In this exclusive two-part Q&A, Scout.com's Chris Steuber talked to Louisville QB Brian Brohm about…
Brian Brohm: The most memorable moment would be the Orange Bowl. Being able to get to that first BCS bowl game in our program’s history was just incredible. All of the excitement around the community, fans and school, just how much fun that game and season was — I will remember that forever. The moment I’d like to go back and redo… [Laughs]… that same season against Rutgers. If I could go back and play any game one more time, it would be that game. Just because that second half was our worst performance as an offense during my entire career at Louisville. If we could go back and play that second half over again, I think we’d be in contention for a possible national championship berth and maybe play Ohio State for the national title.
Brohm throws a first half pass against Kentucky.
AP Photo/James Crisp
CS: The one game that was “must see TV” this past year was the Louisville vs. Kentucky game during Week 3, where you and Andre Woodson went head to head. You completed 65 percent of your passes and threw for 366 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. Although you guys didn’t pull it out in the end, to watch two of the nation’s best QBs in a shootout was great theater. Looking back at that game, what are your thoughts?
Brohm: That was a great game, but unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the stick. I felt like we let that one slip away at the end. Andre Woodson and Steve Johnson connected for a great play at the end. But it was a nice back and forth game that was typical of a rivalry game. First of all, we started out the game with a fumble and an interception. It didn’t start off too well, we spotted them 10 points right off the bat. It was a huge game. There was a lot of excitement. I think that game brings a lot of excitement to the State of Kentucky.
CS: You don’t forget any of those losses, huh?
Brohm: [Laughs]… No, if we start talking about a particular game during this interview, I’ll probably remember almost every play… [Laughs].
CS: Would you say that you’re a student of the game? Are you in the film room all the time dissecting different aspects of your game to see what you can do better to improve as a player?
Brohm: Definitely. I’m always watching film to see what I can do better. I always try to find the tendencies of defenses. I always try to find the little weakness in a defense. But, yeah, I’m always watching myself and just studying my game. That’s one thing Coach Kragthorpe came in and helped me out with, not allowing me to criticize myself too much. He just told me to get out there and just let it rip. If I ever got into any problems on the field, it’s not because I’m not thinking enough, it’s because I’m thinking too much. I’m a detailed guy, and sometimes you get too detailed.
CS: Ok, since you’re a detailed guy who’s a student of the game, you be the analyst and I’ll be Brian Brohm. You break down my game and tell me what Brian Brohm does best.
Brohm: I think the big thing is your decision-making and accuracy. You don’t seem to force balls at all. You go through your progressions well and make the correct read and get the ball out on time and accurately. You have good pocket awareness and possess good arm strength. You move well in the pocket. But the big plus is that you know where to go with the ball – throwing the ball on time and being accurate.
CS: What do you think are your weaknesses as a player, and what do you still have to improve on to be the best player possible at the next level?
Brohm: I’m working on something I’ve noticed from studying myself, and that’s having balls knocked down. A part of that is because we threw a lot of shallow crossers, stuff right over the middle. But maybe if I change arm angles and get it around those hands that are going to be flying up and just make sure that I’m throwing in the lane. Basically the only weakness — if that’s what you want to call it — is getting the ball knocked down. But I’m working on it.
CS: Do you think that is a weakness of yours or is that because your line isn’t doing its job up front?
Brohm: It’s a combination. Linemen are taught that if defenders get their hands up, chop them at their knees, and hopefully our guys did that the right way. I think it’s a combination of them not doing that, plus running a lot of shallow crossers and me not getting into the throwing lane. It’s always a combination of things. You can never put a finger on the problem, but I’m going to improve on the situation and get better.
CS: Two of the biggest knocks against you are your arm strength and pocket mobility. Some scouts and analysts believe you don’t have a strong enough arm to make all the throws at the next level and aren’t quick enough to escape pressure. How do you feel about those assessments?
Brohm: Once again, if you go back and watch the tape and watch all three years I played, I think you will see every throw that has to be made. If you come and watch me throw in person, you will see that I can make all the throws. The thing about arm strength, they do the miles-per-hour test at the Combine, and I don’t know how effectively it judges your arm strength. But they do it, and I was one mile-per-hour off from [Joe] Flacco’s reading. He had the strongest arm at the Combine. I don’t think that’s a huge difference at all. I definitely think I can get out there and put some zip on the ball. And as far as moving in the pocket, if you look at the numbers from the Combine on some of those drills, I feel like I’m a pretty good athlete. Obviously, I’m not a Michael Vick type or a running quarterback type, but I feel that I’m a good enough athlete to get out of the pocket and avoid pressure. I feel like I have good pocket awareness. If you put the tape on, you’re not going to see me sliding into any misfortune, you’re going to see me stepping the right way and getting out of the way of pressure. Most of the time you’re going to see me avoiding potential sacks. I feel that I do those things pretty well, and I’m working on them every day. I feel that I do them well enough and at a high enough level, and that shouldn’t be a problem.
CS: Take me back to that miles-per-hour test at the Combine. What do they have you do for that test?
Brohm: You take a three-step drop and throw the ball from about 20 yards away as hard as you can on the line. You’re throwing at a padded mat that someone is holding up, with a radar gun pointed behind you. You just throw as hard as you can at that mat, and I think my speed was 57 miles-per-hour. The highest reading was Flacco’s at 58.
CS: And people say you don’t have a strong enough arm for the NFL?
Brohm: [Laughs]… That’s what I’m hearing the knock is. I’m trying to prove them wrong anyway that I can.
CS: Do you see what others see in Flacco? He’s a big QB at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, but do you think he has the qualities to be a star, or is he a little over-hyped due to his physical attributes?
Brohm: It’s hard to tell. I haven’t really watched film of him. I know that he does throw the ball well. He has a strong arm and the ball came out nice; it spun pretty well at the Combine. But to be honest, that’s all I’ve seen of him. I can’t really evaluate him much further than that.
Brohm answers questions from the media at the Scouting Combine.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
CS: Honestly, where do you see yourself among the rest of the quarterbacks in this class?
Brohm: I feel like I’m the top guy. I feel like I got the complete package: athleticism, arm strength, knowledge of the game, accuracy. Obviously, I’m not the top guy in all of those categories, but overall I feel that I’m the top guy out of all of them.
CS: When Bobby Petrino left Louisville for a job in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and then decided to leave the Falcons during the season for Arkansas, what were your thoughts on that crazy situation?
Brohm: I had mixed feelings about the situation. When he left for the NFL, I was a little unsure of how his style would come across to those players, because he’s a hard-nosed, in-your-face kind of guy. He demands perfection in everything that you do. He’s not a guy who will joke around with you, laugh with you or anything like that. I just wondered how it would work out with those guys in the NFL, because it seems like the NFL is more player friendly. Being a college coach and becoming an NFL coach, they’re two different styles. I think he could still do some stuff with the NFL. He has the mind for the game. He has knowledge of the game. He’s a great offensive mind. When he left Atlanta to go back to college, I was a little surprised. I thought he’d stick it out a little longer and try to get his system to play in Atlanta and get it to work. He will be successful in Arkansas and do some great things there. He’s just a really good coach who knows the game.
CS: Were you rooting for Petrino to stay in Atlanta so that he’d select you with the Falcons first round pick?
Brohm: [Laughs]… I’m not going to lie; I was hoping that he’d stick around in Atlanta. I’d hope that he would pick me, but you never know. You never know what could happen and who’s making those decisions. Yeah, definitely, I kind of was hoping that he’d stick around and be there in Atlanta for that possibility to play for him again. But obviously he felt that he needed to get back into college and into a new situation. I wish him all the best.
CS: Did he ever say anything to you as far as possibly reuniting in the NFL?
Brohm: No. I never really talked to him that much after he left. But I think he would have strongly considered taking me at that pick.
CS: It seemed like a perfect match – Atlanta and Louisville wear red and black.
Brohm: They both have a bird as their mascot as well.
CS: Exactly. And, you would have competed for playing time right away with another former Louisville QB Chris Redman.
Brohm: That’s right, that’s right. He did well last year. He was very reserved and impressive. Being out of football for a year and coming back and playing that well was impressive.
CS: Yeah, it would have been a nice situation for you.
Brohm: It would have been nice to be with Coach Petrino again in a familiar system, especially during my first year in the league.
CS: Speaking of teams that may draft you, have you talked to any teams recently, any private workouts?
Brohm: Yeah, I’ve had two workouts already with the Bengals and the Jets. I have a Pro Day coming up on March 24th. I have numerous visits and workouts scheduled after my Pro Day with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Minnesota — just to name a few. More teams will probably be added to the list as we continue here.
CS: How important are the visits with the Falcons and Ravens?
Brohm: They’re all big. I’m going to treat them all as the team who’s going to take me. I’m going to go out there and do whatever they ask me to do and do it to the best of my abilities. I’m going to try to get to know those guys and hopefully impress them with my knowledge of the game.
CS: I’m sure you met with a lot of teams at the Combine, but did any team give you a hint that you’re their No. 1 QB?
Brohm: [Laughs]… they don’t tell you anything. They don’t want you to know. They don’t want anyone to know what they’re thinking or what their board looks like. You really don’t have a clue.
CS: Does that make you uneasy, or is it just part of the process?
Brohm: No, it doesn’t make me feel uneasy. This whole process may get to some guys and make them a little nervous about where they’re going to go. But my whole philosophy is to go out there and perform the best I can, and hopefully the team that takes me really wants me. It’s all about what you do when you get there. It’s not how high you’re taken in the draft, it’s what you do when you get there.
CS: Who’s been the most interesting NFL coach you’ve met with so far?
Brohm: That’s a tough question. They’ve all been pretty interesting. I had a workout with the Jets, and their quarterback coach (Brian Daboll) is pretty intense on chalk talk. That’s the stuff I like. That was pretty interesting, being there for three hours and being grilled on memorizing formations, plays, motions and just knowing how they all fit together; just being able to talk with him about what they try to do concept wise. I’m a football junkie and I like to do that stuff. Getting in there and on the board was a lot of fun for me.
CS: I was at the Combine and was disappointed to hear Matt Ryan wasn’t going to workout. But when I heard you were going to fully participate in workouts, that showed me something. After your strong performance, I thought you clearly had the upper hand on Ryan, especially since he hasn’t worked out this entire offseason. What do you think about that situation — not working out for a team until your Pro Day?
Brohm: If you only chose to workout once for teams, you’re obviously putting a lot of stock into that workout. It’s all or nothing with that workout. I’m sure that adds a little pressure to the situation.
CS: Honestly, how much do you think about your competition with Matt Ryan?
Brohm: [Laughs]… how much do I think about it? I’m just trying to get as high up the board as I can. Wherever he is, he is. I’m more worried about getting myself as high as I can, and I can’t really do anything about him… [Laughs]. I can’t worry about it too much.
CS: Recently, Ryan has been on the cover of some draft publications and being hyped as the No. 1 pick in the draft. Do your family and friends mention that stuff to you?
Brohm: Yeah, my dad and friends probably look at that and say, “What’s up with this?” or “What’s up with that?” But me, I don’t worry about it, and it’s nothing I can control. I’m just going to go out there and perform for any team that wants to see me play.
CS: But as a competitor, do you look at that and say, “I’m better than Ryan.”
Brohm: Yeah, if you see your name sliding a little bit and see yourself projected lower than what you think, it really just adds a competitive fire and makes you want to go out there and perform a little better. It just gives you that much more incentive to go out there and do your best every time out and just show what you’ve got every time you can.
CS: What offense would you prefer to run at the next level?
Brohm: I really think I can play in any of them. I really liked the offense Coach Petrino ran. He called it, “The Power Spread.” It was a lot of shotgun, spread them out principles, but also a lot of two-back, downhill running and play action off of that. I’d really like to have the ability to do all of those things within an offense. Most of the offenses in the NFL have those abilities. I feel I can do all of the concepts and all of the downfield passing play. I can pass in the West Coast Offense and I feel like I can do all of them. Hopefully, I’ll just get with the right team and get in the right situation. That’s all I’m looking for.
In his favorite game this season, Brohm completes a pass against Cincinnati.
AP Photo/Al Behrman
CS: If you could pick one game from college that you thought was your best piece of work to send to teams, what game would it be? And, what game would you burn and wish to hide from scouts?
Brohm: [Laughs]… From this season, I’d say the Cincinnati game was my favorite game. But overall, I’ll go back to my sophomore year against Oregon State, which was my second start. I just had a tremendous game [completed 18-of-22 passes for 368 yards, five touchdowns and an interception]. Maybe because it was my second start I just had such great feelings about it… [Laughs]. And the game I’d like to burn… the entire second half of the Rutgers game during my junior year. I’d love to do that. The whole game against South Florida this past season, if we could just go ahead and erase that whole game, that would be nice… [Laughs].
CS: What is your opinion of guys like me — a guy who has the power of a keyboard to critique every move you make?
Brohm: I think it adds a lot of fun, a lot of excitement. I know a lot of people are interested in it. They want to hear your opinions on guys from their favorite schools, other schools, guys they’ve watched in college; I think it’s a lot of fun. You still have to remember that the guys from NFL teams are the ones that count, and those are the guys players try to impress. But guys like yourself and other guys out there who do analysis and do this kind of stuff just adds a lot of excitement for the fans and gets people involved in the process. It adds another element to how people can get excited about football. I think it’s great.
CS: Do you go on the Internet and check out mock drafts and rankings and all of that?
Brohm: [Laughs]… I think I’d have a headache if I went on there and looked around too much. I try to stay away from that stuff. But it’s kind of hard, too, when you have a lot of people around you telling you about it. I definitely hear some of the projections, but I try not to go out there and search for them and look at all of them. Everybody has you in a different place and nobody really knows. The teams’ boards are really what matter.
CS: Are you a draft junkie at all? Did you watch the draft in previous years when you weren’t a part of it?
Brohm: I’ll have it on, but I just can’t sit there and watch that whole thing from beginning to end.
CS: Thanks, Brian. I’m one of those guys who watches it start to finish.
Brohm: [Laughs]… I just couldn’t watch the entire time. But I think this year will be a little easier because they shortened the selection time down. I just couldn’t wait 15 minutes between picks. But when the pick would flash up, I’d run in and see what team picked who and then just go back to what I was doing. I’ll keep it on, but I’ll probably do something else while it’s on.
CS: So in previous years, would you look at mock drafts and see who was projected to go where?
Brohm: To be honest, I did when I was trying to decide if I was going to declare for the draft early or not. I was just trying to get as much information as possible before I’d get that NFL evaluation back. I’d just get online and look at mock drafts and see where players were going. It was more of an informational gathering thing than anything else.
CS: The Scouting Combine almost serves as another season for you guys. It seems that everyone forgets what you accomplished during a three or four year collegiate career and solely concentrates on the Combine as a barometer to where you project in April. What are your thoughts on the Combine?
Brohm: I think at the time when the Combine takes place, it gets a little overplayed, but it does play an important part, and I think teams realize that the Combine gives you the raw numbers of players, and the real evaluation is film. The numbers do serve a purpose in evaluating a player, and when the Combine rolls around, that’s what everyone talks about. I think the average fan out there puts a little too much stock in the Combine numbers and the 40 numbers, along with any other stat you can get on a player. The teams realize that it’s only one part of the puzzle, and the big part is the game film.
CS: If the Combine is just one piece of the puzzle and not a major measuring stick, then why do these agents spend so much money on their clients being trained properly in the 40-yard dash?
Brohm: It’s a small piece of the puzzle, but as a player and as an agent, you have to do everything possible, even if it’s only 10-percent of the equation, to get all 10 of that percent when you’re being graded out. If that’s going to cost $20,000 to get trained, than so be it. It’s worth it.
CS: So, it’s truly “what have you done for me lately” entering the “Not For Long” industry?
Brohm: [Laughs]… Exactly.
CS: Well, in about a month and a half you will be rewarded for all of your hard work throughout the years, because draft day will be here. What are your plans and expectations for that day?
Brohm: I’m not sure right now. I don’t know my plans. I’ll definitely watch it wherever I am or whatever I’m doing. I’ll probably be with my family somewhere, probably at their house just watching it with my immediate family. We’ll see what happens, but I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do on that day, and I don’t know what to expect.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.