INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Ricky Stanzi compared the whirlwind of NFL interviews he blew through Thursday night to a scene in the movie “40-Year-Old Virgin.”
“Last night really was almost like speed dating,” the former Iowa quarterback said at the NFL combine on Friday. “It was just a bunch of tables. They ring the horn and you’re running around talking.
“It reminded me of the ’40-Year-Old Virgin,’ when they do that. That’s what I was thinking of, trying not to laugh.”
It’s good to see professional football hasn’t taken the mirth out of Stanzi, who measured an NFL-official 6-foot-4, 223 pounds.
Stanzi could’ve been standoffish. He was one of the few quarterbacks who wasn’t offered a spot on one of the A, B or C podiums in Lucas Oil Stadium. He was quickly ushered to a table.
But never mind that position. After five years in Iowa’s pro-style offense, Stanzi is positioned well the the draft in April. He won’t have any spread offense to wash out of his new crewcut as he takes his first steps in the league.
Auburn’s Cam Newton, maybe the draft’s most interesting prospect at this point, is a spread QB. Washington’s Jake Locker and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert run offenses that had elements of a spread. Nevada’s Colin Kapernick is a total product of the spread.
Gabbert, who won’t throw for scouts at the combine, spent part of his time on podium B explaining why that doesn’t matter.
“I’m going to make every throw,” he said of his plans for Missouri’s March 17 pro day. “There’s no throw I’m going to shy away from.”
During much of the week, NFL coaches and general managers explained why it does matter.
“There are so many spread offenses out there and so many variables of the spread offense in college, you really have to do your homework at that position,” Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said.
Most draft analysts agree there isn’t a consensus No. 1 QB. Teams with top-10 picks are going to be very careful with their evaluations.
“It’s a different quarterback group,” said Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey, whose team has the No. 3 pick. ”These guys have been in a lot of different types of offenses. It’s not just your cut-and-dry, pro-style type of quarterbacks that are in this draft. So, you’re projecting a little bit more maybe than we have in years past with this group.”
Stanzi is a cut-and-dry, pro-style type of quarterback. He’s also coming off a career season for the Hawkeyes, completing 64 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He passed for 3,004 yards, just the fourth Iowa QB to hit that mark and first since Chuck Hartlieb passed for 3,738 in 1988.
“Coach [Kirk] Ferentz has a background in the NFL, so that’s the kind of offense we ran,” Stanzi said. “We’re under center a lot. It’s a lot of two-back sets. We run a lot of tight ends. We do a lot of traditional pro-style stuff in our offense at Iowa.
“So, all that definitely gets you more familiar than a spread quarterback would be or someone who hasn’t had that. Does it it mean you’re better at it? No, it just means you’ve had some more experience.
“I do feel comfortable talking football with people because of what I had to learn at Iowa. How much respsonsibility we have on checks. Those types of things help with interviews, because it’s easy to talk football when you feel very comfortable with it.”
With college football being swallowed more and more every year by spread and variations thereof, NFL personnel people have developed a philosophy toward figuring out a spread QB.
“When you look at the spread (offense), you have to separate when we’re doing in our scheme versus what the player is doing from a physical standpoint,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said. ”There are certain points in a particular pass play in college football where it’s the same. The quarterback may come from a shotgun or under center, but once he gets to his depth and is reading the defense and has to get rid of the ball, it’s really just a quarterback play.”
The pro-style knowledge is a foot in the door, but it’s not everything. Stanzi has done his physical training in Iowa City, but he’s also spent time with Tom Martinez, a QB mechanics guru whose star pupil is Tom Brady.
Items on the agenda included the science of the throwing motion, footwork and building a strong base. He will throw for scouts this weekend (the only exercise he’s not doing is the bench press) and March 21 for Iowa’s pro day.
“I’m working on release and accuracy and that starts with the feet up,” said Stanzi, whose agent is Jack Bechta. “When you’re trying to be accurate, you need a good base. I’ve been working on not being as ‘tall,’ to where you have to drop down to throw.”
Stanzi, who was followed Friday by cameras from Minnesota, Cleveland, San Francisco and Buffalo, said football has been the total focus since graduating in December.
“No school has been everything I thought it would be and a little more,” Stanzi said with a laugh. “It’s pretty nice.”
Still joking, even after being weighed in his undies in front of a whole room of NFL people.
Passing Com. Att. Pct. Yds. TD Int. Lng
Freshman 0 4 .000 0 0 1 – -
Sophomore 150 254 .591 1,956 14 9 59
Junior 171 304 .562 2,417 17 15 92
Senior 221 345 .641 3,004 25 6 70
Career 542 907 .598 7,377 56 31 92