[You can find the longer, meatier version of this column over at The Phish Tank. I recommend you bang on the link and read that version, so you can understand the numbers and points better. Or you can proceed on the lazy-ass route by taking my word for it, and reading this version. Either way works for me. –the Dude]
John Beck’s overall numbers during the pre-season have been impressive. And while he’s had a few bumps in the road, as any rookie would, he’s shown flashes of brilliance with his accuracy and quick release. Saturday night, Beck was able to log in a full half of play – the most PT he’s had this pre-season – going 11 for 22, with 162 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Among the highlights was Beck’s ability to move the offense with the adeptness of a veteran QB. On one play during his first drive, Beck was able to complete a 20 yard pass to running back Lorenzo Booker by looking off a Buccaneers safety and throwing the pass in the opposite direction. Three plays later, Beck squeezed a pass into triple coverage for a touchdown to receiver PK Sam. The pass was placed right in Sam’s wheelhouse as three Tampa Bay defenders tried to deflect the football. Sam then turned and ran for a 51 yard touchdown. The highlight for Beck, however, came on a beautifully thrown 31 yard touchdown pass to receiver Derek Hagan. One of Beck’s knocks coming out of BYU has been his struggles with throwing an accurate deep ball with consistency. But the 31 yarder to Hagan was a nearly perfect pass thrown in stride where only the receiver could make the catch, right into the corner of the endzone. All in all, it was a solid effort and one that has to encourage the most ardent of skeptics on how good Beck will perform as the Dolphins future franchise quarterback.
So what does this mean? It means Beck is going to be a very good quarterback for us. While he’s not a sure-fire, can’t-miss prospect, (no second-round quarterback ever is. Otherwise they wouldn’t be second-rounders), what we’ve seen this pre-season, coupled with his career at BYU, we can conclude that he’s well on his way to success.
First off are his obvious strengths. Beck throws a very accurate ball, especially on medium passes. He has tremendous pocket awareness. He’s very intelligent and carries himself with a maturity one doesn’t often see in a rookie quarterback. Secondly, are his intangibles. Beck seems to have earned his teammates' respect and he carries himself with a confidence that inspires good play from others. PK Sam has been virtually invisible throughout the pre-season and training camp. Put him in the lineup with Beck, and he’s catching 51 yard touchdowns. The great quarterbacks make their teammates better. Intangibles.
Then there are the numbers. Beck started 38 games and had a 62.4 completion percentage at BYU. What does that mean? Let’s take a look at other up-and-coming quarterbacks. Eli Manning’s college numbers: 60.8% with 37 games started. Phillip Rivers: 63.5% with 51 games started. Ben Roethlisberger: 65.5%, 38; Jay Cutler: 57.2%, 45; Matt Leinart: 64.8%, 39.
Each of these QBs is considered the future crop of elite quarterbacks of the NFL. Compare their numbers entering the league to Beck's.
A quick glance at the other quarterbacks selected before Beck in this year’s draft: JaMarcus Russell: 61.8%, 29; Brady Quinn: 58%, 46; Kevin Kolb: 61.6%, 50.
What do these numbers tell us?
In a nutshell, they say that Beck has a real chance at ending up as the third or even second best quarterback in this class. Beck and Quinn’s numbers are very similar while Russell’s numbers suggest he has a real chance of missing his lofty expectations. Kevin Kolb’s numbers, who I had ranked as the best QB coming into the draft, tell us he has a shot at being the best QB in this class. Beck? He’ll challenge Quinn for the number two spot, regardless of who emerges as the No. 1 QB of 2007.
So far, Beck seems to be overcoming his biggest knocks coming into the league. His long ball accuracy is getting better with experience, and you can be sure Cam Cameron will build a system around Beck’s strengths. In the end, the only short-coming that remains is Beck’s age. At 26 he enters the league as the oldest rookie. Which means he won’t be the opening day starter until he’s at least 27. In other words, Beck’s window for development is slightly smaller than his fellow draft picks. But in the end, that shouldn’t be a problem. In the end, Beck will be a very good quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
We’ve already begun to see it during this pre-season. John Beck is the future and the future is bright indeed.