The Forgotten Prospect: Pat Devlin

Since I started writing for this site, it has been pretty much a nonstop debate about which quarterback the Miami Dolphins should take in the upcoming NFL draft. I’ve read stories on pretty much every quarterback out there, even ones that are completely unrealistic for the Dolphins to take (i.e. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert). I’ve read articles on everyone, ranging from Colin Kaepernick, to Jake Locker, to Ryan Mallett, to Christian Ponder.

Pat Devlin: The Forgotten QB

However, the one quarterback who I’ve heard virtually nothing about is Delaware QB Pat Devlin. My question is really quite simple. Would Pat Devlin be a good fit for the Dolphins?

Many experts are quick to throw out the Joe Flacco comparison. No. Stop. Just because two players came from the same school certainly does not mean they are same player. Flacco was far more polished coming out of school and Devlin is going to need a little work before he is ready to start. Any person I hear using that comparison, I will lose complete and utter respect for. Moving on.

Let’s first look at the good. Seems like a lot of people only want to look at his Delaware years, which is fine, but not the whole story. Remember, Devlin spent two years learning against top competition at Penn State. He didn’t have a lot of time there, but did manage four starts in his sophomore year, throwing for 4 TD’s, no INT’s and 459 yards.

Looking for more playing time, he transfered to Delaware and became an instant starter and an instant star. He had accuracy problems as a junior, throwing 9 interceptions, but came back in 2010, throwing for over 3,000 yards, 22 TD’s and the best part, only 3 picks. He lead the Blue Hens to FCS National Championship as well and won the Walter Peyton award as the FCS Best Player. Look, I don’t care about his competition. I look at results, and Devlin has results.

The Dolphins are looking for an accurate quarterback with a good arm. In 2010, Devlin had a completion percentage of 68.0%. By comparison, Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Kaepernick and Mallett all had lower numbers. The only incoming rookie to be at 68% is Christian Ponder, yet Devlin has a stronger arm and a faster delivery. If you’d like to dive even further into comparisons, Peyton Manning has had only had one season where his completion percentage was over 68%. (No, I’m not saying Devlin will be next Manning, so relax.) If the Dolphins are looking for the anti-Henne, you can’t go wrong with this kid. He doesn’t miss his receivers, and has the ability to throw the long bomb with great accuracy.

Delvin has the size and strength you look for out of an NFL quarterback. He is 6’4, 220 lbs. He has great mechanics and gets rid of the ball quickly. He has good footwork and solid presence in the pocket. An added bonus is his legs. While certainly not Newton or Michael Vick, he has the Ben Roethlisberger type-mobility to get out of the pocket and use his legs to make plays when necessary. He ran for seven TD’s during his collegiate career.

There are some negatives with him, as you’d expect with any prospect not projected to go in the first round. He is wildly inconsistent. He has a tendacy to give up on plays too soon and checks down to underneath receivers. He is not coming from a pro-style offense and will gamble on balls he should throw away. He obviously wouldn’t be able to come in right away and start, but I don’t think that is what the Dolphins need. Honestly, I don’t believe there is a quarterback in this draft who is going to start right away and be able to succeed. Henne needs some serious competition to motivate him to give his very best. Devlin will bring that. Devlin will also bring high character, something a lot of top prospects seem to lack.

I love the way Devlin plays. I’ve seen some tape of him. He is smart in the pocket and is able to shuffle to buy time. He has a great throwing motion, and a fast one. My concern with him going to the Dolphins is that I’m not sure any quarterback can succeed there right now. As Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole put so eloquently in his “Ten best/worst games of 2011“:

The Dolphins might be the most boring team in the NFL with an offensive philosophy straight out of 1985. At a time when the rest of the NFL understands that you have to throw the ball, the Dolphins and coach Tony Sparano want to play little ball. Shockingly, the Dolphins have failed to develop quarterback Chad Henne, neglecting him so badly that he is nearly a lost cause at this point.

Harsh, but sort of true. I’m concerned that that staff can’t develop anybody right now, which is why drafting any quarterback is a gamble.

That aside, Devlin really is an interesting prospect. Because of his coming from an FCS school, you aren’t quite sure what you are getting out of him. However, his upside is as high as any quarterback in this draft. Because of the fact that you can’t find any true flaw in his game or in him as a person, he has flown under the radar as the draft approaches. I’m sure he likes it that way. I hope the Dolphins aren’t letting him fly under the radar though, because he’ll more than likely be on the board for their third round pick. If they can’t trade back and pick up a second rounder, and if they don’t want to reach on a first rounder like Ponder or Mallett, Devlin could very well be their guy.

I know we’re all obsessed with taking a quarterback in the first round, but the Dolphins have other needs they have to consider in that spot as well. Who is your favorite mid-to-late round quarterback prospect?

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft Blaine Gabbert Cam Newton Christian Ponder Colin Kaepernick Delaware Jake Locker Miami Dolphins Pat Devlin Penn State Quarterback Ryan Mallett

  • Ian

    I like Tyrod Taylor only because he’ll go in the late 6-7 rounds and has potential to be a wide receiver / kick returner with his amazing speed.

  • onole1

    Nice read Michael. Delvin has had a poor off-season. There was already questions about him during the season and he didn’t do anything special in his workouts. As a matter of fact he actually did poorly in most of them.

    Beeing the Ponder pimp I am…LOL I agrue tooth and nail with you about quick release and arm strength of Ponder over Delvin. :) Don’t get me wrong, I’d be ok with Delvin, but no sooner than round 4, and if I am going to wait until then I’d rather have Yates or McElroy.

  • MassanuttenRef

    Nice read. But, I think you should give full disclosure that Ponder had 68.1% completion percentage in his junior year — this is also when he had 14 TDs and 7 INTs. Ponder’s senior year he only had a 61.5% completion percentage.

    Devlin was only 6’3″ and weighed 225 lbs at the Combine. I don’t believe he has “good” quickness. His time in the 40 was fair at 4.86 and more importantly his 3 cone time was over 7 seconds — not great. These times are comparable to McElroy who had a very high 9.6% sacks/attempt percentage in the SEC. I think Devlin will have trouble dodging sacks against big time pass rushers not found in the FCS — which is, by the way, a problem which Joe Flacco has once he came to the NFL.

    I think Devlin might be a good pick up in the fourth or fifth round — not the third. However, McElroy may be a better choice. His senior year completion percentage was 70.9%, threw for roughly 3,000 yards, and had 20 TDs and 5 INTs. He played in the SEC. And, I think his propensity to get sacked can be corrected by just getting him to throw the ball away — Tony will ensure he learns that. McElroy will also be available in the fourth or fifth round.

    • Michael Rosenbloom

      I can’t tell if that was supposed to be an endorsement for Ponder, but Devlin had 22 TD’s vs. 3 INT’s his senior season, where he was the 68.0% completion percentage.

      It really depends on where you go to look. Some have him at 6’3, some have him at 6’4. I apologize. Looking at the 40 time of a quarterback who isn’t known for speed can be seriously misleading. When is Devlin (or any quarterback not named Vick) going to be asked to run 40 yards at his fastest speed? You may be right about the 3 cone time, but I was going exclusively off of what I saw on tape. Again, you can say it was against FCS competition and he’ll be screwed at the next level, and maybe you are right, but I was going off of the evidence I have and he played fast enough and avoided the rush enough for me to label him good speed.

      Sorry, I wholeheartedly disagree about McElroy. The difference between the SEC and FCS is gigantic, but the difference between the talent McElroy had around him and the talent Devlin had around him is just as enormous. It’s not as difficult when opposing defenses have to bring an extra guy up to stop Mark Ingram and they have to focus two or more people on Julio Jones. Devlin WAS the Blue Hens, he had to be gameplanned for. He did the same (possibly even more, pending on who you talk to) with far less around him.

      Only reason I said third round for Devlin is because of how many teams need QB’s in this draft. Hell, we’ve been talking about taking Ponder, Kaepernick, Mallett and Locker with the 15th pick, and every one would be a stretch at that spot. Unless we wait until round five, whoever we get will more than likely be early, and I don’t see McElroy being the long-term answer for this team.

  • Robert Jason

    While I may somewhat agree with J Cole regarding Sparano and our neanderthal-like offensive strategy, he’s a Fin hater, and was even when he wrote for the Herald. His summer blog (musical in theme) was often more entertaining, and informative.
    We could draft Gabbert and he’d find something negative.

  • andy

    A couple of you really hit it dead on with Devlin. I am absolutely shocked that Devlin was not drafted!!!!

    I watched him play at U of D and the story behind the story is that the U of D receivers were horrible and yet Devlin managed only 3 INT’s in I think 16 games. All 3 were in road games and one was in the Championship game in TX. Devlin’s completion percentage would have been well into the 70′s, but there were so many perfectly thrown dropped passes. He was a winner and could lead a team downfield quickly and efficiently. If I was forced to compare him with someone I would have to go with Brees or Pennigton. Prescision is what we watched at U of D and he throws an awesome timing/touch pass.