at Bowling Green after earning second-team All-Florida honors at Atlantic Community High School in his native Delray Beach, Fla., where he also lettered in baseball and basketball. Jacobs was redshirted as a freshman at Bowling Green in 2002. The following year he backed up QB Josh Harris (New York Giants), compiling 345 passing yards and four touchdowns while throwing no interceptions in relief.
In 2004 Jacobs became Bowling Green's starting quarterback. It would not take long for him to display his talents, and that year Jacobs put together one of the single best seasons for a quarterback in NCAA Division IA history. In 12 games, Jacobs completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns along with just four interceptions. Those numbers set the Division IA record for single-season touchdown-to-interception ratio. His 41 passing touchdowns and 45 total touchdowns in 2004 are both Mid-American Conference records. Jacobs capped the record-setting season by earning Most Valuable Player honors of the 2004 GMAC Bowl in a 52-35 win over Memphis.
Jacobs' 2005 season was shortened by a shoulder injury he suffered against Western Michigan that kept him out nearly three whole games. He still put together a solid season, completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,591 yards and 26 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Jan. 6, 2006 Jacobs declared for the 2006 NFL Draft. Before making himself eligible for the upcoming draft, Jacobs was the active Division IA leader in passing yards per game (277.5) and total yards per game (295.5). He also ranked second in completions per game (21.3) and passing efficiency (162.5).
Some of the greatest attributes Jacobs has are his physical tools. He is 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, yet he's very athletic and has the ability to move around in the pocket or tuck the ball to run with it. In 25 career games, Jacobs was sacked just 22 times. He is a good scrambler and is likely faster than his recent 40-yard-dash time of 4.77 seconds.
Despite his mobility, Jacobs is definitely a pass-first quarterback, and it is something he excels at. He has good arm strength and is very accurate on short-to-intermediate routes. Though Bowling Green did not go deep often, when they did Jacobs showed good touch and ball placement. For his collegiate career, he completed an impressive 64.5 percent of his passes.
Playing in a conference like the Mid-American Conference often brings with it doubts for rarely facing top competition. Yet when Jacobs is drafted, he will join a list of former MAC quarterbacks that includes Akron's Charlie Frye (Cleveland Browns), Marshall's Chad Pennington (New York Jets) as well as Byron Leftwich (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Miami's (Ohio) Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers). Perhaps the critics are right though. After all, he couldn't pull out a win against Wisconsin, who finished 2005 ranked 15th in the nation. The obviously overmatched Jacobs only passed for 458 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-42 loss.
Along with some physical similarities, Jacobs has another quality in common with Vince Young - an unconventional throwing motion. Though the severity of the issue may be over-hyped by the media, the throwing motion is uncommon for a reason. The near shoulder-high release that Jacobs employs negates his height and causes more passes to be batted down by defenders at the line. Another effect of his mechanics is that he tends to push the ball when he passes.
It would have been beneficial for Jacobs to return to Bowling Green for his senior season for two reasons. With only two seasons as a starter, Jacobs is still inexperienced and another year would have allowed him more time to develop as a quarterback. Also, Jacobs is coming off a season in which all his numbers significantly declined from the previous year. Compared to 2004, his 2005 completion percentage was down 6.2 percent, and his touchdown pass total dropped from 41 to 26. Even though Jacobs played in only nine games this past season as opposed to 12 in 2004, he threw more interceptions in 2005.
Had Jacobs stayed in school and put up numbers even close to the ones he did in 2004, he probably would be a top quarterback in the 2007 NFL Draft. As it is, the down year and sub-par 40 time he ran at the NFL Combine creates uncertainty of whether he will be a first- or second-day pick.
Jacobs will probably be taken somewhere between the third round (the last of Day 1) with the fifth round being the far end of the spectrum. During a recent interview at the NFL Combine, Jacobs was quoted as saying he would love to play for the Miami Dolphins, and it was at the combine he met with Dolphins quarterbacks coach Jason Garrett. Jacobs also had formal meetings with the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. The Colts and Rams will both be in the market for a third quarterback this offseason, while the Dolphins, along with the Ravens, continue their search for a franchise signal-caller.
While there are questions about throwing mechanics, experience and the quality of defenses faced, there is no question Jacobs has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. If he can translate his personal success to the pro level and continue to develop as a quarterback, Jacobs could end up being a steal for the team that selects him in April following an average maturation period.
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