In the 1993 draft there were two college quarterbacks who everyone was frothing over. The first was Drew Bledsoe from Washington State, and the other was Rick Mirer from Notre Dame. These two players went first and second overall in the draft, and another QB wasn’t selected until the second round when Washington’s Billy Joe Hobart was chosen ahead of lefty teammate, Mark Brunell.
What I vividly recall about these top two quarterbacks was the extensive evaluation given to each on ESPN prior to the draft. The broadcasters and analysts broke down every facet of each quarterback’s delivery and follow-through, his quickness afoot and his mental arrangement. Slow-motion replays of each quarterback were analyzed and critiqued by professional on-camera scouts.
Both players had tremendous college careers. Coming off the 1989 National Championship at Notre Dame, Mirer, the new replacement,accounted for more points running and throwing (350) than any other player in Notre Dame history. He left Notre Dame ranked 1st in career touchdowns with 41, and was 2nd all-time in total offense, completions, and passing yards. There’s a “gimme” if there ever was one.
But I couldn’t see what everyone else was seeing in Mirer. I didn’t see any dazzling footwork, arm-snapping quickness or spiral velocity. I saw a horribly low release point and a Johnny U “step-straight-ahead” action. He seemed to crouch on his throws about three inches lower than his actual height. I was looking at an average throwing motion, even by high school standards, which needed some major work, yet everyone was so excited by this man’s mechanics.
Surely I was missing something, but for the life of me I didn’t know what it could be. It was almost as if this was a ‘Lou Holtz quarterback’ who held all the records; therefore, he was a “can’t-miss” prospect to be a starter the moment he showed up for camp. I mean no disrespect to a fellow college quarterback, and we certainly didn’t have such technology in my day to pound these visuals worldwide in a heartbeat, but the package wasn’t comparable to Bledsoe.
What were these professionally trained eyes seeing? Perhaps it was leadership, but wait, I’ve never seen a leader better than Tim Tebow, so I’m still puzzled. Tebow’s passer rating was in the top echelon in the country when he was in college, yet he can’t succeed in the NFL? So what’s the secret intangible? Hey, Tom Brady barely kept his job at Michigan and look where he is. Did he even qualify for a passer rating in college?
Still, Rick Mirer went second in the draft to the Seahawks, who surely would have gone
with home-state QB Bledsoe had New England passed on him and gone with Mirer instead. New England made the right call, as NFL fans know. When it came down to it, Rick had trouble throwing to his left, which we know can be rather detrimental to a professional quarterback.
While Bledsoe was going to Pro Bowls, Rick was just trying to keep a job, which he did for 12 NFL seasons. Hey, that’s not a bad gig if you can get it! He also signed contracts worth millions, so while many continue to say he was a bust, I doubt if he or his family feels that way.
My point is we’re talking about an accurate professional assessment of a quality quarterback here, and this wasn’t necessarily present before the ’93 draft, regardless of how the media and scouts tried to sell it. Accuracy in quarterback evaluations seems to be a lost art even today.
I see at least seven quarterbacks on the horizon who have such wonderful upsides that they’re difficult to tell apart. Unlike twenty years ago, the only question is when some of these young men will make themselves available for the brightest lights of them all. Then, as was the case 20 years ago and every year since, the magnifying glasses pop out and the assessments begin in earnest.
Well, it all begins this week as the Summer of Malcontents is finally coming to a close. Johnny “Nothin’ but Net” Manziel is finally back in his beloved pocket where he is college football’s “Dude Perfect.” You may recall A&M is on a six-game winning streak, among their victims the National Champion Crimson Tide and long-time bully Oklahoma. It was nothin’ but fun.
Then our social butterfly began making his public appearances and all hell broke loose with the Establishment. You’d almost think time had rolled back to 1969 in New York City where a guy was hugging women, drinking scotch and making far-fetched guarantees. It’s all recorded in the Manziel Chronicles the media keeps track of, but it’s only a matter of days now before college football fans are reminded why they love Johnny…or why they hate him.
It’s only a matter of days before the Butterfly begins stinging like a Bee again, and then again and again… on September 14. We can put off the NFL comparisons and draft possibilities and perhaps even the coaches’ evaluations of the top quarterback in the SEC until around 6 PM Aggie time that evening. Where will the football world stand then? From this viewpoint, we Aggies received the amount of respect we expected nationally and ultimately from the conference – very little. The only real effect this off-season had on the Aggies was the ascension of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller into the favorite’s role for the Heisman. We don’t need no stinkin’ Heisman! But we haven’t conceded it, either.
So, as we put all comparisons aside and begin to once again enjoy the precision of this proven, efficient, well-oiled A&M offense, and the sparkplug of all time who directs it, the fortress of Aggieland is once again united, hungry and extremely well-armed. The lack of respect shown this program from all sides has created a “take no prisoners” mentality for which there’ll be no apologies. From now until January, hey, it’s just business.