Everyone knows that one of the best birthing grounds for future NFL stars is Western Pennsylvania. Players such as Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Mike Ditka, Joe Namath, Tony Dorsett, Curtis Martin and Ty Law all call that region home, a tradition Pittsburgh quarterback Tyler Palko would like to continue.
At West Allegheny High School, Palko racked up about as many accolades as you can think of. In his senior season of 2001, he was named to the Pennsylvania Big High School All-State team by the Associated Press. He was also the 2001 Pennsylvania Big School Player of the Year. That year, Palko was also a second-team All American (USA Today) while playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. On the field he threw for 1,887 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes.
As a true freshman in 2002, Palko played in six games, completing two out of 13 passes for 13 yards. In 2003, he did not play a down and was redshirted. His big break with the Panthers came in the 2004 season, where Palko competed 56 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,067 yards and 24 touchdowns against only seven interceptions in 12 games. That season he was named Pitt's Offensive Most Valuable Player, and it set the precedent for the rest of his collegiate career.
The 2005 season, however was not as productive for the starting quarterback. He threw for just 2,392 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions that season. He did complete 57 percent of his passes, but it was surely a step back in his production.
Palko's final campaign in 2006 was arguably his best. As a fifth-year senior, he completed 68 percent of his passes (a career high), while throwing for 2,871 yards and 25 touchdowns.
On the field, Palko is a fantastic leader and is the epitome of a field general. He's a guy who can make all of the throws needed in a game, and has great arm strength. He also has the ability to make plays on the run, whether it is with his arms or with his legs.
While he takes his share of chances and is a "gunslinger", Palko has proven to be an efficient passer. He also has shown above-average accuracy at times. NFL coaches and general managers are also more prone to take a coach's son, which Palko is.
For every time that Palko throws a beautiful ball into the chest of a receiver 30 yards downfield, there's a time when he under-throws a back in the flat. His inconsistent accuracy will surely be under a microscope in the pros.
At just 6-foot-1, he doesn't have the ideal height for a quarterback. His field vision and technique also need work at the next level. His throwing motion may also need to be refined as well.
In a rather shallow quarterback crop, Palko is somewhere in the middle of the pack. He likely won't be a first-day pick but is definitely a player who will be drafted. Teams that are looking for a third-string quarterback to develop will definitely take a flier on him late. Possible landing spots for him include the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.
About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
Don't miss these great reports....