Mark Sanchez isn't the only high-profile college quarterback the 49ers are sniffing around. The team also has arranged a visit with Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. USC's Sanchez is scheduled to be in Santa Clara tomorrow and Thursday.
Freeman is generally regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Sanchez and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. At nearly 6-6 and weighing 248 pounds, Freeman is bigger and more athletic than the other two. In 2008, he threw 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions for the Wildcats. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, the second highest mark for a major college QB last season. He also has a wicked arm, as this 62-yard, on-the-run-across-his-body fling demonstrates. Holy crap!
Would the 49ers pounce on Freeman at pick No. 10? Probably not. But Freeman, along with USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, may be an option if the 49ers were to trade down in the first round. Also keep in mind that the 49ers' personnel department keeps copious notes about every NFL player. That is, should Freeman become available in a trade or through free agency at a later date, the 49ers would refer to the notes taken during his April, 2009 visit.
Here's how NFL Draft Scout rates Freemen:
Positives: Tall frame with a solid build. Arm strength allows him to make all of the NFL throws and attack the deep half. Stands tall, will step up in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and deliver the ball to secondary target. Good, not great, quickness on release. Keeps the ball low over the middle, away from defenders. Can be accurate on fades and corner routes, although he needs a bit more air under the ball. Good straight-ahead runner with long strides and deceptive speed, can shed arm tackles and uses his tall frame to get extra yards after contact. Dropped some weight to better his footwork and speed. Works under center and in the shotgun.
Negatives: Must improve his footwork. His height makes him take long strides in his drop. Fails to step into his throws or square his shoulders at times, relies on his arm strength too often. Inconsistent accuracy from the pocket and throwing on the run. Needs to anticipate downfield throws better, sometimes getting the ball to his receiver a second early or late. Prone to turnovers, makes poor decisions trying to make plays that aren't there. Does not feel backside pressure. Lacks touch on shorter throws. Ball comes out of his hands poorly at times, negating his arm strength. Sometimes pats the ball before the throws. Loose with the ball in the pocket and as a runner. Doesn't move the pile as you'd expect in short-yardage situations, but his height allows him to be effective.
Compares To: JASON CAMPBELL, Washington -- Freeman is a bit bigger and has more bulk. Both came from programs that really did not highlight their athletic talents, but like the Redskins did with Campbell, a team will have to show patience. He has a great arm that can rival Matthew Stafford's but has to work on his delivery and release. With such a weak draft class at this position, he could be the third quarterback chosen in the first round. If Detroit trades down from the top spot, it is because they are convinced that Freeman will be around at number 20.
Freeman also has had visits with the Jets, Buccaneers, Rams, Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks and Panthers.
-- Matt Barrows