INDIANAPOLIS - In a draft growing a reputation as weak at the top and minus any franchise quarterbacks, Andrew Walter waits.
The Arizona State quarterback came to the NFL scouting combine to convince teams his shoulder injury is healed and he should be ranked alongside guys like Utah quarterback Alex Smith and California's Aaron Rodgers.
Truth be told, he’s a little irritated he isn’t already.
“It is motivating, absolutely,” Walter said. “I have confidence in myself, and all I need is one team to have confidence in me and I’ll be able to show everybody.”
The weekend is an awkward time for Walter. After suffering a Grade 3 shoulder separation against Arizona in the regular season finale and then undergoing surgery, Walter knew he was never going to be able to work out in Indianapolis.
Friday, he admitted many of the questions from teams centered around his shoulder. Once he told doctors he was throwing some only a month after surgery, they were impressed.
Walter called that a good sign.
“If (the injury) scares off anyone, well, I’ll deal with it,” Walter said. “It’s not unlike Willis McGahee.”
Certainly Walter’s case isn’t nearly as extreme as McGahee’s, after the running back tore knee ligaments in the Fiesta Bowl in January, 2003, and then was drafted in the first round by Buffalo about four months later.
Buffalo assistant general manager Tom Modrak said his team studied the case of McGahee thoroughly, which is why the Bills took him. Any player who is hurt at the end of his college career must undergo similar scrutiny.
“Maybe you don’t roll the dice (on the draft pick),” Modrak said. “It’s about risk and reward. In that particular case (with McGahee) the reward was real big.”
The shoulder shouldn’t be a big issue, since Walter doesn’t have a history of injuries. But he will have to wait until his pro workout day of April 6 at ASU to show scouts what he can do, a time perilously close to the draft.
Walter is counting on teams looking at tape of his three years at ASU and coming away impressed. Yet he admitted frustration at not being able to go out at the RCA Dome and compete in today’s drills. “I wanted to go stand next to anyone and everyone and prove I was as good as anyone — ‘Who’s your best, let’s throw,’ ” Walter said. “Eventually I will get that chance so I won’t worry.
“A lot of (QBs) are hyped — some rightfully so, some unrightfully so.”
Cardinals vice president of football operations Rod Graves said he didn’t think Walter’s inability to work out — assuming he passed medical inspections — would hurt him.
“The evaluations in the offseason are a tool,” Graves said. “But they don’t dictate our feeling about a player.”
Walter said he isn’t a “fortune teller” and doesn’t want to get into predicting where he’ll land on draft day. Early prognostications have him going on the first day, in the second or third round.
Walter measured at 6-foot-6 and 233 pounds, and his main strength is a cannon of an arm. Former Cardinals quarterback coach Geep Chryst said after the play of the 6-5, 241-pound Ben Roethlisberger last season, Walter may get an ancillary benefit from the scouts.
“He fits the profile,” Chryst said. “He might get some bounce off the success of Roethlisberger.. . . Andrew may be a great value (after the first round). You can’t discount his incredible production in a good league like the Pac-10.”
Despite all the uncertainty, Walter stood at the interview podium Friday with a smile. He had come a long way from his backup status at ASU when coach Dirk Koetter first arrived to now be standing at the combine talking about being drafted in the NFL.
He joked about being able to picture himself in such a spot, yet more as a fantasy than attainable reality.
“I thank God I made it this far,” Walter said, “but there is a lot of work ahead.”
EXTRA POINT: The Cardinals will offer restricted free agent quarterback Josh McCown the one-year “middle” tender of $1.43 million, meaning that if another team chooses to sign McCown to an offer sheet, it would owe the Cardinals a first-round draft pick if the Cardinals do not match it.