Jeff Rowe, QB
Numbers: 6051, 218 pounds, 4.85 - 4.90 forty-speed
2005 Stats: 241-389-2,925 (21 TDs, 10 INTs) passing, 119-244 (6 TDs) rushing, 2 tackles
The Player: Rowe stands out among college quarterbacks for one reason — he never seems to force the ball into coverage. Oh, he’ll make some tough throws and ignore his short and intermediate targets looking for the long-gainer, but you rarely ever see him put one up there that makes you think “oh, I’ll bet he wants that one back.” Rowe has a big-time arm and good accuracy, but that’s not really what makes him special. He reads coverages well and understands blitz packages like a defensive coordinator. Although he doesn’t exactly have a halfback’s running ability, he can buy time with his feet and, better yet, stand up in the face of the rush and deliver. He’s not a threat to take off on third down, but is hard to stop on short-yardage. Colts fans will appreciate how well he fakes on play-action.
How He Fits: Okay, Peyton Manning never misses a down and Jim Sorgi is a surprisingly good backup, but there is always an opening at the position. While I don’t see Manning being dislodged (although his base salary does rise from $1 million to $11.5 million in 2008), Sorgi could be replaced. Although he knows the offense, has proven that he can create yards and points and the coaches like him, his contract runs out after the 2006 season. The Colts simply aren’t likely to invest a lot of money in a backup quarterback as long as Manning’s on the team. Rowe definitely has NFL starting ability, but he could do much worse than to start his pro career as Manning’s backup. He could be his heir-apparent or could serve his apprenticeship in Indy before he signs on for a starting role somewhere else.
Who He Reminds Me Of: Matt Schaub, a third-round pick by the Falcons who’d be an effective NFL starter if he wasn’t stuck behind Michael Vick in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)