Updated: May 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
Before last season, National Football Scouting formed its opinion on North Carolina tight end Richard Quinn. He was graded between a sixth-round pick and an undrafted free agent.
After Quinn caught only eight passes for 97 yards, he had his own opinion. The sixth round seemed like a reach.
"I thought maybe I'd be a free agent and be blessed to have the opportunity to come to a team and maybe try out," he said.
Draft prognosticators weren't high on Quinn. Mel Kiper Jr. had Quinn ranked as a mid-round pick. Pro Football Weekly had Quinn ranked eighth among tight ends.
So how, a few minutes after text messaging his agent on draft day to say that he was going to sleep, did Quinn wind up as a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos?
His agent, Peter Schaffer, said it wasn't one team making a gigantic reach. He said he fielded calls from a few teams that wanted Quinn in the middle of the second round, but they traded their picks or passed on Quinn to fill other needs. Schaffer said Quinn would have gone in the first few picks of the third round.
Before the draft, Schaffer said he talked to Texans general manager Rick Smith, who wanted Quinn in the middle of the third round.
"I said ‘Great, he's not going to be there,'" Schaffer said. "I'm a Dr Pepper richer because that was the bet."
After last season, Quinn moved quickly to hire Schaffer, a high-powered agent who has 39 active players not counting this year's draft class. Schaffer works with trainer Derek Touchette of Velocity Sports Performance in Naples, Fla., and he sent Quinn there less than a week after North Carolina's bowl game to train for the combine.
Touchette saw a player with a good set of athletic gifts and great strength, but needed to hone his technique before the combine. He spent three days a week working on Quinn's 40-yard dash.
"His mechanics were all messed up," Touchette said.
Quinn worked on lowering his 40 time - mainly by lengthening his strides and becoming looser in his lower body - and preparing for interviews, which the gregarious tight end aced at the combine. He didn't even have the benefit of playing in a postseason all-star game. He was invited to the Senior Bowl but later was left out because while he had spent four years in college and graduated, he was technically a redshirt junior when he left.
Schaffer didn't send highlight DVDs to teams or have a sales pitch for Quinn. He said he draws upon 20 years of relationships with scouts, executives and coaches to get a read on the draft stock of all of his players. A few scouts told Schaffer early on that Quinn had a complete package of skills, he just wasn't used as a receiver often at North Carolina. Schaffer made sure others were seeing the same thing.
"What happened was, as more and more teams peeled the layers of the onion back on the game film on him, they saw that," Schaffer said.
Quinn continued to work. He trained hard and had a good combine workout, running a solid 4.88-second 40 and catching almost every pass during individual drills. Quinn also performed well in his dozen or so private workouts for teams and at North Carolina's pro day. Internet scuttle was he was rising up draft boards, but he didn't pay attention.
"I came out of college, I didn't have any stats," said Quinn, who had 12 career catches. "That was a major issue, at least that's what I thought. When people told me I was climbing up the boards a bit, I said ‘I have to see it.'"
Although Quinn grew to believe he'd be drafted, he figured he'd be selected on the second day after the first two rounds were done. But the Broncos traded a pair of third-round picks for the last pick of the second round - 64th overall - and took Quinn.
"I was thinking if we got him in the fourth round, we did good," Touchette said. "We he went 64th I almost fell out of my chair. I was so happy for him."