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Looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft/Dynasty Rookie Draft, etc., prospects. We’re going position by position (except OL) and looking at the top 3-5 expert consensus prospects (not my top 5). I’m doing an abbreviated study of a couple game tapes and review the performance numbers through 2017 and giving my initial impressions on these prospects.
Scouting with just eyes is dangerous. I’d like to have my computer scouting models helping me, but we cannot use that tool until the pre-draft measurables, etc., are recorded. I’m a pretty decent talent evaluator of just tape after all the years, but not without flaw.
So, with that – here’s my first impressions of spending a little time with each prospect. I’m going to rank them from worst-to-best of the group and assign a school letter scouting grade as well.
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (Early Prospect Grade: D)
First off, if this guy is anywhere close to his listed height of 6’5”, then I need new glasses. I’d be surprised if he’s over 6’2”.
I see nothing here but a typical ‘good’ college QB who works the short, quick tempo, spread misdirection passing game well. Whenever he’s kept in the pocket trying to read the defense for a medium or deep throw, he’s likely to wildly over or underthrow the ball…and throw it recklessly into coverage. With all day to throw and receivers scattering everywhere, he’ll find his guy. Under any duress, he’s a mess. He throws wobbly, inaccurate passes more times than not when kept in the pocket.
Herbert typically makes a short, safe, quick decision…and if he doesn’t, he typically glances downfield and takes off running. He has happy feet. He’s not ultra-fast; college-fast but not an NFL impact quickness.
I don’t see a legit NFL prospect here.
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan (Early Prospect Grade D+)
The first thing I thought watching his tape at Ole Miss last year – he looks like a 3rd baseman playing quarterback. His whole football throwing motion and body mechanics look like he’s trying to start a 5-4-3 double play - below the shoulder, side arm-ish quick throws. And then I find out he was drafted in the MLB draft this year…
The second thing I thought was – he’s listed at 6’2”, but I’m not sure he’s even 6’0”. He’s a very small, slight QB prospect. I’d guess somewhere around 6’0”/200.
Patterson is a very sound college QB. The kind that might get you to the Final Four college playoffs, but he’s not a serious NFL QB prospect based on my first review. He’s another in a long line of good enough arm, good athlete to run the quick tempo, short/safe spread offense passing game but is seriously lacking as any type of pro-style or pocket passer.
Patterson has solid throwing mechanics, like a well-schooled baseball player but it’s not great for the NFL. He lacks real velocity, effortless velocity. He has to get his whole behind into a near wind up to zip the ball on short throws. He has quick feet to throw short, like a natural baseball infielder. Because he’s a mechanically sound baseball infielder throwing the ball, you could mistake his football delivery mechanics as ‘looks great’ but it’s not really for the NFL. It takes him too much time to gear up and he’s totally uncomfortable working from a pocket trying to throw medium-deep.
His 2017 stats portend the issue here: 9 TDs/1 INT in Ole Miss’s first 2 games vs. South Alabama and FCS Tenn-Martin. He then went 8 TDs/8 INTs in his next 5 games against better D1 opposition (only played 7 games last season).
Against Alabama and LSU, his two toughest games – 0 TDs/5 INTs.
He’s not ready to be a superstar or high-end NFL prospect, but he’s pretty good/sound for college. Jim Harbaugh will squeeze whatever he can out of him and make him seem better than he is, but I think a flawed NFL prospect QB resides here.
QB Will Grier, West Virginia (Early Prospect Grade C-)
Grier seems to be the guy most mainstreamers have as their #1 QB prospect for 2019, today. Sites I respect a little have him closer to #3-5 of the five, but the echo chamber national sites have him #1-2.
I can say, after my first studies -- I don’t really see it. The more I watched and the more I learned about him, the less interested I became.
First and foremost, the guy is dripping with arrogant, frat-boy ‘jerkitude’. He battled with coaches while at the University of Florida. He was suspended for using PEDs, and just left the team/didn’t attend the practices, etc. -- he just took off since he couldn’t play. His father was mouthy about how he was being used and treated at Florida. His brothers are huge Instagram stars, for what reason I still do not know (they are famous for being ‘known’ on social media). Watching Will Grier in his interviews -- he just oozes entitled, arrogant, full of crap ‘millennial’.
The shame of it is that Grier isn’t that bad of a QB talent. He has a pretty good arm, makes quick/solid decisions, and shows instinct and touch on his throws. He’s not bad.
On the downside, he plays in an un-NFL like offense…quick shotgun snap and throw the ball to the first option in two seconds or less. He doesn’t spend a ton of time reading defenses in the pocket…it’s usually first look and then throw or run. He’s not a very mobile QB but he tries. He has poor mechanics, often drifting/falling back on his throws. When everything is clean he throws a good ball and has nice touch and instincts. Talent may be lurking, but it’s not consistently displayed.
Grier strikes me as the kind of QB who will struggle with transitioning to the pros from the offense/style he works in college. He also seems to be afraid and/or jumpy as a passer (likely why he falls away on his throws)…and that will be evident and damning when he is around NFL pressure. He’s also not the face of the franchise…he’s the anthesis of the ‘grinder’, film room, gym-rat kinda QB that NFL coaches desire. He’s listed at 6’2” or 6’3”, but I see a 6’0.5” or 6’1” coming on top of all the other issues.
Grier has some skills, but nothing ‘wow’ -- and there are way too many other red flags for me to get interested here.
QB Drew Lock, Missouri (Early Prospect Grade C)
I pre-thought he was going to be my clear #1 for this basic scouting, just based on what people had been whispering to me. Perhaps, after another season he will be -- but I don’t see ‘it’ yet here.
I think Lock is a bit of an optical illusion. He looks like an NFL QB, without a doubt. Big guy, sturdy frame, pocket passer, laser beam arm at times, very smooth delivery and mechanics. Everything looks ‘right’. There is a problem, however…
He’s not a very good quarterback.
I mean, he’s pretty good; college good. I see the raw possibilities. But here’s a guy that destroys weak teams and lays eggs against anything remotely good. Against South Carolina, Purdue, Auburn, Georgia, and Texas – an 0-5 record with 8 TDs/7 INTs, less than 270 yards passing each game, and completed 51.9% of his passes. Not good. Against Missouri State and Idaho – 13 TDs/2 INTs and 472.0 passing yards per game.
There is raw physical talent here, an NFL prospect to be sure, but it’s all visual…’the look’; it’s not in the tape or output. We’ll see how he grows in a year. For growth potential, I put him ahead of Will Grier…Grier has better instincts based on 2017 but brings a ton of baggage.
QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (Early Prospect Grade B+)
The only one of these five QBs that I saw the ‘it’ with. A possible ‘A’ grade QB after 2018. I expected him to be the worst of the five, just because Auburn’s offense isn’t built around the passing game – but Stidham is CLEARLY the best NFL QB prospect of this bunch. It’s not even debatable.
Good size. Very good mechanics. Accurate and unafraid to throw medium and deep passes. Stidham threw some passes on the tape I watched that made me sit up and say ‘wow’. He is not scared in the pocket and he’s fine sitting in the pocket or on the move. He’s mobile enough, not a runner-gunner, just nimble enough.
I wouldn’t call him an elite passer at this stage…more future Matt Ryan type for the NFL, but working with a more ‘free’ passing game he might show the elite skills and confidence.
The best testimony on him I can give is – Stidham looked as confident and unrattled against Alabama in 2017 as any QB I’ve ever seen take on the Crimson Tide since they’ve become a juggernaut. Not shockingly, Auburn dealt Alabama its only loss in 2017. Stidham completed 75% of his 28 passes (0 TD/0 INT) and rushed for a career-high 51 yards and a TD in 2017 defeating the Crimson Tide.
In SEC play, in 2017, Stidham threw 13 TDs and just 1 INT on an offense that showcases the run game. If they decide to push the passing game in 2018 – you might want to plunk a nickel on Auburn to win the National Championship this season because of Stidham.