Anyone who witnessed last year’s national championship Rose Bowl contest between USC and Texas knew they were watching two legitimate NFL QBs – Vince Young and Matt Leinart. This season we’re not so certain of the pro prospects for Florida’s Chris Leak and Ohio State’s Troy Smith.
Both young men are great talents. They possess the intelligence, savvy and leadership traits to excel in the NFL. But do they have the game?
I’m not Mel Kiper, Jr, but here’s the deal: Leak no doubt helped himself by guiding his Gators to a stunning 41-14 whomping of favored No. 1 Ohio State. He was a surgeon-like 25-for-36 for 213 yards and a TD. He did not make a single mistake. He was poised and precise. Yet at a smidgen under 6-feet he will be hurt on draft day and largely ignored until the later rounds. His future ill depend totally on the team that drafts him and whether they have a system that allows him to flourish. I ay he goes no earlier than second round and I would not be totally surprised if he slipped further. You know NFL guys. They typically draft with their tape measurer and not their gut. Some smart team will look at his production and his recent performances under pressure and get a steal. He may not be a great NFL QB but could be be Matt Hasselbeck? Sure.
As for Troy Smith, his stock dropped like Time Warner with his woeful performance at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. With more sacks (five) than completions (four) he tumbled out of the lower end of the opening round and into the second, at best. Again I would not be surprised to see him selected lower. He looked small and slow against Florida. Imagine how he’d look against the Bears. Hmm, maybe like Rex Grossman? Anyway, I digress.
Where Smith did maintain his status was at the post-game press conference. He showed the kind of intelligence and class that he displayed throughout his senior year, the kind that too often gets deleted by folks after the kind of abysmal performance he experienced. He will recover and, like Leak, probably be able to have a solid NFL career with some team. Maybe not spectacular, but solid. He’d be a great teammate and leader.
Most pundits are saying it will never get any better n a football field for these two young men. We’ll see.