Niners Nation Scouting Report: Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State

Amidst all the turmoil of possibly drafting Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman of Kansas State remains a quarterback on the radar, but not quite like the first round talents.  Mock drafts have him as a second round caliber talent.  Mocking the Draft has been been putting together brief scouting reports on draft eligible folks and they've compiled a Freeman report.

In the meantime, as I like to try and do, I spoke with TB over at Bring on the Cats, our Kansas State blog.  He was kind enough to put together a scouting report on the big fella from Kansas St.

Background
Josh Freeman came to K-State as a highly touted recruit out of Grandview, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City.  In his first year, 2006, he was thrown into the fire in our first conference game, an embarrassing loss to Baylor.  The Baylor Bears are kind of the Detroit Lions of the Big 12, in case you don't know.  His stats from 2006, in which he started only about half the games, are woeful.  Freeman threw for only 162 yards per game and had a brutal 6:15 touchdown-to-interception ratio.  All that equated to a quarterback efficiency rating of 103.5.  One bright spot was his performance in the game against No. 4 Texas, when he led K-State to a shocking 45-42 victory by throwing for 269 yards and three touchdowns.  Of course, that was more than offset by his next two performances, where he combined for only 373 yards passing, five interceptions, zero touchdowns and four fumbles lost.  Yeah, ouch.

I give you the previous info not to bore you with tales of K-State football ineptitude, but to illustrate Freeman's improvement over the next two years.  In 2007, his sophomore season, Freeman started every game and his numbers improved dramatically.  He threw for 279 yards per game and an 18:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio, with a quarterback efficiency rating of 127.3.  Unfortunately, the team nose-dived as he improved personally, going from 7-6 and a bowl appearance the year before to 5-7 with an ugly four-game losing streak to end the year.

Freeman's junior season, 2008, started off rocking as he and the Wildcats feasted on cupcake teams the first few games of the year, but once conference play arrived, things once again fell apart.  Still, his touchdown-to-interception ratio improved moderately to 20:8, although his yards-per-game deceased to 245, mostly a result of another late-season swoon.  For the season, his quarterback efficiency rating was 136.5  Also in 2008, we saw a new dimension in Freeman's game, as his running abilities were put on display.  His 14 rushing touchdowns far and away led the team, although most were scored from about one yard away as the coaching staff put his size to good use.

As far as Freeman's prospects in the NFL go, many remain skeptical.  The preeminent college football blog, Dr. Saturday, is very doubtful that a middle-of-the road quarterback in the Big 12 will do anything in the NFL other than possibly "kill[] an entire section by dislodging the skull on Raymond James' giant pirate ship with an errant throw" should he end up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Strengths
So why is a quarterback like Freeman even being mentioned as a possible first-round pick?  The first, and most obvious, reason is his size.  Freeman stands 6'6" and tips the scales at 250 lbs., and that's not with a Jared Lorenzen-type build, either.  Freeman is rock solid and very difficult for safeties and even some linebackers to bring down.

Second, the young man has a howitzer attached to his right shoulder.  I'd describe it more for you, but video is the only way to bring justice to this point.  See below.  By my calculations, he released that ball at his own 19 yard line, and the receiver caught it at the opponent's 20 yard line. Being a law student I'm not too handy with math, but I think it totals out to about 61 yards.

Weaknesses
Now that I've brought you reasons why he could be an NFL quarterback, we have to address his downside.  Obviously he never led K-State to any great success -- the Wildcats were 17-20 in his three seasons in Manhattan -- and some have whispered that his leadership qualities may be lacking.  Take that for what it's worth.  He's not a rah-rah guy.

When Freeman has time to throw, he stands tall in the pocket and steps into his bullet-like throws.  However, it doesn't take much pressure before he panics, possibly a result of his freshman season when he got killed repeatedly behind a makeshit offensive line.  When he panics, his mechanics have a tendency to break down, which leads to the errant throws Dr. Saturday was talking about.  Also, he tends to make bad decisions, trying to make a throw he has about a 10 percent chance of pulling off rather than a safer throw. Finally, although this aspect improved tremendously this season, Freeman isn't always particularly adept at making touch throws.  He's prefer to show off his howitzer by zinging the ball at his receiver.

Overall, Freeman's NFL potential is an enigma to me.  He received very poor coaching at K-State.  We fired Ron Prince this season after less than three full seasons in Manhattan because it was becoming very clear that he didn't know what he was doing even though he was convinced he was the smartest person in the room.  In three years, I believe Freeman had three different QB coaches, as Prince had a tendency to run off good coaches (see, e.g., Raheem Morris, now Tampa Bay's head coach, and James Franklin, the head-coach-in-waiting at Maryland).  If Freeman's demons are only mechanics, good coaching may very well make him a star in the NFL.  If it's a mental thing that can't really be fixed, he'll never be better than mediocre.  I wish him the best because he always seemed like a nice kid and will be a good media representative of whatever organization he lands with.

Thanks again to TB from Bring on the Cats for putting together this report.  I believe he'll be linking to it at BOTC so we might get some more K-State opinions on the subject.  Also, I've attached an additional YouTube video after the jump.

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