Vince Young wasn't perfect on Tuesday. He didn't have to be.
Vince Young wasn't perfect on Tuesday, but he showed he still has a lot left in the tank for an NFL team that's willing to take a shot on him.
The four passes that were incomplete – two of which were dropped – of the 44 he threw before representatives from all 32 NFL franchises didn't matter.
What mattered is what everyone who left the Longhorns practice bubble at Denius Fields for Texas' pro day should have felt after watching the 29-year-old former Pro Bowl quarterback throw the ball on Tuesday.
There's still something left in the tank.
Whatever caused his tenure with the Tennessee Titans to end sourly, or why he was cut from a Buffalo Bills franchise where it seems as though NFL careers go to die, or what's really going on with his financial situation were all irrelevant. The NFL has shown time and again that if you can help a team win football games you'll get a shot to do it, and on Tuesday Young looked like he at least deserves another shot to do just that.
“He's better than a whole lot of people who are playing right now,” Mack Brown said. “I think these folks saw it today.”
The workout organized by Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite helped showcase some of the things Young does best. He was on the money throwing the ball down the field, outside the numbers and his ball placement in the quick passing game outside the hashes was on point.
There were times when he didn't put the ball in the right spots in the intermediate game. He threw a slant behind Marquise Goodwin and sent a comeback route over D.J. Monroe's head.
Still, Young had the kind of workout he needed to have. It wasn't the kind of workout that would have planted a seed of doubt in the minds of the scouts, coaches and front office personnel on hand.
If decision makers across the league share the opinion of Young's workout with NFL.com senior analyst and long-time Dallas Cowboys front office man Gil Brandt, Young is sure to get another shot based on his performance Tuesday. Brandt cited Young's vastly improved footwork and refined mechanics as things that stood out.
“What you saw today, you know that he looks better than ever before,” Brandt said. “He threw the ball better today with accuracy. He moves so well.”
Young looked good. His official weight wasn't listed, but he looks leaner and in better shape than he's appeared to be in recent years. Between what he's done on the field and away from the gridiron – going back to school, sending an apology letter to Jeff Fisher, and taking a risk by choosing to throw for NFL hopefuls with no guarantee of what might be waiting for him tomorrow – Young continues to show that he's dead serious about getting another chance.
You'll probably read reports this morning about how Young didn't want to speak to the media following his workout (despite the fact a release was issued beforehand that stated Young wouldn't be available following the workout). You'll read reports about how some folks aren't sure if his days of lavish spending and maturity issues that helped lead to his NFL exile are behind him.
None of that matters. Brandt said Young's financial situation, or anything else people want to throw out about him, wouldn't keep him from getting a look with what would be his fourth NFL franchise.
Mack Brown agrees. The Texas head coach who will forever be linked with Young due to the magical run to glory in the 2005 season said Young has been upbeat and shown strong leadership skills since immersing himself back within the program.
Young simply wanted a chance to show he's still got something to offer, and Tuesday was about seeing if Young still had it.
“They want to win,” Mack said of the NFL teams who might enquire about Young. “Period.”
For everything Young has done right, and he certainly deserves credit for taking the right steps to get back into the good graces of the decision makers who hold his football future in their hands, Mack also deserves his share of credit.
That might be hard for some to do given the 22-16 record the Longhorns have accumulated over the last three seasons, a record that includes a pair of unspeakable losses to Oklahoma. Yet Young's comeback attempt exemplifies everything good about Mack Brown.
Mack mentioned to Young at a recent practice that if he wanted another shot at the NFL he needed to take a chance and throw at pro day, where Goodwin, Monroe and the rest of the NFL hopefuls were without a quarterback. Mack has built a culture at Texas that promotes a guy like John Chiles being able to come out and run routes for scouts two years after his original pro day, and for numerous current NFL Longhorns like Jamaal Charles, Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho, Cedric Griffin, Michael Huff, Michael Griffin, Earl Thomas, Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown among others to want to come back and support the draft hopefuls.
You can call it whatever you want, but it's that culture that's helped facilitate Young's pursuit of being an NFL quarterback again.
“He was struggling,” Mack said. “Life can be tough out there and he's adored here. He was very successful here and he's given us something that a lot of people couldn't with the national championship. I wanted him to be around people who cared about him. It's got him back on track and I think he should be given credit for that.”
Much like in 2004 when Mack and Greg Davis famously told Young that they wanted him to go back to playing like the guy who shredded defenses at Houston Madison, Mack once again gave Young the ball and he ran with it.
Brandt feels Young's physique, speed, size, experience with the read option and the ability he showed on Tuesday throwing the football, along with the fact that offensive verbiage in the NFL is getting less and less complex as each year passes will all help him in his quest to return to the league.
There's still a lot ahead for Young. He needs suitors and he needs to find the right fit, and he's still got to get behind closed doors and show teams that he's really as serious about football as he appears to be right now.
“His biggest challenge is not today,” Brandt said. “It's a week from now, it's a month from now, because physically he can do it. Is he going to have stick-to-it-ness to do it once he gets into camp and has to sit down, study a playbook and know what it is.”
Tuesday might not have been the 2004 game in Lubbock against Texas that set Young and the Longhorns on a path to greatness, but it was the kind of day he needed to have.
Young isn't perfect, and he wasn't on Tuesday. It was still a performance that showed he's worthy of another look.
“Somebody's going to get lucky,” Mack said. “Somebody's going to win the lottery off of this workout.”
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