by Grant PaulsenBy Grant Paulsen

Of the six quarterbacks in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden has improved his stock the most.

According to Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan, who’s coaching the South team at this week’s college showcase, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 219-pound passer has a strong enough arm to make “all the throws” he’ll have to in the NFL. A multi-sport star in high school, Weeden’s an above-average athlete who has the mobility to extend plays with his feet.

The Oklahoma-native completed 72 percent of his passes for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns for the Cowboys this season.

So he’s an elite, early-round prospect then, right? Maybe. You see, there’s a catch with Weeden.

The college senior is already 28 years-old, having spent five years playing professional baseball after high school before going back to college to re-ignite his football career as a quarterback.

“My body is extremely fresh, my arm is fresh,” Weeden said at a Senior Bowl media event. “All the negative stuff that could possibly be there, it’s not there. The one advantage I do have is maturity.”

Many scouts and team officials, however, do see Weeden’s age as a negative. The thought is that the older a prospect is, the less room there is for growth; if you are 28 you’re closer to being a finished product than somebody who is 23.

Weeden doesn’t endorse that way of thinking, though.

“I think my game translates very well to [the NFL] level,” he said confidently. “You look back at all the guys that have had success in the NFL. A lot of the guys didn’t start until they were in their late 20’s. If they won a Super Bowl it was usually in their mid 30’s, 36 or 37. There are a lot of guys that excelled late into their 30’s. My window’s obviously a little bit smaller but it’s not as small as other people are putting off.”

The smaller window Weeden alluded to hasn’t kept him from consistently out-performing the other five quarterbacks who made the trip to Mobile. But with so much negative attention surrounding his age and potentially so much draft positioning lost because of when he was born, it seems obvious that Weeden would regret choosing to play baseball.

But he doesn’t.

“The opportunity I had coming out of high school was just too good,” he said, looking back 10 years into his past. “When I was 18 and I signed a contract, I knew I wanted to come back and play college football if it didn’t work out. I had school paid for from the Yankees. Eighteen years old, getting drafted by your favorite team, get a chance to pitch in the big leagues, got a pretty nice little chunk of change for a [teenager]. I was going to give myself four or five years and if it didn’t work out, I was going to come do this.”

And that’s what Weeden did.

He threw just three passes as a freshman and then saw limited time as a sophomore, completing 15-of-24 attempts. But in his first season as Oklahoma State’s starter Weeden threw for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns. He followed that campaign up with a prolific 2011 season that may have garnered him legitimate Heisman Trophy contention if he were six years younger.

Weeden signed for a bonus of $565,000 as a second round pick by the New York Yankees back in 2002. He was ranked the organization’s 19th best prospect by Baseball America the following spring, ahead of players like Dioner Navarro and Marcus Thames, both who have gone on to have very successful careers.

As a high school senior he fanned 68 batters in 40 innings, recording 9 saves. Weeden was the first high school pitcher the Yankees drafted with their first selection since 1993.

Now Weeden’s hoping to be drafted again, and he’d probably be thrilled to hear his name called in a second round for the second time in 10 years.


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