ESPN's Gruden: 'It's a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football'
Apr 11, 2012 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
During a Wednesday teleconference with reporters, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden spoke highly of former Oklahoma State stars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
"If you don't like Justin Blackmon, you don't like football," said Gruden, who coached the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a victory Super Bowl victory.
Gruden used the teleconference to promote his ongoing ESPN series -- Gruden's QB Camp -- that focuses on 10 former college quarterbacks now preparing for the April 26-28 NFL draft. Gruden's classroom-and-practice field session with Weeden aired last weekend.
Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill are the highest-rated of the draft-eligible quarterbacks. The 28-year-old Weeden, who obliterated school passing records while leading the Cowboys to a two-season record of 23-3, is expected to be no worse than a second-round selection.
"I think the Oklahoma State Cowboys have the most unique offense in college football," Gruden said. "They do some wicked things to defenses with the no-huddle tempo (and) the way they use Justin Blackmon.
" ... If you counted the top 20 throws that Andrew Luck made, the top 20 throws that Robert Griffin made, the top 20 throws that Tannehill made ... you say Brandon Weeden makes the most difficult throws in college football. He's got a tremendous arm. Great anticipation."
"It's a pleasure watching Weeden throw the football," Gruden added. "The only downside of Weeden right now is his age. I think he's the same age I am -- 48 years old."
Gruden reminded teleconference participants that in OSU's last 14 games, Weeden prevailed in head-to-head match-ups with Luck (Fiesta Bowl), Griffin, Tannehill, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Arizona's Nick Foles (twice).
After describing Weeden as "a quarterback that's tough as hell," Gruden said, "I like Weeden, as you can tell. I would find something for him to do."
To describe Gruden as being impressed by Luck would be an understatement. Gruden seems to have been dazzled by the former Stanford QB, expected to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
"As much as people talk about his football IQ, I think it's still underestimated," Gruden said. "I've never met a guy like Andrew Luck at this stage of the game. I wish I could describe it -- his recognition of coverages, his retention, the way he studies the game. ... Unparalleled with anybody I can remember in the college level."
While quarterbacks were the primary conversation topic on Wednesday, Gruden spoke extensively about Blackmon. In only 29 college starts, Blackmon totaled 3,564 receiving yards, 252 catches and 40 touchdown catches. Expected to be the first receiver taken in the draft, Blackmon was a two-time unanimous All-American and a two-time Biletnikoff Award recipient.
A reporter asked whether Blackmon, because of his ability to escape would-be tacklers and get yards after the catch, might be ideally suited for a West Coast offense.
"I think he'd be perfect for an East Coast offense or a Midwest offense," Gruden replied. "If you don't like Justin Blackmon, you don't like football. ... The only thing is, I thought he was 6-6 (and) 240 pounds when I was watching him. He's not as big as I thought he was, and he didn't run the blinding time I thought he would."
At the NFL combine in February, Blackmon was measured at 6-foot and 207 pounds. At OSU, he had been listed at 6-1 and 215. During his Pro Day workout in Stillwater last month, his time in the 40-yard dash was 4.46 seconds.
"When you watch a film of Justin Blackmon, he's a difference-maker.
I expect that to continue at the next level," Gruden said. "He fits any offense, I think. I've seen him play in the slot. I've seen him play flanker and split end. He's smart, heady, experienced and he is clutch in clutch situations -- third down, red zone, two-minute, big games.
That's the best of Justin Blackmon."
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