Lost in the shuffle of Monday night's flood of undrafted free agent signings was a snarky tweet from CBS Sports announcing that the Arizona Cardinals had picked up Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin. While the name may not have meant much to most, take a long look at his resume before poo-poo'ing Devlin as another Max Hall, undrafted free agent fiasco.
Originally signed to Penn State, Devlin found himself embroiled in a head-to-head competition for the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback position with Daryll Clark in 2008. After losing the competition, the 23-year old followed in the footsteps of Baltimore Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco and transferred to the University of Delaware.
As a Blue Hen, Devlin recorded two of the most accurate seasons in FCS history, culminating in a senior year in which he led the nation in completion percentage (68.0), while throwing for 3,032 yards, 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
"My biggest thing is my accuracy,'' Devlin said to Sports Illustrated before the 2011 NFL Draft. "If your offense can hold onto the ball, the better your team will be. I think I proved that part of my game is there with my stats this year. I didn't throw many interceptions at all, and that was a big reason why our offense was able to be successful. Accuracy is a huge factor for quarterbacks in the NFL.''
Indeed it is, and it also proved to be one of the Cardinals' biggest downfalls of the ‘10-‘11 campaign. Mired by an erratic foursome of quarterbacks -- Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, and Richard Bartel -- the Cardinals offense totaled just 10 touchdowns to 19 interceptions throughout the season, while completing a paltry 50 percent of their passes. After that travesty, some accuracy and astute decision-making was exactly what Arizona needed.
"He's a really intelligent kid,'' NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock gushed when asked about Devlin before the NFL combine. "He understands pass protections. He knows where and when to throw the football. He's going to be really good in the interviews. He's going to look you in the eye. He's going to spit out the protections and numbers, and he gets the game of football.''
Doesn't that sound nice? Wouldn't taking a flyer on the kid seem like the perfect savvy, risk-free move to add a quality low-cost option to address one of the Cardinals biggest holes?
Well, unfortunately CBS' reports ultimately were unfounded -- Devlin signed a three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday morning. While it certainly isn't the biggest loss ever -- after all, the chances of Devlin ever making an impact were relatively small to begin with -- I can't shake the feeling that Arizona missed out on a golden opportunity.
"I feel like you can put me up against any other [quarterback] and I may not be the tallest guy, I may not be able to throw the ball 80 yards, or whatever [Ryan] Mallett claims he can throw it, but I'm confident in my abilities to lead a team down the field and score,'' Devlin said after eschewing the number one selection in the UFL Draft for a chance in the NFL. "And that's basically what it comes down to when you're talking about successful quarterbacks. That's how you're measured.''
"I feel like I've proven I belong, both on the field and in the film room," he continued. "When I get the opportunity, I show people what I'm about.''
Only time will tell whether the Cardinals will regret failing to give Devlin that opportunity.