|Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today Sports|
|Eastern Illinois senior QB Jimmy Garoppolo has drawn attention from all 32 NFL teams this season.|
Brooks Burgin is a junior at Highland Park High School outside of Dallas, the same school that produced Matthew Stafford and Bobby Layne.
I've seen Burgin play in person. From a skill level, he could pass as a college sophomore. I don't know if he will ever amount to anything beyond being a highly recruited high school quarterback, but I do know he's typical of what high schools are producing these days.
Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, who led Florida State to a resounding victory Saturday at Clemson, is a strong Heisman Trophy candidate on a team with legitimate national title hopes. This is just one year after Johnny Manziel took Texas A&M into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama en route to becoming the first freshman quarterback to win the Heisman.
Their sudden rise to prominence as freshmen should come as no great surprise. Remarkable, but not surprising.
There are more high school quarterbacks than ever entering the college ranks with top-level ability, coming from good programs, being trained year-round by quarterback gurus, taking part in elite camps, and participating on 7-on-7 teams. And they're entering at a time when teams are throwing the ball more and more each year.
There's a trickle-up effect. Not only are we seeing freshmen and sophomores making a sudden impact in college, but we're also seeing it in the NFL. Stafford last week started his 50th game for the Detroit Lions; no other quarterback in NFL history has thrown for more yards in his first 50 starts. Andrew Luck took over a 2-14 Indianapolis Colts team last year and has won 16 of his first 23 games. The Seattle Seahawks are 17-6 with Russell Wilson.
With so many quarterback "wannabes" in this draft, more than I've ever seen, NFL teams are being challenged to weed out the field. I'm not talking about the top-tier guys like Teddy Bridgewater. It's the second- and third-tier quarterbacks that are causing consternation.
I know of several NFL clubs this year that have hired individuals to concentrate solely on acquiring information -- background checks, film study, etc. -- about this group of college quarterbacks. The pool is so unbelievably large, much larger than in an average year, that teams need help beyond their own scouting departments with the weeding-out process.
Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch is an example of the type of player these teams want more information on. He's putting up video-game numbers for the second straight season and is coming off a game in which he rushed for an FBS QB-record 316 yards, so his productivity is not in question. But his height (confirmed 6-0 1/8) and average arm strength make him a less-than-perfect NFL prospect, borderline draftable. He would be a superstar in the CFL. History says he has a chance in the NFL, but not likely at QB.
Some other mid-level quarterbacks NFL teams are doing extra homework on:
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: Garoppolo could be a top 50 pick in the draft (I have him ranked No. 40 on my Hot 100 seniors list). Teams apparently are very hands-on with this quarterback. According to Rich Moser, the associate athletic director at EIU, all 32 teams have been on campus to see Garoppolo this season, including two general managers. In three home games this season, 13 teams have seen him play live, and at each road game there have been a minimum of two scouts on hand.
Keith Wenning, Ball State: Wenning threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns against Western Michigan on Saturday, giving him at least 300 yards in all seven games this season. Very well coached. And he's got good size at 6-foot-2 1/8 and 223 pounds.
DeNarius McGhee, Montana State McGhee was not recruited very heavily as a quarterback out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but that's the position he wanted to play, so he went to Montana State. He's a confirmed 5-foot-11 1/2, which will be an issue. He's sturdy, has a really good arm, and moves around well. He's an athlete. A lot of teams are finding their way to Bozeman, Mont.
Pint-sized Gallon comes up big
Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon had a Big Ten-record 369 receiving yards on 14 catches against Indiana on Saturday. He played as a true freshman and has been a full-time starter since his sophomore season, but he had just three 100-plus-yard receiving games going into Saturday. He's pretty short at a confirmed 5-foot-8 and has average speed, but he makes up for it with really great quickness and burst. He's a matchup nightmare for bigger, slower defensive backs. I see him as a third-day draft pick in May, but he has a chance to play better than his draft position in the NFL. If you want a pro comparison, take a look at Cole Beasley of the Dallas Cowboys.
My Harris Poll top 10
Here's how I voted my top 10 in the Harris Poll this week: 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Ohio State, 5. Baylor, 6. Stanford, 7. Miami, 8. Missouri, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Texas Tech.
Comment: I thought FSU was going to be good, but the Seminoles are better than I imagined. I thought Baylor was going to be good, and the Bears are proving it.
I think the computers got the first BCS standings correct, which is probably not great news for Alabama. Since 2008, only one team that started No. 1 finished No. 1: LSU in 2011. The lowest-ranked team to reach the championship game was Florida in 2008 at No. 10.
Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.