Undrafted rookies can be relevant, too.
Just ask Jeff Tuel, who could push veteran Kevin Kolb for the Buffalo Bills’ backup quarterback job before the preseason comes to a close.
In his first outing as an NFL quarterback, Tuel proved to the Bills that he’s much more than an undrafted rookie with prototypical size and lackluster arm strength.
Taking over in the second half after starter E.J. Manuel was pulled, Tuel made a huge impact under center for the Bills. He completed 19 of his 23 attempts (82.6 percent) for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Two of his passes were dropped and one was batted down at the line, meaning that only one of his passes – a smart over throw – was off target.
The most impressive part of Tuel’s performance was his ability to stay cool when the pass rush closed in, something that was seen as a major weakness for the Washington State product.
Of the four dropbacks during which he was under pressure, he completed three of three passes for 31 yards while taking a sack on the other snap. He was blitzed on 14 dropbacks, and completed 12 of 14 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. For a young quarterback who many doubted because of his pocket presence and mental toughness, Tuel seems to be handling the adjustment to the NFL nicely.
For an undrafted rookie who many thought would never amount to anything as a professional passer, Tuel did a great job of leading the Bills’ offense – albeit against other unproven players and roster longshots. He was extremely efficient with the football and helped Buffalo come away with a dominant 44-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s only one preseason game, but Tuel looked like a quarterback worth keeping on the roster. Just ask Pro Football Focus, who gave him the top rating of any passer who has seen a preseason snap.
In just under three weeks, the Bills will have to decide who will serve as Manuel’s immediate backup. If Tuel continues to impress throughout the preseason, Kolb could be headed back to the free agency pool.
This may be a bit premature, but Tuel is starting to look like a hidden gem.