IRVING, Texas - So this Isaiah Stanback, sure catches your eye.
Dude, the guy is 6-2, 6-3, like 220, and he's run a 10.48 in the 100 meters. Come on, for real? Evidently, checks out.
Now Sunday there was this highlight video of Stanback from his University of Washington days floating around here at The Ranch. I certainly was no Stanback expert, and I'm not sure if I ever saw him play. And if I did, don't remember taking note.
But man, could this guy run, and I'm not talking all speed here. He knew how to run. Made you forget he was nearly 6-3.
Then it's like, OK, saw that, but what does the recruiting bible say on this guy. So here, let's grab this Pro Football Weekly draft guide, and since I read through those evaluations and highlighted a thing or 10 - well look here, without even knowing who this guy was or having any idea the Cowboys would be interested in taking him in the fourth round of this past weekend's draft, here is what's outlined in pink (sorry, only color I had):
As a quarterback, he's a cross between Michael Vick and D.J. Shockley. Could contribute immediately as an athlete.
But let's keep digging. So immediately on Talkin' Cowboys Wednesday morning my sidekick Bill Jones couldn't wait to ask Jeff Ireland, Cowboys director of scouting, his thoughts on this Stanback, and the first two words out of his mouth were "phenomenal athlete."
OK, well, that's to be expected, right? After all, we know the Cowboys scouting department must have thought highly of the guy, otherwise you're not using your first pick on Day 2, the fourth pick in the fourth round, on some schmoe.
So I continued on, looking for that independent third party to weigh in on Stanback, someone without an invested interest in the multi-sport athlete who grew up well-respected in the inner city of Seattle. Wait a minute, he played for U-Dub, and my college roommate, now a columnist at the Tacoma News-Tribune, John McGrath, spends his fall Saturdays covering the Huskies. Now if you can't trust your college roommate, I mean who can you trust?
So McGrath, what you think about this Stanback guy?
"Phenomenal athlete" were the first two words out of his mouth.
Swear to you. First two words under John's phone numbers on my legal pad were just that: Phenomenal athlete.
Athlete, you hear. Now no one is saying anything about his quarterbacking ability, and that's not why the Cowboys used such a premium choice on him. They see a wide receiver in him. They see a return guy in him. They see an emergency quarterback down the road in him.
"How 'bout a holder?", roomie quips?
The other plus? Good guy. Kept hearing that, and while you can't judge a guy by his interview, was impressed on Saturday how he handled his himself with us on The Ticket just minutes after he was draft by the Cowboys. Seemed to be a class act.
Now he might have insisted that in his heart of hearts he'll be "a quarterback the rest of his career," when asked about making the conversion to wide receiver, he simply said, "I'm looking forward to coming in and making plays.
"They were talking about receiver, but I want to help out any way I can."
As they would say on Family Feud, good answer.
Well then, were you surprised the Cowboys, or any other team for that matter, would have taken you in the fourth round (knowing he was considered a marginal quarterback and would be expected to change positions at the highest level of competition)?
"Not surprising," Stanback said, "I'm just appreciative."
So just what do you consider yourself then? (And by the way, the Baltimore Orioles considered him such a "phenomenal athlete" evidently, they selected him in the 2006 MLB draft and he hadn't played baseball since high school.)
"Quarterback slash receiver slash special teams," Stanback said.
My kind of guy, especially since I'm told he embraced the position of quarterback while at Washington. He understood the responsibility that comes with that job, not only to yourself and your teammates, but the image you project for your school/team.
I'm told he had one of the best interviews at the NFL Combine.
Now the only question about Stanback, and only does not suggest miniscule, are his feet and hands. Yes, feet and hands.
Feet because he currently is six months into an eight-month projected recovery from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury. So don't have a cow next week when you discover the Cowboys' fourth-round pick didn't participate in the team portion of the mini-camp.
"We need the guy for training camp," said Ireland, well aware Stanback's senior year at Washington ended seven games into the season when that torn ligament in the middle of his foot (Lisfranc joint) suffered while running by his lonesome against Oregon State required surgery. "We don't need him for mini-camp."
Nope, and that's where his hands will come into the equation. Now you would think if the guy is a quarterback and if the Orioles thought he might possibly be able to play professional baseball after a long layoff, the guy must have good hands.
Returning kickoffs with that 10.48 speed is one thing. Kickoffs are fairly easy to catch. Now punts might be another thing, especially since he never returned a one in college, though his kickoff return résumé numbers only eight from his freshman year.
But catching passes is an entirely different deal. Other than workouts, he has 12 of those to show in college - 10 from his freshman year. And catching is just one thing. Catching while getting hit is another thing. So is being able to run routes.
Yeah, well, Matt Jones just made the conversion from college QB to NFL WR. So did Antwaan Randle El. But then, just because they did doesn't mean everyone does.
But let's give the scouting department a little credit. Ireland said Stanback was on the backburner until they put a little highlight tape together, and he remembered the guy playing a little receiver as a freshman for then-Washington quarterback Cody Pickett.
"This certainly is a very interesting project," Ireland said, liking his percentages but knowing this conversion is not a sure thing. "One of my favorite players on the board."
Wait till you see this guy, if you haven't already. I'm telling you, so will you. He's an eye-catcher.
Sounds like an interesting player, but can he come back from that linsfranc injury?
I can't wait to see what he can do.
Looks very interesting to say the least.