Jarrett Lee, Seth Doege and John Beck are the latest big-name QBs to head to the CFL
Three well-known NCAA and NFL quarterbacks are headed north of the border, with former LSU star Jarrett Lee, recent Texas Tech product Seth Doege and NFL veteran and BYU alumnus John Beck all reportedly coming to the CFL as of Friday. Lee and Beck are both joining the B.C. Lions, who could use some quarterback depth behind Travis Lulay following Ottawa taking Thomas DeMarco in December's expansion draft, while Doege is headed to Saskatchewan, where he might just have a chance to fill the shoes of departed backup Drew Willy (who was traded to Winnipeg earlier this offseason). Here are tweets from Lee and Doege about their moves:
Officially part of the British Columbia Lions organization. So blessed for the opportunity to continue to play the game that I love!! #CFL
— Jarrett Lee (@jarrett_lee_12) February 28, 2014
Officially a Saskatchewan Roughrider! I'm very humbled and excited about the opportunity to be part of a great organization!
— Seth Doege (@SethDoege7) February 27, 2014
Beck doesn't seem to be on Twitter, but his signing was reported by TSN's Farhan Lalji:
The #BCLions have signed QB John Beck. Former 2nd round pick had a 6-year #NFL career. DNP in 2013. #CFL
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) February 28, 2014
All of these guys have some potential. Lee could represent a solid prospect for the future; he's just 24, and he had a reasonably impressive college career at LSU, throwing for 3949 yards with 32 touchdowns and 21 interceptions across his four years, which included plenty of games against tough SEC competition. What's notable is that his career with the Tigers was intermingled with two other quarterbacks who at least briefly appeared in the CFL: Lee was expected to be a backup to Ryan Perrilloux early on, but took over the reins at the start of the 2008 season following Perrilloux's dismissal for breaking team rules. Perrilloux wound up in the CFL last year with Calgary after a reality-show connection with Doug Flutie, but there won't be a showdown between the old teammates, as Perilloux is now back in the Arena Football League.
Meanwhile, Lee wound up alternating with Jordan Jefferson for most of his college career, and Jefferson had a brief stint with the Montreal Alouettes in 2012 before heading to the AFL. LSU's offensive coordinator from 2007-2010, four of Lee's five seasons (he red-shirted in 2007 when the Tigers won the BCS national championship), Gary Crowton, also wound up as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' offensive coordinator for 2012 and part of 2013, adding to the numerous LSU-CFL connections from that period. Lee doesn't necessarily enter the CFL with as much hype as any of those other former Tigers, but he has a shot to maybe last longer than any of them.
Some notable numbers on Lee come from his senior year in 2011, where he started early on before largely giving way to Jefferson on a LSU team that made the national championship game (losing to Alabama); he completed 62.3 per cent of his passes that season, throwing for 1,306 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Efficiency like that can be crucial in the CFL, so we'll see if Lee can replicate that on the bigger Canadian field in the 12-a-side game. He doesn't appear to have played much since his college days, only briefly appearing in the NFL with San Diego in 2012, but at 24, he could have a lot of football ahead of him.
As for Doege, he comes in to Saskatchewan with plenty of impressive stats. He threw for 8,636 yards with 69 touchdowns and 26 interceptions during his Texas Tech career from 2008-2012, including a senior year that saw him rack up 4,205 yards, 36 touchdowns against 16 interceptions and a 70.2 per cent completion mark. He also holds the NCAA record for the best completion percentage in a single game with a minimum of 40 attempts, completing 40 of 44 passes (90.9 per cent) against New Mexico in 2011. The Red Raiders' offence is known for being wide-open, but Doege's stats are still remarkable, and that completion percentage in particular might help him succeed in the CFL. We'll see if he can make an impact north of the border. (Interestingly enough, Saskatchewan used to have another former Red Raider quarterback whose time at Texas Tech briefly overlapped with Doege's: recent NFL backup Graham Harrell, who played for the Red Raiders from 2004-2008, was with the Riders in 2009.) Doege has plenty of time left, too; he's just 25, and although the NFL didn't work out for him (he was on Atlanta's practice squad for much of last year), the CFL might provide a better spot.
Beck is perhaps the highest-profile guy amongst these players, as he was a second-round NFL draft pick (40th overall) following a solid college career at BYU, and he spent the last six years in that league with Miami, Baltimore, Washington and Houston. He may be most notable for his 2011 season in Washington, which saw him compete with Rex Grossman for the starting role. Dan Steinberg of The D.C. Sports Bog even put together a list of John Beck Facts ahead of that season, which is quite the fun read:
• When Beck was a few months old, the Miami Herald reported, “his parents remember him grabbing his empty bottle, hurling it toward the front of their church, and clocking an older man in the head.”
• Although the Arizona Republic retold the story somewhat differently.
“He was a terror in church,” his mother, Julie Beck, told that paper. “He used to drink his bottle really fast, and he had such a quick release, if we weren’t careful, once it was empty he’d grab the nipple and throw it about six rows up.”
• Though, actually, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said it was four rows up. This is why no one trusts the media.
We'll see if Beck can replicate those bottle-throwing exploits in the CFL. At 32, he has less time than the younger guys to make an impression, but he's also coming in with much more professional experience. He's certainly an interesting addition, and one worth watching going forward, as are Lee and Doege. As we've seen before, big names and big-time south-of-the-border experience doesn't always lead to success as a CFL quarterback, and adjusting to the Canadian game can be particularly difficult, so none of these guys are sure to last long. They're all worth keeping an eye on, though.