Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

by Chris Nelson on January 29, 2007 @ 03:45:01 PDT

 


Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is the epitome of an elite NFL prospect with all the tools, intangibles and experience a coach could ask for. Wisely electing to return to Notre Dame for his senior season in 2006, Quinn is now coming off two very strong years and looks to be one of the first players chosen in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Background

Quinn hails from Dublin, Ohio where he lettered in football and baseball at Coffman High School. Quinn was twice a team captain and all-conference selection in his two years as starting quarterback. He graduated following a senior campaign that saw him pass for 2,194 yards and 25 touchdowns with just four interceptions, earning him an all-state selection. Quinn was recruited to Notre Dame by then-head coach Tyrone Willingham.

Quinn saw action early on at Notre Dame, appearing in all 12 games and replacing starter Carlyle Holiday (now a receiver with the Green Bay Packers) during the team's fourth game. While he threw just nine touchdowns with 15 interceptions, Quinn set Notre Dame freshman records in attempts, completions and passing yards.

Following his freshman campaign, Quinn turned in the best statistical sophomore performance in Notre Dame history. Starting all 12 games, he threw for 2,586 yards and 17 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Highlights of his season included 432 passing yards against Purdue and four touchdown passes against Washington.

The arrival of former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as head coach caused Quinn's production to skyrocket. Started in all 12 games, Quinn became Notre Dame's career leader in multiple passing categories. He threw for 3,919 yards and 32 touchdowns with seven interceptions, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting. Quinn threw for over 400 yards three times, while throwing at least one touchdown pass in every regular season game and throwing at least two in 10 games. He also played fairly well in a losing effort to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, going 29-for-45 with 286 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Starting all 13 games as a senior, Quinn threw for 3,426 yards and a school record 37 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He also threw just one interception in the final eight games of the regular season. Quinn's second stellar season earned him the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (best senior quarterback) and Maxwell Award (player of the year), while finishing third in the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award voting.

Table: QB Brady Quinn - Career Statistics (2003-06)

Year
G
GS
Comp
Att
Pct
Yards
Avg
Lng
TD
Int
Rate
2003
12
9
157
332
47.3
1831
5.5
85
9
15
93.5
2004
12
12
191
353
54.1
2586
7.3
54
17
10
125.9
2005
12
12
292
450
64.9
3919
8.7
80
32
7
158.4
2006
13
13
289
467
61.9
3426
7.3
62
37
7
146.7
TOTAL
49
46
929
1602
58.0
11762
7.3
85
95
39
134.4

As impressive as Quinn's college career was, it ended on a sour note. He struggled in his final collegiate contest, going 15-for-35 with 148 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a Sugar Bowl loss to Louisiana State. However, there are far too many positives about Quinn to judge him on one game against a very strong opponent, and make no mistake about it; Quinn is one of the best players in a very talented pool.

Positives

Right away, you'll notice Quinn's impressive physical attributes. He has near ideal size at 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, and possesses great upper body strength. Quinn is also surprisingly mobile, quite adept at evading the rush and throwing on the run. One needs only to watch his 60-yard run against Southern California last November for a glimpse at his deceptive speed and agility.

Aside from the physical aspect, Quinn is also a very intelligent player who doesn't make too many mistakes. He is a diligent worker and an influential team leader. Quinn also has loads of experience, having faced some very tough competition in 49 collegiate contests.

The influence of coach Weis is a big plus for Quinn, as Weis is often credited with the development of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. During Quinn's final two years at Notre Dame he ran Weis' pro-style offense, making him as prepared as any quarterback in the nation for the next level.

Negatives

While there aren't many holes in Quinn's game, like all prospects he is not perfect. Despite good back-to-back seasons, Quinn did not have quite the senior year many were expecting. In 2006, we saw declines in Quinn's completion percentage, yards per attempt, passing yards and passer rating compared to his junior year.

Like all quarterbacks, Quinn can sometimes struggle under pressure and lose some control when rushed, causing him to force the ball into coverage. If there is one area of football that makes a huge leap from college to the pros, it is the secondary coverage. Quinn will have to adjust to some extent, because some of the throws he was able to get away with in college he will not in the NFL.

With an independent school like Notre Dame, there are always some questions about the level of competition on their schedule. Notre Dame routinely faces teams like Army, Navy, Air Force, Purdue and Stanford, sometimes making it hard to truly gauge a player's ability. It is at worth noting that Quinn went 0-4 against Southern California in his career, although one loss was very, very questionable after a missed call on the referees' part in 2005.

While one would assume the tutelage from Weis purely a positive thing, one must wonder if Quinn is to some extent a product of Weis' system. It is up for debate whether Quinn's leap in success between his sophomore and junior seasons was the result of Weis' arrival or Quinn's natural maturation as a quarterback.

Draft Placement

A lot can happen between now and Draft Day, but one thing that shouldn't change is Quinn's projection as a top-5 pick. As it stands it appears the Oakland Raiders at No. 1 may go with LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell or engineer a trade down. Detroit should select Quinn at No. 2, which is precisely why Matt Millen likely won't. Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas is expected to be the pick there.

The third pick in the draft will be decided by a coin flip between the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who each finished the season at 4-12 with identical strengths of schedule. An Ohio native and Cleveland Browns fan growing up, Quinn has made it known that he would prefer to go to Cleveland; however, he isn't expected to make any demands a la Eli Manning or John Elway.

Don't expect Quinn to fall past third no matter which team wins the toss. Cleveland looks to head into 2007 with the not-so-impressive trio of Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson and Ken Dorsey, while in Tampa, Chris Simms' reliability is in doubt. In addition, he is not signed long term.

Perhaps Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson would be a great fit in Cleveland and Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson in Tampa, but it would be surprising to see either team pass up on a possible franchise signal-caller like Quinn given their current situations at the position.

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About Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson is a college student at Georgia State University currently majoring in journalism. Chris has been playing fantasy baseball and football for nearly a decade. He one day hopes to be a beat writer for the Miami Dolphins while eventually reaching the pinnacle of sports journalism, that being the ability to write about coffee, traveling, kids softball and whatever else he wants, all the while being paid good money by a national publication to do it. He has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.

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