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April 25, 2013

Location matters for Matt Scott's NFL future



The success of a college athlete jumping to the professional ranks is largely dependent on the situation he enters. Not groundbreaking insight, but a reminder is warranted on the week of another NFL draft, nevertheless.

The right situation matters for any draftee, regardless of position. Take Rob Gronkowski. He was a standout talent dating back to his Arizona days, but he likely would not have set a touchdown reception record for tight ends were he not catching passes from a surefire Hall of Fame quarterback.

Matt Scott's ascent up draft boards in recent weeks culminates this weekend. Pre-draft analysis is a mixed bag of throwing ideas at the wall, but a few usual suspects repeat among reputable sources: the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Destination is of particular importance for rookie quarterbacks. First-year play callers thrust into bad situations often find themselves stigmatized to such an extent it hinders their future opportunities.

Organizations are inserting rookies into the lineup earlier. Consider Cleveland, which started Colt McCoy as a rookie. When he was replaced after just two years, another rookie, Brandon Weeden, supplanted him.

Weeden struggled in his first year captaining the Browns' offense. Cleveland's front office has welcomed in quarterback prospects this offseason as insurance for Weeden in his second year. Among them, of course, is Scott.

Cleveland is not the destination conducive to a successful career for Scott - or any quarterback, apparently.

Part of Cleveland's problem is a fan base as tortured as it is passionate. That lends itself to impatience because audience anguish seems to find its way into organizations.

Scott's former UA teammate, Nick Foles, experienced a similar atmosphere firsthand in his rookie campaign.

Foles stepped in as starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles midway through last season, showing flashes of the same brilliance that made him the most effective passer in Wildcat history. He also struggled at times behind a porous offensive line.

Unsuccessful teams get coaches fired, and coaching changes beget upheaval. Foles is now in a peculiar situation, battling veteran Michael Vick for the No. 1 spot under the guidance of former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly also brought in former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon, while rumors of the coach eyeing yet another quarterback swirl. Foles looks like just another log in an increasingly crowded jam.

In contrast of Foles starting for a Philadelphia Eagles franchise in dire straits, Tim Tebow jumped in as Denver's starter during his second professional season. Despite his many deficiencies, Tebow reached the NFL playoffs. A quality team around him, which a savvy front office built, probably extended Tebow's professional career a few seasons more than if he was in Blaine Gabbert's position in Jacksonville.

Denver might be the ideal place for Scott.

The Broncos drafted Arizona State's Brock Osweiler last year. The selection of Scott would be a fun extension of the Duel in the Desert into the Rocky Mountains. Both would compete for second chair behind future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. What better tutor could a quarterback have for learning the nuances of the professional game?

Learning even a fraction of Manning's skill set could do Scott wonders, when combined with his proven ability to run. General managers are giving him a much longer look than similar players would have received even a half-decade ago.

This year, Scott's abilities are in particular demand, following the breakout performance of Colin Kaepernick. The former Nevada star led San Francisco to the Super Bowl after a season-and-a-half learning the NFL ropes.

His style is most similar to Scott. With Jim Harbaugh embracing the spread-option style, perhaps a reserve of similar skill to Kaepernick is a priority for the 49ers. Jumping into an organization a few plays shy of winning the Lombardi Trophy has to be more appealing than scrambling from blitzes on a sub-.500 team.

Kyle KensingKyle Kensing
GOAZCATS.com Staff Writer

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