If Brandon Weeden was five years younger, like most of his contemporaries at the NFL scouting combine, the Oklahoma State quarterback could feel comfortable he would be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft.
But Weeden, who delayed his football career for five years to play minor-league baseball, is 28. That’s a dilemma for NFL teams looking for a quarterback.
“A lot is getting put into my age and rightfully so,” Weeden said. “That’s the only red flag I really have. And fortunately for me, that’s really the only (issue) I have to worry about. And fortunately, it’s a small issue. I’m not worried about it. I don’t think a lot of teams are worried about it. It’s a tough question to answer. I feel like with all these great quarterbacks, I belong in the middle with all of them. So if I was a few years younger, you never know, maybe I’d go a little bit higher. But I don’t think at the end of the day when it comes to draft time, it’s going to be that big of an issue.”
Weeden could be of interest to the Chiefs, who have said they hope to acquire a quarterback capable of challenging the incumbent, Matt Cassel. General manager Scott Pioli has said that he would like the Chiefs to draft a quarterback every year.
Since the other Chiefs quarterback under contract, Ricky Stanzi, is a developmental prospect, the Chiefs might not be so intimidated by the issue of Weeden’s age. So he could be of interest to the Chiefs with their second-round pick.
The Chiefs interviewed both of the draft’s two most coveted quarterbacks, Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, at the combine. But both players are expected to have been selected by other teams by the time the Chiefs make the 11th pick in the draft.
If the Chiefs choose a quarterback with that choice, it would likely be Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. He also had an interview with the Chiefs in Indianapolis.
He also comes with a measure of caution. He spent much of his time at Texas A&M as a wide receiver. Tannehill started at quarterback only the last season and a half.
“I went to A&M as a quarterback,” Tannehill said. “I went into camp my freshman year as a quarterback and was going to be third on the depth chart and they moved me out to receiver. I ended up having some success that day and about two days later, I was in the starting rotation at receiver. It was a quick turnaround.
“I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t get to play quarterback. It’s what I always wanted to be. I always thought of myself as a quarterback. Even though it wasn’t at the quarterback position, I did get experience playing football and seeing the game out there. I learned a lot from it and fortunately I was able to (eventually) get back to where I wanted to be.”
Tannehill also broke his foot after the end of his final collegiate season, had surgery and was unable to work out for NFL teams at the combine.
“He’s got everything you want,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s got size. He’s got arm strength. He’s a really good athlete. All you have to do is look at his tape at wide receiver from two years ago. He’s a big, strong fast kid with a really good arm.
“He hasn’t started as many games as I’d like to see from a typical first-round NFL quarterback. You’d typically like to see at least 25 minimum starting assignments in college.”
Weeden was a two-year starter for Oklahoma State, so his quarterback experience isn’t a problem. His baseball experience is.
A pitcher, Weeden was drafted by the Yankees in 2002 and played in the minors for five seasons for three teams, one of them being the Royals.
He eventually gave it up in favor of a football career, but he’s moving to the pros at an advanced age.
“You’ve got to decide as a franchise how much of a negative that is,” Mayock said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘At what point is he going to be our starting quarterback?’ If the answer is “Immediately,’ then some (team) might take him late (in round ) one. I think he’s more of a second-round pick.
“Do you have time to wait? That’s kind of the problem here. I’m of the opinion having gotten to know him a little bit and having watched his work ethic that he’s the kind of guy that if you had to throw him in there, he could play this year. He’d take a beating a little bit but he would develop.”
For his part, Weeden isn’t shying away from the age issue. In fact, he’s making it a selling point.
“From a maturity standpoint, I’ve already been a pro,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been telling teams and they agree with me. In baseball, it’s a game of failure. I’ve failed and I’ve had some success and I’ve kind of ridden the roller coaster.
“It’s the toughest position to play in all of sports. I think, again, the maturity factor really helps me have an opportunity to play right away if I’m needed to.”