STILLWATER â€” Brandon Weeden insists he's not pondering his potential place in next spring's NFL Draft, even as it's a focus for so many others.
The Oklahoma State quarterback eventually faces a dilemma: to stay in school and grow his game, as many recommend; or jump to the NFL for Phase 2 of his pro sports experiences before his competitive clock advances another click toward midnight.
Will he stay? Will he go?
â€œI don't really pay much attention to (the chatter),â€ said Weeden, a junior. â€œPeople are going to say things and make assumptions and things like that. But in the end, it's my decision. I haven't thought one way or the other.
â€œI haven't even talked to my wife about it.â€
The time is coming, though, with a Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare themselves eligible for the draft.
The bigger question for Weeden: should he go?
Early indications â€” no.
Weeden carries a memorable and even magical season into the Alamo Bowl. An unknown quantity as late as late September, he produced OSU records for passing yards, completions, passing touchdowns and total offense, becoming the Cowboys' first all-conference quarterback of the modern era.
Nationally, he ranks among the top five in passing yards (3rd), passing yards per game (2nd), passing touchdowns (4th) and total offense (2nd).
Some suggest Weeden's advanced age â€” the former pro baseball player is 27 â€” accelerates his need to move on to the next level. Yet those with a feel for the NFL point to a more important number: 12 1/2 games, Weeden's complete body of work as a college quarterback, which is hardly substantial.
With quarterbacks, NFL talent evaluators typically want to see more.
â€œWhen you write a report up, there will be a place down there for positives and negatives,â€ said Pat Jones, a former NFL assistant who's now a Fox analyst for college football. â€œOne of the things if you wrote a report up on him right now, a negative would be: â€˜one-year starter.'
â€œThere's a difference between being 20 and 28, but what difference is there in being 27 or 28? Another year would really do him good. You write the report a year from now and you're saying, â€˜Two-year starter.' And that guy's much better prepared to handle things.â€
Beyond the resume building, Jones said Weeden can really help himself on the field with another season.
â€œHe needs another year,â€ Jones said. â€œHe would benefit a lot; I mean a lot.â€
And that's a common sentiment.
Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki currently projects Weeden as a fourth-round pick, but reports that scouts he's talked to â€œwarn against him leaving early because he needs more reps that he won't get at the NFL level.â€
To an extent, Weeden understands that.
â€œThere's guys in the NFL that are still working on things to this day,â€ he said. â€œYou've always got to work on certain things, especially at quarterback. And yeah, there are things I still want to refine and keep getting better at. And I've already started working on those things.
â€œBeing a quarterback is like being a pitcher, there's always something to work on. It's always a process.â€
At the popular websites devoted to the NFL Draft, Weeden isn't listed among the top quarterbacks, although there's still time to impress â€” in the bowl game, and in person â€” with his skills and his intelligence and maturity.
Still, Weeden doesn't crack any of the Top 10s for his position. Last year, only three QBs were taken in the first two rounds. And while more are expected to go early this year, an average of 13.3 quarterbacks per year has been taken in the past three drafts.
Weeden doesn't rank among the top 50 junior prospects at nfldraftdog.com, a list that includes six quarterbacks, then extends deeper with four more draft-eligible â€œSuper Sophomores.â€ And neither list includes seniors.
The Cowboys quarterback had better seasons than many on these lists, so Weeden's lack of draft recognition may lend itself to his lacking body of work.
On a national scale, he literally came out of nowhere.
â€œI think it's one of the best feel-good stories in college football, on a national level,â€ Jones said. â€œFor a guy to not just have a good year, but come in and knock the pop out of the thing, I think it's a great story.â€
Will the story continue in Stillwater?
Weeden needs but six more credit hours to graduate, so school won't be tugging at him to return.
Still, he seems to be enjoying his time at OSU; enjoys being a teammate. And there's the current NFL labor uncertainty to consider, as the league's collective bargaining agreement remains unsigned and a potential lockout looms.
For a guy needing more reps, a year spent outside the game could be crippling.
So there are pros and cons for Weeden to consider, in time.
â€œIt's kind of on the back burner,â€ he said. â€œOnce this bowl game's over, that's the time to sit back and realize what's going on and weigh all my options and things like that.
â€œI'm truly more worried about winning this 11th game, because nobody's had the opportunity to win No. 11 around here. And 11 would be very special to this squad.â€
TOP QB PROSPECTS
Here's a look at this year's top quarterback prospects for the NFL Draft:
* Andrew Luck, So., Stanford
* Ryan Mallett, Jr., Arkansas
* Blaine Gabbert, Jr., Missouri
* Cam Newton, Jr., Auburn
* Jake Locker, Sr., Washington
* Ricky Stanzi, Sr., Iowa
* Nick Foles, Jr., Arizona
* Nathan Enderle, Sr., Idaho
* Christian Ponder, Sr., Florida State
* Colin Kaepernick, Sr., Nevada
* Tyrod Taylor, Sr., Virginia Tech
* Andy Dalton, Sr., TCU