If the NFL handed out superlatives for the draft class of 2009, the most intriguing prospect, the one that 31 teams are some day likely to wish they had spent a little more time getting to know, would be West Virginia's
Notice I didn't say West Virginia
If ever there was a melding of just the right player at just the right time in the NFL draft, it would seem to be exactly now for the multi-faceted White, thanks to the high-profile success the Miami Dolphins had last season running the Wildcat. To hear league personnel scouts tell it, White could wind up being the NFL's wildest cat of all, out-doing even
"Pat White is not a gimmick,'' Mayock said. "He's the type of kid who you want the ball in his hands. I don't care if he's running it, throwing it, or catching it. I want the ball in his hands. Some teams like him as a quarterback. I'd take him in the second round with no hesitation, use him as a Wildcat this season, and try to develop him as a full-time quarterback, because I think he's got that kind of ability.''
Watching where White lands this weekend is going to provide some of the most interesting TV of the draft's long and often tedious unfurling. I want to know which team will have the vision to look at White and see what he is and what he can be, instead of what he is not. Will it be the willing-to-think-out-of-the-box Patriots, who have hardly tried to conceal their interest in White this spring? Will it be the Jets, who already have an earlier version of Pat White in
Will it be the Browns or Eagles, who have both kicked White's tires, or the Steelers (White's life-long favorite team), whose
Trying to use conventional wisdom to predict where White is going to be selected is silly, since the whole point of White's story is he doesn't fit into any conventional wisdom-type category in the draft. He's 6-foot-1, 202 pounds in a league that prizes
He's left-handed, and not blessed with the strongest arm, a combination that strangely enough leads scouts to think of
White has clearly become a point of fascination for some teams. If I had to put a buck down, I'd say one of them will take him somewhere in the second round, using him early in a myriad of Wildcat-ing ways while buying itself more time to evaluate whether he can evolve into a successful quarterback, despite playing an unconventional style of game.
"I'm still working to be a quarterback, and until somebody tells me no, I'm going to continue to,'' said White at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, striking what I thought was the pitch-perfect tone for his particular situation. "I also want to keep my options open and [have] the best opportunity to play football. If that's the case, I do whatever's best for me.''
White, the MVP of January's Senior Bowl as a quarterback for the South, is going to have options all right. He might be running the option somewhere in the NFL this fall for all we know. Someone is going to decide they absolutely have to have a guy who became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher at quarterback (4,480), threw for more than 6,000 yards with 56 touchdown passes, and is the only starting QB to ever win four bowl games.
Somebody will put the ball in his hands, and it's going to be fun watching how it unfolds. Can you envision White taking center stage in his team's offense by mid-October, while
"Pat White, he's an intriguing guy,'' said Colts president
My guess is how the NFL sees Pat White will also continue to evolve. Don't forget, on "money day'' at this year's combine, when the quarterbacks worked out, White was the most impressive passer on the field. True, Stafford skipped the workout, but Sanchez and Freeman didn't. White forced teams to see him as a quarterback that afternoon, not just a receiver-return man who could also add some razzle-dazzle to their attack.
What we all think of White today might continue to change just as rapidly as it did in January and February. He might have started off as a gimmick in the eyes of the NFL, but who knows where he'll end up. At the moment, he doesn't fit into any particular nice and neat category. But then again, players who break the mold in the NFL seldom do.