THIS WAY TO THE DRAFT
The measurables have all been measured, repeatedly. How will NFL teams evaluate these three quarterbacks' characters?
Photo Illustration Jamie Kripke
From left to right: Flynn, Woodson and Booty.
Hey, NFL suits. Draft prospects are more than 40 times, hand spans and arm strength. Just ask USC's John David Booty, LSU's Matt Flynn and Kentucky's Andre' Woodson. We began following their draft odysseys back in January. Now they're finally meeting one-on-one with GMs and coaches to share who they are on the inside. For our fourth "This Way to the Draft" installment (see the first three on ESPN.com; search: NFL Draft '08), our three signal-callers told us which of their many character traits they're pushing in sit-downs. Then we checked their references. And because tangibles do still matter, Scouts Inc. draft genius Todd McShay weighed in with each draftee's status. Time's running out to change that.
By Luke Cyphers, Alyssa Roenigk and Carmen Renee Thompson
Photograph by Jamie Kripe
MATT FLYNN, LSU
CHARACTER TRAIT: Scrappiness
Alvin Flynn, dad, Baylor QB from 1967 to '69: "My dad nicknamed Matt Iron Head when he was little, because you couldn't tell Matt he couldn't do something. He understands what he's up against now. He'll be fighting to stay on a team, but he's confident in his ability."
Ty Wright, Flynn's best friend since elementary school in Tyler, Texas, Cubs minor league outfielder: "We were like Lloyd and Harry from Dumb & Dumber—always goofy and competing. But being that competitive helped put us in the situation we're both in now."
Gary Crowton, LSU offensive coordinator: "Against Arkansas, Matt separated his shoulder diving into the end zone. He came out, got a shot and went back in. When the shot wore off, he got another one and went back in. When that wore off, he got another. He's a tough kid."
McSHAY's STATUS REPORT
At the combine, Flynn showed good physical ability and had nice measurements: 6'2", 228 pounds and a 4.79 40. However, he had some of the smallest hands. That's an issue. He'll probably be drafted, but he needs to throw well at his March 26 pro day. During that workout, if I were he, I'd emphasize his strongest attribute—throwing on the move.
ANDRE' WOODSON, KENTUCKY
CHARACTER TRAIT: Resiliency
Robin Woodson, mom: "I don't know how he does it, but Andre' always finds a way back from adversity. After he had a tough Senior Bowl and all the talking heads were criticizing him, I was upset. But he just said, 'Mom, don't even listen to it.' I probably worry more than he does."
Rich Brooks, Kentucky head coach: "Andre' had the starting job as a sophomore and then lost it in spring practice. At that time, he didn't understand what it took to be a top quarterback, like being a student of the game. But he never quit and he figured it out. By the fall, he'd earned back his job."
Paul Hackett, ex-NFL offensive coordinator who organized Woodson's March 5 pro day: "I observed him with his teammates for three days, and you can see the respect and the bond there. They had some disappointments during the season, but he never deflected responsibility. He just doesn't get ruffled."
McSHAY's STATUS REPORT
At his pro day, his delivery hitch was barely detectable, and he had a lot more zip on his ball. Credit that to getting away from Mike Martz, his QB coach at the Senior Bowl. Character is a real strongpoint. He's not an in-your-face leader, but he handles himself well. Woodson has settled into the bottom portion of the second round or the top of the third.
JOHN DAVID BOOTY, USC
CHARACTER TRAIT: Leadership
Johnny Booty, dad and HS coach in Shreveport, La.: "During his sophomore year, we lost to West Monroe by 24. That night, JD led a group into my office and said, 'Dad, we have 10 weeks to get ready to beat this team in the state championship.' Ten weeks later, in the title game against West Monroe, he drove us down the field for the winning score."
Judge Bobby Waddell, JDB's Little League coach: "When John David was 10, we drove down to Baton Rouge for an LSU game. On the way back, at 1 a.m., everyone in the car was asleep. All of a sudden, JD comes crawling into the passenger seat. He was 10, but he sat up until 3 a.m., listening to me and asking questions. That's John David. He wants to know about me, my family and the kids he plays with. It's never about him."
John Woodson, neighbor and rodeo cowboy: "When JD was a kid, we wouldn't let him rope live steers because we were afraid he'd break his arm. So he roped on the dummies. He learned how to rope and just fell in as one of the guys. JD was the star QB but never tried to be special."
McSHAY's STATUS REPORT
Booty's stock has remained steady. He's intelligent, accurate and has a quick release. The only thing lacking is jaw-dropping athleticism and arm strength. Like Woodson, he's not overly vocal. But he exudes quiet confidence. He'll probably be about the 90th player taken, and it won't surprise me if he's a longtime pro in the right West Coast system.
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