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NFL Draft Preview: Andre Woodson

He was the face of the Kentucky football program, a Heisman contender for some time and quarterbacked, arguably, the most important victory in UK history.  And, if he didn’t make you want to throw on your #3 jersey and throw passes to yourself in the front yard about a thousand times this year, then you, sir, have no soul.  He’s Andre Woodson and he’s about to enter the next chapter of his life at this weekend’s NFL Draft and will be the first in a series of player previews we do this week at KSR.

Measureables:  Woodson measured in at the NFL Combine at  6’4”, 229 pounds and had arm and hand measurements of 32 ½” and 9 5/8“. His arms were the 9th longest of the quarterbacks and he had the 6th biggest hands. 

Scout’s take: NFL scouts love the way Woodson throws the deep ball and the the way he is able to move in the pocket, considering his size. They are also impressed with his ability to read the defense and to manage the game.  Woodson’s ability to play well against the Cover 2 and the way he hangs in the pocket and takes a hit rather than forcing a throw also intrigue NFL scouts.

The major drawbacks on Woodson, according to NFL scouts, are that he seems to lack some of the important intangibles needed to succeed in the NFL at the quarterback position, as well as his much publicized mechanical issues.  They feel that he doesn’t have the leadership qualities that teams look for in a quarterback and are also concerned with his tendency to fumble.  As far as his mechanics, they worry that his slow release and that raising his elbow above his shoulder will put him at risk for a large number of sacks, thus compounding the fumble issue.

NFL Comparison: The projections right now are almost exclusively calling him, at best, another Jason Campbell because of his arm strength and physical resemblence.  But, those who see him as a bust project him as an Akili Smith-type QB because of his lack of confidence and questionable leadership.

Teams:  Based on the teams that could draft a quarterback, I see Woodson getting drafted into one of three scenarios. 

First, he could go to a team like the Dolphins, Falcons or Chiefs, where the lack of an offensive line or skilled receivers would most likely spell career doom before things even got into full swing.  Just ask Tim Couch.  With each of these teams, Woodson could potentially play a starter’s role on a team that doesn’t have a lot of hope, leaving him to most likely rotate with other young, unproven players and journeyman, minimizing the chance for success.  This is not ideal.

The second scenario is to find himself on a team with a set starter for this year, but not entirely guaranteed for the future.  Teams looking for a quarterback in the second or third round as a future starter could come calling and could come in the form of the Panthers, Buccanneers and Lions.  This wouldn’t be a bad situation for Woodson for the most part, but the problem with this situation is that there is no guarantee on what kind of team will be around in two or three years when he gets his shot.  What will these teams look like in a few years when their aging players are getting close to or already retired or when free agency has reared its ugly head?  It might be fairly similar to the first scenario.

The third situation, and probably not quite as likely, is for Woodson to step into a team that is already playoff quality, but completely lacking at the QB position, and being able to have a shot at winning the job in camp.  This could be the Bears, most obviously, or even the Vikings or Ravens.  While this certainly would play into Woodson’s strengths as a low-interception, game-managing quarterback, it is tough for me to see any of the coaches in charge of these teams turning the reins over to a rookie when there is such a veteran presence.

What we do know, is that for Woodson to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, he’s going to have to be put in a situation where the players around him are the stars and he’s just the director.  Whether it’s 2008 or 2011, if Woodson can find himself as a starter on a talented, veteran team, then he can be a successful starter in the league for a number of years.  The question is, will he get that opportunity?

Draft Projection:  Woodson’s status is a bit up in the air right now. While most teams view him as one of the quarterbacks with the most upside, many also see him as a potential bust. He can go anywhere from early in the second round to the end of the fourth.  I think he’ll go off the board late in the second or early in the third.

Article written by Thomas Beisner