The Dallas Cowboys are bringing Brandon Weeden in for a visit. That should be enough of an indication that they are not feeling terribly good about their depth at quarterback this year. With Kyle Orton reportedly thinking about leaving the game, they may need an experienced backup, and they also may not want to give Tony Romo as much work in OTA and pre-season practice as they would if he was not coming off his second back surgery.
Weeden should be nothing more than a candidate for backup, given his age and less than stellar tenure with the Cleveland Browns. Further, the move this year to cut DeMarcus Ware may foreshadow that the inevitable end of Romo's time with the Cowboys may not be that far off. It is time for Dallas to consider using a draft pick on a quarterback.
With the position the team has in the draft and the pressing needs on defense, it is not likely that Dallas would use a high pick, however. Add in that Jerry Jones is not a big fan of taking quarterbacks high and the conclusion is that the team would want to find someone later in the draft that has potential upside, but will not be taken early. The best scenario would be an under the radar player who may have slipped because of where he played rather than his own talent and skill set.
Some months ago, I came across a name that seems to fit the bill, Wyoming's Brett Smith. When I read Dane Brugler's profile of him at CBS Sports, I thought he sounded a bit like an unpolished Romo. I was very interested to see how he would fare at the NFL Combine.
It turned out that he did not get an invitation to Indianapolis, a decision that many felt was one of the more puzzling snubs. I don't pretend to be someone who can evaluate a player with video, so I was wondering where I could get a good analysis of his play.
I got lucky. One of my Twitter friends, @landonmccool, is someone who does do video, and over the past few months, I have gained a good deal of respect for his observations and objectivity. He is a good follow for any Cowboys fan. (As a side note, I know your Twitter friends and followers can be known as Tweeps. Are the people on Twitter who constantly annoy you known as Twerps?) In a series of tweets, Landon put up his own analysis of Smith, and he has kindly provided me a reworked version of what he said.
Games watched: vs SDSU (2012), vs. Boise St, vs. Nebraska, Pro Day Throwing Footage
I watched Brett Smith's pro day video twice now... Better than expected velocity... He measured in with 10 inch hands, which helps him grip and rip... VERY athletic... Mechanics were as good as I've seen them.
First thing you notice in game film is terrible OL play often limits the ability to properly evaluate him. When I first watched him, I felt like he tried to take off running too often (and I still think he does it quite a bit) but it's mostly out of necessity. He has very good elusiveness (probably because of the aforementioned OL issues). I think because of that, and the type of offense Wyoming ran, roll out passes are a big part of his game. He is effective throwing the ball while on the run to either side.
At first glance I called him "short" but I would now alter that to "slight". He is over 6'2" with good knee bend in his stance, but could certainly stand to fill out a bit more. He doesn't even look 210 lbs. I hear others have some issues with his downfield passing. A lot of downfield passing is comprised of timing (which he has) and power (which he can gain). His arm is more than adequate, but would like to see less arch, and more "rope" in his deep pass trajectory.
On the other hand, his mid range passing is fantastic. This is also where he sees a lot of let down from his teammates. He often puts the ball exactly where it needs to be in tight windows, just to have his WRs drop it. Short passes as well. When he misses, it's because the ball sails on him when he doesn't incorporate his lower body into the throw. All this is pretty amazing, BECAUSE... his throwing motion and ESPECIALLY his footwork, need A LOT of work.
(Before I get into his mechanics issues, I will say that his footwork and delivery looked noticeably better from his '13 tape to his pro day. I know that it isn't against live competition, but his impressive Pro Day to me showed what this kid can do with some time focusing on his throwing mechanics.)
Part of it his the offensive system, but his footwork is basically awful. I think this is why he often gets Johnny Football comparisons, because he performs at a high level despite very shaky mechanics. His delivery looks a lot like Philip Rivers's in the sense that he often looks like he is "pushing" the ball, instead of generating torque and whipping it. I would like to see Smith compact his motion a bit, he can hang his elbow at times. & I don't think he is getting enough torque from legs. When Smith gets his body turned and the ball all the way back by his ear, it can hum. When he doesn't he shorts it, or it sails on him. I hear scouts talk about "getting your lower body sync'd with your upper body", that's what's at play here.
Needs to be consistently getting his lower body involved in throwing motion and twisting his hips when delivering. You will at times see his lower body moving not in conjunction with his upper body, or sometimes not moving at all. Along with refining his mechanics, and his footwork, he will need to learn to scan defenses while dropping from under center. Not sure I saw any snaps where he dropped back from center, which is not uncommon for College QBs nowadays. When OUT of the pocket, his passing is smooth & his body IS in sync, but he needs to quiet his feet when he is IN the pocket though. Remind you of someone?
He was a tough evaluation. He was the best player on his team, by far, and would often have to carry the team. Because of the lack of talent around him to compete against top teams, it was tough to evaluate him versus top talent, and he did not a great W-L record as a starter.
However... I REALLY like this kid, and it seems like he would be a perfect developmental guy. The unknown is how quickly he would take to coaching. But even with no change in footwork, throwing motion, he could have success in this league. His athleticism, and competiveness make him difficult to defend on third downs. He plays with the proverbial "chip on his shoulder", and is tough. Seen him take tough hits, get scraped off the carpet, and be running the QB keeper on the next play. Toughness + Competitiveness + Hand Size + Athleticism + Smarts, sounds like it = NFL QB to me.
I think his floor is a decent backup, but his ceiling is very very high. I'd be comfortable taking him in the late 4th or 5th.
Landon's analysis just reinforced my belief that Smith would be a great pickup for Dallas. And it makes me feel good that he saw the same similarity to Romo. I don't know that the Cowboys are looking at him, but I hope they are. I especially like the fact that he looks like a serviceable backup at worst, and may be a great player to bring in and tutor while Romo hopefully still has a few good seasons left.
I, for one, am not at all in favor of waiting for the point where the Cowboys have to replace Romo. It would be wise to go ahead and start looking for solutions now. Rookie contracts are inexpensive, especially for later round picks, and a mistake now would not be as costly as having a first rounder turn out to be a bust. I don't think Smith would be a bust at all. He may be just what the team should be looking for.