Pac 12 QB's, Youth is Served
With all the upheaval in our sports world and the amount of questions still that have no answers for the future, due to the pandemic, I find myself in my film room more and more these days. That happens to be my get-a-way from the “real world” which selfishly speaking, I need now more than ever before. I have no real clue if we will have football in College or the NFL. Those questions are above my pay grade, so I took on a project that happens to fall right in line with my sweet spot. Evaluating football talent.
I have studied on film and rated the 6 returning starting Quarterbacks in the Pac 12. Hopefully they will get a chance to apply 2021 film to their resume’ but until we get new information to add to our sequence, here is the way I see them.
6. Dorian Thompson-Robinson UCLA- 6000 200 Played 11 games in 2019’, enters year 3 as starter and has five wins as a starter over the last 2 years. 21 TDs 12 ints in 19’- Completed 59.7% with a 7.5 yard ave per completion.
Uber talented and athletic and at his best when breaking containment and playing on the move. He wants to flee from the pocket at the first sign of trouble. Vision is an issue mainly because of his lack of ideal size. He needs a non-confining system to be effective and he gets that at UCLA for the most part. He struggles to see open people at times and the ball seldom comes out on time. He’s accurate short but that accuracy wains the further downfield he throws the ball. Because of his style of play, his production is very inconsistent but he puts a lot pressure on defensive containment and edge responsibilities. His production can be labeled “feast or famine” but because of his arm strength he has plenty of big play ability and defenders all over the field have to be on their toes. Coach Kelly’s future seems hitched to the DTR wagon but his inconsistent instincts and processing make for a roll-a-coaster ride. Look for the same in 2020.
Summary: I see a player who produces in flashes but needs to improve his consistency and operate at an improved level, inside the pocket, in order for this team to move forward. Even after 2 full years as the starter I believe his job is anything but secure. He needs to show immediate progress to start 2020 or change will be coming. Look for Colson Yankoff, the Washington transfer, who sat out 2019’ due to transfer rules or Chase Griffin, the Round Rock, Tx Soph to get a look if DTR’s instincts for the position don’t improve.
5. Chase Garbers- California- 6010 205 Started 9 games in 2019’ and went 7-2 in those games. Broken collarbone interrupted his season. He will be a redshirt Junior in 20’. He completed 60.9% with 14 TDs and 3 ints but averaged 8.2 yards per completion.
Chase is not a big kid, nor super-athletic. He survives on smarts, timing and good accuracy. His arm strength is below average by NFL standards and will struggle to make all the NFL throws but he has nice touch and is best described as efficient running the offense. Fairly risk adverse in his decision making and therefore limited big plays. Does a nice job of looking off defenders and clearly has instincts for the QB position. Intangibles and fundamentals are his strength and because of this, he has a nice feel in the pocket, which allows him to get the ball out on time fairly consistently.
Summary: Chase is a steady consistent performer with limited upside. Classic over achiever who reminds me some of NFL journeyman-Matt Flynn. In all likelihood, not an NFL draft choice but should get a chance in a camp.
4. Davis Mills- Stanford 6030 210- Jr Completed 65% of his passes in 2019’ while averaging 8.1 yards per pass completion. 11 TD’s/5 ints.
Davis has a fundamentally sound delivery with a ¾ arm compact release. He has good touch, trajectory and feel for making most throws. His instincts are above average for the QB position. He has size, sets strong in the pocket and is a better athlete than you may first think. He can run and get a first down. He measures his throws, he’s very deliberate and because of this, at times, needs to speed up his clock in getting the ball out. He has above average arm strength but needs his legs under him to make most throws. He is not consistently accurate when things don’t show up on schedule. Accuracy is probably his biggest issue for me because he misses to many open receivers. He’s tough, he will stand in the pocket with courage. At times, he stares down receivers and will lead defenders to the ball. Long balls are a work in progress as he underthrows to many downfield targets.
Summary: He is a good player- Less dynamic than Costello (who they let walk to Miss St). A bit of a “paint by numbers” guy currently. Has a skill set that should allow him to improve as his body of work expands. He is not polished or complete but gives you a feel he can get better. Currently a draftable player in the NFL.
3. Jayden Daniels- Arizona State 6030 175 Soph- 19 years old Started 12 games in 2019’ as a true freshman. 60.7% completion percentage w/ 17 TD’s and only 2 ints. His 8.7 yards per attempt is impressive as well.
Daniels may have as much upside as anyone in the conference. I think he is just scratching the surface as to how good he can be. Plays with a skill set and style of Deshawn Watson (Texans). His athleticism and ability to get the ball out under pressure, from inside and outside the pocket, set him apart from the rank and file. His release is quick and his accuracy is slightly above average. He’s going to need to add some weight but I think once his body matures, that’s going to take care of itself. He is very athletic but let’s don’t confuse that with him also having the arm and ability to stand tall in the pocket and make most throws. He has both those skill sets. I see toughness to stand in and make throws with pressure coming but feet to escape if he needs too. His deep throws are usually predetermined but with more playtime and maturity his confidence in this area should improve as will his anticipation of where receivers will be. His live arm is plenty talented to run multiple offensive systems.
Summary: Overall was very fun to watch. Jayden, at age 19- has “big time” ability who is likely on his way to becoming an NFL QB. His decision making should improve the more he sees and experiences. The fact that he ran for 355 yards last year makes him that much more intriguing.
2. Grant Gunnell- Arizona 6045 222- Soph Played in 8 games but only started 3. 65.2% completions on 101/155, w/ 9TD’s and 1 int. Grant is Coach Kevin Sumlin’s ticket to progressing in the desert.
He is big, he is athletic, he has top notch arm strength and shows poise to hang in under pressure. He is really instinctive and effective, especially late in downs. For a young kid, this is a rare trait. He throws with timing, touch and what really impressed me was can get the ball off under pressure. “The pocket is for him” and he does not need it to be clean, to be effective, another rarity in college football and will be welcomed at the next level. Has the arm strength to “not have” to have his legs or feet under him to make all the throws. He is strong, has sturdy lower body in the pocket and chaos and pressure does not take him off balance/task. His eyes remain focused downfield. He sees and finds open people from the pocket but at the same time can make things happen with his feet when protection breaks down. Tough kid, takes some shots and gets right back up. His accuracy at times is erratic but that should improve as the game slows down for him. He will rush some throws still just because of his lack of experience.
Summary: Grant needs polish and time to grow. Even though this exposure is very limited he is a really good player who has all the tools to be an NFL QB. I see upside in the form of a comparison to Carson Wentz. He just needs to build on his body of work and hope the talent around him doesn’t let him down.
Top Returning QB- Kedon Slovis- USC 6020 201- Soph Played in 12, started 11 in 2019’- Missed minimal time w/elbow and concussion. Completed 71.9% (282/392 3,502 yds) and a whopping 8.9 yard average per completion. 30 TD’s and 9ints.
I’m embarrassed to say, I had not seen much of Slovis before I sat down for this film session. But after watching 3 games he might be as polished of a freshman passer as I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll try to shorten this because I could literally go all day describing this kid.
He has a fundamentally sound and has a quick release to go with above average arm strength but it’s his anticipation and feel for the game that had me saying wow, often. He is a good decision maker who is exceptional, “late in the down”. I love the way he maneuvers in the pocket vs pressure and how quickly he can reset his feet to get the ball out. His ability to create and make something from nothing reminds me of Tony Romo. He has excellent movement skills, can tuck the ball and run for a first down but can also stnd tall in the pocket and process coverage. Has the arm strength to make all the NFL throws. Deep outs from the opposite college hash are no problem. His touch, his timing, his eyes and most of all his accuracy are at NFL levels already. He is not only accurate, he is pin-point and allows for alot of “run after catch” yards for receivers. His IQ for the game is natural and he is only a freshman on tape.
Summary: Did I say he was 19 years old? He is not really big, nor does he have a Josh Allen type arm but he is a pure PASSER who can make all the throws. Plays the position at an advanced level, especially for his age. My only questions are with his size/frame (measureables unconfirmed) and his durability because I have not seen him in person. He needs to take care of himself and add some bulk if he can. His Pac-12 freshman of the year award in 2019 was well-deserved and that trophy might have company with a Heisman very soon. Looks to be the real deal. For once, the hype looks to be warranted.