- Michael Smith, NFL Senior Writer
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Marcus Vick lacks ideal height for a quarterback. He also lacks playing experience (having started only one season) and doesn't have his superstar older brother Michael's amazing athleticism (though he is considered a better passer). And above all he doesn't, to say the least, have a sterling reputation, thanks to the lengthy rap sheet he compiled during four often difficult years at Virginia Tech. One thing Vick isn't lacking, however, is self-confidence.
For instance, when asked Friday to compare himself to the three most celebrated quarterbacks in the 2006 NFL draft class, Vick suggested that he believes he is the second-most talented quarterback in the draft.
Marcus Vick versus Matt Leinart: "I'm taking Marcus Vick in this case right here, because it's something about when you have an athlete at the quarterback position it just changes the game."
And Marcus Vick versus Jay Cutler: "I'm taking Marcus Vick once again."
Thing is, Leinart and Cutler were taken Saturday with the 10th and 11th overall picks, respectively. Young went off the board first among quarterbacks at pick No. 3. And Vick? The seven rounds came and went and his name was never called (unless you count some fans attending the draft at New York's Radio City Music Hall, who were chanting "Marcus Vick" as the last of the final 255 picks were announced).
If Vick gets an NFL invitation, it will be via free agency. Asked before the draft about the prospect that he would not be selected, Vick was clearly bothered.
"I would understand it," he says, "but it would hurt. It would really hurt."
The fact he wasn't drafted came as no surprise, however, when you consider he did not have any pre-draft interviews or private workouts.
"I'll tell you one thing," he said. "Without the character issues and the problems I had in my past, I was definitely a first-round guy from my point of view."
He may believe he's just as good or better than just about every other quarterback coming out, but the fact is Vick, a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer this past season, killed any chance of being an early pick by his behavior, mostly off the field but sometimes on it. Vick jokingly attributed his troubles to "some kind of curse, like I broke too many mirrors when I was young or something."
His well-documented legal troubles led to his being suspended by Virginia Tech for the 2004 season, and in January, not long after concluding his junior season, the university, which had placed him on a "zero-tolerance" policy, permanently dismissed him from the team because of the "cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play." The proverbial last straws were his intentionally stepping on Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil's leg during the Gator Bowl and the school's eventual discovery that he had been cited during a traffic stop in December.
Rather than transfer to a lower level school or sit out a year when he was dismissed, Vick decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the draft.
"Oh, man, I was hurt," after being kicked off the team, he said. "I was disappointed. I was waking up every morning like, 'Oh, man, I can't believe that this is happening,' because I was on a straight path. I was doing everything correct and, you know, in a snap of a finger everything changed. My whole life changed. From that point on, I just automatically started thinking about the future."
On Friday he was expecting a long wait into the draft's second day: Rounds 4-7. He said he planned to watch the draft at home, alone. Watch and wait.
"I definitely understand [the doubts about his character]," he said. "I definitely understand that. I'm not going to sit up here and make excuses about anything. I understand that situation. If I was a GM, I would have a few doubts myself."
Vick said he would choose himself sometime during Day 2, "because you really can't put too much money into one guy when you really don't know."
Well, then, who is Marcus Vick? For that matter, who isn't he?
"The perception of me is some kind of villain, and that's not me at all," he said.
Vick was the one who stomped on Dumervil's left calf. And yet Vick was the one who, as he tells it, nervously approached Dumervil at the scouting combine, hoping to apologize. They talked for 10 minutes, Vick said.
"As soon as I [saw] him, I saw the back of his shirt and it said 'Dumervil,' and I walked up to him, and he kind of looked at me. He was looking at me like, 'What is he going to do?' But I said, 'Hey Elvis, can I come over here and talk to you for a minute?' And we just kind of went around the corner and talked about a few things, and I told him, 'Look, I'm sorry. I really wasn't thinking about the bigger picture. I could have hurt your leg. It could have [been] worse than it was.'
"He said that he understood what I was going through. We just kind of dapped up [shook hands] and hugged each other. I just felt it was a big relief off my chest." Vick said he thought about the Gator Bowl incident every morning, while some nights he was unable to sleep until he encountered Dumervil again.
Vick reiterated that he is not Maurice Clarett, the troubled former Ohio State star whom the Broncos took a chance on in the third round last year, only to cut him during training camp.
"He's a guy that kind of pushed himself out there for problems to come by challenging the NFL and kind of wanted the attention, whereas in my case, I don't want the attention," Vick said. "I want to go straightforward on a clean path. I'm never gonna challenge no NFL ruling or nothing like that. He's a guy that got picked in the third round last year. Aw man, with all those problems that he had? In the third round? That's something that I [was] praying for
"Clarett got picked in the third round, and one year later look what he's doing [out of the league]. If I get picked in the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh round, one year later they're going to be saying, 'Oh yeah, we got a great quarterback out of this guy. He's gonna become something."
Vick, clearly motivated to prove his critics and doubters wrong, had a message for the teams who will have passed on him in the draft.
"I'm gonna show you in the future," he said. "The teams that don't pick me, I'm gonna get the chance to play you, and you are going to be sitting up in the box saying, 'Damn, we should have considered him. We should have taken him.' "
And, Vick says, he's willing to do whatever it takes to prove his worth, even play other positions if necessary. "If they need me on special teams, then I'll play special teams. If you need me to play receiver, then I'll play some receiver."
Vick, 22, who has been working out in Atlanta, says he has matured greatly since Jan. 6, when Tech cut ties with him. Shortly thereafter he started attending church and says he has developed a relationship with God. He says he's smarter, that his life has "slowed down."
Asked who in 10 years will have had the better NFL career (assuming he indeed has one), him or his superstar brother, the younger Vick responded without hesitation, "I say Marcus, because Marcus is going to pass for more yards than Michael (winks)."
It'll be up to Vick whether he sticks around or his career amounts to just passing through.
Marcus Vick is hurt by the prospect of going undrafted but understands that it's a realistic possibility.