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View Full Version : King George: A Cautionary Tale on QB Pro Day Workouts


nobodyinparticular
02-11-2011, 08:12 PM
A couple months ago, I was stumbling through the wonderful archives of SI.com, seeking to stroll through memory lane as well as learn old information I never knew. They say hindsight is 20-20 and I love being able to see the sports past through the eyes of 2010. While clicking through the archives I discovered the near past--a 6'1" Rajon Rondo out-rebounding an entire Kentucky Wildcats team--the past of nearly two decades ago--an article about flash-in-the-pan former Raider defensive end Anthony Smith--and, ah yes, a post-draft feature on 1990 #1 draft pick Jeff George.

There are two reasons I am so enamored with the story of Jeff George. First, he was an incredibly gifted QB who powerful arm graced the Silver and Black for two years in the late 90's, leading the leading in yards passing in 1997. Secondly, I recall drawing comparisons between Jeff George and Jamarcus Russell, another supremely gifted #1 overall pick, leading up to the 2007 NFL draft.

Due to this sickly infatuation with Jeff George (my heart always raced when Bill Williamson of ESPN.com mentioned he was thinking of trying out for an NFL team), I grabbed a cold one and began to slowly ingest this time capsule of 1990, allowing for full marination. In the article, I read about George's mom molding him into a gunslinger from an early age, "...Judy, would call out to him on field and court, 'The big C. The big C.' That was shorthand, he says, for 'Show confidence in yourself.' " I read about the three absolutely picturesque workouts George performed for scouts leading up to the draft. And then there was the drooling of the scouts.

"Houston Oiler scout Glenn Cumbee says George has the quick release of Dan Marino, the accuracy of Joe Montana and the strength of Boomer Esiason."

"If you're not impressed when you see George, you've been facing the other way looking at the wall."

"Nobody in memory has done it better."

"I got mesmerized..."

"He worked out the best a quarterback can work out. He made every throw."

"He made all the throws. I mean all. He even threw accurately from a lot of awkward positions."

"He'll never have to throw the ball that far, but it's nice to know he can."


and this absolute beauty of a quote

"One scout told George, 'On a scale of one to 10, you were a 12.' "

You can read more here (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1136924/1/index.htm)

Here's the great part about these quotes: you can apply almost every single one of these quotes to the workouts of Jamarcus Russell as well. Russell, who started 25 games in 3 years with a QB rating of 65.2, is out of the league with only 3 professional years under very sizable belt. George, on the other hand, was able to carve out a career for himself, albeit as a journeyman QB who played for 5 teams over a 12 year career and serving as a backup without accumulating any stats for 3 more teams. Over his career, George tallied a QB rating of 80.4, leading the league in passing yards just once in 1997 but twice leading the league in sacks. Over the course of his career, Jeff George won only 46 games to 78 losses, a 37.1% winning percentage. Conversely, his career was filled with many highlight reel throws like the 81 yard bomb in his final pre-draft workout for scouts, and many receivers loved playing with him--including the talented and enigmatic Randy Moss.

As the Sports Illustrated article alludes to, many teams were caught by surprise when Jeff George declared his eligibility for the NFL draft. As a result, much of the frame of reference NFL teams had to judge George was what George allowed them to see in his 3 workouts. As a result, the Illinois quarterback was saw a leap from a mid-2nd round projection to #1 overall in the draft; this was all based on throwing in shorts and a shirt with no pass rush and perfect weather conditions.

Teams overlooked his lack of success in college, immobility, dearth of leadership skills and the issues with his decision making because they were awe-struck by what he could become. Twenty years later, teams weren't wrong about his ability to make electric plays, but his issues with leadership were a problem as only twice in George's career did he lead a team to the playoffs and only one playoff win.

As we enter the workout season leading up the 2011 NFL draft, let's not forget the cautionary tales of Jeff George, Jamarcus Russell and others. There will be players out there who can wow us with their physical abilities, but the game is still played in pads out on the gridiron. If there are concerns about a player due to his play on game film, it is good to use those to keep praise grounded after being wowed by a workout.



On that note, I'll leave you with this parting shot.

eMT3DHlmvy0

TACKLE
02-11-2011, 08:47 PM
Great write up NIP!

Halsey
02-11-2011, 10:39 PM
Yeah, we see these comparisons every year, but what do you want prospects to do, have bad workouts? Would it be better for a prospect if he performed poorly during a workout? Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell aren't the only QBs to have good workouts. This thread is obviously is response to Newton's workout. Are you saying teams are overlooking Newton's lack of success in college? His lack of mobility? As original as it is to compare a talented QB prospect to George and Russell, I again ask what you would have NFL teams do? Take physically talented QB prospects off their board?

TACKLE
02-11-2011, 10:44 PM
Yeah, we see these comparisons every year, but what do you want prospects to do, have bad workouts? Would it be better for a prospect if he performed poorly during a workout? Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell aren't the only QBs to have good workouts. This thread is obviously is response to Newton's workout. Are you saying teams are overlooking Newton's lack of success in college? His lack of mobility? As original as it is to compare a talented QB prospect to George and Russell, I again ask what you would have NFL teams do? Take physically talented QB prospects off their board?

The message is not phenomenal workout = bust. It's phenomenal workout ≠ successful QB. It's just some past references as to why we should be careful in not overreacting to pro-day performances.

BuddyCHRIST
02-11-2011, 11:36 PM
It seems like now and days these great workouts from QBs are going to be run of the mill. People talked about how great Alex Smith's workout was, guys tend to look great when they are running a scripted said of plays in shorts.

asdf1223
02-11-2011, 11:42 PM
That has to be one of the most ridiculous throws in the game. Wow! Great article btw!

gpngc
02-11-2011, 11:45 PM
I'm going to laugh hysterically when a QB actually performs poorly in a pre-draft workout.

gpngc
02-11-2011, 11:48 PM
I don't think the implication of this post has to do with Newton's recent workout because it wouldn't make sense considering Newton was amazing in real games.

What I took from it is that the film does not lie and that about 90% of evaluation should be done on actual game film.

nobodyinparticular
02-11-2011, 11:49 PM
That has to be one of the most ridiculous throws in the game. Wow! Great article btw!

Check out a couple of these throws. Specifically at 1:25

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nobodyinparticular
02-11-2011, 11:51 PM
Yeah, we see these comparisons every year, but what do you want prospects to do, have bad workouts? Would it be better for a prospect if he performed poorly during a workout? Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell aren't the only QBs to have good workouts. This thread is obviously is response to Newton's workout. Are you saying teams are overlooking Newton's lack of success in college? His lack of mobility? As original as it is to compare a talented QB prospect to George and Russell, I again ask what you would have NFL teams do? Take physically talented QB prospects off their board?

I felt this was pretty good conclusion to my post:

"There will be players out there who can wow us with their physical abilities, but the game is still played in pads out on the gridiron. If there are concerns about a player due to his play on game film, it is good to use those to keep praise grounded after being wowed by a workout."

It was a reminder that we should take the entire body of work into consideration rather than just the workout when we evaluate QBs.

the natural
02-11-2011, 11:57 PM
I don't think the implication of this post has to do with Newton's recent workout because it wouldn't make sense considering Newton was amazing in real games.

What I took from it is that the film does not lie and that about 90% of evaluation should be done on actual game film.

Doesn't make sense to me in relation to Newton's workout because it just wasn't that great. He missed 7 of 33 passes, and was behind receivers on a lot of others. Most scripted workouts have close to 100% completion rate. Pete Prisco mentioned the same thing. He thought Newton had a lot of wasted leg movements and poor accuracy. The reason Dilfer was pimping him may have been because Whitfield let him direct the workout. If you watch the film, George goes back to get directions from Dilfer and Glazer before most throws.

Halsey
02-12-2011, 12:02 AM
I felt this was pretty good conclusion to my post:

"There will be players out there who can wow us with their physical abilities, but the game is still played in pads out on the gridiron. If there are concerns about a player due to his play on game film, it is good to use those to keep praise grounded after being wowed by a workout."

It was a reminder that we should take the entire body of work into consideration rather than just the workout when we evaluate QBs.

Agree that we should look at the whole picture, but even that is far from an exact science. Did Aaron Rodgers scream 'future Super Bowl MVP' based on his on field performance in college? Did Matt Cassell look like a future Pro Bowl alternate? I just think it's easy to think you can figure out the trick to always predicting a QBs NFL success, but every QB is different and for every Jeff George there's a John Elway. Elway was a super talented college QB who never even led his team to a Bowl game.

FUNBUNCHER
02-12-2011, 02:11 AM
I don't think the implication of this post has to do with Newton's recent workout because it wouldn't make sense considering Newton was amazing in real games.

What I took from it is that the film does not lie and that about 90% of evaluation should be done on actual game film.

Bingo.

Judging a QB prospect based strictly off his workout is about the same as grading a QB on his measurables.

I can't remember the last time a top tier prospect had a bad private workout throwing the football in a controlled setting.

But no one can deny the reason top prospects will continue to perform in passing drills for scouts is because too often the last impression a player leaves with a scout is the one that scout and NFL organization carries into the draft.

George appeared to lack the drive, work ethic, disposition, team-oriented esprit de corp, mental toughness and humility to translate his unlimited ability into greatness on the football field.

To me, he always came across a little arrogant and aloof, as if showing up on time and dressing for games was all that was required of him to earn his paycheck.

Thankfully, more of the top guys coming out in recent years seem to 'get it', and IMO you have less Jeff George's burdened on the league.

The biggest problem I still contend with Russell was a total lack of drive and motivation, including his abuse of and addiction to prescription codeine cough syrup.
There really should be no mystery as to why he busted in the pros.

JHL6719
02-12-2011, 06:33 AM
Jeff George had the most unbelievable, jaw dropping, awe inspiring arm I've ever seen. It really is a shame that guy just wasn't coachable. He was a Hall of Fame caliber NFL quarterback with the personality of a teenage girl.

Scott Wright
02-12-2011, 06:52 AM
Ha, the old line I always like to use is "If arm strength was everything then Jeff George would be in the Hall of Fame". I may have to update it to JaMarcus Russell now. I think Russell threw the prettiest ball I have ever seen, the problem was too many of them were to the other team.

whatadai
02-12-2011, 10:32 AM
Ha, the old line I always like to use is "If arm strength was everything then Jeff George would be in the Hall of Fame". I may have to update it to JaMarcus Russell now. I think Russell threw the prettiest ball I have ever seen, the problem was too many of them were to the other team.

Correction. The problem was too many of them were missiles straight into the ground a yard in front of his receivers when they were wide open and showing their numbers.

Iamcanadian
02-12-2011, 12:01 PM
Like any position, a QB must be dedicated to working on his natural talent to reach his full upside, Russell is a prime example of a very talented prospect who simply didn't have the desire to succeed.
It is the same for every position, if a talented prospect won't work hard to learn and improve, he will be a flop at the next level. Saying a great workout should be looked at carefully is why teams look at other attributes before making their picks, however, what people seem to forget is that every high pick had a sensational workout and is a workout warrior, that is what got them drafted high. Nobody is going to spend a high pick on a player who worked out terribly.

Babylon
02-12-2011, 12:29 PM
Doesn't make sense to me in relation to Newton's workout because it just wasn't that great. He missed 7 of 33 passes, and was behind receivers on a lot of others. Most scripted workouts have close to 100% completion rate. Pete Prisco mentioned the same thing. He thought Newton had a lot of wasted leg movements and poor accuracy. The reason Dilfer was pimping him may have been because Whitfield let him direct the workout. If you watch the film, George goes back to get directions from Dilfer and Glazer before most throws.

Supposedly he was throwing into a pretty stiff breeze and who knows how familiar he is with the receivers he had. I cant see why people would say these types of events are a joke and then point out something that wasnt perfect. Big picture why even do them.

CashmoneyDrew
02-12-2011, 12:34 PM
I'm going to laugh hysterically when a QB actually performs poorly in a pre-draft workout.

I'm pretty sure that already happened with Casey Clausen.