The 2021 Draft- We Need This One

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Is this a QB curve ball that BB is looking at that few others are talking about? Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Next year.

 
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Big/Sky/Fly

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The trading system seems to be fairly broken, 4 extra first round picks for 2022? Plus an additional 3 second round picks in 2023 - I'd say that's pretty much daylight robbery.
Hey now, don't bag on my mad skills yo!
 

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He knocked up his gf...and going back to college.
Here's his story anyway


The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ridder does not appear in ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.'s quarterback rankings for the 2021 draft. He told Yahoo Sports that he received feedback from the NFL projecting him as a fourth- to sixth-round draft pick if he left school now
 

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It's going to be funny how different our mocks will be once FA gets going. I have been drafting a center in the 3rd round but if they sign Andrew's then I'd be looking at a backup in the late rounds.
 
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On NFL XM radio Charlie Weis said he thinks Mac Jones is a Patriots kind of QB; that he has the "it" factor for NFL QBs.
Reiss talks about it in his Sunday column.

 

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My first venture into BSPN.COM in almost a year revealed this odd factoid. It's interesting but I don't know what it's telling us:

5. Draft nugget: Is there really such a thing as a franchise quarterback? On ESPN's First Draft podcast, Kiper noted there were 22 quarterbacks selected in the first round from 2009 to 2016 and none remains on his original team. The final domino? Carson Wentz, who the Eagles agreed to trade to the Colts on Thursday.
 

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My first venture into BSPN.COM in almost a year revealed this odd factoid. It's interesting but I don't know what it's telling us:

5. Draft nugget: Is there really such a thing as a franchise quarterback? On ESPN's First Draft podcast, Kiper noted there were 22 quarterbacks selected in the first round from 2009 to 2016 and none remains on his original team. The final domino? Carson Wentz, who the Eagles agreed to trade to the Colts on Thursday.
Yes, there is such a thing, it just might not come out of the first round because a lot of teams are still enamored by how fast they run or if they can throw a 50 yard pass from a knee, they forgot to look at what is actually needed the most to play the position.
 
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On NFL XM radio Charlie Weis said he thinks Mac Jones is a Patriots kind of QB; that he has the "it" factor for NFL QBs.
Reiss talks about it in his Sunday column.



If someone could explain why Tua Tagovailoa was a top-five pick but Mac Jones won’t be, I’d love to hear it.

One of the problems with how we look at quarterbacks — or any position, for that matter — is that cliché narratives about a player might be one of the biggest factors. Once you’ve been anointed, you’re set.

Tua was anointed when he arrived on Alabama's campus and wowed everyone in practice before eventually throwing a game-winning touchdown pass coming off the bench in the 2017-18 National Championship game. That was the end of any discussion. He was going to go top five in the draft from that moment on. And he did.

Mac Jones came to Alabama with much less fanfare. He was a three-star recruit and the 399th-ranked prospect overall, according to 247 Sports. Tua was a five-star and the 32nd-best high school player available. That difference is going to be worth millions of dollars because, as I am here to tell you, Mac Jones might just be a better prospect than Tua Tagovailoa.

Production and Team Effects​

Mac Jones quietly had one of the best quarterback seasons of all time in 2020, and his traditional box score stats would have won him the Heisman Trophy if he was named Tua Tagavoiloa. For the record, I think it’s great that DeVonta Smith won because having only quarterbacks take home the award gets boring.

In their final seasons, Mac Jones’ 95.8 PFF grade surpasses Tua’s 90.3 grade. That's not much of a difference, though one could argue that five grading points is significant considering both played in the same offense with similar supporting casts. If we add in Tagovailoa's 2018 season and Jones' 2019 season taking over for Tua, the gap shrinks, anyway. Jones was just OK when he replaced Tua in 2019, posting a 78.7 grade.

The units protecting both quarterbacks were roughly similar, with an edge going to Tua. Before his injury in 2019, the Alabama offensive line graded cumulatively to 83.2 with a 91.7 pass-blocking efficiency rate. The 2020 Alabama line graded to 76.0 with a 90.6 pass-blocking efficiency rate. Both were very good units. The 2020 group was the SEC's highest-graded line, while the 2019 unit was second up until and including the week of Tua's injury.

The receiving corps debate is also a wash. Two of Alabama’s receivers are going to go in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft, and two went in the 2020 NFL Draft. The differences in production aren’t meaningful:


Stat2019 (through Week 12)2020
Yards per catch15.214.3
YAC per catch9.77.6
Drop rate6.1%5.3%
Contested-catch rate42.9%47.6%

The 2019 running game for Tua didn’t create as many explosive plays, but it churned along at the same rate as the 2020 attack. The success rate was 52% in both years, but there was a big gap in EPA per play — .007 in 2019 through Week 12 compared to .132 in 2020.

Schematically, it’s very close to the same offense. The overall pass rate, screen pass rate, play-action rate and RPO rate are the same, and the non-play action route heat map is eerily similar:

Stat2019 (through Week 12)2020
Pass rate55.2%52.0%
Screen pass rate22.7%20.5%
Play-action rate45.2%45.9%
RPO rate27.9%23.4%
 
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2.
The point is that both quarterbacks found the Goldilocks zone of surrounding talent and also played in the same scheme.


Traits and Things of That Nature​

This is where we should find the differences that tell us Tua is an infinitely better prospect than Jones.
Neither signal-caller is a runner, and Alabama rarely used either on designed quarterback runs. Tua’s scramble rate is a bit higher — 5% compared to 3.1% — but Jones' sack rate is lower by just about one percentage point. Tua is definitely the more capable runner, but Jones does have some juice in his legs. Either way, neither is winning games with their legs.

Jones' and Tagovailoa's very deep passing stats were identical. On throws that traveled over 30 yards in their career both had a 60% adjusted completion rate and a touchdown-to-intercepton ratio of 15 to 1. Tua’s NFL passer rating on these throws was 130.8, while Jones’ was 131.9. That’s eerie. Deep passing might not be the best proxy for arm strength, but you can see on the film that both pass the NFL-level arm strength threshold.

Jones’ throws look like they are coming out faster than Tua’s on tape, but I think it's an optical illusion because Jones’ quick release confuses our brains. Tua had more of a laborious release, so it looks like the ball is moving slower. Both can get balls out under pressure, as well. You can find clips of Jones falling backward and still getting some zip on his throws like Tua.

Using our accuracy charting, Jones comes out on top. In the all-important 10-19 yard range, Jones’ 2019 and 2020 seasons beat out both Tua seasons in terms of percentage of accurate throws in that range. Jones’ 65.5% mark is one of the best we’ve seen, while Tua’s 56.7% mark in 2018 was his best. This is really the first area where we see some separation. Jones bests Tua in the 1-9 yard range, as well, but Tua’s accuracy in the 20-plus-yard range is better. You probably have to give a slight edge to Jones here.

Divergence​

We’ve gotten through all of this and seem to have ourselves looking at two identical quarterbacks. Is one better than the other? We need an answer. Luckily, they separate themselves in how they make mistakes. Both had very low turnover-worthy play percentages, but looking at errant throws paints an entirely different picture.

Tua’s errors were mostly him not seeing zone defenders. In fact, of his 14 turnover-worthy throws in 2018 and 2019, every single one was of this variety. This could be either a deep safety making a play baiting him into a throw or him not seeing an underneath linebacker. You would call these read errors — not seeing the field or understanding the coverage and sometimes having bad timing. Tua has made some of those same read mistakes in his little time playing for the Dolphins, as well, so it’s still a slight concern. He’s also added accuracy mistakes, which doesn't make for a good combo.

For Jones, we see much less of this. I charted only three of his 13 turnover-worthy throws as being in this bucket. Jones’ problem was in the accuracy department. He made smart reads but then was undone by his own ball placement. He either threw over his intended receiver to a safety who had no business being in the play or just threw behind a receiver in tight man coverage for the cornerback to get his hands on the ball.

This is a big difference. Tua not seeing the whole field and understanding the schematics of defense has to be a much bigger problem than Jones occasionally missing a receiver when he’s proven how accurate he is on a throw-for-throw basis. Tua’s problems were more severe, and yet, he was an easy top-five selection. Both made good reads and threw to the right receivers most of the time, of course, but we can see how their errors show a completely different side of their games. I trust the quarterback who isn’t misreading defenses, but you can decide for yourself what you like in a signal-caller.

I’m certainly not here to tell you that Mac Jones should be the first quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. I’m just here to make the case that Jones is either just as good as Tua or probably better than Tua as a pro prospect. We have two quarterbacks who played in the exact same offense making completely different decisions with the football at times.
 
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Another interesting and, at times, humorous, article from Seth Galina, PFF's Senior Draft Analyst, about QB vibes.


The problem with ranking this year's quarterback class is that, man, it’s all based on vibes.

When we talk about the top half of the quarterback crop — Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance — all of them played in quarterback-friendly offenses with elite talent around them to form the bully team in their respective conferences. And all five of them produced at the level we would have expected of them.

In their last seasons on campus, none of them accidentally made a habit of throwing to the other team. None of them made a habit of consistently bad ball placement on throws. None of them made a habit of escaping otherwise clean pockets. They all did the right thing on almost every snap.

This is where the vibes come in. Zach Wilson did nothing for two seasons and had a great year playing against what often looked like holograms of real football players during BYU’s fantastic one-loss season in 2020. And now, somehow, if recent reports are correct, he is higher than Trevor Lawrence on an NFL team’s draft board.

How? Because of the vibes. Wilson wears a headband, carries the ball low like some sort of cool quarterback and can scramble. If that’s the type of quarterback you like, then great. He’s your QB1. I’m not here to argue. Those are Grade A vibes.

Out in South Carolina, we have Trevor Lawrence, the tall, Sunshine-from-Remember-The-Titans-looking gunslinger who has been touted as the first pick in the draft since he was in high school. You can’t argue with those vibes, either.

Justin Fields has the “I broke my ribs and then torched Clemson on national television” vibes, and Mac Jones has “if you like disgustingly accurate pocket passers, I’m your guy” vibes.

We are going to be at each other's throats for the next two months clamoring for the guy who fits our aesthetic of what a quarterback should look like or play like because they are all so similar in other areas. One of them is the top dog in one category, and another is tops in a different category. We’re going to end up splitting hairs quite a bit here until the 2021 NFL Draft arrives. I’m not here to argue about which quarterback you vibe with the best; that’s a personal choice, and I respect it.

With all that said, my vibe all-star is Trey Lance. He can run, he can throw and he looks cool as hell doing it. North Dakota State’s star freshman of 2019 looked like an adult man playing against teenagers in the team's run to the FCS National Championship.

He fits into a lot of the same categories where the other four quarterbacks reside. He’s really a Power Five quarterback playing behind a Power Five (at least FBS) offensive line against FCS competition. The Bison are the FCS bullies, so Lance played with a great supporting cast. The receiving corps was fine, but the scheme and all the hard play action built into it gave him opportunities to hit open receivers game after game.

It was just like what Alabama did to teams, but at the FCS level. Lance is also bigger than everyone else. There are times when he looks bigger than some of the linebackers he’s playing against. It wasn’t really fair at times.

The team was better than everyone else, but Lance still stands out, and I vibe with him because of three key aspects of quarterback play that I love to see: getting through progressions, quick-game throwing and elite running ability.

Getting Through Progressions​

North Dakota State runs the college offense passing concept du jour, Y-cross, and Lance performs very well when it’s called. The concept is a full-field read where the quarterback will look to the “vertical” side first before getting his eyes back to the middle of the field for the “cross” route. And then, usually, there is another intermediate in-breaking route behind it.

It’s an “all-weather play,” as Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley would describe it. You can really get a good idea of quarterback play from just watching this concept alone. Lance is great at it and is able to work through his progressions from the vertical side to the cross to the backside.

Quick-Game Passing​

This was a surprising feature of Lance's game because quick-game passing in college football is dying. Yet, Lance is very good at it. The RPO craze apparently hasn’t hit Fargo, North Dakota, yet. In 13 games in 2019, NDSU called a play with an RPO attached only 59 times. For reference, North Carolina, the other extreme, called a play with an RPO attached 431 times in 12 games this past season. Instead of RPOs, NDSU uses quick-game passing to move the ball.

Lance is an elite quick-game thrower, posting a 94.1% adjusted completion rate in 2019, the second-highest mark in a season since 2018 among quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks. There aren’t a lot of sexy quick-game throws, but he flashes timing and accuracy on these concepts.

Running Ability​

This is the obvious trait, but it’s the one that is the most easily translatable at the next level. As noted, Lance was bigger than most players who were trying to defend him at FCS level, and so the tape is excellent for old-fashioned hijinks with players bouncing off him left and right.

His 10.7 yards per rush on scrambles is the eighth-highest mark in college football among quarterbacks with at least 25 scrambles since 2015. NDSU also fed him on designed quarterback runs, with the classic “inverted veer/power read” being the offense's best bet for a good gain on the ground:


power.gif


Concerns​

Obviously, the first issue is the lack of opponent strength. Yes, North Dakota State is an FCS team playing against other FCS teams, but it’s hard not to get the feeling that this is close to a Power Five program masquerading as an FCS squad. They are that dominant. The difference in team quality hasn’t had an effect on the supposed draft stock of Zach Wilson, so if that’s the case, we can’t really use it against Lance, either.

Lance does have accuracy issues, and it’s not a small affair. We charted him as throwing an accurate pass on only 47% of his throws in 2019 and 2020. That’s really bad. Lamar Jackson was the same way. They both understand how to play the position and know which person to throw the ball to, but they just can’t always get it there accurately all the time. It’s certainly a problem — but a fixable one.

Overall Vibes​

If these are the aesthetics you like, Trey Lance is your guy — and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Vibes are important, and since no one knows anything about quarterback prospects, vibes might be the only thing solid we can stand on. He checks most of the boxes we want to see from a modern quarterback: size, escapability, arm strength and decision-making.
 

king of kings

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If they take a QB in 1st. They better better get #1 or #2 WR in FA . I heard rumors from Davis to JU JU . No one wants to see a repeat of last 2 years. We have almost No production from WR's.
 

Big/Sky/Fly

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If they take a QB in 1st. They better better get #1 or #2 WR in FA . I heard rumors from Davis to JU JU . No one wants to see a repeat of last 2 years. We have almost No production from WR's.
Not just any WR...one that can catch well, separate from the defender, and brave/strong. Speed and height would also be ideal.
 
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