Top quarterback prospects grounded at scouting combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- For all of the media conversation the quarterbacks in the 2010 NFL Draft are generating, you'd think it would be accompanied by an equal amount of excitement.

It isn't.

The biggest news concerning the headliners at the position is that none is going to throw during workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine. Three won't because they're recovering from injuries (Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, shoulder; Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, toe; and Texas' Colt McCoy, shoulder). Another, Florida's Tim Tebow, is opting to show his reinvented throwing form at a later date. And still another, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, isn't throwing because he, too, is working on a new throwing style that he isn't quite ready to put on display.

Perhaps the on-campus performances of all five quarterbacks will do something to shake up where they're projected to be taken in the draft. But for now, it seems only two -- Bradford and Clausen -- are seen as first-round prospects; and in the eyes of multiple scouts, they're lukewarm ones at that.

The following is a breakdown of the quarterbacks widely considered at the top of their position in the 2010 draft class:

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (6-4, 236)

Scouts are anxious to see him throw because, for one, they want to see how he has recovered from the sprained shoulder that caused him to miss part of last season. For another, even when he was healthy, he didn't always consistently put enough velocity on his passes. Bradford's other challenges are to show that he can perform effectively in a scheme other than the one he played in college. For the most part, the Sooners' offense called for finesse passing and had Bradford working out of a shotgun formation. He does a nice job of reading defenses and finding the open receiver, but he must prove he can do so while working under center and dropping back.

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame (6-3, 222)

Clausen's toe will be fine. The questions surround his passing arm, which scouts don't see as being particularly strong by NFL standards. He has no trouble getting zip on shorter throws. However, it takes a noticeably greater effort for him to increase the velocity on even intermediate routes. Clausen's accuracy also tends to suffer on deep routes. The mental part of his game is extremely sharp, he's a good athlete and handles pressure well. But his decision to enter the draft as a junior might not have allowed him to become as physically mature as he needs to be to show a true NFL-quality arm.

Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan (6-3, 230)

He has good size, strength and athletic ability. His arm is strong, and he's able to throw with authority on short and longer patterns. LeFevour runs extremely well and his powerful frame makes him difficult to bring down. He does an excellent job of making reads before and after the snap. However, like Bradford, he has worked from the shotgun formation. He must demonstrate to scouts that he's able to work from under center and can see the field and process what he's seeing dropping back as well as he does when standing several yards behind the line. The other big questions about LeFevour concern his mechanics, but that's something he is trying to correct before his pre-draft workouts.

Colt McCoy, Texas (6-1, 216)

He's yet another quarterback in this class with serious questions to answer about his arm strength. Even before the shoulder injury he suffered in the BCS title game loss to Alabama, McCoy did not impress scouts with the way he threw the ball. He doesn't consistently show the velocity needed to put throws through the tight windows mostly seen in NFL secondaries. Some of his passes seemingly take forever to get to the receiver. McCoy does show good athleticism and the ability to escape pressure, although he has a maddening habit of taking sacks unnecessarily. He, too, must demonstrate he can function well when not working out of the shotgun.

Tim Tebow, Florida (6-3, 236)

There are some scouts who believe he will never make it as an NFL quarterback, but he's on this list because he is easily the most compelling story in the draft. Tebow's legendary collegiate career was defined by his remarkable ability to make plays running and throwing. Mostly, he thrived from a refuse-to-lose mentality and unbridled toughness. Those qualities -- plus his strong arm and superb athleticism -- would figure to serve him well in the NFL. What doesn't are throwing mechanics so poor that they've forced him to attempt the highly difficult task of a passing makeover. If Tebow is able to convince scouts he can consistently and comfortably deliver the ball from a much higher location than he did in college, he'll help his draft stock. Otherwise, he could be in for a long and disappointing draft day.

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