Quinn's Fallen, But He'll Still Be Up There

Notre Dame QB doesn't figure to be top pick, but will be among top selections

April 27, 2007

By Adam Caparell




Adam is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer.
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Brady Quinn could have easily left school after his junior season, but there was unfinished business to attend in South Bend.


So as summer began to turn to fall, there were three goals the Notre Dame quarterback set for himself.


Win the Heisman Trophy. Win the national championship. And as much as any of them, he wanted to be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL draft.




"I've talked about it all the time," Quinn said. "That was my goal coming into my last collegiate season."


And as the Fighting Irish began their 2006 campaign, many predicted the record-breaking signal caller would pull off the trifecta.


The only problem is, of course, the first two didn't pan out and now it seems Quinn's about to be thrown for a third loss come Saturday in New York when he learns his ultimate fate at the draft.  


Ironically, it seems like Quinn's third and final goal will be smashed by JaMarcus Russell, arguably the man most responsible for Quinn's decreased status among the handful of potential top picks, and the man who likely will be selected first by the Oakland Raiders.


That's because Quinn's demotion to second fiddle behind Russell stems mostly from their performances in the Sugar Bowl where Russell's Tigers blew out Quinn's Irish, 41-14, as the LSU junior vaulted to the top on nearly everyone's draft board, leaving Quinn in his dust.


Fair or not, it was Quinn's 15-of-35,148 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs performance against a clearly superior team, featuring the kind of defense the Irish had rarely seen during the regular season, that caused many to sour on him and extol the virtues of Russell. Unfairly if you ask Quinn.


"I don't think one game necessarily makes a career for someone," Quinn said. "It doesn't take away from the fact that we lost and we played a terrible second half as a team. Not only myself, but as a team. We didn't do enough to get a win. And of course anytime that's how you end your career going into the NFL, of course everyone is going to harp on that. That's the last memory."


So as the college football season faded into the sunset and attention turned toward preparation for the draft, Quinn was left to wonder what was happening.


Why was his draft stock dropping when he hadn't thrown a meaningful pass since Jan. 3? Why wasn't he being judged on his body of work? Instead critique and criticism reined down on him following that final game. He wasn't even 100 percent that day, aggravating a knee injury he originally suffered against USC earlier in the year, "but that's no excuse for how we played in the second half," Quinn said.


"It's kind of hard for a guy to slip when you haven't done anything," Quinn said. "I haven't played a game in the past couple of months and it's kind of funny to sit back and hear something that makes you think, `Did someone see me in the weight room miss a rep?'"


It seemed like all of the sudden Quinn had gone out of style. Russell had become the flavor the month, the must have, can't be without prospect that has franchise quarterback written all over him.


But while Russell may have the kind of physical attributes that are rarely found in a quarterback, what he doesn't have is Quinn's pedigree.


Under the tutelage of coach Charlie Weis - who helped develop Tom Brady into a three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback - Quinn blossomed in his two seasons with Weis, learning his NFL-style offense and tricks of the trade no other quarterback in this year's class can claim.


"Anytime you have a coach who's come from the NFL and had as much success as he had bringing along a quarterback like Tom Brady and then he comes in to coach you for a couple of years, you have to look at that as gift from God," Quinn said.


"There's not one other player who's had the coaching I've had over the past couple of years."


But it doesn't look like it will translate into him earning the top pick. The first three teams in the draft - Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland - all could easily take a quarterback, but there's a ton of uncertainty surrounding this draft. There figures to be some trades, a lot of jostling and an air of doubt when the clock finally strikes noon Saturday.


"The toughest thing about it is you don't really control what the first team in the draft does or who is picking you. It's out of your hands," Quinn said. "I'm just trying to be that guy that no one else can not take. They have to take you because you're that valuable to any team in the NFL."


Quinn doesn't care where he ends up. All things considered, he'd still love to be the top pick, of course. Cleveland is a distinct possibility, but Quinn could be this year's Matt Leinart, forced to sit and wait a few hours before he finally hears his name called by the commissioner.


And that just may work out in his favor. Quinn said he wants to start immediately in the NFL - don't they all - but going to a slightly more established team such as Miami at No. 9 could work to his benefit. Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland wouldn't help him be any closer to his next career goal of winning the Super Bowl.


So who knows come Saturday. First, second, third, seventh, ninth? Quinn, with what seems like a little chip on his shoulder, may just have put it best.  


"The draft is a funny thing," he said.


And just maybe, Quinn will have the last laugh when it's all said and done.