Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Quarterback of the Future

With the trade for Henry Burris, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are set at Quarterback for the next year or two.

But what about the beyond that?

Henry Burris is 36, and is not the long-term answer at Quarterback. Kevin Glenn, who was traded for Burris, is 32 and could have been with the team longer than Burris, but with 11 years under his belt, he was not the answer either.

The Tabbies have two guys on their roster that could be ready to ascend the throne, in Quinton Porter and Jason Boltus. But Porter, at 29, has been given ample opportunity to seize the starting role over the last couple of season and has yet to do so. Boltus has seen very little playing time and is therefore a complete unknown.

There has been talk of Boise State superstar Kellen Moore coming to Hamilton. He is currently on Hamilton's negotiation list, which means that the Cats have the first shot at bringing Moore's immense talents north of the border. Moore is thought of as a mid-to-late round draft choice in the NFL, so his football future is currently up in the air. If Moore is not selected in the NFL Draft, or if he gets cut during Training Camp, he could find his way onto Hamilton's practice roster.

Moore had an undeniably stellar career at Boise State, and is unarguably the best Quarterback that school has ever had. Moore led the Broncos to a 50-3 record in his four seasons as the starter, which is a feat that is likely not to be matched by any Quarterback at any school. He also put up incredible stats and finished in the top 10 in Heisman voting the last three seasons.

But does his NCAA success mean he's destined for CFL success? If recent history is any indication, the answer is no.

Over the past few seasons, the top Quarterback to come from a major college program is probably Darian Durant, who went to North Carolina, which is hardly known as a football factory. Drew Tate went to Iowa, but his CFL career is in its infancy and it is too soon to tell if he will be a success. Adrian McPherson went to Florida State (alma mater of CFL Hall of Famer Danny McManus), but had a less than stellar collegiate career that will best be remembered for him getting kicked off the Seminoles. Jarious Jackson has carved out a nice career for himself, but he's spent most of his time being a backup. And of course there is Quinton Porter, who went to Boston College.

However, the vast majority of Quarterbacks who arrive in the CFL do not even reach the heights of a Quinton Porter. The list of failed big-time college Quarterbacks is a lot longer. Chris Leak won a National Championship while at Florida, but flamed out when given a chance to start for the Montreal Alouettes in 2010. Timmy Chang came to the CFL as the NCAA's all-time leader in passing yards, but looked completely lost when he took the field for the Tiger-Cats.

But those guys are successes compared to players like Graham Harrell, Todd Reesing, Bryan Randall, Tyler Palko and Cody Pickett. All of whom either never made it off the practice squad (or out of Training Camp) or played so sparingly or poorly that there CFL careers were over almost before they began.

Winnipeg has two Quartebacks that played at BCS programs – Joey Elliott at Purdue and Alex Brink at Washington State – but neither of those guys did much during their college careers. Both have looked promising in their limited time on the field, but it is way too soon to tell if either will take the next step.

Then there are the two players that have the most in common with Moore: his predecessors at Boise State, Jared Zabransky and Ryan Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is still best remembered for making his first start for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup back in 2007, and Zabransky was given the chance to unseat Ricky Ray in Edmonton and failed to do so. Zabransky is now out of the league, while Dinwiddie is currently a backup in Saskatchewan.

The path from NCAA stardom to CFL starter is not an easy one. Kellen Moore has all the tools to succeed on either side of the border, but the same has been said about countless players who amounted to less than nothing in their professional careers.

Is Kellen Moore the "Quarterback of the Future" for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats if he decides to ply his trade in the CFL? Maybe. But history suggests it is not a slam dunk.


  1. I like Moore and would like to see him in the black and gold but he will exhaust his NFL options before even considering the CFL.

    In reality, he is 2-3 years away from coming up here plus another 1-2 years to learn the game. The earliest he will be successful with the Cats is in 3-5 years.

    I see him as being a late round pick, practice roster the first year, 3rd stringer 2nd year and a chance as a back up in his 3rd year.

    I think he's a pipedream to be honest. It's normally the QB that comes out of nowhere, like a Darien Durant, who are successful in this league.

    As you say, many high prophile guys, also include Shaun King, and couldn't make it work.

    Boise has a system similar to the CFL but Boise doesn't play in a tough conference and it will take him a while to adjust to pro defenses.

    I think the guy we should really look at it Kyle Quinlan. He has the arm strength to play on the Canadian field and he beat a CFL draft machine named Laval.

  2. Moore's chances in the NFL will be decided by his draft position. The highest estimates have been round 4, with some thinking he could go as late as round 7. Sixth and seventh round QBs don't hang around for very long; in fact, Winnipeg's Alex Brink was a seventh round choice of the Houston Texans in 2008 and was in Winnipeg in 2010. Late round draft choices are not given many chances. Perhaps Moore slums it on an NFL practice squad, but he won't hang around the NFL long if it is clear he is not in any team's plans.

    I don't buy the "tough conference" stuff. Boise beat Virginia Tech, Georgia and Oregon twice (once in Eugene, which is as tough a place to play as any in college football), and won the Fiesta Bowl over a very good TCU team (virtually the same TCU team that would win the Rose Bowl one year later). Moore has proven he can get victories over quality teams when he faces them, so talk about conferences is unnecessary.

    Moore probably won't ever play in the CFL, but Drew Tate was once thought of as a possible NFL QB, and had a very good collegiate career (though nowhere near as good as Moore's) and and went undrafted. Tate's size (which is very similar to Moore's) and a disappointing senior season did him in as much as anything else. Now Tate's a starter for the Stamps and looks poised to be the next, great CFL QB. Moore was more accomplished than Tate, but the parallels are hard to ignore. If Moore were to come to the Tiger-Cats, I would expect him to follow Tate's arch, but at an accelerated rate. Tate probably could have started earlier than he did if he was on another team. I would think Moore could get himself ready in less than two seasons. Say he spends 2012 floating around the NFL, he could be in the CFL by 2013 and I think he'd be ready to start in 2014 and no later than 2015. We'll probably never know, but it makes for a fun topic to discuss nonetheless.

  3. The premium the NFL places on size is unfortunate. If you're not at least 6'2", you have little chance of making it and usually have to stand out against guys who are a few inches taller. That leaves plenty of talent which may fit the CFL niche (even the bigger guys that don't make an impression there - like Brink, or Porter).

    We've seen many ex-NFL QBs fail to do anything on our field with our rules too. The translation of skills from US to Canadian football is not a certainty. Some guys seem to have it and many not - I wonder if the ones who have lesser "starting" pedigree tend to be more successful here because they're less set into the NFL mould? Just floating that, no idea if it holds water or not.

    I would definitely like to see more of what Boltus can do this year. The team has been riding him along on training wheels since 2009. Porter is finally at the point where he needs to show something more or he's gone. If Burris buys us some time, that would be ideal.

  4. Has Boise beaten some good teams? Yes but remember that they play in a weaker conference and have 2 maybe 3 tough games a year. Look at the SEC, 3 out of every 4 games for the top teams are tough.

    Boise is a good team. No doubt about it but playing in say the SEC, they wouldn't have just one or two losses a year.

    I still think the earliest you will see him up here is 2015. He's a high profile QB, no matter where he gets drafted, some one will give him a chance.

    Looking at some 2nd and 3rd stringers around the NFL, you have to question how could he not stick in the NFL for 3 or 4 years.

  5. His size will be the reason Moore doesn't stick. for long. While I don't doubt for a second that he's as talented as many (if not most) 2nd or 3rd stringers in the NFL (and maybe some starters), he's a 6', 191-lbs QB and there are not many of those on NFL rosters.

    Whether Boise would win in the SEC is pure guesswork. If Boise were in the SEC, would they attract higher-profile players because of the school's new higher profile? Who knows, but I think Boise would do just fine in the SEC. Besides, Boise beat Georgia this year, and Georgia won their division. If Boise were to enter the SEC right now, they'd probably be right behind the big two of LSU and Bama, and on the same level as Arkansas and Georgia. Right now, they are better than Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and the rest, in my opinion.

    Also, the SEC schedule is not as tough as people make it out to be. LSU played a tough one this year (mostly due to their OOC schedule which had Oregon and West Virginia on it), but look at who Alabama beat. Kent State? Georgia Southern? Vanderbilt? North Texas? Mississippi State? And Florida and Tennessee are terrible right now. Alabama hardly had a tough schedule. If Boise would have played Alabama's schedule this season, they probably could have matched Alabama's record. And who knows, if LSU had to travel to the blue turf (LSU played in Tuscaloosa) perhaps Boise does go undefeated.

  6. I would love to see Moore up here because he is a dynamic player who can throw the ball with the best of them. Whether or not he succeeds remains to be seen, but it would be interesting to see if he could compete up here.