TUCSON AZ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Matt Scott #4 of the Arizona Wildcats throws a pass during the college football game against the Washington Huskies at Arizona Stadium on October 23 2010 in Tucson Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Nick Foles’ selection to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 88 of this weekend’s NFL Draft marks the end of one streak for Arizona football, and potentially the beginning of another.
UA had never had a quarterback chosen in the draft before Foles. Could Matt Scott make it two in a row come 2013? The Wildcats’ redshirt senior play caller heads into 2012 the uncontested No. 1 on the depth chart for the first time in his career, and as a foundation of Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense.
Now, the option is not traditionally conducive to a professional transition. Rodriguez’s last quarterback at West Virginia, Pat White, was a rarity when selected at No. 44 of the 2009 draft. The Miami Dolphins used White intermittently in the Wildcat formation, but have since lightened up on its use. Meanwhile, White is already out of the league.
However, Scott is not the typical option quarterback. The then-Pac 10 got a look at his capabilities in the pass-heavy spread midway through 2010. UA didn’t miss a beat in the games vs. Washington and UCLA Scott started while Foles recovered from a leg injury.
The Corona, Calif. product completed 71 percent of his pass attempts with four touchdowns before going down to an injury of his own.
Scott’s proven passing ability, coupled with a lack of depth behind and deep backfield surrounding him, will translate into a less rush-oriented game plan.
CBSSports.com already has extensive rankings of future NFL Draft prospects, with Scott checking in at No. 18 of 2013 quarterbacks. Of course, that list only accounts for seniors-to-be, not factoring the positioning of underclassmen certain to declare. Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and Georgia’s Aaron Murray should factor into next year’s draft forecast.
Just 11 quarterbacks were selected last weekend. Obviously, being ranked 18th with no account for underclassmen does not bode well for a draft weekend ball cap. Fortunately for Scott, his ceiling is high.
The offense plays a role in his low ranking. Other quarterbacks appear ahead of Scott due to their play in a Pro Set – notables include Iowa’s James Vandenberg and Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers. Vandenberg was steady, and Rodgers erratic in their first full season as starters. Duke’s Sean Renfree has not put up stellar numbers in his two seasons as the Blue Devils’ quarterback, but plays for quarterback guru David Cutcliffe.
Others used in less NFL traditional styles ahead of Scott are MarQueis Gray (Minnesota), E.J. Manuel (Florida State) and Collin Klein (Kansas State). All boast more starting experience, but share a common trait with Scott: NFL size. While the three aforementioned quarterbacks are used frequently in the rush, they range from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5. Scott is right in that same pro-sized target at 6-foot-3.
Most notable in the list of non-traditional QBs ahead of Scott is former Rodriguez protégé Denard Robinson. Robinson's high standing proves that a Rodriguez option product can garner NFL buzz. So long as Scott meets expectations, draftniks will become more familiar with his potential, too.
Further, it’s worth noting the same projections tabbed Foles as a sixth rounder, a full three lower than his actual positioning. Even right up to draft day, projections remain guesses – educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless.
Alternatively, it would take strides for Scott to work his way into any of next draft’s seven rounds. A strong 2011 could catapult him into the mix to extend UA’s drafted quarterback streak to two.