Welcome Matt

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September 9, 2005
Welcome Matt
by Warren DeLuca

Note: This is first in a series of college prospect profiles in preparation for the 2006 NFL Draft next April. This week, we take a look at the top five quarterback prospects.

Paul Tagliabue may already have a card printed up that he practices reading in front of the mirror: “With the first pick in the NFL Draft, the [insert team name here] select quarterback Matt Leinart, Southern California.” Anything can happen over the next several months, but the top spot is Leinart’s to lose.

The rest of the quarterback class also looks strong at this point. Omar Jacobs of Bowling Green is with quarterback with the best shot at catching up to Leinart. He’s a junior who may have better physical tools than the Trojan lefty and was incredibly productive in his first season as a starter. Reggie McNeal of Texas A&M is a dynamic run-pass threat who took great strides last season. Clemson’s Charlie Whitehurst is looking to bounce back after not playing up to his preseason hype a year ago. Bruce Gradkowski of Toledo is a precise passer who stays cool under pressure. Texas’ Vince Young would have made this list had his Longhorn ancestors not set a precedent of expiring their collegiate eligibility before turning pro.

With the franchise built around David Carr, the Texans won’t likley be using a first-round pick on a quarterback. Veteran backup Tony Banks has been effective for the most part when called upon and seems content with his role. If Dave Ragone continues to progress, he may be leaving the team sometime before the 2007 season either in a trade or as a free agent. Charley Casserly likes to always have a young quarterback in the pipeline, so it would not be surprising to see him draft another one next April.

Five more quarterbacks to watch:

Brodie Croyle, Alabama
Chris Leak, Florida
D.J. Shockley, Georgia
Brad Smith, Missouri
Vincent Young, Texas

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