From ESPN –
ESPN Conference Call Transcript: Monday Night Football’s Jon Gruden Discusses QB Camp Series and NFL Draft Prospects
ESPN conducted a media conference call today with Monday Night Football’s Jon Gruden to discuss the SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp series and ESPN’s 2012 NFL Draft coverage. ESPN will provide live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the NFL Draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York April 26-28, and Gruden will provide analysis on the main set the first two nights in primetime. Full audio replay; Gruden’s QB Camp TV schedule and photos). Transcript:
MODERATOR: I’d like to thank the members of the media for joining us today. We’ve got a terrific call planned with Jon Gruden, who is in his third year of doing Gruden’s QB Camp. The shows have already started. I’m sure many of you have seen them. This year he’s met with an unprecedented 10 different quarterbacks from across the country who are up for the 2012 NFL Draft. The big one‑hour special featuring all the quarterbacks will air next Thursday, April 19th, so please look out for that. Jon will also be part of our NFL Draft coverage in New York at Radio City Music Hall, the first two nights in primetime, Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th.
Q. It’s clear from your interview with Andrew Luck that you think he’s the real deal. That being the case and looking at the Colts’ roster, how important is it from your perspective if you’re going to draft that guy and invest your future in him to make the rest of your draft sort of increasing the supporting cast around him, and do you expect the Colts to do that?
JON GRUDEN: Well, I think the Colts are a lot different team now, obviously, than they were five years ago. Not only do they have to address needs in the draft, they’re going to have to continue to do that after the draft and in free agency. Obviously a quarterback’s success rate is largely dependent upon those around him, not just on the field, but he’s got to embrace a new system.
I know Bruce Arians is coming over from the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve got a new head coach. So they’ve got to increase their personnel. There’s no question. Marvin Harrison is gone, Reggie Wayne is at a different stage in his career, Dallas Clark is gone. I don’t know who the feature back is going to be, so I would assume if Indianapolis does indeed select Andrew Luck that they’ll try to upgrade the supporting cast on the field as much as possible.
Q. How do you see Robert Griffin fitting into Washington if the Redskins are going to draft him?
JON GRUDEN: I think it’s really exciting for the Redskins because Mike Shanahan, his expertise with mobile quarterbacks. Some of the best tape that I’ve ever studied was Mike Shanahan and John Elway in Denver, the back‑to‑back Super Bowl championship teams. They took advantage of John Elway’s mobility. A lot of people forget just how extraordinary Elway was handing the ball off to Terrell Davis and those bootlegs, those naked bootlegs off of those stretch plays, devastating. What Mike did in San Francisco with Steve Young, another mobile quarterback, those are as good of offensive tape as I’ve ever seen.
So I think when you get Robert Griffin, one of the most explosive quarterbacks to ever play the position, in a Mike Shanahan type system, the possibilities are very exciting, I think, with Mike Shanahan’s imagination.
Q. A lot has been made about Andrew Luck’s football IQ, and I was wondering based on your time with him if you got the sense that it’s all it’s been cracked up to be.
JON GRUDEN: Yeah, I think it’s ‑‑ as much as people talk about his football IQ, I think it’s still underestimated. I’ve never met a guy like Andrew Luck at this stage of the game. I spent a lot of time talking with Peyton Manning about football, have a pretty good idea from being around the Saints what Drew Brees is like. We had some guys in Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson, Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks, that had tremendous football IQ that could really apply it on game day. But for a senior ‑‑ not even a true senior in college to have this type of football pedigree, I wish I could describe it, his recognition of coverages, his retention, the way he studies the game, his audible mechanics and what he’s been asked to do, and done, with an incredible success rate, unparalleled with anybody I can remember in the college level.
Q. Just wondering what you thought of Russell Wilson and how big of an issue is the lack of height going to be with NFL teams and how will that affect his draft status?
JON GRUDEN: I think that is the issue with Russell Wilson. That might be the reason that he’s not picked in the first couple rounds. The only issue with Russell Wilson is his height. He’s got tremendous mobility. I’ve got him at 4.50 in the 40. He’s mastered two different offensive systems. When do any of us remember a kid transferring from NC State to Wisconsin in July and breaking every Wisconsin Badger record? The Badgers could have won every game this year if not for a couple Hail Marys.
This is a tremendous kid. His intangibles are off the charts. He walks into Wisconsin, he’s a team captain. We all know what a great athlete he is. He’s a high draft choice in baseball.
The only issue is his height, and we use Drew Brees as the classic example. If you just look at one inch or an inch and a half, that’s the height difference in Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. But he’s got a lot of questions and answers. There are not a lot of quarterbacks under six feet that are playing in the NFL today or who have played the game, period. He’s going to have to answer those questions. Hopefully the right guy gives him an opportunity and he takes advantage of it, because when you watch the tape, every film you watch at NC State or Wisconsin, the results are very similar. It’s successful, solid, game day competitive. It’s exciting. I wish him the best. He’s a special kid. I just hope he gets with the right guy.
Q. What was your opinion of Kirk Cousins going into the interview, and where do you project him to go?
JON GRUDEN: We got to know Cousins well in the Outback Bowl. Mike Tirico and I did the Outback Bowl, and we spent a lot of time with Michigan State and with Cousins specifically. We got to see him practice. We had him down here at the FFCA headquarters twice. What you’re getting is a three‑time team captain at Michigan State, so that tells you what type of leader he is. He does have, I think, NFL prototype size. He’s in a very good offense at Michigan State. They ask him to do a lot of different things. He’s under the center, he’s in the shotgun, there’s a two‑back attack, there’s a no‑back attack. And quietly Michigan State has become one of the premier football programs in college football. They’re the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last three years.
So you’re getting a winner. When you look at B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, who are outstanding receivers at Michigan State, you can see why. They’ve got the trigger in Cousins. I see him going in the second round, and I think he’s got a very bright future in the NFL because he’s all business all the time. He’s a meticulous preparation freak. I think he’s got very good athletic ability, and he’s got a lot of experience as a starting quarterback in a big arena.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about your impressions of Brandon Weeden and if anything surprised you, either in evaluating his tape or when you met with him a few weeks ago?
JON GRUDEN: I think the Oklahoma State Cowboys have the most unique offense in college football. They do some wicked things to defenses with the no‑huddle tempo to the way they use Justin Blackmon. They’ve got a great running back. But at the end of the day, if you counted the top 20 throws that Andrew Luck made, the top 20 throws that Robert Griffin made, the top 20 throws that Tannehill made, Weeden, Kellen Moore, you walk away and you say Brandon Weeden makes the most difficult throws in college football. He’s got a tremendous arm, great anticipation. They have a go‑to guy in Blackmon, and whenever it’s man‑to‑man, they turn the two of those guys loose. It’s a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football. The only downside of Weeden right now is his age. I think he’s the same age I am, 48 years old.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Kellen Moore, your impressions of him, and what you think he is as an NFL prospect?
JON GRUDEN: You know, all these quarterbacks I get excited talking about, but these classic quarterbacks, every one of these young men have unique traits. Kellen Moore is 50 and 3. You could say he’s 49 and 3, but really, he won 50 games at Boise State, 6 and 0 against BCS teams. The statistics are marvelous. The system of football at Boise is very demanding. They shift more than any team in the country, maybe other than Stanford. The volume of different running plays, passing plays, formations, it’s incredible. They do more than a lot of NFL teams under Coach Petersen there.
Kellen Moore is a coach. He could probably be an offensive coordinator for a lot of teams. This guy knows the game inside and out. I never really got a chance to get behind the scenes with the Boise State football team, but Kellen Moore, he’s the ringleader of the Boise State Broncos. His poise, his anticipation, his accuracy is outstanding.
Is he big enough? Does he have enough arm? And can he get away from pressure well enough? Those are the challenges ahead for Kellen Moore. But what a quarterback, what a game day clutch performer he is. He’s only a couple plays away from being 53 and 0.
Q. A question about quarterbacks in regard to the University of Miami. Todd McShay has projected that nine Miami players will be drafted. They only had six wins last year. They had a similar situation two years ago and had eight guys drafted. I just wonder how unusual is that in your experience, and can any assumptions be made from it, whether that’s a player problem or a coaching problem or a combination?
JON GRUDEN: Well, the draft is an imperfect science. Just because you get drafted doesn’t mean you become a really good pro player. A lot of players are getting drafted, let’s be honest, on measurables, guys that have size, guys that have speed, that can jump, change directions. A lot of the guys get drafted with very little to do with their college tape.
But to answer your question, A, it’s a great question; and B, it probably is a combination of both. Guys don’t belong in certain systems. They don’t fit in certain programs as well as they would others. But it only takes one person to like him. I’ve seen some guys get drafted that I couldn’t believe got drafted as high as they did or guys that didn’t get drafted that I thought should have gotten drafted. But that’s a question that I probably can’t even answer.
Q. Sorry I have to indulge in a non‑quarterback question, but I presume you saw enough of (Justin) Blackmon when you were looking at Weeden. He seems like the yards‑after‑the‑catch guy that would be perfect for a West Coast offense. Would you agree?
JON GRUDEN: I think he’d be perfect for an East Coast offense or a Midwest offense. If you don’t like Justin Blackmon, you don’t like football. How do you catch 230 passes in two years, and whenever it’s man‑to‑man, whenever it’s single coverage, man‑to‑man, they have the flexibility in their system to change any play and throw it to Justin Blackmon, and they have a wide inventory of ways to get him the ball, down the field, underneath. They can flip it to him on reverses. There’s not a lot that you cannot like about Blackmon.
The only thing is I thought he was 6’6″, 240 pounds when I was watching him. He’s not as big as I thought he was, and he didn’t run the blinding time I thought he would. But when you watch a film of Justin Blackmon, he’s a difference maker, and I expect that to continue at the next level. He fits any offense, I think. I’ve seen him play in the slot, I’ve seen him play flanker and split end. He’s smart, heady, experienced, and he is clutch in clutch situations, 3rd down, red zone, two‑minute, big games. That’s the best of Justin Blackmon.
Q. So many people are trying to fortify themselves at the quarterback position with these young prospects, but some other teams like the Chicago Bears have a veteran returning in a healthy Jay Cutler. I’d be interested in your opinion how much Brandon Marshall will mean to Cutler and the Bears’ passing game overall.
JON GRUDEN: I think we all agree that the Bears need a go‑to receiver. They need a 1,000‑yard receiver. They need a man that can line up every Sunday and Monday night, whenever the games are, and be a 100‑catch, 1,300‑, 1,400‑yard season go‑to receiver, a guy they can go to in any situation against any corner and expect to win. And provided that Brandon Marshall comes in focused, whatever the rumors are, whatever the circumstances are, as long as he comes in there with a great state of mind and really gives the Chicago Bears fans Brandon Marshall, I think it’s a great move for the Bears, because I’ve long respected his play between the lines, and if Cutler does stay healthy, that’s a dynamic combination. They’ve already proved it in Denver.
Q. I’m wondering if you can compare this year’s group (of quarterbacks) that you evaluated to last year’s, especially considering the impact they made in the league, and do you see a second‑ or third‑round guy that you can kind of compare to Andy Dalton?
JON GRUDEN: Well, I think this year is a little bit deeper. You never expect quarterbacks to come in as rookies, especially in a lockout year, and do what Cam Newton did; 4,000 yards passing, 700 yards rushing has never happened ever, let alone by a rookie in a lockout season. Andy Dalton, 20 touchdown passes, taking a team to the playoffs, and he squares off against TJ Yates, a rookie from North Carolina. I don’t remember 60 rookie starts at the quarterback position ever since the NFL merger, so it would be hard to duplicate that.
But I do think this year’s crop of quarterbacks is very deep. We had 10 young men in here, I think guys in the second round. We already talked about Kirk Cousins. Brandon Weeden’s name has come up. I think there’s some interesting other quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler, a junior at Arizona State, 6’7″ with a rocket arm and better‑than‑average mobility. I think there’s some really interesting young quarterbacks in this draft, and those are three of them.
Q. What stood out to you about RG3’s personality when the cameras are off, and what kind of concerns would you have about him?
JON GRUDEN: Man, I don’t have any concerns about this kid. What you see is what you get, on the camera, off the camera. He’s a special young man. He comes from great stock; both his parents are military people. He’s been brought up the right way. He’s sustained the right stuff with all of his success. He helped put the Baylor Bears on the map of college football. I don’t remember Baylor ever beating Oklahoma. I don’t ever remember Baylor back‑to‑back years beating Texas. And I don’t ever remember Baylor having a Heisman Trophy winner, either.
I think he can do the same thing for the Redskins. He can revive the Redskins, as long as he stays healthy, he buys in and really takes to this new system, and he continues to work. But this is a special young man, whether the camera is on or off.
Q. I’m curious to know how you thought the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow dynamic was going to play out in New York, and also, as a coach, could you ever envision taking your starter off the field 20 snaps a game so the backup can do the wildcat?
JON GRUDEN: I remember years ago Paul Hornung took snaps from center with the Green Bay Packers. A guy named Vince Lombardi was coaching at that time. Didn’t do too bad, either. The object of this game is not to compile great passer ratings and yardage and lead the league in yards; the object is to win. And fortunately for the Jets, they have two winning quarterbacks.
And if we all could agree on one thing, let’s all try to agree that Tim Tebow can do some things to supplement what Mark Sanchez does to help you win, whether it’s two snaps, 12 snaps or no snaps, Tebow is going to help the Jets on and off the field, and he is going to make it miserable for defenses to prepare, because if you think you’re going to prepare for Sanchez and this Jet offense and Tim Tebow, you’d better work some endless hours and call the commissioner and see if you can add some hours to practice because it’s going to be miserable on defense.
Q. The Bills have spent a good deal of money on the defensive side of the ball this year. My question is on the offensive side. Do you believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a quarterback that they can win with, and also, one of the guys that they have brought in and scouted extensively, Brock Osweiler, could you maybe elaborate a little bit more on your thoughts on him?
JON GRUDEN: Well, first of all, Osweiler, because he’s fresh in my mind, he’s just a kid. He’s only really played 15 starts a year under his belt at the college level. It was a difficult season at Arizona State, as you know. Coach Erickson was fired before the Bowl game. I think they lost their last five games. He’s playing in an offense where he’s basically a read option style quarterback. You never see a lot of pure drops at Arizona State.
But what you do know is you have an intelligent 6’7″ quarterback that can make a lot of throws. He’s tough, he’s smart, and he really wants to be great. And those are some things that you want to develop, obviously. When you team a quarterback with Chan Gailey, usually the quarterback is going to be put in premier situations, so I do like Osweiler. I see him going someplace as a future quarterback.
In regards to the Bills, I think Fitzpatrick showed some things early that were very exciting, beating Philadelphia, helping the Buffalo Bills come out of the gate in impressive fashion. But in this league at the end of the day it’s about sustaining, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has to prove that he can start the season and end the season by putting the Buffalo Bills back in the playoffs where we used to see them. And that remains to be seen. I think he’s got to answer those questions himself.
Q. What do you make of Nick Foles and his draft stock, and what do you think he can bring to an NFL team and what do you think he most needs to work on?
JON GRUDEN: You know, Nick Foles is another quarterback much like Osweiler who had a difficult season. Coach Stoops was replaced in the middle of the season. So as a captain of the Arizona Wildcats, obviously Nick Foles went through a lot this year. He did not have the supporting cast that some of these other quarterbacks had, no disrespect to anybody. He got hit a lot. One of the few Pac‑10 or Pac‑12 quarterbacks to ever throw for 10,000 yards, tough pocket passer. He’s going to be reliant on a system. He’s going to have to know his protections better than everybody because he’s not the scrambling, get‑out‑of‑trouble‑and‑create type quarterback.
But what he is is an excellent pocket passer, and he might be ‑‑ from head to shoulders, he might be next to Osweiler the biggest quarterback in this draft. Very big for the quarterback position, NFL size. Coaches, GMs covet that size. He’s accurate. He’s just been hit a lot. He’s going to have to really get in a system that he can develop in, I think, and learn the protections and try to develop within that offense as quickly as possible.
Q. I know it’s a big state with some awesome high school football, but beyond that, do you have any explanation or theories on why we’re seeing so many Texas quarterbacks? These three top guys are from Texas and a lot of recent top guys have been out of Texas.
JON GRUDEN: Obviously if you go to Texas, you can probably find passing tournaments going on right now, and if they’re not going on right now, they’ll be going on later this afternoon and for sure tomorrow and the next day. They throw the ball and have organized passing camps more than anyplace I’ve ever been, and I think it’s a credit to the coaches. And not only that, it’s a credit to the support that the coaches get to allow some of these things to happen. But there’s an enthusiasm in Texas for football that might lead the country. I think we would agree if it’s not Texas, they’re second or third for sure. They love football. They’ve done a tremendous job getting people, young people, out for football, and keeping them busy while they develop football. I think they’ve done it as well in Texas as any other state that I’ve seen.
Q. As always, there’s a few guys in the draft with some concerns, maybe most notably Janoris Jenkins. As a coach who has coached all types of guys, do you have any rules of thumb regarding whether you should take a risk on a guy or not, what you were trying to find out, and then also, with quarterbacks, is it even more important that they have high character, being the hardest‑working first guy in because of the importance of that position and some of the things we’ve seen with JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf?
JON GRUDEN: That’s a great question. At quarterback, obviously you want him to be the heart and soul of your football team. He has to be the most trustworthy of the bunch, I think. He’s going to make split‑second decisions, he’s going to touch the ball on every play, he’s going to establish tempo behind the scenes and on the practice field. So obviously you want a quarterback that has all the right stuff.
And in regards to character, nowadays more than ever, you have to put a premium on good character. In the past I could name 100 players that were drafted that had some issues maybe off the field. But nowadays with all the legalities that are out there, you’re testing for steroids, you’re testing just about everything that there is. The media knows everything now. And obviously you live in a glass house whether you like it or not, and you have to make sure that if you take a player, as a coach or as a general manager, you assume responsibility for his behavior off the field, because if you get a player suspended or if a player does get in trouble, it’s a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on your team and your fans, and it’s just not a good situation.
So I think right now more than ever, obviously with the new CBA, the new set of rules, you want to try to surround yourself with as much character as you can.
Q. If you were doing a draft board with quarterbacks beyond Luck, Griffin and Tannehill, who would you rank four through six among Weeden, Cousins, Foles, Osweiler, whatever.
JON GRUDEN: That’ll cost you $500. I can’t reveal my draft board before the draft. I’m just kidding you. I’ll tell you, that’s a great question. For all the people that rank quarterbacks and rank running backs and rank wide receivers, I think it’s great. But it depends on what system you’re going to run. It depends on what supporting cast you have. It depends on a lot of different factors, and where you play sometimes, as well.
But I love Brandon Weeden. I think if you want a quarterback that’s tough as hell, that’s a winner, remember, Weeden already beat Nick Foles in a Bowl game two years ago, he beat Robert Griffin 59 to 24, he beat Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, he beat Landry Jones, he beat Tannehill. I like Weeden as you can tell. I would find something for him to do.
I like Kirk Cousins at Michigan State. I would look forward to working with him. I like all of these players, but I like Weeden. I think in the next tier, I really like Kirk Cousins, and there’s something about Russell Wilson at Wisconsin that I think has already been proven. He’s special, he’s talented, and he’s going to make it.
Q. I wanted to get your take on Tannehill overall, and with his limited starting experience, Bradford and Sanchez kind of had the same thing, how much of a concern is that to you as someone who’s analyzing quarterback talent and with the people you talk to in the NFL?
JON GRUDEN: Well, it’s a concern. It’s a concern. Now, what’s not concerning is what kind of athlete he is. Let’s not forget, he didn’t just play wide receiver at Texas A & M, he started at wide receiver. He had over 200 yards receiving in one game against Kansas State. He’s an outstanding athlete, and he’s also been tutored by an NFL coach in Mike Sherman. So when you do watch Tannehill, every time you watch him you’re seeing an outstanding young man who’s been tutored by an excellent offensive coach in an outstanding system. That I like. So the arrow is going up on Tannehill.
There are some issues you wish you could see. You’d like to see more tape. You’d like to see Tannehill and the A&M offense finish games in the second half when they have a lead. Some of the losses they had this year, I’m not blaming Tannehill, I’m not blaming anybody, but they lost the lead a lot this year in games, and it cost them, because I thought Texas A&M was going to be a top 10 team this year.
Q. Back to Russell Wilson for a second, as a coach how can you help him compensate for the lack of height?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t think you do. I think you just embrace the fact that you’ve got Russell Wilson. He plays behind the biggest offensive line in college football. I mean, the center, Konz, is going to be a second‑round draft choice, he might even be a first‑round draft choice. He’s 6’5½” and he’s the biggest center in college football. Zeitler, the right guard, No. 70, he’s got to be 6’5½”. All of these Wisconsin Badgers are every bit, size‑wise, as big as any line in pro football, and it’s not a problem there. So you might have to change the launching spot a little bit more.
You could make a lot of lists to say why a 5’10” quarterback or a 5’11” quarterback or a six‑footer can’t play in pro football today. But I watched him do it at NC State. I watched him do it at Wisconsin. And I’ve talked to a lot of coaches who have had to defend him, and they’re glad he’s going to the NFL, I promise you that.
Q. The role of the safety has changed a lot in today’s game. You need safeties that can cover tight ends and slot wide receivers. How might that influence teams in this draft to take bigger corners with say Dre Kilpatrick, Stephon Gilmore, those kind of people, and maybe move them inside?
JON GRUDEN: Well, you’d better take as many skill cover guys as you can find, whether they’re safeties, big corners, small corners. You’d better get people that can cover and tackle in one‑on‑one situations. I think that goes hand in hand. Everybody talks about covering, and a lot of these teams don’t even play man‑to‑man. They’re playing all different kind of combination zone coverages. You have to be able to tackle in one‑on‑one situations with all these no‑back formations, spread formations. And finally, you’d better get some smart guys that love football because more and more teams are going to the no‑huddle offense and you rely on communication and intelligence to execute.
But obviously you do want safeties that have great versatility. Earl Thomas, Eric Berry have come into the league as rookies, done a great job. I know there’s a lot of teams that covet a couple safeties in this draft.
Q. One of the challenges that Andrew Luck could be facing when he makes this transition to the NFL is he’s going to be replacing a legend in Peyton Manning. I’m wondering based on what you learned about his makeup, how is Luck going to handle those pressures and those expectations?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t think anybody would be able to handle it better. I know I couldn’t handle it. How would you like to replace Peyton Manning? I think Andrew said it perfectly. He’s not going to replace him. Peyton Manning’s legacy is going to last forever in Indianapolis, and it should. It’s up to Andrew Luck to win football games, to develop into the kind of football player that the Colts or whoever drafts him are expecting him to do.
But he is as humble as any kid you’ll ever meet. He’s as hard‑working and diligent as any young guy I’ve met, and I think he’s the perfect guy to do it because he’s not going to try to replace Peyton. He’s going to try to form his own niche, and I’m confident he can, too.
Q. Back on Kirk Cousins, I was wondering if he reminded you of anyone in the NFL now, and what kind of challenges do you think he faces?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t know who he reminds me of. He reminds me of ‑‑ that’s a tough question off the top of my head. He just reminds me of guys that play on Sunday for a living. That’s the kind of kid he is. That’s the serious background that he’s had. That’s the future that he wants. He’s a self‑starter. He’s one of those kids that just won’t take no for an answer. He’s going to be successful.
He wasn’t a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. He flourished at Michigan State. He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten faster, he’s become much more masterful at the quarterback position. I think if he gets with the right group of guys, he can really take off and enjoy great success.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Ryan Lindley at San Diego State. I don’t believe he’s on the roster for this year’s series, and also the Chargers might be looking for a quarterback. It’ll probably be late round, maybe an undrafted guy, somebody they could develop, a potential practice squad guy. Who in that type of tier sticks out to you, somebody you’d like to get your hands on for a couple years before he sees the field, would be available late, possibly after the draft, who you think could really develop into a solid quarterback?
JON GRUDEN: Yeah, you know, speaking of Lindley, you see him in the Senior Bowl, you don’t see a lot of San Diego Aztec quarterbacks in the Senior Bowl since (Dan) McGwire, but Lindley has 49 starts, he’s the all‑time leading passer at State. They know how to throw the football there. He’s an interesting quarterback. I know a lot of people that have brought him to our attention. We just couldn’t do 11 shows, we could only do 10, but I would have loved to have met Ryan Lindley.
Guys that are interesting to me, I think Case Keenum’s name needs to come out somewhere. He’s the all‑time leading passer in NCAA history, reminds me of a young Jeff Garcia, finds a way to get it done. He’s a lot more athletic than people think. No‑huddle, throw it every snap, makes a lot of game‑day decisions, has helped put the Houston Cougars at the forefront of college football. They beat Penn State in the Bowl game. Who would have thought that? The stadium is packed. He’s done a lot of great things. I think he’s going to be an interesting guy.
Another guy, B.J. Coleman, he interests me, at Tennessee‑Chattanooga from what I’ve seen. Those are three names, Lindley, B.J. Coleman, Case Keenum maybe a little bit later, and Kellen Moore. I think on that third day of the draft, you can’t deny production and sustained production like Kellen Moore has enjoyed. I’d like to have a shot at making a few first downs with him.
Q. If you’re in Cleveland and you’re committed to supporting Colt McCoy, who better to do it with, Richardson or Blackmon at No. 4?
JON GRUDEN: Can we get them both? The easiest thing to do is to turn around and hand the ball to somebody 300 times a year. Everybody says don’t take a running back, we can get those guys in the fifth and sixth and seventh round. You go find Trent Richardson in the fifth or sixth or seventh round. He’s a beast. He broke all of Emmitt Smith’s high school rushing records there in Florida. I’ve seen him run over people, run around people, he protects the ball, he can catch it, he can pick up blitzes. He might be the strongest human being on the planet, and I think his weight lifting proves that. He’s a team captain of a two‑time National Championship team.
No disrespect to Blackmon, but Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson as prospects, they kind of remind me of each other, maybe AP had a little bit more homerun speed, but these are punishing, difference‑maker backs, and I think Richardson with Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly, in the history of great backs they’ve had in Cleveland, that would be pretty neat.
Q. I know you’ve talked a little bit about Kellen Moore thus far, but if you had to take one trait or attribute that will enable him to be successful at the NFL level, what would you pick?
JON GRUDEN: I think it’s the system that he gets in. It’s all about the system you put Kellen Moore in. If you watch Kellen Moore in the Senior Bowl or you listen to people evaluate Kellen Moore at practice in the Senior Bowl, they were critical of him to a degree. But when they play at Boise State, people walk away from the game and they say, wow, they just had 53 points. The more you give Kellen Moore, the better he is. You’ve got to put him in a lot of different situations where he can use his greatest strengths, and that’s above the neck. He can see coverages. He can make audibles, he can get you in and out of plays, he can manage a no‑huddle offense, he can manage any grouping of formations that you want to give him, and he can do it all in week‑to‑week fashion. This guy has a tremendous football background, son of a coach, wants to be a coach himself.
But I think system and I think just relying on his accuracy and anticipation, that’s going to be the keys to his success.
Q. Looking at quarterbacks who have won at a high volume in college and at a high level against tough competition, how much do teams factor that in? We saw that with Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, they both won at high levels and had immediate success. How do you see that with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin and some other guys that have won a lot in this year’s class?
JON GRUDEN: I think it’s huge. There’s criteria, I think, that most general managers, most head coaches, most quarterback coaches have always looked for, and winning is number one; number two, you look at durability; number three, playing experience. Those are very important things to study, and you want a quarterback that’s won, that’s been durable and productive. Those are the things everybody is looking for.
I think the big question RG3 has to answer is why haven’t any of the Big 12 quarterbacks really hit the lottery lately in the NFL? Blaine Gabbert, we’re waiting to see that; Vince Young hasn’t really sustained himself; Sam Bradford has got to prove it going into year four; Colt McCoy, there’s a lot of Big 12 quarterbacks I think that have to really step on the gas this year; and RG3, I’ve heard that time and time again when he was down here in Tampa.
Both these guys have carried their football teams. Andrew Luck turned Stanford around. Look at Stanford before Luck and post Luck; look at Baylor before Griffin and post Griffin. What they have done with their body of work is a tremendous credit to these two young guys.
Q. Speaking of RG3 and Luck, what can you point to as something that you think separates Andrew from Robert or vice versa, and with Robert, speaking of the Big 12 quarterbacks, what will be the biggest transition he has to make going from that offense to an NFL one?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t know why we have to pick one or the other. It’s like strawberry or vanilla. You like both kinds, you’ve just got to go solo, you’ve got to pick strawberry or vanilla. These two kids sat on the podium at the Heisman Trophy balloting, and we all knew it was going to be Luck or Griffin. That’s how close it was. Everybody expected Luck, and if you didn’t expect Luck you expected Griffin or vice versa. It’s the same way in this draft. The Redskins and the Colts are just real lucky if you ask me because they’re looking for quarterbacks, and it just so happens in this draft there are two great proven commodities at that position.
And as far as RG3 goes, they have running shoe principles in their pass offense at Baylor. They don’t get in the huddle very often. If they do, I haven’t seen it. So just getting in the huddle, getting used to the nomenclature, calling plays in a different setting is going to be an adjustment just like it was for Cam Newton, but it didn’t hurt him. And obviously getting used to the speed of the game and learning a lot of new concepts, that will be more, I think, challenging for Griff than it is for Luck just because of the way they played in the last three or four years of their careers.
Q. Knowing what you know about Mike Holmgren and the system the Browns are using on offense, can you kind of break down the way you view their situation with Colt McCoy? Do you think that they should use ‑‑ they have three picks in the top 37 in this year’s draft. Do you think they should use those picks to surround him with pieces like they said they’d be willing to do, or should they go for a Tannehill or Weeden, both of whom should be available to them at some point?
JON GRUDEN: Well, I can’t speak for Coach Holmgren. I certainly don’t know what direction they’re heading. I know McCoy was injured and did not finish the season last year, and I saw the backup playing, Seneca Wallace, down the stretch, and I saw that they lost their back, their big back Hillis went to Kansas City. I think they’re waiting on seeing where their young receiving corps is. They could probably use some firepower around whoever the quarterback is.
But to answer your question, I like Colt McCoy. He was down here a couple years ago. I think he’s done some really good things in pro football. Obviously he’s got to continue to get better, and I think a proven supporting cast would help any quarterback, let alone Colt McCoy. If I was a guessing man, that would be the way I would guess Cleveland would go, add a couple dynamic skilled players to Colt McCoy and see what happens.