INDIANAPOLIS – It is not often a quarterback who earns a 23-3 career starting record at a major college in a difficult conference and set multiple position records along the way generates the question facing Brandon Weeden.
The Oklahoma State quarterback had an outstanding two-year starting career and leaves his school with a trail of achievements, including leading his team to a 12-1 record in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford.
The question Weeden faces from some observers is one thing he cannot change – his age.
Weeden joined the Cowboys’ football program in 2007 after a 2002-06 minor league stint as a pitching prospect for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City. He is 28 years old and is actually older than Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl winner.
It is a topic with which Weeden is familiar and unapologetic.
“It used to kind of get under my skin, but there can be a lot worse things I can be answering questions about,” said Weeden. “There's nothing else. That's really the only knock on me is my age. I have fun with it. Here's the fact, I can't change it. I can change a lot of things, my footwork, throwing motion, release, this and this and this. I can't change my birth certificate. I wish I could pull a Danny Almonte, but I can't do it.”
What Weeden has done is pull off terrific achievements on the field. After playing four games in his first two years, he started 13 games each in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, he hit 342-of-511 passes for 4,277 yards, with 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He ranked third nationally in yardage, posting seven 300 games and three 400 games.
Last season, Weeden hit 408-of-564 passes for 4,727 yards, with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He threw for 502 yards against Kansas State, 476 versus Iowa State and 438 against Texas A&M for the three top games in school history. Weeden struck for five or more scores in four career outings, while amassing a total of 16 300 games and seven 400 games. He completed a pass for at least 31 yards in every career start, and his team averaged 46.5 points per game with him at the starting controls.
“A lot is getting put into my age and rightfully so. That's really the only red flag I really have,” said Weeden. “Fortunately for me, that's really the only (thing) I have to worry about. Fortunately, it's a small issue. I'm not worried about it. I don't think a lot of teams are worried about it. It's a tough question to answer. I feel like with all these great quarterbacks, I belong in the middle with all of them. So if I was a few years younger, you never know, maybe I go a little bit higher. I don't think at the end of the day when it comes to draft time, it's going to be that big of an issue.”
The Cowboys won their first 10 games last year before an overtime loss at Iowa State. Weeden squared off against Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl and in a game where the ball rarely touched the ground, he completed 30-of-43 attempts for 399 yards and three scores.
On questions of maturity, Weeden points to having been a professional athlete already.
“From a maturity standpoint, I've already been a pro,” said Weeden. “That's what I've been telling teams, and they agree with me. In baseball…it's a game of failure. I've failed, and I've had some success, and I've kind of ridden the roller coaster.
“I started playing professional baseball at 18. So I think to go out in the real world (I’ve done it). I drove to Tampa as an 18-year-old and was just on my own. I was able to overcome that and do some good things there.”
He agrees some of his younger draft competition is mature, too, and playing a difficult position leads to that maturation.
“I think as a 22-year old, all these guys are mature guys. They wouldn't be here if they were not,” said Weeden. “They're all mature, good players with a good head on their shoulders, and I think that's what it takes to play in the NFL. It's the toughest position to play in all of sports. I think, again, the maturity factor really helps me have an opportunity to play right away if I'm needed to.”
Weeden knows his story differs from other quarterbacks who are receiving draft consideration. He knows also there have been very successful quarterbacks who had divergent paths to the NFL, too.
“Roger Staubach, you've got Kurt Warner, I can go on. You've got Rich Gannon. Think of it, there's a lot of guys,” said Weeden. “You look back at my time at Oklahoma State, I didn't get hit. My body's extremely fresh, no injuries. I'm healthy. Everything's good. I think I've got a lot left in my tank. Those guys played into their late 30s. A 10-year career in the NFL is a great career, and I think I've got every bit of that. Barring any injury, I think I can play for a long time.”
LOOKING AT THE 2012 NFL DRAFT'S QUARTERBACKS
THE LAST SIX
The last six quarterbacks drafted by the Colts:
2009: Curtis Painter, sixth round, Purdue
2004: Jim Sorgi, sixth round, Wisconsin
1998: Peyton Manning, first round, Tennessee
1996: Mike Cawley, sixth round, James Madison
1990: Jeff George, first round, Illinois
1990: Gene Benhart, twelfth round, Western Illinois
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of quarterbacks expected to be selected in the 2012 NFL Draft (*-denotes underclassman):
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga
Nick Foles, Arizona
Robert Griffin, Baylor*
Case Keenum, Houston
Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
Andrew Luck, Stanford*
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Brock Osweiler, Arizona State*
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.