McNeal, Nealy eventually could play QB in NFL

While the top of the draft has star quality QBs, there are a number of signal callers who'll be asked to switch positions.

Originally Published: April 7, 2006
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

While the quarterback class in the 2006 NFL draft features three exclamation-mark prospects at the top in Matt Leinart of Southern California, Vince Young of Texas and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler, the pool of passers has its share of question marks, too.

In fact, one of the questions is whether some of the prospects can throw the ball well enough to succeed at the NFL level. As much as in any recent season, this year's draft has several prospects who might play other positions in the NFL and some who will have to accept a position switch merely to merit the consideration of league scouts.

Here is a look, in alphabetical order, at some of those players:

Damarius Bilbo, Georgia Tech (6-foot-1½, 222 pounds): Began his career at quarterback, then switched to wide receiver in 2003, after he lost a competition for the starting job. His best season came in 2005, when he had 40 catches for 591 yards and two touchdowns. Although not particularly quick, as evidenced by times in the high-4.6s, Bilbo is a solid athlete, but still very raw as a receiver.

Steven Jyles, Louisiana-Monroe (5-11,¾, 190): The career all-purpose yardage leader in the Sun Belt Conference, he threw for more than 2,000 yards in four straight seasons, but also rushed for 1,247 yards and 21 touchdowns, and he is built more like a tailback than a quarterback. Decent, but not great speed. Signed last month with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, so he probably won't be drafted.

Reggie McNeal
McNeal
Reggie McNeal, Texas A&M (6-2, 198): His rocket arm and good feel for the pocket almost certainly mean he eventually will get a chance to play quarterback in the NFL. But while he's learning the nuances of the position, some coaches might be tempted to take advantage of his sizzling, sub-4.4 speed in the 40 and obvious open-field elusiveness to line him up at wide receiver once in a while. Those same coaches, though, would also run the risk of having the slightly-built McNeal broken in half.

Barrick Nealy, Texas State (6-4, 226): A superb athlete with great speed (4.61) for his size, Nealy has a long way to go before he can play quarterback at the NFL level. Nealy operated from a shotgun most of the time in college and is a strong runner, at least based on his scrambling skills. He's too tall, however, to play tailback and hasn't worked as a wide receiver.

D.J. Shockley, Georgia (6-0¾, 212): An excellent athlete who waited patiently for his chance to start and finally got the job as a senior. Good arm strength but erratic accuracy and will abandon the pocket too easily when pressured. Has had some injuries, so might not project well to running back. He might not be quick enough to play wide receiver.

Brad Smith, Missouri (6-2, 214): Might be too erratic a passer to ever make it as a quarterback and his best chances might come at tailback or wide receiver. A terrific athlete with the ball in his hands, ran the option well, and possesses excellent vision and balance. A very durable player and natural leader, he rushed for 4,289 yards and 45 touchdowns in four seasons as the Mizzou starter.

Kent Smith, Central Michigan (6-4¾, 216): Like Nealy, a good runner, but might be too tall to play tailback. Has an elongated delivery and throws sidearm a lot, really a developmental-type player. His best bet might be to bulk up and perhaps become an H-back.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

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