The Guys Who Spoiled It For Timmy

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - May 04, 2005
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After seven rounds and 255 selections, it came as a shock to most in Hawaii and some on the Mainland that the NCAA’s alltime passing leader was out of a job.

No doubt Oklahoma Sooner supporters are questioning the same logic in regard to their former Heisman signal caller, Jason White.

These moves become even more confusing when we consider New England grabbed USC backup Matt Cassel in the seventh round even though he attempted fewer passes than Bill Gates at his high school prom.

For White, it was a matter of physical ability and injury concerns. In the case of Timmy Chang, you can blame Andre Ware. David Klinger needs to take some heat as well.

It may seem unfair that Chang is being hurt by the inadequacies of those who came before him. Well, welcome to the NFL. The same system that allowed Travis LaBoy to benefit from the productivity of another small lineman, the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor, is the one that ensures extreme caution when considering dropping a few mil on a run-and-shoot quarterback.

Ware threw for 4,699 yards and 46 touchdowns in his last year at Houston. Sound familiar? Chang went for 4,258 and 38 in his final campaign. Both QBs put up massive numbers, played in a system that suited their abilities and came from mid-major conferences.

While it’s true that it only takes one team with interest to get a player selected, it is even more correct to recognize the league rarely goes out on a limb. Blame it on the NFL’s pack mentality. If one organization thinks you’re a stud, they all do. If they think you stink, guess what? You’re either a sure thing or a nothing.

All this is not to say that Chang will soon be broadcasting high school football games. He only helped himself by signing with a Cardinals franchise that is not exactly loaded with all-star quarterbacks. Chance are slim that Chang will displace starter Josh McCown or new acquisition Kurt Warner, but John Navarre and Chris Lewis, who was called “a reclamation project that needs work from the ground up” by Sports Illustrated prior to last year’s draft, may have something to worry about.

One who made it.

After evaluating talent, NFL teams like to find reasons why not to draft someone. Do they have a criminal record, any serious injuries, did the player tend to take off plays or not work hard in practice? These things may not cause a second-round talent to fall beyond the seventh, but it can drop a late first-rounder to third or a fifth into free agency. If there is one team with none of those concerns, it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars regarding its new return man.

It’s been reported that Chad Owens has said that when he gets into camp he’s going up to firstround pick Matt Jones and say, “You were first pick and I was sixth, let’s see who’s better.”

It would be a surprise if the conversation actually takes place, but no question that’s the thought process.

Just as when he first walked on at UH, Owens must once again prove that he’s a little guy who belongs in a big man’s world. And he’s done nothing to show that he will not succeed. Owens does not have a record, all injuries have fully healed and he never, repeat, never takes a play off.

Owens may not take away any playing time from top pick Jones, but no one in a Jaguar uniform will work harder.

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