The doubters are back.
Vernon Adams Jr. has endured them since he was a young quarterback in Southern California.
“It goes all the way back to Pop Warner ball, guys telling me I’m not good enough,” said Adams, the former Eastern Washington star who’s hoping to prove them wrong one more time.
If he gets the chance.
The National Football League draft begins Thursday night in Chicago. Adams will be there, hoping to hear his name called before the seven-round event ends on Saturday. Most experts rank him from 10th to 14th among this year’s crop of quarterbacks, which means Adams may not hear his name at all.
By all accounts, that assessment is based on the size of Adams’ body, not the body of his work.
That includes three record-breaking seasons at EWU, where Adams passed for 10,438 yards, with 110 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. After posting a career passer rating of 173.8 against Football Championship Subdivision competition, Adams took his act to Oregon and did even better: 179.1, the top mark in the big-college division last season.
And the payoff? Not a single pre-draft visit and just one private workout (with the St. Louis Rams), despite his 26 touchdown passes, just six interceptions and a national-best 10.1 yards per attempt for the Ducks.
Adams has decent arm strength and the mobility to extend plays, but his biggest handicap is height; at 5-foot-11, he was shortest among 18 quarteracks at the NFL Combine in February. A disappointing time in the 40-yard sprint didn’t help Adams’ cause.
“It’s frustrating,” Adams told The Spokesman-Review this week. “I’ve been told I’m not good enough coming out of high school … but I keep smiling and keep pushing.”
“At the end of the day, it’s in God’s hands,” Adams said.
Not that Adams isn’t trying to help himself. This week, Adams took to the media – social and otherwise –to make his case with NFL teams.
In an interview with USA Today, Adams rated himself the second-best QB on the board, behind Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. He compared himself favorably with Jared Goff, the 6-foot-4 former Cal star who’s expected to be among the top five picks Thursday night.
“I’ve played Jared Goff,” Adams said. “They always want to talk about my hands being too small, but my hands are bigger than his. I’ve played in snowy games. I’ve played in rainy games. I’ve played in negative-15 degree games,” Adams said.
“I’m not a cocky dude, I just want everybody to know that everything that everyone else is doing, I can do it as well. It’s just so much on my height,” Adams said.
Even if his name isn’t called this week, Adams expects to sign a free-agent contract with an NFL team. Should that fail, the Canadian Football League is another option.
Meanwhile, Adams is “almost done” with his master’s degree and spends as much time as possible with son Vernon Cash Adams III.
“I’m having fun and enjoying life,” Adams said.
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