Matt Waldman’s RSP 2019 Senior Bowl Preview: Quarterbacks

Matt Waldman is once again covering Senior Bowl practices and kicking off his previews of the skill position players in attendance with thoughts on the quarterbacks. 

Quarterback is the ultimate on-stage performance position that is far more than the sum of its parts. Considering there are few daily reps that even come close to illustrating how a quarterback integrates these many parts into the whole, I do not gain significant value from these practices — even if I study the tape of these practices later in the week.

Rehearsals reveal a limited perspective about its players — especially at an event where the player is behaving more like he’s in a college entrance interview than operating in an actual learning environment. The greatest insights that teams can gain from quarterbacks this week is based on the team interviews and practice interaction.

Since all media has (at best) a limited degree of information that team sources will share and a significant amount is a deliberate attempt at misinformation, game study and charting remain the top sources for information.

Despite not marketing the Senior Bowl practices as a vital part of the evaluation process for media scouts, most of you still want an idea of what I think about the quarterbacks in attendance. While not expecting to see a lot, here are quick summaries of what I would like to see from each passer this week.

Daniel Jones: There are a lot of conceptual question marks to his game that may be difficult to judge with accuracy this week. This includes staring down receivers and forcing the ball into tight zones when the situation was unnecessary. Reading the leverage of the defender has also been a weaker point of his game. Add these processing issues to lack of refined footwork on tape and I want to see signs from the less demanding drills that Jones at least displays a baseline of fundamental mechanics that don’t deteriorate during practice. Maybe then, there’s hope that he can build on them when he becomes a professional.

Drew Lock: Several of his games reveal a quarterback that is lacking anticipation. Having a big arm may impress those who think experience and coaching can bridge the divide between a college starter and franchise quarterback. However, anticipation is a product of timing and confidence that’s rooted in the intuitive ability to process multiple pieces of information. When a talented arm athlete has gotten away with squeezing the ball into a target at the last moment in high school and college football, anticipation can be a difficult trait to develop.

Many draft analysts may praise Lock’s anticipation from drills or seven-on-sevens this week, but these aren’t realistic enough scenarios to evaluate his anticipation. However, this week should reveal the quality of his footwork on a variety of drops from center. Lock plays in an offense that allows him to walk or hop into a throwing position and his feet aren’t tied to the rhythm of his routes. If he’s accurate during the week on throws require drops in rhythm with the routes, it could provide a layer of insight into his short-term and long-term developmental needs.

Gardner Minshew II: I’m curious how pin-point Minshew’s accuracy will be while he’s on the move during the easier drills where receivers aren’t covered or its one-on-one with a defender or seven-on-sevens without a pass rush. Minshew has strong general accuracy to get the ball into a catchable place but he’s not pinpoint when forced to move off his spot, reset, and fire. This is also true when he’s moving from read-to-read — his feet aren’t precise with the adjustment and he loses accuracy.

I’m also interested in Minshew’s drop back mechanics that transition into his setup on less demanding drills not involving pressure so I can see if his mechanical flaws are similar in practice as they are to performance. A heady field general at this stage of his career, Minshew’s conceptual acumen has outpaced his technique. Is it a matter of time for him to learn or will it be a difficult transition?

Gauging his opposite-hash velocity during less demanding drills will also help me determine his potential for growth as an arm talent.

Jarrett Stidham: Can he win from the pocket with controlled movement? I doubt I’ll see enough to provide meaningful evidence of where his game is in this regard but one can hope.

Ryan Finley: His tape revealed a quarterback that struggled with accurate second reads as well as many targets placed in the middle of the field. He also didn’t show enough savvy with manipulating defensive backs on deeper routes. If he shows during practice that he can hold a defender with a longer gaze, it could mitigate some of my long-term concerns.

Trace McSorley: How well can he drive the ball when there’s no pressure and he can throw on-platform? Does he display good mechanics when pressure isn’t a factor? Will he stay in the pocket when it compresses but still offers enough room to maintain the rhythm of his progression reads? How refined are his drops and transition footwork (see Minshew’s entry)? I have more questions than answers when it comes to what I believe this practice week will reveal but we’ll see.

Tyree Jackson: He’s one of the 5-6 quarterbacks that I haven’t studied at all. I’ll be looking at his footwork, throwing motion, anticipation, and accuracy during less demanding throwing drills to see how the foundation of his game appears. In a sense, I’ll be working in reverse with Jackson in comparison to the rest of these passers. I’ll know what his ceiling could be in certain areas of mechanics and accuracy and determining with future film study what the reality of his game currently looks like.

Will Grier: On film, Grier has a reckless streak in the red zone. Will he play it safe this week, will he be too reckless, or will he strike the right balance? His arm strength on tape has been adequate but not top-shelf. As with the others on this list, studying his mechanics during drills may reveal growth potential. His setups are often too wide for his release.

Bookmark the RSP 2019 Senior Bowl Page to find practice reports, videos, and podcasts covering the practice week and the players.

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