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Byron Leftwich

QB | (0-0, 241) | Marshall
By Pro Football Weekly

Notes: Backed up Chad Pennington as a true freshman in 1998, when he completed 7-of-13 attempts for 85 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Completed 7-11-60-0-0 in three games in '99 and redshirted after hurting his ankle. Replaced Pennington in 2000 and completed 279-457-3,358-21-9. Improved to 315-470-4,132-38-7 in '01, despite playing part of the year with a stress fracture in his leg, which was surgically repaired in February of '02. All-Mid-American Conference and MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2000 and '01. Suffered a left shin injury Nov. 2 vs. Akron, but played through the pain. Played in all 12 games in '02, making 11 starts. Completed 331-491-4,268-30-10. Declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl in January.

Positives: Top leader and competitor, whose teammates and coaches love to be around him. Has rare size and exceptional arm strength that lets you draw your plays on longer paper. Shows good poise under pressure, and like Daunte Culpepper, he can be very hard to tackle and can throw with rushers clinging to him. Leftwich, however, is not the runner Culpepper is. Leftwich can throw every pass, and at times he will show thread-the-needle accuracy. Has a high release point and throws a very catchable ball. Improved ability to look off and locate secondary receivers in '02. Also showed better judgment at times. Is also very well-liked in the community. Does a lot of charity work. Longs to watch film and make himself better.

Negatives: Tends to run hot and cold and has too much confidence in his arm strength and accuracy at times. Loses accuracy when on the move and needs to improve footwork outside the pocket. Looks more comfortable in the shotgun. Does bird-dog receivers now and then. Also is not as accurate as teams would like on the short, dump-off passes to backs. Mechanics need work. Will hold the ball too low and sometimes use a little windup, baseball pitcher's delivery, which is not needed for a player with his gun. Can get too heavy. Will try to do too much. Chronic shin problems will be checked out thoroughly. Didn't exactly play against the best competition, and when he did, like vs. Virginia Tech last September, the results were mixed at best.

Summary: Might only fit in an open offense, but he will be a top draft pick and could become a star if he improves his quickness and niftiness, and cuts down on his forced passes. With his great film habits, under the right counsel he could become a great asset.

* Player biographies are provided by Pro Football Weekly.