Scouting Reports – 2014

Brett Smith Scouting Report

Brett Smith QB Wyoming #16
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 206

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Size/Athleticism: Adequate height but he’s skinny. Needs to add some weight in order to help prevent injuries. His style of play, which is very similar to Johnny Manziel, will be tough to handle in the NFL with his current build. Capable of extending the play and also picking up chunks of yardage on the ground.

Arm strength/Accuracy: Arm strength is adequate when he sets his feet and follows through with proper weight transfer. Many of throws appear to lack velocity, but it all stems back to mechanics. Accuracy is strong when he’s set and remains solid when he’s on the move. Considering his poor mechanics, his accuracy is impressive and gives reason to hope it can become a real strength once he’s ironed out some of the issues with his mechanics.

Footwork/Release: Throws the football like a dart. It’s an odd throwing motion, but it is a quick release. Has happy feet in the pocket. Dance around a lot and doesn’t always get  his feet back into position for a throw with solid mechanics, which takes something off his velocity.

Decision making: Has improved his willingness to keep his eyes downfield but he’s still mostly a run-first quarterback. Needs to become more patient and comfortable in a collapsing pocket without bailing at the first sign of pressure. Seems to have a good grasp on the types of throws he’s capable of making—doesn’t force the ball into tight spaces. Does tend to throw the ball up for grabs a lot down the field and simply didn’t have the playmaker to bail him out.

Intangibles: A tough competitor with all the on-field traits that Manziel is praised for. Dad played football at Oregon.

Durability: Missed two games with a concussion in 2012.

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Comments: Smith hasn’t proven himself against top competition and his mechanics are all out of whack. But he plays a Johnny Manziel style of football and gap between the two is not nearly as large as mainstream media would have you believe. Smith’s mechanical flaws are all fixable and if he’s committed to making changes and developing as a player, he has a bright future. Given a choice between Manziel in the top 10 or Smith on Day 3, it’s an easy decision: give me Smith every time.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2014 Leave a comment

Johnny Manziel scouting report

Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M #2
Ht: 6’0″
Wt: 207

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Size/Athleticism: Vastly undersized. Short and somewhat skinny. He was fairly durable in two years at Texas A&M, but it won’t last with his size and his style of play. Athleticism is elite and has fairly been compared to Michael Vick. His ability to escape from a collapsing pocket and keep plays alive ranks among the best we’ve ever seen.

Arm strength/Accuracy: He’s a maximum-effort thrower. He can get the ball downfield on a rope, but he needs a clean pocket to be able to step into and use every ounce of his small frame to propel the ball. Accuracy is a strength when he’s able to set his feet and step into the throw. In a clean pocket he does a decent job placing the ball, especially on comebacks on the sideline, which he threw often to Mike Evans. Tends to struggle with accuracy when receivers are on the move (slants, go routes, etc) but it partially comes from a lack of experience due to the overload of comebacks and jump balls thrown in A&M’s offense.

Footwork/Release: Has a tendency to throw off his back foot when he’s moving out of the pocket, but other than that his mechanics are strong. When he has time, he sets his feet and shows a consistent weight transfer. He also has a very quick release, which aids his ability to make plays on the go.

Decision making: Among the worst prospects I’ve ever scouting in this area. Relied heavily on his receiver (mainly Mike Evans) to go up for jump balls and make plays. He got credit for a lot of spectacular plays because his receivers bailed him out, but the decisions behind those plays were often terrible and will rarely work in the NFL. To his credit, he does a nice job keeping his eyes downfield as he scrambles, but he needs to become more willing to check down, or even take a sack. This is an area that is fixable, because his biggest mistakes are usually just lofting the ball up into traffic—most quarterbacks who struggle with decisions trust their arm too much, Manziel just trusts his receivers too much. It may be an issue that he fixes on his own once he sees his receivers aren’t capable of making the same plays against NFL defensive backs. Also has a tendency to hold the ball far too long waiting for something to develop downfield.

Intangibles: Tough to judge from the outside, but there are obvious red flags that teams will want to consider. His public image as a guy who likes to party hard and live in the spotlight will definitely rub some teams the wrong way. He will need to answer questions about his lifestyle in interviews and how mature and committed he portrays himself will definitely play a role in how certain teams perceive him.

Durability: Started every game during his two years as a starter at A&M, but took a beating. It’s only a matter of time before he suffers a serious injury.

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Comments: Manziel suffers/benefits from the Tebow effect. He’s so well known, so entertaining and so polarizing that it’s tough for people to objectively evaluate him. Putting the intangibles aside, his ability to extend plays gives him enormous potential. However, there are also obvious flaws. He needs to develop his accuracy and decision making skills in order to truly be effective at the next level in every situation. At this stage of his career, his best attribute is his ability to make plays once everything else goes wrong. Is that really a first-round worthy trait?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2014 Leave a comment

Blake Bortles scouting report

Blake Bortles QB Central Florida #5
Ht: 6’5″
Wt: 232

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Size/Athleticism: Prototypical size, strength and athleticism. Moves very well for his size and is a threat to run (think of a slightly more mobile Andrew Luck). Very tough for defensive linemen to bring down when he sees them coming.

Arm strength/Accuracy: Arm strength is more than adequate, when he has time to step into the throw. When he’s on the move, his arm strength diminishes noticeably and leads to some bad interceptions. He is capable of throwing the deep ball, but he doesn’t throw it on a rope—it tends to hang up in the air and if a defensive back is in position, it’s easy to make a play on the ball. Accuracy is very hit or miss. He makes some really pretty throws into tight spaces occasionally, but he also unleashes some wild misses. He consistently gets the ball in the general vicinity of his receivers, but his exact placement is mediocre. He makes his receiver work for their catches.

Footwork/Release: In a perfectly clean pocket, his mechanics look great but when he feels pressure he rushes and fails to set his feet and transfer his weight properly. He tends to let his body move in different directions as he’s releasing the ball, which takes away from his velocity (which is modest to begin with).

Decision making: Trusts his arm far too much. He tries to squeeze the ball into tight spaces and he simply doesn’t have the arm strength or pinpoint accuracy to make it happen. These types of mistakes happen both under pressure and when he’s standing in a clean pocket. Tends to force the ball downfield when he’s looking for a big play, and his modest arm strength causes the ball to hang up in the air too long giving defenders in the area plenty of time to make a play.

Intangibles: A team leader who will have no issues earning respect of teammates, even as a rookie. Coaches and teammates at UCF speak highly of him.

Durability: No known issues. However, his physical style of play and his willingness to take on defenders will get him hurt at some point.

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Comments: Bortles is an easy player to like. He plays tough, makes exciting plays and he’s a great interview. For those reasons, some coach and GM will probably fall in love with him and make him an early selection. However, there are plenty of red flags in his play which lead to questions about his ability to be a starter at a high level. Bortles’ arm strength is his biggest physical flaw, but it can be overcome if he improves his mechanics and his decision making. His playmaking ability will allow him to have some immediate success, but his long-term development could be stunted if he doesn’t sit and learn for a period of time.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2014 Leave a comment

Teddy Bridgewater scouting report

Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville #5
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 214

Size/Athleticism: Height is adequate, although a notch below the ideal size for a pocket passer. Definitely lacks the bulk you’d like to see from a quarterback. He appears skinny, which raises some concern as to his long-term durability. However, he also clearly has the frame to add some weight. Listed at 185 in high school, so he’s obviously put in the work to gain weight and should continue to do so once he’s working with NFL trainers, nutritionists, etc. Athleticism is decent, but he’s definitely not a run-first quarterback. Capable of moving within the pocket and is a threat to run if he’s given space.

Arm strength/Accuracy: Accuracy is one of his best assets. His accuracy holds up even when his mechanics are altered by a collapsing pocket or when he’s forced to rush a throw. Maintains his accuracy and decent arm strength when throwing on the run. Accuracy on short and intermediate routes is elite. Deep ball accuracy is adequate, but not special. Does a great job adjusting the touch on his passes to give his receivers catchable passes. He isn’t the type of quarterback that plays at full speed all the time, and is more than capable of slowing it down when the situation allows to make life easier on his receivers. Has shown the ability throw to the full route tree, unlikely many college quarterbacks who rely heavily on more basic routes such as comebacks and screens.

Footwork/Release: Great footwork in the pocket. Moves very fluidly within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Release is nearly flawless. He consistently stays balanced, shows perfect weight transfer and gets the most out his release to maximize his arm strength.

Decision making: Does a great job staying patient and going through his progressions. He has the ability to run, but he has always been a pocket passer first. Rarely forces throws into tight coverage and has shown he’s willing to check down when the deep options aren’t there.

Intangibles: Fairly quiet and isn’t your typical vocal leader that some coaches will prefer at quarterback. But he’s patient, calm and has the traits that translate well to performance under pressure.

Durability: No known issues.

Comments: Bridgewater lacks the physical traits to put him into an elite category, but he is a smart, patient quarterback who is easily the most NFL-ready in this draft class. I wouldn’t draft Bridgewater with expectations of an Andrew Luck-type immediate impact but he’s capable of starting right away and being a quality starter in the league for the next 10+ years. One concern that’s raised by his performance that only NFL teams will be able to address is his leadership. He’s very quite and appears almost too calm on the field. It’s tough to judge a trait like that from afar, so it’s something that NFL execs and coaches will need to question both him and his Louisville coaching staff on to get a better idea for how his intangibles will be able to shape their locker room.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2014 Leave a comment

Mike Evans scouting report

Mike Evans WR Texas A&M #13
Ht: 6’5″
Wt: 225

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Size/Athleticism: Elite size and strength. Has the ability to fight for the ball in traffic. Blend of size and speed makes him surprisingly dangerous after the catch.

Separation Skills: Evans’ route running at A&M was limited almost exclusively to go routes which resulted in Manziel tossing up a jump ball. He definitely doesn’t have the speed or agility to consistently shake defenders but his ability to win jump balls makes that almost irrelevant. He’s shown the ability to fight through press coverage and he has enough speed to make defenders pay when they try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. When he develops his skills as an intermediate route runner, Evans will be elite in this area.

Ball Skills: Evans will drop some easy ones, likely due to a lack of focus in certain situations. But his ability to fight for the ball in traffic is elite. He knows how to use his size to box out defenders and fight for the best positioning. He shows excellent body control along the sidelines.

Intangibles: Very emotional player. Loses his cool on the field at times (see Jan. 2014 game vs Duke).

Durability: No known issues.

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Comments: Evans has a rare complement of tools that you simply can’t teach. His blend of size and athleticism makes him extremely dangerous down the field. In terms of his ability to win jump balls, he’s comparable to Vincent Jackson or Alshon Jeffery. Evans will be pigeonholed by some as a deep threat and a possession receiver, but one of his most underrated qualities is his ability after the catch. In five charted games, Evans averaged 9.3 yards after the catch. By comparison, in charted games, Sammy Watkins averaged 10.1. Depending on the type of receiver teams are looking for, a strong case can be made that Evans is the best in this class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2014 Leave a comment