Tajh Boyd QB Clemson #10
Size/Athleticism: Shorter than the ideal quarterback prospects but is well build and can take a hit. Mobility is an asset. His straight-line speed is impressive for a quarterback. He has the build of a running back, which gives him the ability to breaks some tackles and bounce off would-be tackles who don’t wrap up him.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Adequate zip on his passes on the short and intermediate routes. Touch on his passes is inconsistent—doesn’t always take something off when possible and makes life difficult on his receivers. Can get the ball downfield but it tends to hang in the air. General accuracy is adequate but exact placement is very inconsistent. He’s not the type of quarterback who can throw a receiver open.
Footwork/Release: Footwork is consistent. He shows proper weight transfer. Moves well within the pocket. Quickly slides away from pressure and sets his feet again. Only major flaw in terms of mechanics is his slight windup in his release. Has a knack for adjusting his release point to avoid pressure and maintaining accuracy on shorter routes.
Decision making: Wasn’t asked to do much in terms of reading defenses at Clemson. Through a high percentage of screens and other short routes. Deeper routes were typically go routes and jump balls in the red zone, which also don’t requite a ton of ability to read the defense. Makes some decisions that can only be classified as just plain stupid, especially when the initial play breaks down (see goal line interception and safety vs Ohio State). Needs to learn how to just hold the ball and take a sack.
Intangibles: Well liked by teammates. Reportedly developed as a leader late in his college career. Struggled with weight issues. Reportedly lost 20 pounds between sophomore and junior year.
Comments: Boyd has the athleticism to run the read-option at the next level and he’s built like a running back which will ease concerns about his ability to handle the physical pounding. He’s also improved significantly as a pocket passer throughout his career and has the potential to excel in any system. He lacks the elite physical tools to be projected as a sure-fire first rounder, but he has most of the physical tools you look for in a developmental prospect. He’s far from a finished product, but he’s worth keeping around as a third-string developmental guy on the roster.
Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville #5
Size/Athleticism: Full report coming soon…
Comments: Bridgewater shows all the skills necessary to excel at the next level. His touch on passes is special and he can make every throw on the field. Additionally, he’s so patient and poised in the pocket. However, he’s rarely been pressured consistently at the college level which does raise a small amount of doubt as to how he’ll handle the jump to the NFL. His decision-making skills at the college level were elite, but will it translate when the game speeds up significantly at the next level?
Stephen Morris QB Miami #17
Size/Athleticism: Adequate height. Build has improved during career, but he still has a slender build which heightens injury concerns. Didn’t run much in college, but frequently asked to roll out. Shows decent mobility in the pocket and overall athleticism should definitely be considered an asset. He’s not a read-option quarterback, but he’s athletic enough to play in an offense which mixes in a few plays.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Arm strength is among the best in this year’s draft class. Has the arm to make any throw that will be asked of him at the next level. Accuracy is a serious concern. His ball placement is inconsistent and at least a few times per game he’ll uncork a wildly inaccurate throw which leads to some drive-killing interceptions. He also struggles with the touch on his passes. He needs to know when to take something off the fastball to make his balls more catchable. Accuracy further deteriorates when he’s on the run.
Footwork/Release: Quick feet and he moves well within the pocket. He’s quick to release the ball and generally shows solid all around fundamentals. Under pressure is when his fundamentals start to break down. Too often he’ll attempt throws from an open stance. Mechanics on the run are fairly steady, so long as he has room to operate. Tends to get too creative with his footwork and even jumping when throwing under pressure.
Decision making: Like many strong-armed quarterbacks, he thinks he can do a lot more than he can. He’ll try to squeeze the ball into tight spaces and, due to his accuracy issues, it leads to devastating mistakes. Goes through his progressions, but seems to panic after a certain point and will force throws into coverage. Frequently has miscommunications with his receivers – it’s tough to know who was at fault on any individual play, but it’s noteworthy since it happens with multiple players. At the very least, it’s partially Morris’ job to make sure his receivers know where to go.
Intangibles: Team captain in 2012 and 2013. Two year starter. Showed minimal development from junior to senior year.
Durability: Played through an ankle injury early in senior year. Underwent back surgery prior to junior year.
Comments: Morris has the skills which catch your attention at first glance (arm strength, mobility) but the whole package leaves a lot to be desired. His habit of uncorking wild throws and trusting his accuracy a bit too much is a deadly combination which leads to costly turnovers. His issues with accuracy don’t stem from obvious mechanical flaws, which doesn’t bode well for his future NFL coaching staff’s attempts at fixing the issues. Someone will gamble on him based on his arm but there are too many flaws to warrant a high selection.
Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt #87
Size/Athleticism: Height is an asset. Speed isn’t special but it must be respected. He’ll get open over the top on occasion but most of damage done after the catch. Doesn’t make a lot of guys miss, but once he’s in the open field he can pick up chunks of yardage. Inconsistent effort as a blocker, but has the ability to be an asset when he wants to be.
Separation Skills: He lacks the speed to consistently get open over the top, but he’s quick in his breaks and does a nice job creating space on short and intermediate routes. He lacks elite athleticism to shake tight coverage consistently, and he doesn’t know how to use his size to his advantage. As a result, the elite, physical corners at the next level will easily take him out of a game.
Ball Skills: Inconsistent effort going up to high-point the football. Needs to be more assertive and attack the ball in tight coverage. He appears to do a nice job tracking the deep ball, but is very passive when it comes to actually making the catch. Lets the ball come to him, rather than going up and making a play. Drop rate is a concern. Seems to lose focus and lets far too many balls bounce of his hands.
Intangibles: Cousin of Jerry Rice.
Durability: Remained healthy throughout his career.
Comments: Matthews reminds me of Keenan Allen in some ways. Like Allen, he has plus size but doesn’t know how to use it yet. Unfortunately, Matthews isn’t blessed with Allen’s raw athleticism and speed, and will need to develop in a few areas before he’s ready to make an impact. Matthews has the potential to be a quality No. 2 receiver, but he needs to learn how to make plays against tight coverage. He’s too passive in his approach at this stage of his career, and veteran corners will take advantage of that weakness. Issues with drops also raise a red flag about his focus on the field.
Sammy Watkins WR Clemson #2
Size/Athleticism: Average height and decent overall build for his size. Turns into a running back with the ball in his hands. A tough runner who can break some tackles. Straight line speed is decent, but his strength is his ability to make guys miss in the open field. Used almost exclusively on screen passes and runs while at Clemson. The overwhelming majority of his yards came after the catch.
Separation Skills: Tough to judge his separation skills because he was so rarely asked to use them in Clemson’s offense. He has the straight-line speed to get over the top of the defense, but he experience with route beyond screens and go routes is extremely limited.
Ball Skills: Another skill that’s tough to grade because of limited experience. On short, uncontested routes Watkins displays very reliable hands. He’s shown nothing to raise any red flags in this area. However, it’s worth noting that he was rarely asked to make any plays in traffic. Even when targeted downfield it was almost exclusively on fly routes and he made a very small handful of contested catches. He does, however, demonstrate the ability to go up and pluck the ball at its high point – there have been few instances of it, but the fact that he’s attempting it despite limited game opportunities is an encouraging sign for development.
Intangibles: Suspended for beginning of 2012 season due to marijuana possession arrest.
Durability: Knocked out of 2012 bowl game with an injury. Knocked out of 2012 Maryland game with a leg injury.
Comments: There’s no denying Watkins’ elite talent, but don’t be fooled by his college success. As dominant as he was at times, his game doesn’t translate perfectly to the NFL. In four games I charted, 57 percent of Watkins’ targets were at or behind the line of scrimmage. While he frequently turned these into gains of 10 or more yards, he won’t be running against the Ohio State or Maryland defenses next year. The bright side for Watkins is that he has the size and athleticism to develop his downfield ability. His route running is extremely raw, but he has all the tools necessary for a coach to mold him into a more well-rounded receiver. Don’t expect him to light it up as a rookie (expect something more along the lines of Cordarrelle Patterson type rookie season) but his long term potential is borderline elite. That said, there’s also a chance that he’s the next Peter Warrick. If he doesn’t put in the work necessary to improve, he’ll plateau as a middle of the road slot receiver.