In many ways, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore could be the perfect heir to Peyton Manning for the Indianapolis Colts.
He's cerebral. He's effective at making pre-snap reads and post-snap adjustments, spotting blitzes and picking defenses apart. In other words, he excels at the essentials for running the Colts' offense.
He's relentless. He studies his craft, watching film, figuring out the whys of defenses and how to exploit them. Again, that's perfect for the Colts.
He's a winner. He's been an integral part of Boise State's rise to Top 5 status, a rise that could culminate in a real shot at the national title this season.
And he's humble, which is a non-essential trait, but admirable. Moore credits his success to that old formula: practice and more practice. “It takes 10,000 hours to be an expert, I just heard in school,” he said after throwing for 455 yards and five touchdowns against Toledo last Friday.
So what's not to like? Why wouldn't Moore be the perfect pick, if available, for the Colts next spring?
He's too short.
That's it, but that's likely a deal-breaker.
He's about average in size. And that's average for normal guys, not quarterbacks. Moore is listed as 6-foot tall by Boise State. I stood among a group of reporters interviewing him after the Toledo game and looked him in the eye. I like to say I'm 6-foot, too. Let's leave it at that.
Moore clearly is not in the 6-3 to 6-5 range that NFL scouts covet so much as they search for the prototype quarterback. He'll never be that tall, and he's also left-handed, which brings something different to the table, too.
Oh, and sometimes critics question whether Moore's arm strength on the deep ball is NFL-worthy. I'm not sure about that one. He looked strong enough to me on out-routes he nailed with precision at Toledo.
Moore seems to produce similar polar opposite responses that hit Tim Tebow for his senior season at Florida. Some people love Moore, believing results overshadow any of the perceived imperfections in his build and delivery. Others consider him a great college quarterback, no more.
Short quarterbacks are rare in the NFL, but those rare cases are gems. Drew Brees is the most recent, with Doug Flutie before him. They run into issues, certainly, with taller linemen and bigger players in front of him. That hasn't slowed Brees, but he's an exception. Perhaps Moore won't be an exception, Perhaps he'll join a line of college quarterbacks of all sizes who peaked in college. There's no shame in that. That's how it goes.
It would take incredible boldness for the Colts to make a play for Moore, who should be available for the Colts when this presumably disastrous season ends.
Next to the 6-5 Manning, Moore would look smaller yet. The physical incongruity would be hard for some to get past. And Moore might be trickier for Manning to mentor – assuming he wants to mentor his eventual successor – because of their differences. The simple fact Moore is left-handed would require adjustment.
The Colts are stuck with some hard decisions moving forward. The reality of Manning's career nearing an end is front-and-center. They have to find a suitable next quarterback, all the while not knowing if Manning has four more good years left or whether he'll never play again. It's not an enviable time to be in the Colts' front office.
Ultimately, I don't see the Colts taking a chance on Moore. The blueprint for Colts success is Manning. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck looks the part. He's 6-4 with all the expected traits. Moore doesn't look the part, unless the part is reinvented.
Moore is a risk. He's a winner, no question. He's a talent, no question. But he's an NFL risk.
The Colts aren't much on taking chances these days. After all, their last gamble was entering training camp without a suitable backup quarterback. We all know how that worked out.