College football is rapidly changing. The days of "Pro Style" offensives are all but gone, and even now more teams are looking for athletic quarterbacks who can run the option and beat teams with their feet as much if not more than with their arm.
But as these dual threat quarterbacks transition to the NFL, they have to choose a path they want to take. Do they want to be a Pat White type prospect and "declare" they want to play quarterback in the NFL, or are they willing to try out like receiver and keep the quarterback option in their back pocket, similar to how Joe Webb rose up draft boards?
Pat White was the top dual threat quarterback in his draft class from West Virginia and made it well known that he planned on playing quarterback or nothing in the NFL. He was drafted surprisingly in the 2nd round, but his inability to read defenses and his lack of arm strength to make up for it made his exit from the NFL very quickly.
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Joe Webb, on the other hand, was open to playing receiver, and worked out in post-season all star games as well as in private workouts as a receiver but still was open to playing quarterback. The Vikings took him as a quarterback/receiver, and he was both a kick returner and a starting quarterback this season.
The top senior dual threat quarterback in this draft is Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech. He was outstanding much of the game in the Orange Bowl and at times exposed the Stanford defense with his quickness in and out of the pocket and ability to keep the play alive with his feet.
Taylor has improved this season as a passer and in his short to mid-range accuracy and he has checked down with more success this year. His footwork in his drop back has gotten better each year, and his ability to manage the game as well as play well in bigger games bodes well for some teams hoping he can be a quarterback. However, his lack of consistent deep touch, his throwing motion, and his size could limit his NFL Draft chances as an NFL prospect.
Overall, I think Tyrod Taylor has a real shot at being an NFL passer one day, but the odds are against him based on his deep passing concerns and size when it comes to playing quarterback. He's an outstanding athlete, but it'll take a look for a very productive and winning quarterback to be willing to leave the position he's played since high school to continue playing the game he loves.
Three other seniors could be looked at as a position change quarterback in this draft class. Jerrod Johnson of Texas A&M lost his job as a starting quarterback, but with his size and frame, he could make a transition to tight end. Also, Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher and California (PA) quarterback Josh Portis are great athletes and have had success as a passer, but their athletic ability, not their passing ability, could lead them to be post-draft free agents that teams are interested in.
Along with those three and the top senior dual threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor, junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor is also not a top three round quarterback prospect right now if he declared early for this draft. However, if he was open to possibly switching positions, if he declared, he could be a 2nd or 3rd rounder as an athlete, similar to Matt Jones as a physical receiver. He's already said he will stay this year, and he could develop into an NFL passer at Ohio State next year.
Taylor and the other seniors listed will have some tough choices to make, as will young quarterbacks in the future in deciding on making sacrifices to playing in the NFL. But if the Joe Webb and Pat White comparisons show them anything, it's that they need to have an open mind and be willing to change positions if they hope to play professional football at the highest level.