While draft experts debate whether Georgia's Matt Stafford will be the number one pick overall, or if Matt Sanchez will be a top 10 selection, Kansas State signal caller Josh Freeman has steadily been rising up draft boards to the point where some think he might be the biggest quarterback success in three years time.
"I think they like my size and that I'm a big quarterback, but also that I have
some mobility to my game and athleticism.," said Freeman when asked why NFL talent evaluators are enamored with his skill set.
At 6'6" and almost 250 pounds, scouts are reminded of the big signal callers of the recent past, most notably Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. And seeing those two quarterbacks enjoy early success in the pros has a lot of NFL teams believing Freeman can do the same.
"This league likes to compare," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. "It's a copycat league. A certain kid with a certain physical ability does well. Another kid comes out with the same stature, they think he's the next one of those guys. Being 6'6" and 250 and the Flacco success and the arm and the ability that he has to throw the football to any point on the field conjures up visions of Joe Flacco and what he did in Baltimore."
All Flacco did was help his team advance to the AFC Championship game as a rookie. Roethlisberger had similar playoff success in his first year under center. So why not Freeman?
Roethlisberger and Flacco do not have exceptional mobility, but both are capable of escaping pressure to extend plays and make things happen. It's how Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last February. Freeman has that ability as well.
"A lot of people assume that a 6-6 guy is going to be a big ol' lumbering type guy," said Freeman who ran a 4.9. "Of course, I prefer to sit in the pocket and deliver the ball on time, but my mobility is always something I've got in my back pocket in case things break down."
Freeman ran for 14 touchdowns last season for Kansas State, but clearly his greatest asset is his arm. Blessed with a Gatling gun, Freeman can throw it anywhere you want on the field. The problem is accuracy, particularly on deep balls, as he doesn't always anticipate the receiver coming out of his break.
"The negatives are he's erratic," said Kiper. "There are times when you need to be on target and he's not. Sometimes when he needs to make a real good decision and a guy's open he goes to the guy that's not. Or he tucks it away when he shouldn't. Or he doesn't sense things in the pocket like you would want. I think there were games where he'd play like a number one pick overall and there were games where he'd play like a fourth-round pick. But a lot of that had to do with the talent around him not being sufficient to be consistent week to week."
So is there a risk or did the lack of talent around him combined with a coaching change pull him down? Freeman still threw 20 touchdowns against 8 interceptions as a junior in 2008 and ranked 17th in the nation in total offense.
His intangibles are solid and he displays quality leadership.
"I may not be the type of guy who screams and yells a lot," he said. "But I'm definitely able to get the point across."
Originally forecast as a second-round pick, Freeman is likely to come off the board in the late teens to early 20s of the first round.
"I just think when you're that big and you have that kind of arm and you didn't have a great team around you somebody has got to take you in the first round, especially with no other quarterbacks after him going before the fifth round," said Kiper.
If you ask Freeman however, he thinks he's got more to offer than Stafford or Sanchez.
"Mark (Sanchez) and Matt (Stafford) are both great quarterbacks and the rest of them
all had great careers," said Freeman. "But I feel I bring the complete package in terms of arm strength, leadership and the ability to extend the play and make something happen and overall presence on the field."
And with the early success of Roethlisberger and Flacco, Freeman's timing might be perfect.