I realized recently that a lot of times when we think of the draft we form an opinion of a player based on impressions... either from watching games they've played or by listening to what others have to say. Well, I sat down and got as much video as I could on the top 4 QB prospects of this year's draft class: Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow. One thing I noticed is that the impressions we have of players are almost useless. I used 5 criteria in which a player is graded on a 5 point scale. The physical aspect is pretty self-explanatory. The "Intelligence" category pertains to how "smart" of a QB they are (reading coverage, throwing into coverage, protecting the ball, etc.). "Intangibles" equates to leadership, toughness and clutchness. May the best man win...
1. Fundamentals ===> 4.8
2. Arm Strength ===> 4.5
3. Accuracy ===> 5
4. Intelligence ===> 4.8
5. Intangibles ===> 4
Total ==========> 23.1/25 = 92.4
Bradford is one of the best college throwers of the football I've ever seen. If I could give him a 6 for accuracy, I would. His fundamentals are solid, holding the ball high where he should. He has a quick release (although not lightning fast, by any means). He is very rarely off-balace on a throw. Even if he's rolling to his left, he's still extremely accurate with his throws. One thing that surprised me was the strength of his arm. He has a very fluid throwing motion and the ball comes out on a line with a tight spiral very consistently. He makes ALL of the throws with velocity to spare. His intelligence is impeccable. Of the 4 QB's evaluated, he was the only one that truly read the entire field. He rarely throws into double coverage, manipulates the safety like it's 2nd nature, and takes care of the football. He never looks confused and is a cool customer no matter what coverages are thrown at him. He was docked a little for intangibles because he (along with the rest of the Oklahoma program) came up short in most of the big games he played. He also lost some for being somewhat injury-proned, even though it does not concern me moving forward.
Bottom Line: Bradford is a good enough prospect to where if he comes within 3 picks of Buffalo they should move up to get him. He is a franchise signal-caller in my opinion and is capable of changing a team's fortunes.
1. Fundamentals ===> 4.0
2. Arm Strength ===> 4.2
3. Accuracy ===> 4.3
4. Intelligence ===> 4.0
5. Intangibles ===> 4.6
Total ==========> 21.1/25 = 84.4
After watching a lot of Clausen's video, it seems he's being a little over-hyped. While he plays in a "pro-style" offense, he (like many college QB's) did not read the entire field. In fact, he zeroes in on one half of the field so much he consistently sets up in the pocket and faces the side of the field his reads are on. At first I thought it was to manipulate coverage, not the case. He reads 1/2 the field and if he has to come to the other side it's as an improvisation. He surprised me with how much he scrambles. His fundamentals are not the best. He has a bit of a wind-up, elongating his release. He also throws at 3/4 which lowers his release point... not good for a QB who isn't one of the tallest. His accuracy is good, but inconsistent. He lacks touch on shorter throws sometimes (JP Losman flashbacks) and his deep ball is also inconsistent. Sometimes he tries to drill it, sometimes he rainbows it, either way they're not on target. He definitely puts it up there for his receivers to make plays, but he'll have far less success doing that in the NFL against good DBs. Clausen's intelligence is questionable (but still good). He looks flustered when his first reads are covered and immediately tries to scramble. He often does not stay in the pocket long enough to allow plays to develop the way they were designed. He does a great job improvising, he's tough, he's clutch, he protects the ball, and he's a good (although unremarkable) leader.
Bottom Line: Jimmy Clausen is skilled and has the potential to be a good pro. He'll just need time to to fine-tune his fundamentals and maybe grow into a mature QB. There are plays he's making in college that just won't be made against NFL defenses and he'll have to be completely groomed and correct all of his mistakes before he becomes a viable pro. The number one thing he needs to fix is his happy feet, must become more patient in the pocket. I wouldn't touch Clausen until the late 1st (he's got a lower grade than I gave Aaron Rodgers, for perspective), but that is still a reach in my opinion. He'll probably go sooner because this class is weak on QB's.
1. Fundamentals ===> 4.0
2. Arm Strength ===> 3.8
3. Accuracy ===> 4.0
4. Intelligence ===> 4.0
5. Intangibles ===> 4.3
Total ==========> 20.1/25 = 80.4
The surprise in evaluating McCoy was that for a player with such a high completion %, his accuracy is not par with that metric. Unless it was a wide open crossing route, he rarely hit a receiver in stride. His completion % was inflated quite a bit by the volume of Texas' short passing game. His arm strength is poor. I didn't see a play where he threw a ball on a line that was over 15 yards (from LOS). Beyond that range, his line-drives die. His fundamentals are also lacking. He has a nice over-hand delivery with a quick release, but he fails to step into many of his throws. When he does drive the ball with his legs, his accuracy and velocity significantly improve (still sub-par, though). He's a smart QB, but he's falls short when it comes to reading the defense. As of now, he reads separation, and he's prone to being baited or just misjudging the DBs/LBs. He does a good job at seeing the whole field, but he'll struggle mightily in the NFL if he doesn't start looking at the D instead of his receivers. McCoy's intangibles are very good. He's a winner, clutch (but not too clutch), and pretty tough.
Bottom Line: McCoy has serviceable mental capabilities, but unfortunately he's not an NFL thrower. His arm strength is not good enough to cut it right now, and he'll have to develop Chad Pennington-like accuracy and IQ in order to make it in the league... which isn't likely. I wouldn't touch McCoy until rounds 4 or 5.
1. Fundamentals ===> 2.0
2. Arm Strength ===> 4.7
3. Accuracy ===> 4.0
4. Intelligence ===> 4.5
5. Intangibles ===> 5.0
Total ==========> 20.2/25 = 80.8
By far the most difficult assessment of the 4 for a couple of reasons... 1st, his fundamentals are so incredibly varied/inconsistent that it's almost necessary to have a Tebow A and Tebow B evaluation. 2nd, the offense he played in makes it difficult to project his intelligence to the next level. But, I digress... Tebow's famous throwing motion is as varied as it is quirky. Sometimes he drops the arm, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he shows NFL accuracy, sometimes he doesn't (and yes, it's about 50/50). And, while he has a very LONG wind-up, it doesn't SLOW his throwing motion down as much as you'd expect. Tebow tends to speed or slow his delivery based on each throw and how much time he perceives he has to make the throw. Despite the poor fundamentals he throws very well on the run to either side. His arm strength is undeniable, easily the best velocity in this class. He also throws the best deep-ball among these 4, contrary to popular belief. Tebow's an intelligent QB. Unlike Clausen, improvisation is almost a requirement in Urban Meyer's spread. The play design is very specific, funneling the ball to 1 or 2 options usually. Tebow follows his reads, shows patience, then runs. But he doesn't show those happy feet, hanging in the pocket while plays develop. It's tough to say if he can run a conventional offense... but he's smart with the ball, with very few turnovers and rarely making bad reads. His intangibles are well documented.
Bottom Line: As a prospect, Tebow grades out where McCoy does, between rounds 3-5. Tebow's potential however, kicks him into the 2nd round (maybe even late 1st, yeah, it's that shaky evaluating this guy). The question is "can he integrate new fundamentals along with learning a new style of play?" The answer would be "yes." It's a delicate process, though... and requires a patient organization. He must learn each new facet (fundamentals + new offense) before he's thrown on the field. How long that may take is another topic, but bare minimum is 1 year.
The Bills should make solid effort to draft Sam Bradford early or capitalize on a sliding Tebow later. Either one of these player could be a franchise QB, Bradford being a sure-fire prospect IMO. McCoy is not an NFL starter, no way Jose. Clausen has "good but not great" written all over him and I wouldn't draft him unless he slides to the 2nd round, we've already got a guy in Brohm who has similar potential and upside. Some team may will take him much earlier, though (unless he has a Rodgers-esque free-fall, which is not unlikely).