Commentary

The clock is ticking, which QB would you hire?

Updated: January 11, 2008, 3:55 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers, Alyssa Roenigk, Carmen Renee Thompson and Todd McShay | ESPN The Magazine

Choosing a quarterback is the ultimate test for NFL suits. Pick the right guy (Peyton Manning), and their team is set. Pick the wrong guy (David Carr), and they might as well put their houses on the market. Well, the job audition is no picnic either. From the players' last college snap until the last pick of the draft, the ball is out of their hands. To find out how painful the experience is, we'll spend the next few months regularly checking in with NFL hopefuls Andre' Woodson (Kentucky), John David Booty (USC) and Matt Flynn (LSU). Scouts Inc.draft guru Todd McShay will break down their game and buzz factor. Come draft day, you'll know more about these guys than most GMs.

[+] EnlargeAndre Woodson
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWould you want this Wildcat leading your NFL franchise?

Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson


Objective
An entry-level quarterback position in the NFL, with the potential to ascend through the ranks, manage games and, ultimately, lead a winning team.

Qualifications
•  Measurables: 6-foot-5, 230 pounds

•  Statistics: Completed 63 percent of his passes for almost 7,000 yards and 67 touchdowns in his junior and senior years combined, with just 17 interceptions.

Experience
•  2005-Present: QB, University of Kentucky As a junior, facilitated the turnaround of a team with a losing record, possibly saving head coach Rich Brooks' job and giving locals something to do in the fall besides wait for Midnight Madness.

•  2003-'04: Backed up Shane Boyd and played in seven games during his redshirt and freshman year at Kentucky. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes, studied a pro-style offense and performed various servile tasks for upperclassmen.

•  1999-'03: Student-athlete at North Hardin High School in Radcliff, Kentucky. He was a three-year starter in football and basketball while setting several school and state records, but nobody noticed because future Louisvile QB Brian Brohm played 40 miles away.

Education
•  Learned to accept diverse cultures as an Army brat, living in Europe and U.S.

•  Figured out how to get noticed at Elite 11 camp before senior year as a prep.

•  Gained valuable lesson in competition after he appeared to lose starting spot to Curtis Pulley after spring ball in 2006, but Woodson hit the weight room and regained the keys to the executive washroom.

Andre' Woodson
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireWoodson bounced back nicely after a slow start against LSU.
•  Learned to play in the clutch after guiding Kentucky to its first bowl win in 22 years (Music City Bowl). This season led the team to a triple-OT win over then-No. 1 LSU.

Accolades
•  Semifinalist for Davey O'Brien Award and finalist for Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top QB

•  Finalist for Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top QB

•  Holds the all-time NCAA record for consecutive passes without an interception (325).

References
•  Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks: "Woodson's got prototypical size, is accurate, throws the long ball and is a student of the game. He'll do very well."

•  Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: He has all the tools, including great size, a big arm and mobility (although not as much as people think). Plus, he's been productive in the SEC. However, Woodson has played mostly in the shotgun, which makes for easier reads. It remains to be seen how he will handle audible at the pro level. He also has small hitch in his delivery because his elbow is too high at his release point. Overall, Woodson is still the third-best QB prospect behind Boston College's Matt Ryan and Brohm.

USC QB John David Booty


Objective
To improve my stock as an NFL prospect and eventually add value to your offensive operations.

[+] EnlargeJohn David Booty
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PresswireBooty is the most mentally ready QB in the draft.
Qualifications
•  Measurables: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

•  Championships: '03 and '04 NCAA champion, '01 and '02 Louisiana Class 5A state champion

Experience
•  2003-'07: Booty has led the Trojans to a 21-4 record the past two seasons as a starter, throwing 49 TDs and more than 5,000 yards.

•  Played for an ex-NFL coach in a pro-style system. He has developed the ability to step in and play quickly. Plus, Booty has learned to accept responsibility of being the QB and face the truth, even in tough times.

•  More than 10 years of experience as a starting QB (Pee Wee, high school and college)

Highlights
•  11/22/07 vs. Arizona State: 26-of-39 for 375 yards, four TDs in a 44-24 win

•  1/1/07 vs. Michigan in Rose Bowl: 27-of-45 for 391 yards, four TDs in a 32-18 win.

Interests
•  Golf course designer (2000): According to his brother Josh, he designed a 130-yard, par-three course in the backyard. "He even planted hybrid Bermuda grass and if he played more, he'd be good."

[+] EnlargeJohn David Booty
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesDo you want this Trojan making the calls under center for your team?
•  Florida Marlins bat boy (1996-'97): He traveled with his older brother, Josh, who played on the Marlins. He learned the value of hard work at the pro level and applied that to win a fierce position battle to become USC's QB.

Accolades
•  2006 All-Pac-10 first team

•  2006 Manning Award finalist

References
•  Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: Booty came on after some early-season injuries. He has a quick release and shredded Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Mentally, he might be the draft's most NFL-ready QB. However, he has so-so size and physical skills. Booty also has to improve his deep throws, which tend to sail. That's the difference between NFL starters and backups. Overall, he's a fringe top-100 pick because scouts aren't sure of his physicality.

[+] EnlargeMatt Flynn
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesFlynn showed he was a leader by winning the BCS Championship Game.

LSU QB Matt Flynn


Objective
Win over skeptics who aren't convinced he's NFL-worthy after a gritty senior season as LSU's starter.

Qualifications
•  Measurables: 6-foot-3, 227 pounds

•  Intangibles: Flynn has shown great patience and poise in his college career. He waited four years for a chance to start and handles pressure well. A prime example was against Alabama when he shook off mistakes (three INTs in the first half) and rebounded to throw 202 yards and two TDs in the second half to lead his team to victory. More importantly, he did it with a stern look on his face, even though his heart had to be racing, so his teammates believed they could make the comeback.

Experience
•  2007: Took of LSU offense after JaMarcus Russell left for the NFL. He displayed superior people skills by allowing skill players, Early Doucet, Jacob Hester and Demetrius Byrd to produce.

•  Led Tigers to a national championship in 2007 over Ohio State

•  Started in place of an injured Russel in the 2005 Peach Bowl win over Miami. He threw for 196 yards with two TDs and was named the offensive MVP of the game.

Education
SEC Academic All-American (2005), while majoring in communication studies

[+] EnlargeMatt Flynn
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesWould you want this Tiger distributing the ball to your playmakers?
Interests
Golf, hunting and fishing

References
•  LSU head coach Les Miles: "Flynn is a great leader, and he's firm in what he expects from everybody."

•  Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: Flynn has intriguing physical skills with terrific mobility and a football IQ that could blow away a coach or GM. However, Flynn's delivery is pretty weird and the ball flies out of his hand like a shot put. Plus, he has had some bad games including five INTs against Alabama and Louisiana Tech. Overall, he is a borderline draft pick/free agent, but winning the national championship definitely increased his odds.