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Rookie free agent profile: Taylor Potts, QB, Texas Tech

Ed Note: We are going to run some rookie free agent profiles this week from our friend Mike at RamView.

Taylor Potts 6’3.5″ 216
QB, Texas Tech

Rankings: 25th-ranked quarterback by Pro Football Weekly. Graded as a player who could make an NFL training camp.

NFLDraftScout: 15th-ranked QB, #255 player overall, 7th-round/free-agent grade.

Biography/honors:
2010: All-Big Twelve(Ten) Academic team. Team captain. Played in 13 games, starting 12. 369 for 551 (67.0%), 3,726 yards, 35 TDs, 10 INTs. Was third in the nation in completions per game, 4th in TD passes, 8th in passing yards. Is all over the school record books, 3rd in career TDs, completions and passing yards, among other stats. Third QB in school history with multiple 3,000-yard seasons. MVP of bowl game against Northwestern.
2009: Played in 12 games, starting 10. 309 for 470 (65.7%), 3,440 yards, 22 TDs, 13 INTs. Offensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl against Michigan State, 23-43-372, 2 TDs. Threw for 7 TDs vs. Rice.
2008: Played in 9 games. 23 for 36 (63.9%), 260 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT.
2007: Played in 5 games. 32 for 49 (65.3%), 409 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
2006: Redshirted.

Major: exercise and sports science. Completed his degree prior to 2010 season.

Injuries:
2010: Missed part of spring practice and was out a total of eight weeks after tearing his throwing hand open (6 stitches) on a teammate’s helmet. He also required later surgery to repair ligament damage.
Broke or sprained jaw in October game but didn’t miss significant time.
2009: Missed two games due to a concussion.

Pro Day Stats: (not invited to NFL Combine)
4.87 40
4.24 short shuttle
6.96 3-cone drill
30.5” vertical leap
9’9” broad jump (per NFLDraftScout; Gil Brandt reported 8’11”)

2011 Combine QB averages: 4.80 40, 4.23 short shuttle, 6.93 3-cone, 32″ vertical

Positives: Good size, strong arm. Throws with some zip. Outstanding touch – can drop the ball in a bucket from any range. Has a solid play-fake. Good head for the game, good at changing protections and looking off defenders. Had 5 games with 4 or more TD passes in 2010, including bowl game against Northwestern. Also threw for over 300 yards, 400 once, in all four of those games. Threw for 388 yards against Oklahoma and 420 against Texas, outplaying Colt McCoy, in 2009. Played well in 2011 Texas vs. The Nation all-star game. Nicknamed “The Cannon.”

Negatives: Marc Bulger-like mobility and agility. Doesn’t drive the ball, can’t fit it into tight windows. Will get sloppy and drop to a sidearm motion. Average arm for throwing deep outs, which tend to die before they get there. Floats his deep passes and often throws a wobbly ball. Not a strong thrower on the move or off his back foot. Long wind-up. Needs to get better feel for pass rush and learn to get rid of ball to avoid sacks. Has laid-back attitude and is not a leader. Hasn’t played under center. Ran simple, mostly shotgun offense that didn’t require field-reading skills; he just threw to a lot of spots. Was benched for one game but got the starting job right back when his replacement was injured. Struggled against top competition in 2010 – less than 200 yards against Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri. Lacks the athleticism or leadership ability to stick in the pros.

Compares to: Jets 7th-round draft pick (nearly drafted by the Rams) Greg McElroy.

Fun Facts: Potts was personally invited by Archie Manning to attend this past summer’s annual Manning Passing Academy. He won the camp’s “Air it Out” competition, which involved throwing a football at moving carts on golf carts.

RamView: My first impressions of Taylor Potts are that he’s physically and mentally tough. Anybody who can play football with a near-broken jaw ranks as tough in my book. He’s mentally tough off the field because he’s strong academically. On the field, he had to follow a school legend in Graham Harrell, and had his own fans booing him after an upset loss to Houston in 2009 and a subsequent slump. After that, he came back pretty strong in 2010. It’ll be an interesting contrast between Potts and Thaddeus Lewis in training camp, where I assume they’ll battle for third-string QB. The big, accurate QB vs. the smaller, quicker QB. I suspect that Potts is more the Josh McDaniels type; we shall see. (Coincidentally, the only team Potts worked out for in person? The Patriots.) Like Lewis last year, Potts is a nice free agent pickup given his college production.

Sources: Pro Football Weekly 2011 Draft Guide, NFLDraftScout.com, ESPN, Wikipedia, Bleacher Report, Texas Tech Athletics website


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