Jacob Eason reports to Indianapolis Colts training camp tomorrow.
Could the former University of Washington quarterback, the man with the golden arm, struggle to launch his NFL career?
While that very thought seems blasphemous, ESPN, in its early 53-player roster cutdown for the Colts, has reminded everyone that it's a possibility.
As is their wont, the Colts in the past have tended to keep just two quarterbacks active during the season, which could mean they might try to waive Eason and re-sign him to their practice squad.
Veteran quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett are assured of roster Indianapolis spots.
Eason, the Colts' fourth-round draft pick, won't take a snap in 2020 no matter what happens. He also has to contend with Chad Kelly, nephew of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, for a spot in the pecking order.
While he seems far too valuable with that arm of his and too much of a bargain as a fourth-rounder to be left hanging like that, Eason still didn't impress NFL scouts enough to go any earlier in the draft than the 122nd pick.
His football career, in fact, has been full of potholes since he left Lake Stevens, Washington, with a huge reputation.
Eason became the starter at the University of Georgia as a true freshman only to hear some grumblings because he wasn't pinpoint accurate and the Bulldogs finished 8-5 and in a second-tier bowl game.
He took a cheap shot to his knee as a sophomore in Georgia's season opener, went out with an injury and lost his job to freshman Jake Fromm.
Eason transferred to Washington, lost to of his best receivers this past season to injury in Ty Jones and Puka Nacua, and heard more grumblings after the he threw multiple pick-sixes and the Huskies finished 8-5 and turned up in a second-tier bowl game.
Projected as a possible first- or second-round pick, he slid all the way to the fourth round, which surprised a lot of people — including himself.
Now, with training camps opening, Eason has a small window to make or break it with the Colts or start bouncing around the league in journeyman fashion and out.
His arm is considered as elite as they come and his 6-foot-6, 231-pound size is similarly attractive. Yet his pocket presence, decision-making and mobility remain suspect.
Will he end up like Ryan Leaf, a tall, strong-armed quarterback from WSU who couldn't make it at this level? Or can he settle in like an unsung Ben Roethlisberger, who was an imposing physical QB specimen from Miami of Ohio, figure it out and have a nice long career?
Here's what ESPN's Mike Wells had to say about Eason's training-camp situation:
"It would be quite a shock to see the Colts risk losing the fourth-round pick in Eason. Is it impossible? Of course not. Anything can happen in the NFL, and it wouldn't be the first time if this specific scenario played out.
"But the Colts waiving Eason in hopes of re-signing him to the practice squad is a massive risk and one they might not want to take. Should the Colts take the risk of putting Eason through waivers, they could potentially miss out on developing a high-upside prospect with a booming right arm. They would have essentially wasted a fourth-round pick on a position that has no future outlook whatsoever.
"Eason wasn't highly ranked by the Colts. They had him as a fourth-round grade on their board and felt the value was sufficient during the draft. And even though the likelihood of Eason turning into a franchise quarterback is very slim, it wouldn't be a wise move to take that risk of losing him to a more-quarterback needy team.
"Eason has the tools to be a successful signal-calls in the NFL. He has a big arm to make all of the throws and the work ethic to improve in the areas necessary. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next month, but it would be a surprise if the Colts don't enter the season with three quarterbacks on the active roster."
Nobody told Eason any of this was going to be easy.
The NFL is a hardened business and it really doesn't care how many recruiting stars you once had or how you projected as a college QB or how fast you ran around a bunch of cones at the combine.
It's now up to Eason to put everything together in the pros — the arm, the poise and the production — or he becomes just another guy looking for a coaching or a broadcasting career.
You either have it or you don't.
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