Will Grier of the West Virginia Mountaineers

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2019 NFL Draft: Day 3 QB scouting reports

April 24, 2019 - 11:15 am
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THE NFL DRAFT REPORT PRESENTS
THE 2019 DRAFT DAY THREE QUARTERBACKS

Will Grier-#7
West Virginia University Mountaineers
Quarterback
6:02.4-217

Scouting Analysis
In two seasons at West Virginia, Grier has amassed 7,354 yards in total offense through 22 games. He connected on 516-of-785 passes (65.73%) for 7,354 yards, 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also scored five times on 111 carries that netted 32 yards.

The rifle-armed pocket passer is never going to be confused for being a scrambler, but if given time to locate his receivers, Grier does so with great accuracy. He possesses a smooth release and gets to his set point with balance and agility. He has the ability to read the coverage and knows what is going on. He is not the type who will lock on to his primary target, as he has the ability for locating his second and third receiver.

The Mountaineer possesses good touch, doing a nice job of leading the receiver to the ball with minimal adjustment. He throws good fades and is effective on wide-open streaks. On his long throws, he does a good job of hitting his receivers in stride and over the outside shoulder. He has a shorter-than-ideal frame, but he compensates with solid down field vision. He shows good upper and lower body bone structure, with solid chest, shoulder and arm thickness.

Grier has good mobility and quickness, but does not rely on his speed to be much of a threat running with the ball. He is quick to change direction, showing the range of motion to escape pocket pressure. While he looks strong in his lower frame, he needs to work on improving his strength to absorb punishment standing in against the rush. When forced to move out of the pocket, he does not show the balance and agility to gain valid yardage with his feet, thus the reason he should never be used as a running threat.

Grier knows the offense as good as the coaching staff and spends the extra hours studying tapes. He is quick to grasp even the most complicated of offensive systems and will have no problems digesting the playbook. He is quick to grasp defensive formations and needs only normal reps to retain. He just needs to show better ability to make progression reads and make better judgment when forced to leave the pocket. 

Grier picks up changes in the defense almost immediately when operating under center and has the total confidence of his coach to devise game plans and execute it on the field. He will get a bit too hard on himself when he makes a mistake, but is also very accountable and not the type that will deflect blame. He has the intelligence to know when to step into his throws and shows enough foot speed to buy time when forced out of the pocket. He throws with an efficiently tight spiral and looks very comfortable taking his drops from center to his pass set point. 

He demonstrates the feet and balance needed to drive back from center, set up and be in position to unleash the ball in an instant. He has the body control to take the snap, drive off with his back foot and get to his set point before the defense can properly digest the backfield activity.

When firing in the short-to-intermediate area, he displays a compact and smooth release, putting good zip behind his throws to connect with his receivers, but must do a better job of hitting his targets while they are in stride or coming out of their breaks when trying to stretch the field. He can be systematic in his approach, getting the ball off quickly, but you can see a bit of a long wind-up when he throws long. 

Still, he has enough arm strength to get decent accuracy on his long tosses, when he steps up in the pocket. When he throws with a high release, he demonstrates outstanding quickness. He can throw across his body effectively, but there are times you have to question his ability to improvise on the move.

Grier does a decent job of placing his long tosses on the outside shoulder of his targets, but has better success executing those throws from the pocket. When firing deep on the move, his receivers will generally need to adjust, as his attempts will tend to flutter thanks to a lack of ideal arm strength. He shows good zip on his short throws, but when he fails to set his feet, he will get into a rhythm where the receiver will have to accelerate in order to get to his tosses, as he will over-lead at times.

The senior has the body control to make things happen when he steps into his throws, but while he has the vision to locate soft spots running with the pigskin, he has to be more conscious to backside pressure. He does not show that he can throw well on the move, despite displaying the loose hips to redirect and avoid pressure. He shuffles his feet well to avoid low tackles, but you would like to see more consistency in attempting to step up in the pocket to make the completion. He has the lateral agility to slide in the pocket and the ability to stand tall and hit his targets in stride on timing routes.

Jarrett Stidham-#8
Auburn University Tigers
6:02.3-218

The Scouting Analysis
Stidham completed 470-of-739 passes (63.6) for 5,952 yards, 36 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. He has recorded five 300-yard passing games at Auburn and seventeen 200-yard passing games for the Tigers. He holds the school record with 162 pass attempts without an interception.

With teams showing more and more concern about college spread quarterbacks not making the conversion to the pro-style passing attack, several teams looking to add depth at the position have been keeping tabs on Stidham. His ability to convert and play in a pro-style offense is the obvious reason he has drawn that attention, but even with his puzzling 2018 season, he is still regarded as a player with a possible high ceiling for development as a pocket passer.

Stidham has good size, along with the frame that can add bulk and fill out. He is not as fast as his timed speed (4.81), but he does have average athleticism when he is forced to make plays with his legs. He is a technically sound intermediate range passer with average mobility and quickness. He has good footwork and fluidity in his set-up. He shows good arm strength and mechanics, but is best when working in the short to mid-range area, as his long bombs tend to lose accuracy. While most pocket passers revert to throwing sidearm or drop the ball to their hips to wind up, Stidham carries the ball chest high and shows a snappy over-the-top release.

He gets good touch on his throws, but could use a tighter spiral when tossing the ball deep. In 2014 pre-season camp, he showed much better footwork stepping into his throws than he did when the season commenced. He seems to lack good blitz recognition ability to find his hot reads quicker, as he’s prone to forcing the ball into traffic when he seems to panic trying to make the play rather than simply throw the ball away rather than force it into traffic or hold on to it for too long.

Stidham did demonstrate improved timing to hit his receivers in stride rather than wait for his targets to break in 2017, but the team's offensive game plan did not suit his playing ability in 2018.  He is adequate going through progressions and looking off his primary targets, but when he pats the ball and hesitates, it leads to defenders getting into the passing lanes. He might flush out of the pocket too late at times, but with his maturity, if he is able to be more patient, he can be capable of reading defenses and using his field vision to spot the soft seam in the zone. 

Stidham is never going to be considered even an adequate runner, but he has some mobility to escape the pass rush, just lacking any speed when he has to escape and run down field. When given time to scan the field, he is poised in the pocket and more comfortable throwing there, as he can deliver the ball from either hash on the move.

When he keeps his feet under him rather than throwing off his back foot, Stidham can really put velocity behind his throws. He has a short, quick release, but just average movement in the pocket to avoid pressure. He has shortened his throwing arc and this has resulted in him following through quicker on his tosses, which makes it hard to watch when he makes foolish decisions to force his tosses into a crowd.

When stepping into his throws, his accuracy is evident. He is too slow to pull down and rush by the smaller defenders and he needs to develop better leg drive to break arm tackles. He is better at putting the ball where his receivers could catch it when he is well-protected in the pocket, as most of his interceptions come when throwing on the move. You can see him look down or isolate on one receiver quite a bit, though. Still, you hope that with better protection that he can generate the anticipation ability to time his passes with effectiveness. He is conscious of the pass rush, but even under pressure, he knows how to protect the ball. 

Tyree Jackson-#
University of Buffalo Bulls
6:07.0-249

Scouting Analysis   
In thirty games at Buffalo, the three-year starter threw for 6,999 yards and 49 touchdowns vs. 24 interceptions via 533-of-955 attempts (55.81%). He also showed his scrambling ability, as he picked up 757 yards and scored sixteen times on 201 carries (3.8 ypc). In 1,156 plays from scrimmage, he generated 7,756 yards and was responsible for 65 touchdowns.

To most scouts, Jackson possesses all the tools you look for in a pro passer – impressive size, decent mobility and a cannon-like arm. He has a quick over-the-top release that sees him consistently connect when heading down field, as he displays that rare quality to “thread the needle.” He has good balance to throw on the move and enough functional foot speed to be a running threat. That confidence in his scrambling ability does lead to trouble though, as he is often too quick to bolt the pocket rather than scan the field. 

As good as he is with the long ball, he will struggle just as much with his short-to-intermediate passes. He needs to be more consistent setting his front foot, as he does have balance issues when he fails to properly transfer his weight stepping into his tosses. 

Jackson has excellent height, good arm length and average hands, but could use some more muscle tone and seems a bit fleshy in the midsection. He shows good strength and balance as a runner, doing a nice job of breaking arm tackles, but he is not going to fool anyone and “go to the races” on any long distance runs. He has good quarterback skills with a quick release and certainly displays a pro caliber arm. He has decent change of direction agility running with the ball, but will struggle when trying to escape pressure, as he will often just run into spots. 

The Buffalo junior has marginal lower body explosion in attempts to run into the second level. He generates better footwork and quickness driving back from center to his pass set point. He is not the type that can keep defenses honest as a scrambler, but can make things happen rolling out of the pocket, as he has that strong arm to make throws on the move (must set his feet better though) and has the arm velocity to get the ball deep. 

Jackson sets up quickly and shows good mechanics and precision in the intermediate passing game, but must do a better job of anticipating receivers coming out of their breaks, as he tends to be late hitting his targets on deep throws, even though he can push the ball down field. What has led to close to the high amount of yards lost as a ball carrier is because he gets his feet crossed at times, and being a long strider makes him look a bit awkward when having to run past the line of scrimmage. 

Most of his pass thefts last season could be a result of him just trying to throw, even though he might not have his feet properly set to step into his throws. Jackson is a good rhythm passer, but last season, he did not do a great job of anticipating his receiver’s breaks on deep routes, unless that receiver’s name was Anthony Johnson. Simply put, Jackson must do a better job of reading coverage and making checks, as he is prone to throwing balls into tight areas that should never be attempted. It is not as if he has problems retaining plays, but his desire to create something out of nothing, rather than take what a defense gives could be an issue. There could be those that will question his ability to make proper reads or act instinctively on the field.

One positive when examining his development is the fact that Jackson came out of high school system that featured the spread, but in three years at Buffalo, he adapted well to the pro-style scheme. When his head is in the game and he shows good focus locating all of his targets, he can create fits for opposing defenses because he can make all the throws, even if he has to throw on the move. The thing that separates him from the other tall passers in his draft class is that he is good at improvising, thus leading to a slew of nail-biting come-from-behind victories. When this occurs, he will more often than not be seen keeping his eyes downfield, showing good awareness of where his targets are when chaos ensues. 

Jackson has a very good arm, but does not always shows great ball control or velocity. Still, he does show good quickness and power when coming over the top to drive the ball when his feet are set. He has shown flashes of being able to make some very difficult throws both from within the pocket and on the run to both sides. There will be times when his coach would like to see him show more patience in the pocket and work through his reads before taking off, as only bad things happen when he bolts the pocket. His natural instinct is to get on the perimeter, but the play may need him to stand in there and deliver a strike to a second or third option. In other words, he is not doing his best Cam Newton impersonation.  

One other area he needs to improve is reading defenses. This is an area that you might say is still a “work in progress,” as he lacks a good feel for progressions and seems to be a second late, at times, anticipating his targets coming out of their breaks to hit them in stride. He is a tall pocket mover, but for some reason, despite having the height to scan the field, he fails to recognize backside pressure.

When Jackson steps into his throws, he generates better quickness getting the ball through the throwing arc, but must be conscious of not getting a high push with his delivery. In 2014, he sometimes ran his feet too much and must do a better job of squaring his shoulders and stepping into his throws. But, he also showed better ability to take the hit and complete the hot read with his quick release.

Jackson still needs to develop a better touch for the underneath ball, but he did a much better job of delivering the ball with timing in 2018 than he did in previous seasons. In 2018, he threw the fade more effectively and knew how to time the receiver’s breaks better than he did as a sophomore. When he’s under duress, he does not show enough patience and poise to step up in the pocket and will bolt and run when he should be throwing the ball away. He just needs to do a better job of anticipating backside pressure and know when the pass rush is coming.