Mike Mayock: Spread QBs a huge gamble for NFL teams

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians disparaged the play of passers in college spread offenses this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, telling a room of reporters "that ain't playing quarterback."

Mike Mayock seems to agree. The NFL Network draft analyst believes teams are rolling the dice when they invest in quarterbacks who have no experience with some of the most important aspects of the position.

"You can't kill a kid that hasn't had to make a play call," Mayock said from the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium. "He's doing what his coaches ask him to do. However, it's a huge transition. I try to give the analogy, you're talking about taking a kid that's in kindergarten and moving him to a college-level class almost overnight."

Mayock proceeded to give a visual illustration of spread quarterback mechanics in an effort to explain the relative simplicity of the system.

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"These guys who just catch, rock and throw have never had any footwork and you see it," he said. "It's no wonder that guys come out of these systems it sometimes takes a while."

Baylor's Bryce Petty is a perfect test case. He led an offensive juggernaut in Waco, Texas, but he remains a complete mystery when it comes to pocket awareness. Mayock praised Petty's natural ability, saying he'd be the pick if he were playing a game in his backyard. But he added that Petty is a "project and not a one-year project."

"In the old days, we were saying first-round quarterbacks kind of 50/50," he said. "I think it's even tougher now because of the spread."

We hear again and again that the true way to analyze a draft class is by studying the game tape. In the case of spread quarterbacks, the tape falls short. There might be no bigger draft day gamble.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the latest from the combine and gives updates on Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.