It's Not Easy Being Green (Roomed)
First off, include me among those who don't believe Quinn's draft position reflects poorly on him or on ND in general. If a number of teams who needed QB's passed on him, that'd be one thing. But only one did, and they're being eviscerated in the press and by their own fans right now. If a number of QB's had been selected in front of him, that might have been a strong indictment. But only one was, and Quinn can probably be thankful he didn't get sucked into the career-destroying vortex that is the Oakland Raiders organization. Yes, Charlie Weis went to bat for Quinn and may have overstated his case. But I'd rather see the coach go too far in support of his player than not going far enough. Players should know the coach has their back.
But having said that, let's examine what the talking heads said about Quinn. Some of it has some basis, while some does not, with the truth, as usual, sitting smack-dab in the middle.
Accuracy. 60+ percent passing in his junior and senior seasons is nothing to sneeze at, nor is his TD-to-interception ratio. Quinn obviously makes good decisions and sees the field well. But it seems every game there was a pass or two that had us wiping our brows because it didn't quite go where it was intended. The first pick against Michigan this past season comes to mind -- the ball that bounced of an ND player's trailing shoulder before finding its way into the end zone courtesy of a Michigan defender. While most of Quinn's throws were on the money (especially the over-the-middle tosses to Carlson that always seemed to go for big gains), I also can recall a number of times where receivers would have to reach back for the ball, disrupting their rhythm and reducing the potential yards made after the catch, or would have to leave their feet to make the completion. Searching for such pinpoint accuracy may be a nitpick on my part, but it's not like unease on the subject is coming out of left field.
Arm strength. My one knock on BQ has always been the long ball. To me, a lot of passes over 20 yards ended up being jump balls between the Irish receiver and the defensive back covering him. When you had guys with tremendous leaping ability like Mo Stovall on the other end, the results usually ended up good. This season, with McKnight and Samardzija going up for the pigskin, the results were, as a noted Irish fan would say, good but not great. When your receiver has to camp out under the ball, it neutralizes whatever separation speed he brings to the table. Hitting a guy in stride on those 35-yard strikes allows him to make use of his talents more.
Blitz handling. This is one where I don't see the talking heads' point. I do remember a number of times the OL had to go to max protect mode to make sure Quinn had enough time, but I think this said a lot more about ND's OL quality and depth than it did Quinn's ability to handle it, not to mention the lack of a starting fullback for most of the season to help in pass protection. If Quinn was indeed bad at handling the blitz, I would have expected to see a lot more interceptions thrown and/or a poorer completion percentage, and we saw neither. I don't think Quinn's decision-making is an issue.
Now, do I also believe (a) all these applicable issues are correctable, and (b) BQ has both the intelligence and the work ethic to make that happen in relatively short order? You betcha. Do I believe Miami was stupid for passing on him given those things? Right again. And do I believe Quinn has the chutzpah that so many quality NFL quarterbacks have, which is a quality in high demand? Three for three. It all adds up to him being a value pick where he was, and I believe his career will validate that.
I also think it's probative the quarterback that was chosen first spent the last season throwing to two wideouts that were taken in the first round of the draft. Samardzija's decision to play baseball and Carlson's return to ND for his final year aside, none of Quinn's targets have been drafted yet. McKnight and Walker's names weren't called on Saturday, and both hope to be tagged on Sunday. But one must wonder -- give Quinn Russell's receiving corps, and would he have gone first instead?
All that matters now is Quinn's performance on the NFL stage. He'll probably have to step in sooner rather than later, and I have no doubt he's up to the task. Good luck to him.