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January 21, 2013
After years and years of Arizona lacking quarterback representation in the National Football League, Matt Scott could be on the cusp of becoming the second Wildcat to successfully make the leap in as many years.
Scott was limited in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game, one of the three primary showcases for NFL draft-bound talent. He threw just four passes, and his lone opportunity to demonstrate his rushing capability came when the pocket broke down on a designed pass play.
And yet, Scott's was the best performance among the game's six quarterbacks. He threw the lone touchdown, a 57-yarder to Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis, and was the only passer not intercepted.
Rich Rodriguez quipped during Pac-12 Conference Media Day last July that he didn't see his zone-read spread offense as a detriment to his quarterbacks' professional prospects. He called the spread "the new pro set," which earned some laughs from reporters in attendance. But Rodriguez's knowing half-smile foreshadowed what was to come for UA with the redshirt senior Scott behind center.
I talked to Scott that day, and he referenced his now well-documented patience in staying with the program. He said those 2 1/2 years made him more mature, more capable of truly leading an offense. That characteristic could prove to be his most attractive asset come draft weekend.
Scott's journey starts 40 months ago in Iowa City, Iowa. Then-head coach Mike Stoops pulled a struggling Scott for Nick Foles, and Foles never looked back. A transfer would have been understandable, and Scott could have played immediately for any number of programs.
The decision to stay is paying dividends. Before the season, the majority of NFL draft projection sites had Scott going unselected. Tracking his progression throughout the campaign became a must because Scott climbed faster than the yodeling backpacker from The Price is Right game.
His stock could improve even more in the months to come. This particular quarterback class isn't the strongest, with obvious question marks lingering over even the highest-rated players.
Some reversion to the old philosophy is apparent. The seemingly safe move expected of franchises drafting quarterbacks in the first two rounds is taking a flyer on a Mike Glennon. But developments around the league this season set a precedent that, with strong outings in individual workouts and at the NFL Combine, would skyrocket Scott's profile.
Consider that three of the quarterbacks to appear in this year's NFL playoffs - Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Super Bowl-bound Colin Kaepernick - deviated from the long-held belief only pocket passers could to translate the professional ranks.
Broadcasters and writers love to reiterate that the NFL is a copycat league. The success of nontraditional quarterbacks bolsters Scott's draft profile, as does - in part - the play of the New England Patriots. No one will ever confuse Scott for Tom Brady, but Brady captained an offense that took snaps roughly every 25 seconds.
New England led the NFL in points averaged for a second straight season while employing the uptempo style, which opened doors for like-minded coaches. One is former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who accepted the Philadelphia Eagles job last week.
Coincidentally, Kelly will coach Foles. The coach's offense is sure to undergo a facelift, but the common theme to except is quickness: quick to the line, quick to get plays in, quick to score points.
As no-huddle offenses become more prevalent around the league, the proven ability to dial in from the line is an increasingly valuable quality.
The NFL is changing, but so is Rodriguez. The two sides are meeting in the middle, evident in Scott's 499 pass attempts. That total approaches the combined totals of Michigan starters Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson in 2009 and 2010 (572).
The tweaks in Rodriguez's offense as it's run at UA, compared to Michigan and West Virginia versions, accentuated Scott's talents. But they also gave Scott a better chance at breaking into the NFL.
GOAZCATS.com Staff Writer
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