I typically try to highlight "small" school prospects for my weekly "Diamond in the Rough."
This week, however, I'm highlighting a prospect from the Big Ten, one of the six automatic qualifying conference for the BCS bowl games.
So how does a Big Ten player qualify as a "Diamond in the Rough."
Well, to start, he plays for Minnesota.
That isn't meant as a slam to the Golden Gophers. They've had their share of highly touted prospects over the years, including wideout Eric Decker (drafted No. 87 overall last year by Denver) and a trio of talented running backs earlier this decade, including current Patriot Lawrence Maroney and Cowboy Marion Barber III.
Still, with Minnesota losing this season to the likes of South Dakota and Northern Illinois on their way to a 3-9 season that got their head coach Tim Brewster fired last month, it is easy to understand why few realize they boast an intriguing NFL prospect -- even if he plays at the game's most important position.
Quarterback Adam Weber is hardly the NFL prototype at 6-1, 221 pounds.
As he demonstrated in Minnesota's upset win over Iowa Saturday, however, Weber possesses the moxie, mobility and short to medium range accuracy to potentially surprise at the pro level.
Weber wasn't spectacular against the Hawkeyes. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 164 yards and no touchdowns in the 27-24 victory.
What scouts like, however, is how he handles the game. Having started all 50 games of his career, Weber is rarely surprised by defenses and does a nice job of anticipating the action. On numerous occasions against the Hawkeyes, Weber would push the safety to one corner of the field with his eyes before dumping the ball off in the other direction. He did the same as a runner, picking up gains of 20 and 13 in the first half to pick up first downs when the defense was keying on his receivers.
Weber appears capable of making every NFL throw, though he doesn't own a howitzer. A few of his passes fluttered in the cold wind Saturday, but often this was the result of poor technique by Weber. He has a tendency to throw flat-footed, a correctable flaw that will add velocity to his throws.
Weber made some flashy throws last year that jumped off the film when I was scouting Decker. He's been one of the few bright spots on a struggling Minnesota team this season.
Scouts certainly know of him.
They should, considering that he ranks behind only one other quarterback in Big Ten history for most career yards gained from scrimmage.
Due to a lack of preferred height, some questioned whether he'd make in the NFL.
Drew Brees has done fine since leaving Purdue, wouldn't you say?
I'm certainly not forecasting that Weber will be the No. 32 pick of the draft (as Brees was) or earn Super Bowl MVP honors. He is, however, a legitimate prospect who hasn't garnered much national media attention. He might when he makes an NFL roster.