Considered by draft experts as the third rated quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft, Kansas State signal-caller Josh Freeman is supremely confident when it comes to his ability to play in the professional ranks.
Despite being in the mix of a talented group of junior quarterbacks that includes Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of USC, Freeman feels like he's the best in the bunch.
When it came time to declare for the draft, the talented quarterback wasn't worried about being lost in the shuffle.
"If you look back, I made my decision to come out well before Stafford and Sanchez did and there was still (Sam) Bradford (of Oklahoma) and (Colt) McCoy (of Texas) on the table whether they were going to come out," Freeman said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I had a lot of confidence in who I am as a player so I was willing to come out.''
As a three-year starter for the Wildcats, the 6-foot-6, 248-pound quarterback threw for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns. Beyond putting up big numbers, he also played well against top-flight competition, beating Texas as a freshman and as a sophomore. This past season against Oklahoma, Freeman threw for a career-high 478 yards and three touchdowns in defeat.
But when Kansas State made a coaching change after this past season, Freeman felt the timing was right to go pro.
"There were a lot of different reasons," Freeman said of his decision to leave with one year of eligibility left. "I've done a lot of work at Kansas State and felt really good it the system but as far as developing as a player, I wasn't going to develop a whole lot more at K-State – even under coach (Ron) Prince's system. When Coach Prince got let go and they brought coach (Bill) Snyder back – I still took a good look at that -- but I felt that, ultimately, it was the right time.''
Freeman is mostly known for being a big-armed quarterback, who's able to escape from the pocket and keep plays alive. At the combine, he ran a 4.94, 40-yard dash, and recorded a 33 and-a-half inch vertical jump. He led all quarterbacks with a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump.
"I prefer to sit in the pocket and deliver the ball on time, but it's always something I've got in my back pocket in case things break down," Freeman said of his athleticism.
Without the same fanfare as Stafford or Sanchez, Freeman made the most of his opportunities at the combine, so teams could to get to know him on a much more personal level. Since juniors aren't followed by NFL scouts until they've declared for the draft, Freeman came to Indianapolis with a distinct purpose.
"(I'm here) Not so much to get my name out there, but to show people who I am and what I'm about." he said. "Physically, a lot of people don't know that I move as well as I do. I just want to do what I do (and) get some exposure. Teams have seen me play but they've never really seen me in person, the size factor and a lot of stuff.''
Prior to the combine, Freeman told reporters he wasn't sure he'd throw at all, but ultimately he had a change of heart.
"I've got nothing to hide," he said. "I'm really confident in my physical abilities, whether that's running or throwing. I'll measure up very well against everybody else.''
Asked which quarterbacks he's most like in the NFL, Freeman said, "I'd say, first and foremost, (I'm like) Ben Roethlisberger for the size and ability to move around the pocket and extend the play. And also Donovan McNabb, just the way he harnesses his athletic ability and is still able to sit in the pocket and be a pocket passer."
According to Freeman, there's a long list of potential homes for his services and he's talked to "virtually everyone."
Most experts predict Freeman to be a first-round draft pick. But no matter what the Mel Kipers of the world are saying, Freeman isn't going to stop working to get better. Despite playing in one bowl game in his three-year career at Kansas State, Freeman learned a lot from his experience in college.
"Your game is never where you want it to be," Freeman said. "I've worked really hard the past year on footwork and being able to play within the system at all times. There were certain times where your team would fall behind and you'd want to make a play and you would feel – I wouldn't say desperation – but the need to make a play and make something happen. Rather than doing that and possibly making a negative play, (now I'll) just sit back and run the offense.''
Those lessons will only serve him well in the future.