Next 6 Weeks Could Define Zach Collaros' Career

Matthew Appleby@@applebyincContributor IISeptember 1, 2013

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 11: Zach Collaros #17 of the Toronto Argonauts throws during CFL game action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 11, 2013 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

With Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray expected to miss six weeks with a partial tear in his shoulder, backup Zach Collaros has been thrust into the spotlight.

Collaros will be charged with commanding the first place Argonauts until November, and his football future may be determined within that time.

It is not often that a 25-year-old backup starting in place of a future Hall Of Fame quarterback is a career defining moment, but the situation this season is unique. When Ray returns, the starting job will be his, no matter how well Collaros plays; so why are the next six weeks so important?

The answer is the 2013 CFL expansion draft and the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Collaros played his college football with the Cincinnati Bearcats where he started in his final two seasons. After leading the Big East in passing yards and touchdowns in 2010, Collaros was selected as the First-Team All-Big East Quarterback.

In 2012, Collaros worked out with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not make the team. He signed with the Toronto Argonauts and made his CFL debut in 2012 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Ottawa REDBLACKS will join the CFL for the 2014 season and will have a chance to draft 24 current players as part of an expansion draft. They will select three players from each of the eight teams—two Canadians and one import.

Teams are allowed to protect one quarterback, and it is a foregone conclusion that the Argonauts are going to protect Ricky Ray. That leaves Collaros as a potential first-round draft choice for the new franchise.

But Collaros is not the only young and talented quarterback potentially available to the REDBLACKS. In order to get a sense of who is out there, we only need to look back as far as Week 5 of this season.

In Week 5, four backup quarterbacks started and impressed, including Collaros. Drew Willy, 26, started for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns while on the road. Bo Mitchell made his CFL debut for the Calgary Stampeders and completed 29 of 33 passes (throwing for three touchdowns), while Justin Goltz started for Winnipeg and threw for two touchdowns. Collaros led the Argonauts to victory by throwing for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

All four of these backup quarterbacks are born outside of Canada, which makes them eligible as import players. The Ottawa REDBLACKS management will be looking at the Week 5 game film closely, but they have been afforded another opportunity with Collaros.

The REDBLACKS will have an extended chance to see Collaros. They can analyze how he leads the offense, how he takes a hit and how he reads defenses. Collaros is a hybrid-type quarterback that can run outside the pocket in order to extend the play.

At practice on Saturday, Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich had high praise for Collaros. Milanovich mentioned how “he’s a confident, young guy” and later added that “he is a very natural leader.”

If Ottawa is looking for a mobile, young quarterback to lead their franchise, then for Zach Collaros, the next six weeks are more than just a chance to take regular snaps. They are a try out.

Note: all quotes were acquired first hand.



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