Osweiler shows off skill set for NFL scouts
TEMPE, Ariz. — For some quarterbacks, this plan would have seemed crazy. For a guy who ignored the advice of his closest mentor, it made perfect sense.
Brock Osweiler was back at Arizona State's Verde Dickey Dome on Friday, running, throwing and displaying his improved mechanics for a group of scouts and NFL executives that included Seahawks GM John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple and Cardinals quarterbacks coach John McNulty.
Instead of following a simple formula, Osweiler threw caution to the wind with a complex script designed by former ASU and current UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, Osweiler's mentor.
"A lot of quarterbacks kind of play it safe," Osweiler said. "They're not going to make a lot of those throws that you might make an incompletion on. We looked at it the other way. We wanted to show everybody everything I had. We wanted to make all the difficult throws."
Osweiler had some help from departing ASU receivers Gerell Robinson, Mike Willie and Aaron Pflugrad, but Mazzone was just doing what he'd want others to do for him.
"We tried to showcase the things that if I was looking to draft a guy, those would be the questions I'd have about him at 6-6 7/8," Mazzone said. "Can he move? Can he throw on the run? How are his feet in the pocket?
"We could put 30 to 40 routes up there — nice, safe throws — and he could look great, but I want people to see what they're really getting with him, because he's a little bit of an unknown with only playing one season as a starter. I think Brock's upside is awesome."
Two scouts who requested anonymity were impressed with Osweiler's accuracy and mobility, a lingering question due to his height but one that those who watched him play last year had already dismissed. Osweiler said he ran a low 4.9 in the 40 on Friday.
"For a guy that big, the things people think are: It might take a longer time with the big, long arm to get the ball out or he may be kind of a plodder in the pocket as far as moving his feet, but that's not the case," McNulty said. "The guy really moves well."
It took a long time to get to this point. Osweiler said he suffered a mid-foot sprain in his left foot on the second-to-last drive of the Las Vegas Bowl in December that took two full months to heal. That forced him to skip the NFL Scouting Combine, which he jokingly dismissed as little more than “a bunch of interviews anyway.”
But he also had to wait longer than most players to showcase his abilities.
"I'm one of the last ones in the country," he said. "As a competitor, it was hard to sit back and wait, but it was well worth it."
With ample time on his hands, Osweiler worked out at Athletes' Performance in north Phoenix with fellow QB prospects Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor). He also worked long hours with Mazzone on his footwork, his stance and his throwing motion.
“I was always kind of dragging my elbow when I was playing here at ASU,” said Osweiler, who now has more of an over-the-top motion. “We really wanted to utilize my full 6-7 frame, or whatever it is.”
Most draft projections have Osweiler going in either the second or third round, but those projections are clearly inexact. They're also fluid.
Osweiler said he has private workouts scheduled with the Chiefs and Broncos next week. He's also taking trips to Miami and Buffalo and a few other places, two of which might be Seattle and Cleveland given their presence at Friday's workout.
McNulty said Friday's performance was a good start toward Osweiler opening some eyes.
"People wanted to see him under center because he's mainly been in the gun," McNulty said. "They set it up well to make him make all the throws from under center that you would have to make in a game, whether it was play-action, drop back. I thought he did a good job."
If Osweiler does in fact go in the first three rounds, it will validate the decision he made to depart ASU after his junior season.
"There were a lot of things that went into it. Where I was as an individual? Where I was as far as am I ready to be done playing college football, and do I think I'm ready to move on to a professional career?" said Osweiler, who admitted that Mazzone's departure and new ASU coach Todd Graham's arrival also raised questions. "Can I get better under this new staff? Am I going to stay the same? What kind of offense are we going to run?
"It was a very difficult decision that took about three weeks to make."
Osweiler's family and Mazzone were key advisers, although Mazzone was on the contrary side of the debate.
"I said, 'Go back. I think you need another year,'" said Mazzone, who believes Osweiler would have been a top-15 pick in another year.
Osweiler understands that there are still many hurdles to cross and there is still plenty of work to be done, but he is at peace with his decision, and he came away from Friday's workout with his typically positive outlook.
"I thought it was a good day," he said.
NOTES: Former ASU middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict also took part in Friday's workout, shaving about three-tenths of a second off the infamous 5.09-second 40 time he posted at the NFL Scouting Combine by getting into the 4.8 range.
"It was just a lot of hard work that I put in," he said. "I've been training hard, two-a-days, running the miles and just trying to be leaner, stronger. It showed today."