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April 6, 2010 @ 4:00 am
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Bucs Were Wise To Draft Their Franchise QB Last Year

Written by Jeff
Jeff Carlson


Contributing Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Did the Bucs pick the right time to draft their franchise quarterback with the selection of Josh Freeman last year, or would Tampa Bay have been better off waiting until the 2010 NFL Draft to pick a signal caller? Former Bucs QB and PewterReport.com contributing writer Jeff Carlson tackles this topic in this column.
Jeff Carlson is a regular contributor to PewterReport.com. In his regular columns, Carlson will share expert analysis and insight regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL based on his previous playing experience with the Bucs and in the league.

Carlson played quarterback in the NFL from 1990-92. He spent two seasons (1990-91) with the Bucs and one season (1992) with the New England Patriots. The former Weber State signal caller originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick with the Los Angeles Rams.

Since his NFL playing career ended, Carlson has remained active and busy in the Tampa Bay area by heading up America's Best Quarterback, which is a clinic that trains quarterbacks privately or in groups in Tampa year round. To inquire about America's Best Quarterback, visit AmericasBestQB.com, e-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
or call 813-789-9255.

In addition to his work with Americas Best Quarterback, Carlson is a regular host on Bright House Sports Network, which is PewterReport.com's television partner.

This time last year there was a debate amongst some Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans as to whether the team should use their s appeared to be littered with talent at that position.

Sitting here today I couldn't be happier for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that they drafted Freeman. I've watched the top quarterbacks in the 2010 NFL Draft, whether it was in games, at the combine or during their pro days workouts, and I would put Freeman at the top of that list.

I was very impressed with Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford and his pro day workout. As long as he stays healthy, I believe Bradford will be a great quarterback in the NFL. But there is a significant drop off in talent at the quarterback position after Bradford in this year's draft. That includes Texas QB Colt McCoy, who I've been a big fan of from his collegiate playing career. McCoy had a good pro day workout as well, but Freeman to me is head and shoulders above that.

Freeman is entering his second year in the NFL and is already working hard on improving his game at One Buccaneer Place, so he's light years ahead of this year's quarterback draft class. Freeman was an early-entry junior last year, but even if he was part of this year's draft class, I would rate him ahead of all of the quarterbacks.

The thing that concerns me most about Bradford is his durability with the shoulder injury. A lot of players have come back from shoulder surgery, like New Orleans QB Drew Brees and Miami QB Chad Pennington, but Bradford already has a track record for injuries, and you can't help but fear that it will follow him into the NFL.

Although he's coming off a shoulder injury as well, McCoy has impressive anticipation skills. If you go back to 2009 I was a big advocate of USC QB Mark Sanchez and had him rated higher than Georgia QB Matthew Stafford because of his anticipation skills. McCoy shares that skill, which is one of the things I like about him.

In the last column we discussed at length Florida QB Tim Tebow and his poor mechanics, which is a concern at the next level. That said, let's discuss Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, whom I watched quite a bit. I don't think he's going to become a good quarterback in the NFL, and by that I don't mean he won't be able to complete passes. In the overall scheme of things, I don't feel Clausen will become a superstar in the NFL. I may put too much emphasis on the way he throws the ball versus other things like leadership skills and maturity issues, but I don't like the way he throws the football. Clausen throws sidearm and with his fingers on the backend of the ball. Jeff George and Colt Brennan threw like that, and what happens to those guys that throw low off the shoulder and fall backwards after they're done throwing is it forces the ball into the ground anytime they have pressure in their face. I see Clausen being that type of guy, and that's why I'm predicting he won't make it as a quarterback in the NFL.

Some would say that Bradford, McCoy, Clausen and Tebow had more to work with in college than Freeman, but I don't factor that into my analysis right now. When each of these quarterbacks does their pro day or combine workout they are just throwing to guys. Scouts are evaluating how quickly he releases the ball, how his footwork is and if he's throwing with balance. How does he anticipate? All of those things are evaluated, but if the ball is thrown well it doesn't matter to scouts whether it is caught or not.

The way I have these quarterbacks ranked in order is Bradford and McCoy as 1a and 1b, respectively, and even though I don't believe Tebow will be a successful quarterback in the NFL I would actually rank him just ahead of Clausen, and that's because I'd rather have the aura of a Tim Tebow on my team than the aura of a Jimmy Clausen.

It's funny how much things can change in one year. Shortly after Tampa Bay selected Freeman in April of 2009, Bucs head coach Raheem Morris suggested he was not only the top-rated quarterback on the team's draft board, but he was a player the Buccaneers would have considered taking with the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Needless to say, many people, including myself, were perplexed by that notion and chuckled.

But one year later, the St. Louis Rams and other teams likely would have Freeman rated as the top quarterback and player in this draft if he were part of it. We know more about Freeman now than we did then, and Bradford's shoulder is a concern; he didn't play last year. Bradford is a guy with a lot of potential and talent, but Freeman is just as big, strong and fast as any of the quarterbacks in this draft. The Buccaneers made a great move by drafting Freeman last year.

By Jeff Carlson as told to PewterReport.com editor-in-chief Jim Flynn.


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