Archive for Saturday, April 23, 2005

Woodling: Few QBs from KU drafted

April 23, 2005


Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers. Cal's Rodgers or Utah's Smith.

Nobody seems to know which of those two talented college quarterbacks will be the first to go in today's NFL Draft. Don't ask me. I didn't see either of them perform.

I have witnessed a bunch of Kansas University quarterbacks over the years and, with the Smith-Rodgers debate brewing, it occurred to me I couldn't remember the last time a Kansas QB had been selected in the NFL Draft.

Believe it or not, it's been almost 20 years.

Mike Norseth, the pilot of the vaunted "Air Gottfried" offensive attack of the mid-1980s, has that distinction. Norseth was selected in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

However, Norseth, who threw for more yards in a single game (480) and in a single season (2,995) than any quarterback in KU history, never tossed a single pass in an regular-season pro game. His career NFL stat line consists of a five-yard run while with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1988.

Then again, you can list the KU quarterbacks who have been tapped in the NFL Draft on the fingers and thumb of one hand -- John Hadl, Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes, Nolan Cromwell and Norseth.

In reality, though, the number is four because Cromwell, a Wishbone quarterback during his KU days, was drafted as a defensive back -- in the second round by the Rams in 1977 -- and never played a minute of quarterback during a 12-year pro career.

Hadl remains the only KU quarterback who ever has been a first-round draft choice even though, curiously, he never played for that team. Hadl was the first pick of the Detroit Lions in the 1962 draft, but those were the days of the AFL-NFL money wars and Hadl opted to sign with the AFL San Diego Chargers instead.

Hadl logged 17 pro football seasons with a handful of teams, and the Lawrence High product fashioned far and away the most successful pro career of any KU quarterback.

Douglass, a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1968, could throw a football through a wall of the Eldridge Hotel (although now a co-owner of the downtown Lawrence landmark, he isn't likely to try it), but the El Dorado native evolved into one of the best running quarterbacks in NFL history.

Douglass was the Michael Vick of his generation. In fact, he still holds the single-season rushing record for an NFL quarterback with the 968 yards he gained in 1972. Vick made a run at Douglass' record during the 2004 season, but fell 66 yards short. By the way, I'm not sure if it means anything, but Douglass and Vick are left-handed.

Jaynes, named an AP All-American after the Jayhawks' 1973 Liberty Bowl season, was the opposite of Douglass. The Bonner Springs product possessed a strong, accurate arm, but was a statue in the pocket. Then Jaynes hurt his arm -- he thinks it happened in practice before the Liberty Bowl -- and slipped to the third round of the '74 draft where the Chiefs took a chance on him.

Jaynes' ailing right arm never did come around. He threw only two passes in his NFL career. One was incomplete, the other intercepted.

Norseth, in retrospect, didn't really have a strong suit. He wasn't immobile, but he wasn't fast. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he wasn't small, but he wasn't as big as the pros like. And his arm, while good, wasn't NFL strength.

One other KU quarterback boasted enough attributes to be an NFL draft pick, but Frank Seurer, who tops KU's career passing chart, already had signed with a USFL team by the time the 1984 NFL Draft rolled around.

When the USFL went belly-up, Seurer joined Kansas City, but didn't last much longer with the Chiefs than Jaynes did.

No one is ever going to call Kansas a cradle of quarterbacks, but it sure seems like the Jayhawks are overdue for another QB draftee.

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