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Just The Sports: NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Dan LeFevour

Just The Sports

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Dan LeFevour

As more and more college football teams adopt spread, gimmicky offenses, which artificially inflate a quarterback's passing numbers, there will be many more Dan LeFevours to come through the pipeline. For all of his many records and decorations during a storied college football career, nothing that he did for the Central Michigan Chippewas will prepare him for a successful life in the NFL. Instead, more than likely, over the next several college football seasons, his numbers will be more run of the mill than many people probably believe.

There are two aspects of Dan LeFevour's career that give me pause and warn me that LeFevour may just be a product of the offenses in which he has played. Although he has been a very good quarterback in the offenses he has run, LeFevour is not a quarterback any NFL teams should trust to play for them professionally in a starting capacity.

The first aspect that is a flashing neon sign of warning about LeFevour is taking into consideration for whom he has played. His first offensive coordinator during his redshirt freshman season at Central Michigan was Jeff Quinn. For those who have never heard of Jeff Quinn, he has been Brian Kelly's (current coach at Notre Dame) long-time offensive coordinator. While everyone has praised Kelly for his team's offensive exploits, it is really Quinn who has spearheaded those efforts, developing a high-octane no-huddle spread offense that is very quarterback-friendly. Most quarterbacks in his offense will have a pretty good completion percentage and LeFevour was no exception; LeFevour completed 63.8% of his passes for 7.9 yards per pass attempt. In other words, he performed as one would expect in such an offense.

LeFevour's offensive coordinator for the next three seasons was Mike Bajakian, who is now the current offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bearcats. He also ran a no-huddle spread offense, which focused on shorter, more easily completed pass attempts, which certainly helped LeFevour in his completion percentage. This was easy to tell because LeFevour's yards per pass attempt were never that impressive in his three years under Bajakian. Over the course of three seasons, it was only 7.2 yards per pass attempt and 10.7 yards per reception, indicating LeFevour rarely threw the ball downfield. In the NFL, at least the threat of a deep pass is needed to keep the defenses honest. A further example of how the offense made LeFevour and not the other way around, when he was injured for two starts in 2008, LeFevour's back-up, Brian Brunner completed 69.7% of his passes with 10.3 yards per pass attempt. Brunner's performance indicates how interchangeable Bajakian's offense makes the quarterback position.

There is little doubt in my mind that Mike Bajakian will turn Cincinnati's Zach Collaros into the next college quarterback star. Like LeFevour, Collaros played under Jeff Quinn and has all the tools to perform more than admirably under Mike Bajakian. When that happens, a little of the luster of LeFevour's career will certainly be taken off.

The second aspect of LeFevour's college career that would scare me off as an NFL franchise is how poorly he performed against the BCS conferences. Over four years as a starter, LeFevour played in twelves games against BCS conference foes where he either attempted the most passes for Central Michigan or threw for the most yards for the Chippewas; during that same time frame under those conditions, he played in thirty-nine games against non-BCS conference opponents. When he was playing against BCS conference opponents, LeFevour only completed 57.7% of his passes and 6.2 yards per pass attempt. Those numbers are significantly worse than when he was passing against non-BCS teams and completed 69.5% of his passes and 7.7 yards per pass attempt. For a team like Central Michigan that does not have all the benefits of a BCS conference team, one would expect a little regression, but LeFevour's mighty struggles against those teams further demonstrate he is not an elite quarterback.

Although Lefevour completed 66.3% of his passes over his career at Central Michigan, there is nothing about his quarterbacking resume that says to me he will be a good NFL quarterback. More than anything I am left uninspired by his statistics. Most quarterbacks in such an offense would put up equally good numbers, meaning LeFevour is not the special quarterback some are hyping him up to be. NFL teams should take a pass on Dan LeFevour.



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