INDIANAPOLIS — Collin Klein has been maligned for his unorthodox throwing motion and his relatively weak throwing arm. But it’s going to take more than criticism to convince Klein he can’t play quarterback in the NFL.
“That’s my heart,” Klein said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I know I have the tools to do that. I know I bring a lot to a team at that position. That’s what I want to do. I’m going to pursue every door that I possibly can to play quarterback. Until every one of those is closed, I’m not really considering anything else.
“We’re going to make something happen.”
Eventually it may come to that. An Internet report suggested Klein has been asked to participate in combine drills as a tight end, though Klein said that wasn’t true.
Klein sounded as though he would decline a workout at tight end even if he was asked. He proved his doubters wrong at Kansas State, rising to become the starting quarterback, leading the Wildcats to consecutive double-digit victory seasons and finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting last year.
But his strength is as a runner and not a passer. Klein had the chance to make a strong impression with his passing at the East-West Shrine all-star game last month in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“At the East-West game, he struggled throwing the football and that hurt him,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He gave the whole league the opportunity to watch him stand there with five other quarterbacks during the week to (learn), ‘What is he?’
“He’s a better football player than he is an athlete. He’s a good athlete but he’s a better football player than he is a natural thrower of the football. The problem for him is that he’s going to be dinged heavily for his lack of throwing ability, funky motion, questionable accuracy and arm strength. He was a better runner than he was a thrower. Because of what they did, they showcased his talent beautifully at K-State. He ran the football, (ran) play-action. He did everything they asked him.”
Klein said he’s worked on altering his throwing motion to make it more efficient.
“I’m still tweaking and working on a few things here,” he said. “But I have all the confidence in the world that I can make every throw that needs to be made.”
He also pointed to the success of another unconventional quarterback, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, as evidence that a player with similar skills can make it in the NFL.
“There’s definitely a little more of a diverse quarterback in the NFL today,” Klein said.
But Kaepernick has a strong arm and won games last season for the 49ers with his passing, something Klein hasn’t proved he can do.
“He’s got to be a starting quarterback in the NFL from a pocket perspective,” Mayock said of Klein. “I don’t think Collin Klein throws the football well enough to be a starting quarterback in the league. I do believe there’s a place for him in the league and you can talk about the wildcat, (a) natural home for him, or the backup quarterback or some other things. But I don’t think he throws the ball well enough to be a starting quarterback and because of that I think he’s going to slide pretty far down (in the draft) to the last day.”
Klein played at wide receiver as a freshman for K-State in 2009, starting two games and catching six passes. He also played on special teams that season.
So while he’s been asked to play other positions before, Klein said this situation is different.
“I didn’t really have any resistance,” he said, referring to the position move his freshman season. “I wanted to help my team win and compete and get on the field. I was young and I never really left quarterback. I would take a rep at quarterback and run out to wide receiver or run to tight end or run to fullback or whatever we needed at the time, so I never really moved. It was great experience. I got to compete and contribute.”
Klein also now has a strong quarterback resume he didn’t have then.
“I feel very confident,” he said. “I feel our coaches at Kansas State are excellent. We do a lot of different types of things offensively with different schemes and concepts, so I feel very prepared physically and mentally tough and also in the football IQ and Xs and Os part.”