Durant has a promising future

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Despite the Grey Cup loss, Rider fans can breathe easily knowing Durant is under centre

Ed Kapp
News Writer

Last week, when Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Ken Miller told reporters that Darian Durant could go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League’s storied history, he raised more than a few eyebrows, mine among them.

Although I always thought that Durant could, over time, mature into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, I never seriously considered the idea that he could go down in history as one of the all-time greats – that is, until now.

Though the Riders lost 21-18 to the Montreal Alouettes in the 98th Grey Cup at Edmonton, the future is bright for Durant. As a pure, drop-back quarterback, Durant has proven that he has the skills to be one of the best in the league.

Durant’s passing statistics alone are jaw-dropping – nearly 10,000 yards and 49 touchdowns in two full campaigns, but the South Carolina native’s statistics certainly don’t tell the whole story.

While Durant hasn’t consistently been given the good fortune of being able to drop back and set his feet during the majority of his time with the Roughriders, when he has been able to do so, he’s proven that he throws one of the hardest, fastest balls in the CFL and can easily bomb it down the field without a problem.

Although it seems that the Green and White may try the long, deep, towering balls a little too often, Durant has shown that he can throw the deep ball arguably as well as any quarterback in the CFL.

Fortunately, I would imagine that Durant will become more discriminate in who he targets with his passes as he develops as a quarterback – nearly all passers eventually do – and in the future he will probably be better at finding some of his extremely-talented receivers elsewhere on the field when the deep pass isn’t the best option.

While most signal callers excel when they can drop back, set their feet, find an open target, and wing it in there, Durant has shown to be almost equally proficient when he’s flushed out of the pocket and on his horse, trying to extend the play with his feet, even throwing across his body and across the field.

Of course, this isn’t advisable in many cases and, oftentimes, Durant seems to be too desperate to make a big play – although mistakes are mistakes. It’s difficult to blame Durant for trying to let his potent downfield targets make a big play.

Once again, I believe that this is essentially a mental issue and, over time, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Although Durant isn’t the speediest of ball carriers, he is deceptively quick and very hard to bring down, either in the pocket or when he’s running for extra yards downfield.

One of the knocks on most running quarterbacks is that they are more prone to injuries, but Durant has done a very nice job of remaining healthy during his two years as a starting quarterback in the CFL.

Fans should remember that although the Riders offensive line had two West all-stars in Gene Makowski and Jeremy O’Day, who played well for the majority of the season, this offensive line is a unit that really struggled during parts of 2010. Because of their woes, Durant had to work very hard to avoid incoming defensive players while still remaining poised and on the lookout for ball catchers downfield.

I honestly believe that if the Roughriders had any other quarterback in the CFL working behind Saskatchewan’s offensive line, this offence would be absolutely dreadful.

So yes, Durant has made mistakes, and no, these problems probably won’t disappear overnight, but Durant has the natural skill-set to overcome present challenges. More importantly, the unquestionable work ethic to further refine his skills and develop into a more acute passer in the future.

In Riderville, we’re very, very fortunate to have a player of Durant’s character – both on the field and off. If we give him a couple off-seasons to mature as a ball player, I don’t see why the already-proficient Durant won’t develop into one of the all-time great passers in the CFL.

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