The Great Debate (Piper)

New Orleans should just give this super-athletic quarterback thing one last try.

Vince Young carries eight more pounds than Matt Leinart on his 6-foot-5 frame, and he’s seven days younger, too.

But that’s obviously not what separates the dazzling Longhorn dynamo from the sublime Trojan field general. Vince Young’s incredible rushing abilities give him a clear edge in “upside” over Leinart, even if Leinart becomes the left-handed Tom Brady everyone expects him to be. And there should be no question about this.

Sure, the silky smooth Leinart passed for 789 more yards than Young (3,815-3,036), but Young also ran for 1,014 more yards than Mr. GQ. Granted, USC may not have required the same production from the quarterback position, but there’s no denying that Young has more abilities. Unless, of course, you think Leinart has been coy about revealing his 4.3 speed.

And it’s also not as though Vince was any less reliable in the pocket. His passing efficiency rating of 163.95 led the nation while he was only sacked 13 times all season-uncanny for a quarterback who scrambles as frequently as Young.

So why is Leinart projected as the No. 2 pick by most draft analysts? Because draft analysts are failures in all other aspects of life; they wouldn’t have become draft analysts otherwise.

Haha.

No, seriously. And in Young’s case, they just can’t get the image of Michael Vick out of their puny little heads.

Vick, who for all intents and purposes appears to be back-pedaling in Jim Mora’s West-Coast offense, came out of college featuring the same attributes as Young.

Like Young, Vick was faster than just about every defensive back he ever faced. Like Young, Vick had a quirky throwing motion that can only be described as a “fling” (since both are so strong that they can’t throw a 15-yard slant route without adding an absurd amount of lateral rotation on the ball). It’s easy to see how the comparison could be drawn. But it’s a lazy comparison.

Vick only passed for 38 more yards in his two-year career at Virginia Tech than Young did in 2005 alone, while Vick’s combined rushing total of 1,185 yards pales in comparison to Young’s remarkable 3,127 yards in three campaigns for the Longhorns. This might be a little tough to swallow, but Young is probably an even better scrambler than the Falcon icon.

Add to that the fact that Young is one of the more intelligent young quarterbacks to emerge from the collegiate ranks in years, and I don’t see how NFL people aren’t more excited about his intriguing talent. To some degree, he’s already everything analysts once thought Vick COULD be.

As for Leinart, I’m not knocking his on-field intelligence, but how smart is it to turn down $10 million for a semester of ballroom dancing at Southern Cal? Kidding aside, there’s something to be said for the contrast between Leinart’s nonchalance and Young’s drama-queenish persona.

Young seems to relish the thought of proving his skills at the next level, whereas Leinart appears tepid about making the leap into the real world.

Why shouldn’t he be? If he could play another year at USC, he probably would. Matt Leinart is a contented man. Vince Young has something left to prove, and unless New Orleans is somehow complacent, it should go with the upside.

God knows it needs some upside.

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