When you've had only 15 starts in college it can be hard to stand out. For Brock Osweiler that never seemed to be a problem. The Arizona State quarterback stands almost 6'7", so missing him often proves difficult. What's clear to NFL talent evaluators are his physical skills, but being convinced that those skills can translate to the NFL game is what is still up to interpretation and debate.
Osweiler's physical talents went beyond the football field at an early age. By the time he was a high school sophomore the Montana native had been offered a scholarship to play basketball at Gonzaga. He ultimately turned it down.
"I was committed to Gonzaga for almost three full years, and I loved everything about the school, the basketball program. Really when it came down to it, I was getting toward the end of my junior year, getting closer to signing day and I just felt I loved the game of football too much to give it up," Osweiler said. "Football is a very special game, takes a special person to play it and it just wasn't something I was ready to give up at that point and time in my life."
So Arizona State, which promised to allow him to play both football and basketball proved to be his college destination. Ironically, Osweiler would never play basketball for the Sun Devils. He appeared in six games as a true freshman including one start, making him the first frosh quarterback at Arizona State to start a game since Jake Plummer.
Osweiler however, would not win the starting job as a sophomore the following season, though he appeared in six games as an injury replacement before starting in the season finale. He'd finally hold down the starting job as a junior last year and in a new spread offense excelled throwing for more than 4,000 yards while completing over 63 percent of his passes with 26 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
"One thing about the spread offense is I think it teaches you to manage a football game because the ball is in your hands to make a play, 90 percent of the time," he said. "Even in the run game, you have to make decisions on the fly."
Arizona State was in good shape at midseason with a 5-1 record, but the Sun Devils lost their last five games including a humiliating bowl game defeat at the hands of Boise State 56-24. Osweiler threw for 395 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception in the season-ending loss.
What raises questions about Osweiler's game is his lack of experience. With just 15 collegiate starts most NFL talent evaluators know he's going to need time to get acclimated to the NFL game. What any scout will tell you is they'd like to see a whole lot more of Osweiler in games to be more certain of his potential.
"Brock Osweiler he struggled in the red zone," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. "Down there he had 45.5 percent comp percentage. He had that pick against Boise State that turned that game around with a 102-yard return for a touchdown. But he's also got talent and the arm and imposing size and he's a former basketball player and a real good athlete."
"Starting only 15 games in my college career was enough," said Osweiler. "Get me in the meeting room and let me show you the person, the leader, the competitor that I am, and the football player."
Osweiler was tutored under now former Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who has also schooled quarterback prospects like Jason Campbell at Auburn and Philip Rivers at North Carolina State. Mazzone helped him improve upon his three-quarter delivery.
"At times, we're still working on it," said Osweiler. "I think it's better than it's ever been. We've been focusing a lot on making sure that my elbow is constantly above my shoulder, that I'm following through and using all the torque that I have with my big frame."
Osweiler said he met with the Bills at the NFL Combine in late February along with several other teams including the Eagles, Redskins and Seahawks. Where he comes off the board is difficult to figure knowing the opinion on just how good he can be varies greatly just a couple of weeks prior to the draft.
"You have (Brandon) Weeden, (Nick) Foles, (Brock) Osweiler and (Kirk) Cousins in that day two mix of going in the second and third round," said Kiper. "I think Weeden goes early, mid-second, Foles the second, Osweiler mid to late second and Cousins third is how I'd project them."