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Keith Price refusing to be overlooked
|COUNTDOWN TO THE NFL DRAFT|
What: 79th annual NFL Draft
When: May 8-10
Rounds: First round, Thursday, May 8, starting at 5 p.m.; second and third rounds, Friday, May 9, starting at 4 p.m.; final four rounds, Saturday, May 10, starting at 9 a.m.
Seahawks picks (6): No. 32 overall in the first round; No. 64 overall in the second round; no third-round pick, traded to Vikings last year in the deal to acquire wide receiver Percy Harvin; No. 132 overall in the fourth round; No. 146 overall in the fifth round, from the Raiders in last year’s trade of quarterback Matt Flynn; No. 172 in the fifth round; No. 208 overall in the sixth round; no pick in the seventh round, traded the 247th selection overall to the Raiders for quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Seahawks.com draft series: Today, the quarterbacks
Note: The opinions and analysis in this article and accompanying chart are those of the author and others credited, and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department.
Keith Price thought his numbers spoke for him.
The University of Washington quarterback had a senior season that included passing for 2,966 yards, completing 66 percent of his passes and throwing for 21 touchdown and just six interceptions.
But when the invitations were made to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, this Price wasn’t right. There were 20 quarterbacks going through their paces for the assembled coaches and scouts in Indianapolis, but no Keith Price.
|BEST OF THE BUNCH|
Rankings (position/overall) and projections by Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
The word: Will the best quarterback in this draft class please stand up, and remain standing until at least May 8? Dramamine has been needed to follow the up-and-down/down-and-up activity at this pivotal, but also volatile, position. One week, Manziel is the projection for the top selection overall by the Houston Texans, the next week he’s deemed not even worth a first-round pick. Then it’s Bortles at No. 1 to the Texans, only to have him fall from the first round of many mock drafts. As Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians put it, “I don't know how many of them have a ‘wow’ factor, but there are some really, really good ones, guys that are going to play in the league for a long time. I don't see an Andrew Luck, a Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning, but I do see some guys that are very capable of playing.” Luck and Manning were the top picks overall in their draft classes – Luck in 2012 and Manning in 1997, both by the Indianapolis Colts. Roethlisberger was the 11th pick overall in 2004 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL.com analyst Charles Davis was less diplomatic in offering, “The quarterbacks are a lot of wild cards right now, we’re not quite sure where they’re going to go off the board because of the rankings.” So the questions with this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks remain: Who, and when. The teams making those decisions just have to hope it doesn’t end up being a why selection.
What about? Keith Price. The numbers Price put up at the University of Washington don’t match the numbers that are being put on him as a draft prospect. Rang rates him as the 23rd best QB and No. 432 player overall. The reasons given for why this Price isn’t right range from his lack of prototypical size (6-1, 196) to his lack of an NFL-caliber arm. To his credit, rather than listening Price is reacting. After not being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Price is working out wherever and whenever asked – first at the UW Pro Day and then last week when the Seahawks had local prospects in for a visit. “My motto is, all I need is a foot in the door and I’ll take care of the rest,” he said.
Don’t forget about: Carr. To start with, the dude has nice genes. His older brother is David Carr, who also played at Fresno State and was the No. 1 pick overall by the Texans in 2002. But that could be a minus rather than a plus when you consider that David Carr rarely performed like the top pick in the draft during 11 seasons with four NFL teams. But Derek definitely delivered at Fresno State, leading the nation in passing yards (5,083) and touchdown passes (50) last season. The younger Carr also impressed scouts with his efforts at the Senior Bowl and at his Pro Day.
Seahawks situation: That selection of Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft just keeps looking better and better. All he’s done in two seasons as the starter is compile a 24-8 record in the regular season and a 4-1 record in the postseason – capped by the 43-8 romp over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. The decision to re-sign veteran backup Tarvaris Jackson – twice – also looks Astute. Yes, with a capital A. The Seahawks brought him back last year after he was released by the Buffalo Bills. They re-signed him this offseason, as well. With young prospects Terrelle Pryor and B.J. Daniels also on the roster, the Seahawks don’t find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to guess right on a passer in this year’s QB class.
“In January, I was preparing for the Combine,” Price said after his Pro Day workout at Dempsey Indoor on April 2. “I thought there was no doubt in my mind that I was going. I was in Carlsbad (Calif.), training with (Central Florida QB) Blake Bortles and guys like that. All those guys are getting ready to go to the Combine and I’m the only one stuck at the facility.
“So I was a bit (perturbed) about it, but there was nothing I could do.”
Asked about the Combine situation, Sean Howard, Price’s agent, offered, “It was unfortunate. And a lot of people I talked to at the Combine, quarterback coaches, asked me, ‘Hey, where’s Keith?’ So it was a snub. It truly was a snub. You spend four years at a major university in the Pac-12 Conference and have productivity like he did you would think that that’s enough to get you over the top. But it is what it is, and Keith has dealt with adversity before.”
This time, Price has been left to traverse the path less traveled when it comes to continuing his career at the next level – the highest level. That’s why his Pro Day workout was so important, as were any visits he made to teams leading up to the May 8-10 NFL Draft – including his efforts for the Seahawks when they had local prospects in last week.
“There’s been a lot of anticipation leading up to this day,” Howard said of Price’s Pro Day. “And he went out and I think Keith showed the NFL people that were here that he belonged at the Combine, but more importantly belongs in the NFL.”
And how did Price’s Pro Day go? “I thought it was a very impressive workout,” said Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. “I thought he entered today as a dark-horse candidate to get drafted. Unfortunately, he’s going up against a really talented quarterback class, but I think he guaranteed he’ll get a shot – if not drafted, as an undrafted free agent. And I think he has enough arm talent and leadership characteristics to surprise people in the NFL.”
Price lacks prototypical size (6 feet 1, 202 pounds) and his arm strength also has been questioned. But he’s taller that Russell Wilson, the 5-11 QB who led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship in his second season. As for his arm, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after Price’s Pro Day workout, “He threw the ball 65 (yards) – that’s far enough.”
Getting to the NFL, and excelling in the NFL, can be done despite not being at the Combine. Matt Hasselbeck, who holds most of the Seahawks’ franchise passing records, was not invited to the Combine coming out of Boston College in 1998. Tom Brady was invited to the Combine in 2000, but he ran the slowest time in the 40-yard dash by a quarterback (5.28 seconds) in the history of the event. Now, the New England Patriots’ passer has three Super Bowl championships and two league MVP awards on his resume. Each passer was selected in the sixth round, and each still is around.
Price just wants a similar opportunity to prove people wrong.
“What I’m going through has been stressful, but I’m glad I’m going through it,” said Price, who was wearing his outlook with “DON’T DOUBT ME” in large white letters on his black baseball hat.
And this isn’t the first time he has been through something like this.
“Ever since I can image, even when I was a kid, I was always having to prove myself,” said Price, who played at St. John Bosco High School in Southern California before attending Washington. “In high school, we had Matt Barkley (at rival Mater Dei High) and he took all the shine. I didn’t really get any publicity, and I don’t do it for publicity. I do it because I love the game.
“And when I came (to the University of Washington), they had Nick Montana jerseys being sold before he even stepped foot on campus. I had to prove myself again.”
And prove himself Price did. He passed for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2011 and added 2,728 yards and 19 TDs in 2012 before his impressive senior season.
“Now, despite all my production here, I don’t get invited to the Combine,” Price said. “I have to prove myself all over again.”
One pass at a time.