Quarterbacks on display at East-West Shrine Game
When Stanford’s Andrew Luck decided to pass on entering the NFL
draft to return to school for his senior season, NFL teams in need
of a quarterback all let out a collective groan.
Without Luck, the pool of potential first-round draft picks in
the 2011 quarterback class lost its most-coveted prize.
But heading into Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, the first
major college football all-star game of draft season, several
signal callers will be trying to prove their class isn’t as top
heavy as some think.
”Life is about opportunities, and all you can really do is ask
for one,” said former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien,
representing the West. ”A lot of us out here are just looking for
that one opportunity to show who we are. We’ve heard people say
things about our class as a group. But it’s a tough grind and it
keeps you motivated.”
Quarterbacks projected to go in the first round include
underclassmen Blaine Gabbert of Missouri and reining Heisman
Trophy-winner Cam Newton of Auburn, and Jake Locker of
Most of the more than 200 NFL scouts and team officials that
attended practices this week in Orlando are expecting to identify
most of their potential early round picks at next weeks’ Senior
Bowl in Alabama.
But there are some quarterbacks in town this week that could go
in the middle rounds. Of that list, Delaware’s Pat Devlin has
easily commanded the most attention. A 6-foot-4, 220-pound transfer
from Penn State, he has drawn comparisons to former Blue Hen
standout Joe Flacco.
Flacco transferred to Delaware from Pittsburgh in 2006 and
shined for two years in the Football Championship Subdivision
before being drafted 18th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in
As much as Devlin might like being linked to NFL-caliber talent,
he said the comparisons end at their shared alma mater.
”I think we’re two different guys, totally,” said Devlin, who
passed for 3,032 yards and 22 touchdowns this past season. ”I
didn’t watch film on him and say ‘Oh, I want to be what he is.’
He’s a guy that has superhuman arm strength. I never tried to step
into his shoes or anything. I just tried to play within the offense
we had at Delaware and be efficient.”
Devlin said he has had conversations with Flacco, but that they
”barely” talked about football. He said he’s put a lot more stock
in the one-on-one talks he’s had with East coach Dan Reeves this
Having played in a shotgun system the past two seasons, he’s
valued getting pointers from Reeves on the pro-style, drop back
”It’s been really great to have him as the quarterback coach
here,” Devlin said. ”He’s taught me a lot. As elementary as an
all-star game offense is, I’ve been able to learn a lot and get
under center and work on that.”
Former NFL quarterback James Harris, the Detroit Lions’ senior
personnel executive, has evaluated players for more than 20 years.
He said that every scout at these all-star games is mindful that he
could find an underrated jewel. That’s especially true among
quarterbacks, he said.
”It’s a good opportunity for a quarterback trying to elevate
himself into the middle rounds,” Harris said. ”The draft is a
process and this is a part of it. You come here and you put your
skills on display and try to have a good outing. You’ve already had
your college season, we’ve evaluated that, and this is the second
part. You want to do well in as many parts of the process as you
And that’s what former Virginia Tech standout Tyrod Taylor has
kept in the back of his mind all week.
The 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year threw for
2,743 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. But he’s somewhat
undersized at 6-1 and 210 pounds, and scouts question whether he
will be able to make a roster as a quarterback.
There were several Canadian Football League scouts on hand this
week, but Taylor said he has maintained tunnel vision about his
”I just want the opportunity,” Taylor said. ”God gave me the
opportunity for this and I’m trying to go out there to impress a
lot of people. My goal is to go to the NFL. If it’s somewhere else,
I’ll deal with that when it happens. But I’ve always wanted to play
in the NFL. I feel like I have NFL talent and that’s what I’ve come
out to prove.”