Brandon Weeden will be drafted this week later than he would have been had savvy pro scouts not discovered that Weeden was born in 1983 and is older than Ryan Braun, Kendrick Perkins and D'Juan Woods.
Weeden is 28 years old and yet to join an NFL team, which drops him down the draft list and lands him in mighty good company. Roger Staubach was 27 before he joined the men who wear the star.
In 1964, the Dallas Cowboys used a 10th-round draft pick to take Staubach, a Heisman Trophy winner who faced a five-year commitment with the U.S. Navy, for whose academy he starred as a collegian.
That pick actually was the 129th overall, so it would be late fourth round these days. And it turned out OK for the Cowboys, provided you're fine with two Super Bowl titles, 11 playoff victories and a Hall of Fame career, which Staubach delivered even though he had made just four NFL starts by age 29.
Can Weeden take comfort in knowing Staubach's path?
Yes, says the only man with direct links to both. Gil Brandt was the Cowboys' vice president of player personnel from their birth in 1960 through Jerry Jones' purchase of the franchise in 1989. Brandt was the primary talent scout and formed the trinity with Tex Schramm and Tom Landry.
Now Brandt is a draft analyst for nfl.com and has interviewed Weeden. Even tried to talk Weeden into attending the draft festivities in New York this week.
And Brandt is a big Weeden fan.
“I think the guy's a good prospect,” Brandt told me the other day. “I told Weeden he'd be drafted between 24 and 40 and make somebody a pretty darn good quarterback.
“Twenty-eight years old doesn't worry me. I think he's a good football player. More so, he's a high-quality individual, which is an indicator of success.”
Speaking of which, Staubach passed that test. He was 22 when the Cowboys drafted him in the wake of a Heisman season, knowing the Navy had first dibs.
Staubach would be 27 before he could take a Dallas snap.
The five-year layoff, more than the age, worried Brandt.
“He was in such great shape,” Brandt said. “But historically, guys that are away from the game, a high percentage of them never reach the plateau. But in his case, he didn't lose anything at all.”
Staubach served tour in Vietnam, Japan and Florida (Pensacola Naval Air Station).
“I would think that Weeden really has the advantage, because Roger was playing on the beaches at Okinawa,” Brandt said. “I'd have to send him cases of footballs so he could practice throwing.”
Staubach used his leave time to attend Dallas' 1967 training camp and 1968 rookie camp. Then in 1969, Don Meredith retired, and Staubach and veteran backup Craig Morton battled for the job.
On the day Meredith retired, Landry said, “The only thing he really needs is to learn our system. The greatest asset a man can have to become a good quarterback is dedication. And I've seldom seen such dedication in an athlete as Roger has.”
Staubach was not overly impressive in the '67 and '68 glimpses Landry saw, but by 1969, “I couldn't believe it was the same man,” Landry said, “and he did it just working by himself in every spare minute. I don't think we need to worry about Roger.”
Staubach made one start in 1969, three starts in 1970 (a Dallas Super Bowl season; Morton started that 16-13 loss to the Colts) and 10 starts in 1971, when the Cowboys caught fire under Staubach and won the Super Bowl.
A shoulder injury sidelined Staubach the entire 1972 season, but by 1973, Dallas was on its way to America's Team status, which made Staubach America's quarterback. He made 100 of a possible 102 starts through 1979 and retired at age 37 as a Texas icon.
Now he's Brandon Weeden's Exhibit A.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.