You don't understand, but then, you wouldn't. All-American quarterback Graham Harrell of Texas Tech wasn't picked during the NFL Draft over the weekend, not early or late or ever, and you don't get it. But that's you.
Me, I get it. Because that's me.
So I'll break it down for you in seven different ways, one for every round that went by without a team picking Harrell. Eleven quarterbacks were taken this weekend, so it's not like NFL teams don't like quarterbacks. They do. They just don't like Graham Harrell. And here's why:
|Graham Harrell's combine didn't wow scouts, who apparently weren't impressed by his impressive college career. (Getty Images)|
2. No, I take that back. Production is everything: Unless you're Kansas State's Josh Freeman, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound specimen who looks like a future Hall of Fame quarterback until he actually starts throwing the ball. Freeman was 10th in the Big 12 this past season in pass efficiency. Not 10th in the country -- 10th in his (12-team) league. And that impressed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so much that they picked him in the first round, 17th overall. Meanwhile, playing in the same league as Freeman, Harrell finished his college career with more touchdown passes (134) than anyone, ever, and with the No. 2 total in passing yards (15,793). That's after finishing his high school career with the most passing yards (12,532) and touchdowns (167) in Texas schoolboy history. He breaks records in high school. Breaks more in college. Of course he can't play in the NFL.
3. It's neither workouts nor production. The NFL values experience: Which is why the Jets pulled a mini-Mike Ditka by trading five players just to draft Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez -- with 16 career college starts -- fifth overall. Harrell played in 41 games for Texas Tech. He's probably burned out after all that work. Good thinking, NFL.
4. The NFL also wants a winner: So of course the Indianapolis Colts took a flyer in the sixth round on Curtis Painter of Purdue, which went 4-8 last season. Not that Painter was responsible for all of those games. He was injured and missed the game when, um, Purdue beat Michigan. Never mind about that. And never mind that Harrell led Texas Tech to 28 wins in three years, including an 11-2 mark as a senior, when the Red Raiders were 7-1 to tie for first place in the Big 12. And never mind that the Big 12 is five levels above the Big Ten.
5. Injuries scare NFL teams: And so the Dallas Cowboys, in need of a backup for Tony Romo, stayed in-state and made a sentimental pick of
Harrell Stephen McGee of Texas A&M. McGee made just three starts as a senior because of a torn labrum, which is located in the shoulder. And in McGee's case, the throwing shoulder. Relevant? Not at all. Meanwhile, Harrell stayed upright despite throwing almost 2,000 passes in college. Didn't hurt his shoulder, either. Probably a fluke.
6. Quality of competition matters: The defenses in the Big 12 were suspect. That's one reason league quarterbacks had such good passing numbers. So how can an NFL team trust what Harrell was able to do? Better to draft someone safer, someone from a known background, like Keith Null of Texas A&M. Sorry. Null played for West Texas A&M, which is in Division II, where his quality coaching included position coach Ryan Leaf. At least until Leaf was forced to resign amid an investigation that he had asked a player for a pain pill. Anyway, St. Louis picked Null in the sixth round.
7. And character really counts: Harrell has never been a problem, but if you're going to play quarterback in the NFL, you must be able to make good decisions. Like the one Rhett Bomar made at Oklahoma, when he chose to accept payment for work he didn't do at a car dealership owned by a major OU booster. That cost Oklahoma some points with the NCAA and it cost Bomar his starting job, which is why he ended up at someplace called Sam Houston State, where he led his small-school team to a 4-6 record. With all of that he was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Giants, which makes you wonder how much sooner he would have been picked if Ryan Leaf had been his position coach.
Meanwhile, West Virginia quarterback Pat White went in the second round to Miami and everyone knows he can't pass in the NFL. Fresno State's Tom Brandstater went in the sixth round to Denver and no one knows who he is. Ball State's Nate Davis was picked by San Francisco in the fifth round despite a learning disability that some NFL scouts say will affect his ability to master a massive NFL playbook.
All Harrell has done, since he was the son of his coach in high school, is throw for nearly 30,000 yards and more than 300 touchdowns.
If he can't play quarterback in the NFL, goodness, that league must be full of incredible football players.
Or stupid general managers.