A Proven Winner

Ian Book doesn't have the height or the big arm of some of the top quarterbacks in this draft class but he has been the winngest quarterback at a big-time program
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While pro day attention focused at several locations Wednesday, one of the nation's winningest quarterbacks performed for scouts in comparative obscurity.

Ian Book won more starts at Notre Dame than Joe Montana or any other QB, and no one associated with the program will ever doubt his skills as a leader or collegiate passer.

Trying to parlay that into a career at the next level will be more difficult, to say the least. The lack of attention he has received in the draft process reflects this. Florida, LSU and even Wake Forest, with QB Jamie Newman, might have garnered as much national attention as Book at his pro day.

It's not easy for quarterbacks 6 feet or shorter in the NFL, although the Bears have spent the better part of this offseason pursuing one who is shorter than Book — Russell Wilson.

In performing their due diligence, the Bears had scouting representation at Book's workout and talked with him afterward. The 30 wins he quarterbacked probably did more to bolster his cause than pro day numbers, but he didn't exactly embarrass himself in that regard. Book reportedly ran 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, a run clocked as fast as 4.59 by some. He also had a 32 1/2-inch vertical leap.

Book has been given the ninth rating in this quarterback class from NFL Draft Bible, and a fourth-round grade, but none of this bothers him because his career has been one of overperforming while being downgraded.

"It's the same exact talk," he said in his pro day Zoom interview. "It's the same exact noise, honestly."

Part of Book's ability to win games is leadership and intelligence. He showed this in a new, more objective setting when he was voted the practice quarterback of the week at the Senior Bowl, although he didn't put up big numbers in the game itself.

"The main thing I wanted to show is that I could pick up the play book, you know, real fast," he said. "I wanted to show the guys I could lead them."

Book sees this as critical in the next assignment he'll have, whatever round he's drafted.

"Whatever team picks you up, it's about learning their system as fast as you can, getting ingrained in their culture, their locker room culture and just learning that playbook as fast as you can and going out there and competing," Book said. "A lot of times I think the people that don't make it, they feel uncomfortable in those situations and that's why they don't last. It's about going to whoever picks you and and being comfortable with being uncomfortable."

It's easy to see where Book's leadership skills and ability to adjust come from, because his father was a Green Beret and works in law enforcement. Book initially committed to Washington State before deciding to go instead to Notre Dame.

NFL Draft Bible's analysis offers more problems for Book in this challenge than his lack of height.

"Book lacks proper arm strength to stretch a defense vertically," the website said. "He also possesses underwhelming size and pocket awareness to win inside of structure.

"His chaotic style is admirable, but it hides the fact that Book is actually a pretty ordinary athlete."

As a three-year starter, Book completed a career-best 68.2% as a junior in 2018. He averaged 8.4 yards an attempt then, with 19 TDs and seven interceptions. 

In terms of interceptions and TDs, he was at his best in 2019 when he had 34 TD passes to six interceptions and was throwing to Bears tight end Cole Kmet. 

In terms of simply being a leader for a winning team, his final year may have been his best because he engineered an upset of Clemson in 2020 and called it one of his most enjoyable games not because of stats but the win. To him, winning is what counts and it's on his side when he talks with teams in the predraft process.

"I don't try to steer the conversation that way but it has been a big topic with some teams," he said. "You know a lot of teams care about that."

Book understands his status in a strong quarterback class.

"There's a lot of good quarterbacks," he said. "I feel like I compete."

He always has.

Bears QB Draft Picks

Since Jim McMahon (1982)

2017 Round 1 Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

2014 Round 6 David Fales, San Jose St.

2011 Round 5 Nathan Enderle, Idaho

2010 Round 6 Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan

2005 Round 4 Kyle Orton, Purdue

2004 Round 5 Craig Krenzel, Ohio State

2003 Round 1 Rex Grossman, Florida

1999 Round 1 Cade McNown, UCLA

1998 Round 7 Moses Moreno, Colorado St.

1992 Round 4 Will Furrer, Virginia Tech

1991 Round 7 Paul Justin, Arizona St.

1990 Round 3 Peter Tom Willis, Florida St.

1989 Round 7 Brent Snyder, Utah St.

1987 Round 1 Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

1984 Round 9 Mark Casale, Montclair St.

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