Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Dreams May Come: Andre' Woodson

In order to prepare for the NFL draft (and survive the unbearably long offseason), we've decided to check in on this year's draft class from time to time and discuss some of the potential future characters of the League that stand out for some reason or another. Today, Kentucky quarterback, Andre' Woodson.

Andre’ Woodson has horrendous footwork and his throwing motion needs to be fixed through some intensive coaching. That is the reality. Thankfully, this is a site that deals in dreams, hence the title of the segment. So, for our purposes, Andre’ Woodson is the most exciting quarterback prospect in the draft. Towering over his opposition with an arm that is as pro ready as any in the draft, Woodson also has a surprising agility owing to his background as a basketball player. Add to that the fact that he led a once unimportant team to respectability in the best conference in college football, and one has to wonder whether or not it’s less a lack of pro-readiness than it is a lack of ambitious coaches that is causing Woodson’s plummet from former first round, franchise quarterback status.

Indeed, Woodson’s physicality alone ought to raise the eyebrows of any quarterback savvy coach who feels up to the challenge of…you know…coaching. But what makes the former Kentucky quarterback even more interesting is the fact that he owns the record for the longest streak without an interception in NCAA history, at 325 throws. Bear in mind that he did this against some of the best defensive talent college football has to offer. This makes Woodson unique among so many of the talents of his physical caliber; unlike so many other college athletes with his physical skills, Woodson’s aptitude for his particular position has granted him a football intelligence that coaches value at every position, but especially under center.

Woodson represents the philosopher king of the upcoming draft of quarterbacks, with the talent and wisdom to merit being one of the leaders of his position, yet also the same downfall of Socrates’s dream: With so much devoted to the higher functions of the game, Woodson’s failure to execute the basic tools of survival (crop growing is to ancient times as footwork and throwing motion are to the NFL) leave his kingdom vulnerable to crumbling. As such, the tremendous upside of his gifts are pitted against the tremendous potential for failure on the professional level.

This is, of course, where the swagger of every coach in the league will be tested. With at least three “safer” quarterbacks ahead of him in the draft (the solid Ryan, the obscure mystery that is Joe Flacco, and the surefire disappointment Brian Brohm), it will be interesting to see which team, if any, will pass one of the easy choices to gamble on Woodson. After all, the coach that takes Woodson under his wing immediately stakes his coaching rep on the man. You know going in that whatever failings the kid has are ones that, as a coach, you will be expected to fix. That alone could keep Woodson sitting for an unduly long time at the Draft, and could potentially doom one of the unique specimens at quarterback of the last several years to eternal clipboard carrier status. Still, power like Woodson’s isn’t easy to find (ask Ben Roethlisberger how much fun it is to make throws like the one at the 1:15 mark), and with mobility to get his behemoth frame rolling, Woodson is built in the mode of Jason Campbell (who will one day live up to his birthright of either becoming one of the leaders of the new school…or consuming a planet…). Even more rare is the poise and consistent decision making it takes to build an interception-free streak like the one Woodson was able to put together (side note: The last quarterback to hold that streak won a Super Bowl ring…yeah, Trent Dilfer has one…I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it happen). A powerful, sneakily mobile quarterback with a knack for avoiding poor choices? Hmm…where have I read that before?

(Welcome Deadspin readers, feel free to look around the rest of the site while you're here!)


John said...

I've been watching Andre as a Cats fan since sophomore year; and at times, I feel like he's the next McNabb. But other times he came up short. Don't get me wrong, the kid has a massive arm; but I think he was a little conservative with his throws this year (hence the INT record.) With some coaching, though, I think Dre could really do something in the league. He's got the heart of a lion, and his leadership skills are out of this world. Is he a safe pick? Probably not; but if he can get a few things to go his way, I think he can be a starter in a few years.

IMO, the best thing that could happen to Dre is to ride the pine behind a veteran so he can better learn the game.

Whatever happens, I know he has given something to UK fans that they haven't had in a long time: hope. He and Burton had me convinced they could play with anyone this year, and its something I will never forget.

Andre is 100% class and I will be following his career regardless.

A name to remember: Curtis Pulley. This kid is going to surprise some people this year. You heard it hear first!

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