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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NFL: Gil Brandt: Colt McCoy is Drew Brees on and off the field

By Jimmy Burch
McClatchy Newspapers

FORT WORTH, Texas — In the copycat world run by NFL executives, former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy may have caught a break in Super Bowl XLIV.

At least that is the opinion of Gil Brandt, personnel analyst for NFL.com.
Like many peers who draw paychecks as NFL talent evaluators, Brandt compares McCoy — winner of the 2009 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award — to Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ accurate-but-undersized quarterback who became a Super Bowl MVP by leading his team to a 31-17 upset of the Indianapolis Colts.
McCoy (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) is 2 inches taller than Brees (6-0, 209). But he remains short by NFL standards, where Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (6-5, 230) is considered the prototype.
Manning, of course, was outplayed by Brees — arguably the league’s shortest starting quarterback — during that game. Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception.
Brandt said Brees’ prime-time performance should make NFL executives take a closer look at McCoy, who set an NCAA record for career victories by a starting quarterback (45) and finished with a career completion rate of 70.3 percent, before pulling the trigger in favor of a taller quarterback in the 2010 NFL Draft.
“I think it opens some eyes. No question about it,” said Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel. “To me, Colt is Drew Brees on the field and Drew Brees off the field. But he’s about two and a half inches taller and he’s faster.”
For undersized quarterbacks, Brandt said Brees’ emergence as a Super Bowl winner could have similar repercussions to the Cowboys’ decision to select Bob Hayes, an Olympic sprint champion, with a seventh-round pick in the 1964 draft. Despite a limited football background in college, Hayes morphed into a 2009 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“This is like when we drafted Hayes,” Brandt said of Brees’ potential impact on future NFL thinking. “After that, everyone started drafting those kinds of receivers. People emulate what has proven to be successful ... in every business, including the football business.”
In Brandt’s estimation, that could boost McCoy’s stock in relation to taller quarterbacks who will join him at the NFL Combine, Feb. 24 through March 2 in Indianapolis. But that does not prevent ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. from projecting Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford (6-4, 223) and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen (6-3, 223) as the top two quarterbacks available in the draft.
Kiper projects both players as first-round picks likely to be taken among the top 10 overall selections. Kiper rates McCoy as the third-best quarterback prospect but not as a first-round pick.
Todd McShay, ESPN Scouts Inc. director of college scouting, goes even further, saying “there’s not a lot of elite quarterback prospects” available in the 2010 draft. After Bradford and Clausen, McShay said, “You have a little bit of a dropoff” in the quarterback talent pool, especially with McCoy coming off a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder that knocked him out of the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game in his final college start.
“I think Colt McCoy is a second- or third-rounder,” McShay said.
Brandt said he views McCoy as a potential “top 10 guy” worthy of a first-round pick because of his work ethic, accuracy, leadership skills and long-term value. In short, the same attributes he admires most in Brees, a second-round pick by San Diego in the 2001 draft.
Brandt is far from alone in making the connection. Archie Manning, a former Saints player who is Peyton’s father, got to know McCoy last summer at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. The elder Manning echoed the McCoy-Brees comparisons, saying McCoy “reminds me a lot of Drew Brees,” because both players are accurate passers with quick releases who have “better arm strength” than scouts acknowledge.
Brad McCoy, Colt’s father, said the Brees comparisons “can’t hurt” as his son prepares to begin his NFL career.
Colt McCoy said he has heard the Brees comparisons, understands them and embraces them. But he knows he must prove his mettle to scouts after departing with an injury five plays into Texas’ 37-21 loss to Alabama in the BCS title game.
He said he is “fully confident” he will be able to do so, either at the combine or during individual workouts later this spring.
“My body has responded very well so far to the things that I’ve done,” said McCoy, who has been going through rehabilitation workouts in Southern California for the past month. “I’m really looking forward to ... proving that my shoulder’s OK and being ready to go.”