Kevin Hogan has the experience, the leadership and the intelligence to succeed in the NFL. No quarterback won more big games than him at Stanford.
And the Buffalo Bills seem to like the quarterback, for good reason. Hogan gets into this and more in our pre-draft series here.
The question: Can he fix his fundamentals, permanently, to excel at the next level? His numbers were solid, of course. Hogan capped his career by completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,867 yards with 27 touchdowns and only eight interceptions in addition to six rushing scores. But he excelled with a funky, baseball-like windup.
Some quarterbacks, like Philip Rivers, make the necessary tweaks. Others, like Tim Tebow, do not.
So for seven weeks after his college season concluded, Hogan worked with former NFL quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell, the one who worked magic with Rivers.
Ramsdell has also worked with Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger, among others.
Has Hogan changed his throwing motion enough? Will the changes stick?
Caught up with Ramsdell below to find out...
On his work with Kevin Hogan: “We worked mostly on his passing fundamentals. He’s really a squared away guy. He did a lot of really good things at Stanford. Really a smart player. Has good control of the game. He has all the abilities you want in a quarterback. But the one area he needed work was on his passing fundamentals. So we took a lot of time on that, doing the various drops and working on his passing fundamentals and just grinded that. All the other stuff, he’s well versed in.”
On what exactly is different about Kevin Hogan's delivery: “He was taking a real long throwing motion, and then you have a long throwing motion—the higher level you go up—it’s an indicator of where you’re going with the ball. It telegraphs what you’re doing and helps the defense. It gives them a head start to react on where you’re going with the ball. So you want to be quick with your throwing motion—quick as possible—so that’s what we did.”
On what the two did together: “So we took him to the very basic beginnings of how to throw a ball. It’s just quickening it up. We did quick-release drills, stuff like that and explained to him all the mechanics of what you need to do. Get his legs involved in the throw. That kind of stuff. He did a good job with it. It was pretty evident he didn’t have a good base so he was receptive to all the stuff we talked about and went after it with a lot of enthusiasm and improved, and he’ll improve even more. Like I told him, the body of your work is already done and that’s what you did at Stanford. That’s where most of the decision will be made. But like I told him, what you want to do is improve on how you played in the Rose Bowl, what you did at the Senior Bowl, the Combine, the Pro Day. In all those areas, you want to keep showing improvement. So you can say, ‘Alright guys, this was the Stanford Kevin Hogan and this is where I am now.’”
On if Hogan is still a work in progress: “Everybody’s a work in progress. It never ends. My last time with him was his pro day and he did a great job in his pro day—way better from when we first started. He’s still working at it now. He’s not done. He’ll have OTA’s up soon and he’ll keep working on his craft.”
On the similarities/differences working with Hogan and Philip Rivers: “Yeah, Philip had a lot of work to do as well. He was, mechanically, all over the place. Not very efficient in his throwing motion. But he had quick body movement. He was naturally quick but he was working against himself with his body. So we did a lot of work in making him more efficient. And he was awesome. He really embraced it and improved real quick. The quickest I’ve ever been around.
“He was not balanced at all and he was not compact at all. So we got him balanced, got his shoulders leveled, got him way more compact, quickened up his throwing motion. The biggest thing with him was balance. He was all over the place. He became a lot smoother, and the same thing with Kevin. Kevin’s a lot smoother and more balanced than he was before and shorter in terms of getting the ball out quicker without an elongated throw. We shortened all that up to make him more compact.”
On if Hogan could start a NFL game soon: “Ahh, that’s hard to say. I wouldn’t say he’s a starter right away, no. But I think he can develop into a starter.”
On Hogan's NFL future: “There’s a lot more to playing quarterback than arm strength. In fact, that’s one of the least most important qualities. You have to lead your team and make players believe in you, make great decisions, see the field, be real competitive, you’ve got to be tough. You’re going to get knocked around a lot which doesn’t happen in college football. A lot of times in college, the pockets are real clean. Well, they’re not in pro football. You’ve got a lot of pressure. I’ve seen Kevin and know he’s a tough, competitive guy. He’s athletic. He’s got all the things, I think. And the one thing he was lacking was just basic passing fundamentals. That’s what we worked on hard for 6-7 weeks and he improved greatly. And I think that’s the missing piece of the puzzle people see when they watch Stanford film. And when you see his pro day, you’ll see he improved greatly in that regard. He’s able to make throws you need to make in the NFL now.”
On a typical day with Hogan: “A lot of people work with a lot of different kinds of drills and all that. We weren’t working on that. We were working a lot on passing fundamentals. Taking drops. Having balance. Having base. Making the different throws for the different routes. We just threw a lot of balls with the receivers. The first couple weeks, we didn’t have receivers. So we just did the basic stuff. Quickness drills. Learning how to drop.”
On if Hogan's release is quick enough to succeed in the NFL since it's a faster game: “Yes, yes. Very few quarterbacks coming into the draft have the fundamentals that we’re talking about. There’s a lot of guys who don’t have this or don’t have that. And a lot of them don’t know that they don’t have it. They haven’t been told. Kevin didn’t know all this stuff. It’s just never been brought to his attention and he’s been successful doing what he’s doing at Stanford."
For a visual of what Ramsdell is talking about, here are a few highlights from Hogan's senior season...