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Path to the Draft: QBs


Texans signal-callers Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels combined for a franchise-record 3,925 passing yards and 24 touchdowns in 2007, giving Houston an enviable two-deep at the position.

The offseason signing of Quinn Gray, who beat two playoff teams as a replacement starter for Jacksonville last season, adds to the depth. But it by no means precludes the Texans from drafting a quarterback at the end of this month.

This year's draft features a consensus top quarterback prospect in Boston College's Matt Ryan, but there are several others in the class who could become quality starters in the league. Some of the prospects are the big names from the big-time schools, while others hail from the most surprising of places.

Top prospects:

1. Matt Ryan, Boston College (6-5, 224): Projected as the potential No.1 pick to the Miami Dolphins, Ryan looks like a safe bet to go in the top-10 overall.

Ryan has the size and intangibles that scouts love – he has been called a natural-born leader and seems to thrive in high-pressure situations. He showcased his intelligence in his senior season by throwing for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdown passes en route to ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors despite playing in a new offensive system.

Ryan does tend to force some throws and he misses the open receiver at times, as his 59.3 percent completion rate in 2007 indicates. Still, his across-the-board strengths both physically and mentally make him the top quarterback prospect in this draft.

2. Brian Brohm, Louisville (6-3, 227): Some analysts projected Brohm as the top overall pick a year ago had he left school early for the draft, but he opted to return to Louisville for his senior year and now looks like a mid-first to second-round selection.

In 2007, Brohm lost some luster as Louisville stumbled to a 6-6 record and failed to qualify for a bowl game. Nonetheless, he put up stellar numbers, going 308-of-473 (65.1 percent) for 4,024 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In three years as a starter, he became the Big East Conference's all-time leader in passing yardage with 10,775 yards. Brohm enjoyed a very accurate career, posting a 65.8 career completion percentage.

Brohm suffered through several injuries in college, most notably a torn ACL in 2005 that required reconstructive surgery. He did ease some of the concerns surrounding his health by remaining healthy throughout his senior season, but that still could be a question mark for teams looking at Brohm in the draft.

3. Chad Henne, Michigan (6-2, 225): A four-year starter at Michigan, Henne holds nearly every major Wolverine career passing record. In his senior season, he threw for 1,938 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine picks, completing 58.3 percent of his passes as he battled through an assortment of minor injuries.

Henne's stock seems to be on the upswing after a strong performance at both the Senior Bowl (which Ryan and Brohm opted not to attend) and NFL Scouting Combine. The big knock on Henne is his poor mobility and athleticism. Still, with his experience, toughness and natural abilities as a quarterback, he projects as a probable second-round pick.

4. Joe Flacco, Delaware (6-6, 236): Following his sophomore season, Flacco transferred from Pittsburgh to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly I-AA) school Delaware. He flourished there as a senior, throwing for 4,263 yards and 23 touchdowns with only five interceptions and completing 63.5 percent of his passes.

Given Flacco's ideal size and strong arm, the biggest question surrounding him is how his skills will fare against better competition. Flacco helped his draft stock by showing steady improvement during each day of practice against college football's best at the Senior Bowl.

Flacco also played mostly from the shotgun at Delaware, so doubts remain about his ability to play under center in the NFL. Nonetheless, this strong-armed steady riser should be drafted somewhere in the vicinity of the second round.

5. Josh Johnson, San Diego (6-3, 198): It's debatable whether Johnson belongs in the top five at his position in this draft, but he certainly ranks as one of the most intriguing and exciting quarterback prospects. Another FCS quarterback, Johnson's athleticism allowed him to absolutely dominate his level of competition with 113 career passing touchdowns to only 15 interceptions. As a senior, Johnson threw for an incredible 43 touchdowns to one interception, with a 68.4 completion percentage. He also finished his career as the NCAA's all-time leader in passing efficiency at 176.7.

Johnson has seen his stock soar in the postseason, beginning with his MVP performance at the East-West Shrine Game. He also wowed scouts with his athleticism at the Combine, boasting the best 40-yard dash time (4.55 seconds) and vertical jump (33.5") of any participating quarterback. He did struggle throwing the ball, but reports surfaced that Johnson was suffering from back spasms. A potential third-round pick, this pass-first quarterback with dangerous running ability will be one to watch on draft day.

Honorable mention: Andre Woodson, Kentucky (6-5, 224):Along with four years of experience in the SEC, Woodson has prototypical size, excellent arm strength and good accuracy. He also is a proven playmaker in the clutch, but there are questions about his release. He should land in the second or third round. John David Booty, USC (6-3, 213):Despite his less-than-ideal size and arm strength, Booty has five years at high-powered USC to his credit. That, along with his solid mechanics, high intelligence and understanding of the West Coast offense, should make him a third- or fourth-rounder.

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