Editor’s Note: The Broncos waived Nick Stevens an hour before posting this piece. Regardless, David Igono’s analysis delivers insight that explains why Stevens may still find an opportunity to compete for a reserve role in a training camp this summer.
The quarterbacks at the top of the 2018 draft class have all been dubbed “franchise” quarterbacks by mainstream media outlets. There is a misconception that these prospects are mostly ready for the next level, that the majority of their development is done.
The truth is that all the prospects in this quarterback class have a measure of work to see a second contract in the NFL. A quarterback prospect doesn’t have to be “franchise” caliber to get on a roster. He needs to exhibit a viable blend of consistent of traits with a hint of upside.
Nick Stevens of Colorado State may come off to most as a basic if not bland quarterback in this year’s draft. Closer examination reveals a competent and confident signal caller. I have questions about his arm strength and baseline athleticism, however, I see a competitor who will find a way to be in the conversation at the position.
The first thing that is overly apparent watching Stevens’ tape is his grasp of the intermediate passing game. He does not possess spectacular arm strength but his ball placement and anticipation of open receivers are encouraging. The following clip demonstrates an ability to lead a target with a pass while protecting his receiver from a lurking defensive back.
While his grasp of the intermediate game is firm Stevens’ does lack functional arm strength and velocity. You can see in this next clip the strain this completion puts on his arm profile.
In the NFL that pass is more than likely to be deflected or intercepted if he maintains the same timing and rhythm of that completion. The ball needs to come out quicker on his longer sideline throws.
When a quarterback doesn’t have upper tier arm strength he learns how to compensate via anticipation. If Stevens’ can shore up his mechanics, mainly his base when he throws, he can routinely attack downfield in the intermediate game and on the sidelines.
One play that crystalizes Stevens as a prospect it’s the ensuing exposure. Stevens is a confident player who can competently run an offense while playing clean and in an organized fashion. He is mobile enough however he realizes his best bet is to find a teammate to get the ball to sooner rather than later.
As he eludes the first defender knows he is going to get hit as he climbs the pocket to throw the ball downfield. That level of grit shouldn’t be glossed over. In the end, the attempt is wayward due to a lack of follow through on Stevens’ part.
Too often prospect evaluation can devolve into all or nothing exercises. Will Stevens ever develop into an NFL starter? Time will tell along with however he seizes the opportunities that present themselves. I see a quarterback that can work himself into a long-term career at the very least as a backup providing he works on his craft, specifically the physical side of his game.
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