Teams Agog Over Small School QB Campbell
Posted by Mike Florio on April 1, 2009, 5:18 p.m.
Scouts from seven NFL teams reportedly left the Pro Day for Division III college Sarah Lawrence buzzing over senior QB Joe Campbell.
It's amazing enough that Sarah Lawrence College, a mosquito bite on the map of collegiate football, would draw seven NFL scouts. It's even more amazing what those scouts are reporting. If true, the general managers of seven teams will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to where to put young Joe Campbell, a 23-year-old phenomenon from White Plains, NY, on their draft boards.
Campbell led Sarah Lawrence to its best season ever, but a 4-8 record at D-3 isn't usually enough to get NFL scouts excited. "What I saw today was, well, this guy has the potential to be as big and physical and as clutch as Ben Roethlisberger, with the laser-like accuracy of a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady," gushed Steelers QB coach Ken Anderson, himself a former professional QB for the Cincinnati Bengals. In addition to the Steelers, scouts and coaches for the Buccaneers, Jets, Browns, Broncos, Lions, and Seahawks were in attendance.
And by all accounts, Campbell was phenomenal.
One scout, who declined to identify himself or the team he scouts for, described it this way. "I don't know what I just saw out there. It was mythic. This guy is a hero with a thousand throws in his repertoire. He's got the skeleton's key to greatness." The scout for the Seahawks was so nervous when he called in his scouting report he dropped his cell phone three times just trying to call the front office.
Campbell, a 6'5", 235 pound signal-caller who was once named one of the ten best high school quarterback recruits in the nation, did not receive a scholarship to any bigger programs when it was learned that he suffered from glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. "Sometimes, I'd be calling plays, and the guys would be looking at me like I was speaking Greek or something, and I guess I was." Now under the medical supervision of renowned neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks, Campbell no longer suffers from these epileptic-like seizures. "Dr. Sacks has been a gosh darn blessing to me. I just hope I get to fulfill my dream to play in the NFL."
It looks very promising that he will.
Campbell ran between a 4.40 and a 4.45 in the 40 yard dash, lifted 225 pounds 30 times, and posted a 39" vertical jump. But just as scouts were discussing the possibility of a position change, Campbell began to throw.
Campbell threw 90 yards from his knees, through the uprights. Readers will remember former Baltimore Ravens' first round pick achieved this feat from 60 yards, and that was considered a show of amazing arm strength. But that's not all. Campbell completed 59 of 60 passes to receivers, including T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Seattle Seahawks, who is friends with Campbell's father, Moyers. (The one incompletion was due to Houshmandzadeh dogging it at the end of practice.)
But that's not even the best part.
Campbell was 10 for 10... while throwing blindfolded. He wasn't told which pattern the receiver would run. He simply "listened to the wind, because I can hear where a guy's going to be 15 yards before he gets there." In other words, he's better blindfolded than some NFL pros are with full vision.
The Seahawks, Houshmandzadeh's new team, are apparently very interested, given Matt Hasselbeck's age and injury issues. "It would not surprise me to see this kid go from being an undrafted free agent to being a second round pick," gushed Rob Rang of National Draft Scout. Another source put Campbell's draft stock even higher. "Everyone is talking about [Mark] Sanchez and [Matthew] Stafford, as though they're the only two guys in the equation. Some folks think [Josh] Freeman is in the first round, but he's not. [Joe] Campbell is. He definitely is. I would not be surprised if he overtakes Sanchez or Stafford. No one knows who the hell he is. But they will."
Houshmandzadeh left the field with red hands. "I'll tell you what, Carson Palmer throws a nice catchable ball, but this kid was throwing balls that were bone breakers on 20, 30 yard outs. I mean, I doubt John Elway could have done that. This kid will be in the NFL a long, long time.
Campbell has visits scheduled with the Steelers Thursday, April 2, and with the Jets Friday, April 3.