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Spread offense QB's in the NFL

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Thinking about Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert getting drafted by the Panthers - and how QB's college success in a spread offense can lead to some struggles learning an NFL offense. Both top QB prospects in the 2011 draft come from spread offenses.

Was reading an article published in the Denver Post about our old friend John Fox's new team the Broncos having The Golden Calf of Bristol, a QB from a spread offense, and the QB prospects in this draft. John Elway had an insightful remark about QB's that come from this system:

The spread is an optionlike passing offense run out of a no-huddle system. Plays are signaled in to the quarterback.

"When you're watching," Elway said, "and all the sudden you see 11 guys look at the sidelines because they're calling the audibles from the sidelines? Anytime you see that, you know it's going to be an adjustment going to the NFL because the coach is not going to be able to call the audibles from the sidelines."

When running the spread, the quarterback settles into the shotgun position with one running back lined up a tad to the left or right, a step closer to the line of scrimmage. At least two or three receivers are split out wide, with another receiver in the slot.

After catching the center's snap, the quarterback almost always fakes the inside handoff to the running back if he doesn't hand off. If the quarterback keeps the ball, he either runs with it or throws a high-percentage pass to one of his receivers.

The spread allows athletic quarterbacks such as The Golden Calf of Bristol and Newton to use their running skills to great advantage. The statistics, and points, a college quarterback can put up running the spread are staggering.

"The downside is there's not as much a run threat as an NFL offense," Fox said. "I'm not going to argue what offense is better because they've had a lot of success in college. But the reality is, in the NFL the game is played primarily under center."

Not that the spread is poor training for all quarterback prospects. The Golden Calf of Bristol defends the spread, saying there are aspects of it that helped him make the adjustment to the NFL.

"In the spread offense, there's a lot of responsibility placed on the quarterback," he said Monday. "That helps you when you get to the NFL. No matter what system you played in at college, it's your responsibility to know your offense and be accountable for the other 10 guys on the field."

And as spread offense QB's primarily play out of the shotgun, learning to take snaps can be a challenge for a QB coming from the spread.

"They have to learn how to play from under center," Broncos coach John Fox said at the NFL scouting combine. "It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's a big deal."

"It affects all the mechanics," Fox said. "There's mechanics in getting away from under center, the footwork, the timing, the depth. In the shotgun, all that stuff is done."

As we learned last year with Jimmy Clausen, having a pro-style offense in college doesn't translate to immediate NFL success either, so it might not just be which offensive style a QB draft prospect comes from. But it's something to take into account, especially on QB's with as big of question marks as Cam Newton.

You might ask, who are some successful QB's in the NFL that came from a spread offense in college? Right off the top of my head, some guys like Drew Brees and Kyle Orton at Purdue, Sam Bradford at Oklahoma, and to a lesser extent, Colt McCoy @ Texas and Kevin Kolb @ Houston (I'm sure there are a few more).

But if I were the Panthers, I'd take a hard look at Alex Smith, who played in the in Urban Meyer's spread offense at Utah (the same spread offense that developed The Golden Calf of Bristol and for a short time Cam Newton). The 49ers drafted Smith #1 overall, in the same draft that had Aaron Rodgers, who came from a pro style offense. Smith is widely considered a draft bust considering where he was taken.

A lot of what makes a QB successful in the NFL is the situation he's brought into...and that's what the Panthers need to consider when drafting a guy like Newton or Gabbert. Does Mike Shula or Rob Chudzinski have experience mentoring QB's from a spread offense? Could they take a risk drafting a guy that might take seasons to develop, especially when there is no guarantee there will be a season next year?

I'd be wary of drafting a QB in this draft.

Read more: Spread-offense QBs: great in college, not so much in NFL - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_17506785#ixzz1JX7y47Gq

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to me, taking snaps from under center is a transition, sure, but it's more about the reads (both pre and post snap) that a player has to make to be successful in college versus the NFL.

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Don't we already have our own Alex Smith in Jimmy Clausen?

Ouch thats a low blow......to Smith.

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Well there are different kinds of spreads... Sam Bradford had all sorts of amazing talent around him. His OL was unstoppable and allowed him to make progressions all day. He also lined up under center a bit. I don't know about Smith, Orton, etc though.

Newton's line isn't full of NFL talent and his offense was a run-heavy spread. Dennis Dixon was the same way and while he isn't a starter he was mildly effective when he got his shots in Pittsburgh. Obviously Newton is a much better prospect than Dixon but it's just an example.

I think it really all just depends on coaching and the QB's ability of learning a new playbook along with having the drive to succeed.

Dunno if Derek Anderson or David Garrard ran the spread (two guys that Chud and Shula have coached).

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I like Smith too...most people on here don't bc they listen to ESPN and the media but honestly I feel like he would do well. He had a really good season under norv turner and I'm sure chud will have some of the same nuances as turner, which could lead to alex being successful.

Then again...I'm fine with moore too. I don't think his play last year was indicative of his talent. He was pressing to much bc of Clausen...it was obvious in the first game when he tried to force plays. When Moore plays loose like at the end of 09 he is much better.

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