Matt Waldman’s RSP provides a sample pre-NFL Draft scouting report of 49ers QB Brock Purdy, a passer Waldman gave a higher grade than the likes of early-round selections Sam Howell, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Jordan Love, Zach Wilson, and Will Levis.
The Biases of Draft Capital and Brock Purdy’s Hot Start in Context
I didn’t think Brock Purdy would be as effective as he has been this early in his career. The ingrained organizational and media biases that NFL Draft Capital can instill were a significant factor. The higher the pick, the more money is invested in the player and it leads to more opportunities for the player to succeed in practice, in the preseason, and in regular season games.
Draft capital leads to a bias rooted in sunk cost. Late picks and UDFAs see fewer reps and even when they make fewer mistakes percentage-wise than their early-pick counterparts, a mistake among a low volume of reps easily sways GMs, coaches, and media to reinforce their original viewpoint that the guy can’t play. In contrast, an early-round player can make more mistakes on a higher volume of reps and the same people come away with the belief that the player just needs time to develop.
When the exceptional late-round pick makes the most of his opportunities, injuries to the early-round picks are the most common driver of the opportunities. When they aren’t, we often learn how entrenched this bias is. For example, former Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone had to ask the Jaguars’ front office for permission to allow an open competition between UDFA RB James Robinson and the rest of the depth chart.
The team granted Marrone his request because they wanted a reason to get rid of Leonard Fournette. However, the fact that a head coach even needed permission to allow a true competition for a role in training camp involving an undrafted player highlights this point.
With this bias in mind, I didn’t expect Purdy to earn an opportunity to succeed in the NFL during his first 2-3 seasons, much less his rookie year. Still, my grade on Purdy was high enough to value him as one of the top six passers in his class ahead of early-round picks Sam Howell, Malik Willis, and Desmond Ridder.
When considering Purdy’s game against notable prospects from other classes, he also edged Zach Wilson, Jordan Love, and Will Levis — two of them first-round picks.
I shared film analysis on Purdy at this site prior to the draft, stating, “If Purdy can make moderate gains with his velocity, he could fit well in the Shanahan-Stefanski style of West Coast offenses.”
The landing spot matters greatly for a young quarterback, and Purdy couldn’t have landed in a better situation. He deserves credit for making the most of his opportunity. We should also credit the strength of the 49ers’ offensive line, scheme, and skill talents surrounding Purdy.
It’s not remotely an insult to Purdy when media analysts state that Mac Jones could have been successful in San Francisco. It’s likely that Purdy wouldn’t have fared as well to begin his NFL career if another team drafted or signed him.
These statements don’t detract from Purdy’s talents and skills as much as they place them in context. Patrick Mahomes would not have had the start to his career that he had in Kansas City. Mahomes himself said that he didn’t have experience with a progression-based offense at Texas Tech and the season working behind Alex Smith was a great help.
Mahomes with the mess in Chicago, New York, or a dozen other locations would have presented more challenges. While I believe he’d still display Pro Bowl ability (at least moments of that potential), the learning curve would have been steeper, the team dysfunction would have been greater, and the surrounding talent would have been less.
This doesn’t change what Mahomes was in his scouting report or what he could have become in a favorable environment. However, the environment can change how well it’s expressed and potentially stunt it, perhaps permanently.
Like Mahomes, Purdy’s landing spot was fortunate and made a huge difference in allowing this young quarterback’s talents to bloom.
Here’s Purdy’s complete scouting report found in the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. You can purchase the RSP — and past RSPs — at this link.
QB Brock Purdy Scouting Profile
RSP Ranking: QB6
Height/Weight: 6-1/212 School: Iowa State
Comparison Spectrum: Gardner Minshew/X-Bruce Gradkowski/Case Keenum
Depth of Talent Score: 76.125 = Cusp of Contributor and Reserve: Accounting for continued development in areas where he can realistically improve as well as the potential for playing time, Purdy’s college film grades out as a player who could eventually deliver starter execution in a limited role.
RSP Accuracy Charting
Games Tracked (Opponent/Date/Link):
- Oklahoma 11/9/19
- Iowa 9/11/21
- Texas 11/6/21
- West Virginia 10/30/21
- Oklahoma State 10/23/21
- Texas Tech 11/6/21
The Elevator Pitch on Purdy: “A limited role” means that Purdy is not a fit for a wide range of offenses as prospects with greater physical tools than him. However, he also possesses skills in the pocket and command as a thrower and decision-maker. This projection depends greatly on a team giving Purdy in-game exposures to the offensive and defensive concepts that can help him practically apply the lessons he’s working on.
It’s likely that he’ll need a scheme tailored heavily to his strengths while minimizing his limitations. This means the success of his game may require the team to rely heavily on the strength of his supporting cast or there could be diminishing returns.
Purdy possesses traits where he can transcend the limitations that a defense imposes on an offense, but the frequency in which he does this successfully – operating outside the scope of the offense in moments where the opponent has managed to thwart the offense’s gameplan – is not as high as quarterbacks with a more complete integration of their physical, technical, and conceptual abilities.
Purdy’s score is closer to a contributor (a reserve/backup who can run a scout team and eventually develop into a reliable backup who can manage the offense for stretches of games) who as limitations in scope and execution for an offense seeking a starter. If Purdy can improve the velocity he needs for specific throws, especially in the vertical game, he could develop into a capable starter if he lands in a situation where the opportunity becomes available for him to compete for playing time.
What you need to see more to give a definitive grade:
- I didn’t see as many scenarios as I’d like to see of him display pre-snap blitz recognition. Some of that was just me not knowing for sure if this happened as well as not seeing a lot of teams blitz him. Given his mobility and pocket management, I’d be careful about blitzing Purdy, too.
Where has the player improved? His final steps transitioning from his drop to his set up on deeper drops appear less awkward but it still looks like he hasn’t mastered the footwork. It looks like he’s still concentrating on the movement and it’s not fully ingrained.
Where is the player inconsistent? He rushes his throwing process too often and this limits his velocity and accuracy in scenarios where he needs it the most. He’s also a daring player whose play can bleed into reckless behavior and could cost him the trust of impatient leadership who won’t give him the same chances to develop as they will with quarterbacks possessing a higher draft capital.
What is the best scheme fit? He’ll make a good backup for teams that run a lot of Pistol and spread with multiple tight ends and a good run game because of his skill to get rid of the ball fast and identify blitzes and solutions pre-snap. Think Philadelphia and Indianapolis.
What is his ceiling scenario? Purdy’s pocket management, skill with seeing the field, and confidence in layering throws over/between coverage are strong enough for him to develop into a long-term starter if his arm improves. This is dependent on Purdy showing he can push the ball downfield when there’s a viable man-to-man scenario.
If he can develop/display the velocity needed to lead receivers with pinpoint accuracy on man-to-man vertical routes such as the skinny post, go routes, and deep outs/comebacks to the opposite side of the field, and the deep post, Purdy could transcend his current projection.
What is his floor scenario? If Purdy has reached his ceiling of arm talent, he can still deliver in the vertical game when there’s a strong play-action component, the routes are longer-developing, and placing significant air under the ball doesn’t derail the effectiveness of the play. Most offenses are seeking more than this unless the quarterback has elite skill as a runner to offset the “high-velocity vertical game” – think Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson who can throw for distance but struggle with the velocity component with the routes mentioned above.
Physical: Purdy knows he doesn’t have the velocity to deliver an out to the opposite sideline covering 20 yards from the pitch point. He’s had these opportunities (OK St in the first quarter, a good example) with favorable leverage and bypassed them. Although he can throw the ball with air under it 50-57 yards to the opposite sideline and lead the receiver, there are throws he doesn’t appear confident attempting and some of them may be on the cusp of his ability. At some point, he’ll have to know for sure what he can/can’t deliver and not hesitate.
Technical: He needs to work on setting his lower body as a thrower. He rushes this process and it appears to limit the amount of velocity he can generate. Will, you know better than I, so I’m not going to swerve out of my lane on details. Overall, I see some opportunity to become smoother between the final steps of his drop and setting his feet as well as getting the most from his lower body during the release.
Conceptual: I didn’t see this but once, but there was a slant between a linebacker and safety where he had two other reads but opted to stare this down and try to fit the ball into a ridiculously tight window on a 1st and 10 near midfield against Texas (12:08 in the 2nd QTR). Purdy managed to fit it exactly where it needed to be but the receiver had it knocked out. This is not a target he needed to force.
Later in the game, with 9:29 left and up 27-7, he forced a 1st and 10 throw 20 yards from his release point while under pressure to a receiver that he led into a defender. Accurate throw but knocked loose and a dangerous throw that wasn’t necessary given the situation.
I love Purdy’s field vision and confidence with his placement. When he knows he can make the throw, he’ll make daring choices but that daring can tip into the range of recklessness based on the context of the game (down-distance-quarter-score).
Intuitive: Purdy has an excellent feel for pressure as well as protecting himself as a runner. Again, he sees the field well but I think there’s a slight gap between what he sees and what he can realistically execute, especially on off-script plays as a thrower when he’s outside the pocket.
Build: Nothing stood out, but I haven’t seen him up close.
Drops: He shuffles from his spot in shotgun and pistol when dropping back more than one step. It would be preferable if he took precise drop steps more often. There are snaps from pistol and shotgun where Purdy uses a crossover step as part of a three-step drop as well as five-step drops but much of this offense is predicated on 1- and 2-step drops.
However, more often than not, he moves with short and quick steps that remain close to the ground and help him change direction with pressure bearing down and alter his drop plan as necessary. Some pistol drops have two steps, some have an extra shuffle of the foot. His quick sets where he must pivot and fire to the flat on a throw-out are efficient enough to support accuracy.
The tail-end of his drop plan lacks the deceleration and footwork to stick the landing and drive forward with a hitch in 2019. In 2021, Purdy displayed deceleration with a five-step drop with a half-roll off play-action. Still, he has lapses with his five-step drops during the final two steps.
His transition from drop to stance can be awkward, which leads to slips or a wider stance than he can use, which forces an adjustment. Even when the five-step and seven-step drops are clean, they aren’t fluid, especially the final two steps.
The conclusion of Purdy’s plans often features a hop or two backward and costs him momentum to drive the ball. The movement also leads to Purdy throwing the ball with his feet parallel and it costs him accuracy and velocity.
Purdy takes snaps from center for the ground game and occasional play-action throws.
Ball Security: Purdy’s ball security has lapses where the ball drifts progressively lower and looser in the middle of his runs. He uses the arm that’s working away from defensive pursuit but when he has lapses, he carries the ball exclusively under his right arm even when on designed plays going to the left.
He must tuck the ball sooner when he commits to running downhill or at least keep both hands on the football if he’s still maintaining a position to potentially throw the ball when scrambling behind the line of scrimmage.
When he tucks the ball at the end of runs, he can make contact to the ball and maintain possession. He’s often late to tuck the ball or switch the ball to the arm that’s away from pursuit.
Play Fakes: He uses quick stabs with partial extension when executing read fakes in clear passing situations. He’ll turn his shoulders through the exchange point to simulate the act of giving away the ball. He places the ball under the nearside elbow/forearm of the back as he enacts the play fake. He’ll also extend the time with his mesh and then pull the ball from the chest of his back on RPOs and read plays.
Although not a frequent part of the offense, Purdy has been used on a seven-step drop on a play-fake from center. He’ll turn his back to the defense and extend the ball with a good sale of the mesh.
Pump Fakes: Purdy uses a moderately violent pump fake with one hand and a range of motion that can vary from partial to full motion when he’s breaking the pocket. Purdy uses those pump fakes effectively in conjunction with a move to make a defender miss as he breaks the pocket or works into the open field toward pursuit heading downhill for him.
He’s effective at manipulating defenders to buy time and create space. This is one of the strengths of his game because he integrates it so well with his skill as a pocket manager.
Release: Purdy has a quick release that’s sudden when he’s throwing from read plays that hit receivers immediately up the seam. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot and lean away from pressure when delivering the ball. He throws the ball with an over-the-shoulder release with a whip-like arm motion and pushes through his front foot as his arm is coming forward.
His front foot of five-step drops and hitches can wind up pointed too far to the inside of the receiver’s break and lead to targets that don’t lead the receiver under the ball and force the receiver to stop while giving the trail defender position to cut off the pass.
Purdy rarely does so, but he can use a three-quarter release in the shallow zones.
Accuracy (No Pressure)
On-Platform Accuracy: Purdy’s realistic vertical range is less than 45 yards. Anything beyond 40-45 yards has a risk of Purdy underthrowing.
He has near-point accuracy with sail routes 20-25 yards from the pitch point. His outs, hitches, slants, crossers and comebacks to the same side of the field in the quick game off short drops are often pinpoint.
Purdy delivers the back-shoulder with anticipation on intermediate boundary routes up to 20 yards in length from the pitch. He displays nice anticipation with the skinny post but the placement at 25-30 yards needs to be front shoulder. This could be as much an underlying velocity issue contributing to the placement issue.
Off-Platform Accuracy: Purdy has a good feel and accuracy for dishing the ball to shallow-zone targets from off-platform positions against pressure and in non-pressure situations
Opposite-Hash Accuracy: Purdy delivers the out to the opposite sideline with general accuracy at 20 yards from the pitch point. With a taller receiver, this target would still have required a leap to make the catch but without as much of an extension.
In good conditions, he can throw the ball 57 yards from the opposite hash, to the far numbers—even between the numbers and the sideline. He has to put a lot of air under the ball but he gets the ball out in front of his receiver at 50-plus. In the NFL, this may work for deep crossers with a play-action throwback component embedded into the play.
He needs to become more cognizant of the amount of velocity he must put on a target up the numbers from the opposite hash at a distance of 40-45 yards from the pitch point against an inside shade defender. He underthrew one against Texas Tech that arrived in the perfect spot for the cornerback who intercepted it in stride.
Mobile Accuracy: Purdy gets rid of the ball quickly on play-action rollouts, as soon as the second step of his roll either to the right or the left.
Decision-Making: Purdy targeted a slant against off-man where the leverage was clearly in favor of the DB in the red zone. Purdy missed the target, throwing it well behind the receiver. It’s possible he tried to target back-shoulder based on the leverage, but the route was a slant and not one you’d expect to target this way.
He will throw receivers open in the middle of the field and turn them away from oncoming defenders although he has occasional lapses where he’s too aggressive with an attempt to make play that isn’t worth the risk given the score of the game and the health of his teammate.
He’ll make two reads in the middle of the field and find the outlet when the other options aren’t open. He possesses an adequate clock for getting the ball out of his hand.
He would benefit from coming off his first read quicker, especially when the second read is tied to the position of the underneath defender relative to the receiver on the first read. When he can recognize this relationship earlier, he can make a quick pivot and fit the ball into the window before the linebacker slides across the middle of the field. When he’s hesitating, he has a tendency to bounce twice on the balls of his feet before he pivots back to the second read and gives the linebacker time to undercut the break of the receiver, which forces Purdy to his third option.
Purdy recognizes pre-snap where he’ll have an open receiver underneath the zone coverage and spots the blitz so he can get rid of the ball before there’s pressure to contend with.
Purdy is patient in the pocket. He will wait for a two-man route combination to reach the stage of the break where the receiver who has the best position against the defender will break out.
I’d like to see him get the ball out a beat quicker by recognizing the disadvantageous leverage of the coverage rather than waiting for the receiver to break wide open.
He cost himself a potential touchdown and a win late in the TTU game on an over route with 1:18 left in the game because he opted to side to his right a few steps when he had planted and had the receiver just breaking open. Instead, he waited and wound up with a tougher throw that he undershot.
He’ll give a look to the flat early in a drop-opening briefly to the outside before working back to the inside. He’ll also manipulate the linebacker with a look to the shallow cross and come back to the dig behind that linebacker, opening the zone window wider. He’s confident in targeting tight windows within 20-25 yards of his release point and will layer the ball over the shallow defenders.
He has no problem reading outside-in, inside-out, short-to-deep, or deep-to-short when it comes to progressions. He has to become more aware of ancillary coverage that can peel off an assignment and reach a receiver he wasn’t covering. This can happen with routes in the flat like deep crossers or sail routes to the tight end where Purdy places air under the ball.
There were three throws in the Oklahoma State game where he didn’t take advantage of early opportunities and passed them by, including a vertical target to the same side of the field. He can also tip off zone defenders in a position to peel off their adjacent area of coverage and cut off targets.
This happens on Mesh where his staring down of a receiver may appear as if he’s choosing between two options high-low in the middle, but it gives the shallow zone defender an indication to slide into the adjacent area and cut off the route breaking towards him. Purdy needs to disguise his intentions better or be aware of the zone defender and act quicker or more accurately to the position.
Sense Pressure: He feels edge and interior pressure. He’ll even wait within a step of blindside edge pressure to maneuver away, which earns Purdy maximum separation. He does the same with cornerback blitzes to the front side on play-action and reads moving him toward the blitzer. He’ll take a hit to his legs from interior pressure when he knows he has an open target and needs to throw into the rush.
Maneuvering From Pressure: Purdy has the feel and body control to angle his torso away from pressure and keep his feet where they are while delivering a target with accuracy in the short range of the field. He’ll spin and roll to flush from interior pressure. He’ll also open his hips away from the first interior blitzer to sidestep the pressure, take two short hitches to climb from the opponent and reset and fire with interior pressure bearing down on him.
Purdy will also adjust mid-maneuver. He’ll flush from interior pressure, feel the edge pressure, and spin back to the inside of the pocket. He’ll reset quickly and fire the ball. Purdy also anticipates edge pressure just enough to slide 1-2 steps inside well before pressure threatens the pocket. He’ll even build this into his drop. He’s good at reducing his shoulder from edge pressure at the last moment.
Purdy has a habit of drifting a step or two backward after his initial drop. I wonder if he’s seeing the passing lanes well and that’s the reason for the drift or it’s just a habit.
On-Platform Accuracy: Purdy remains patient in the pocket and delivers the ball with pressure bearing down when he spots a receiver working open after the first break doesn’t. He can deliver the ball 20-25 yards with pinpoint accuracy in the middle of the field with edge pressure compromising the pocket and getting the ball over the linebacker that earned good depth with his drop.
Off-Platform Accuracy: I only saw a small sample, but he was effective within 15-20 yards.
Opposite-Hash Accuracy: When the route allows Purdy to deliver the ball with air under it and with anticipation, he has some area-code accuracy – not pinpoint, but within expectation for a receiver to make an adjustment to the ball.
Mobile Accuracy: If he can get his feet under him when rolling away from pressure and throwing the ball, he’d have better placement with throws on the move as well as when he’s on platform. When this happens, he can layer a pinpoint target 28 yards on the move to his right to a receiver in stride while he’s under pressure. He has short-range accuracy on the move to his left or right.
Decision-Making: Purdy can get too aggressive under pressure and attempt to squeeze targets into difficult and tight windows while pressure is bearing down on him. He’s quick (and timely) to transition from his second read to his check-down once pressure threatens him. Purdy will work through 1-2 reads from a progression against man coverage and hold the safety before delivering the ball under pressure.
Purdy sees the field well, especially when on the move. However, his attempts to target across his body while layering the ball over defenders is above his technical and/or physical pay grade. Fortunately, where he’s placing the ball, only the receiver has a chance at it.
In 2021, Purdy demonstrated the willingness to throw the ball away in the red zone when pressure limited his time in the pocket and pinned him inside.
Scrambling: He has the feel to climb from two points of pressure in the pocket. He has the quick feet to make the first man miss with a small sidestep off pursuit bearing down on him. However, he lacks the burst to break the pocket past linemen that are not occupied.
Running: Purdy lacks the speed to beat unblocked defenders around the play-side edge as a runner. He’ll also beat a cornerback coming off a block on run to the play-side edge.
When he breaks the pocket, he can move the chains and show the sense to finish with a slide as soon as he’s close to a pursuing defender. He has change-of-direction quickness and some bend in his hips and knees to make a safety overrun an angle downhill and cut inside or outside.
His stick is violent enough to get inside or outside downhill pursuit. He gets his feet up through reaches and attempted shots to his lower legs. When near the goal line he’ll take on a safety to score but he needs to get his pads lower. He ducks under contact well, but when attacking he gets a little lower.
Durability: No issues I’m aware of.
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If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.
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