Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recruit Breakdown: Clayton Thorson

Ceiling: 8               Ranking: 6               Floor: 3.75

School: Wheaton North (Wheaton, IL)

Size: 6'4" - 195 lbs.

Composite: 4 Star, 0.8973#15 Pro, #271 Overall

247: 4 Star, 92, #11 Pro

Rivals: 4 Star, 5.8, #7 Pro

Scout: 3 Star, #43 Pro

Favorites: Northwestern (Commit)
Other Notable Offers: Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, NC State, Ole Miss, Penn St, Syracuse


  • Strong arm on short passes, capable of firing ball in quickly
  • Quick release and good at moving the pocket
  • Underrated athlete that can keep defenses honest with his feet
Strong arm, can really rocket a ball in there. Displays the ability to put some air on the ball and throw over top of defenses. Good height. Has a release point above his helmet, while still not with full arm extension, still gives him a high release point and helps improve his ball velocity. Gains good depth on his first drop step, does a good job of stopping his motion on his last step, but tends to over reciprocate and bring himself a little too far back up into the pocket. Displays active feet while reading the defense. Does a good job of getting his shoulders turned back toward target when rolling, could improve hip placement a little more when rolling left, but is still advanced for the high school stage. Very comfortable rolling right, able to put could heat on the ball and a good mix of pure arm and body torque to put velocity on it. Little wasted movement in his throwing motion.

Underrated athlete, limited in side-to-side motion but has good speed in a straight line. Good enough athlete to run the occasional read option play to keep defenses honest, can beat cheating DEs to the edge and can eat up ground when defenders drop. Will cause some defenders to miss due to poor angles, as he gets up to speed quicker than expected. Could be considered a dual-threat QB.


  • Has a baseball throwing motion that causes the ball to sink
  • Tends to over-throw, inconsistent touch on intermediate and deep ball
  • Not capable of hitting far sideline due to throwing motion
In general, his release motion is down and across his body, like a baseball throw, much like a pitcher. On short passes, this tends to cause the ball to sink a bit, and you can see that fairly clearly on film, and it shows that he is getting it to receivers based purely on the fact that he's essentially over-throwing the football. Tends to rely too much on over-throwing the football and not enough on accuracy and touch. While he displays some ability to throw it over the top of defenses, his accuracy and depth on these passes are inconsistent because of his arm angle upon his release. He also struggles with touch on intermediate passes where he needs to get some height on it to get it over the DL and LBs. Not capable of throwing outs to the far sideline or putting the ball on a rope to the far side of the field because of the sinking ball movement when he tries to fire the ball. While good at rolling and throwing on the run can mask some of this, particular any near side stuff or plays from the middle of the field, he won't be threatening the whole field at the next level.

Longer video can be found here at his Hudl page

Thorson displays some good things in a QB. With his quick release and a real ability to fire the ball into windows, he puts the ball on receivers extremely fast in the short passing game. But he is heavily hampered in other aspects of the passing game primarily because of his throwing motion and a tendency to over-throw in my opinion. While he displays the ability to lean back a little more and let the ball have some air under it, he is inconsistent in his depth and accuracy on long throws, and didn't display much ability to get the ball between the LB and safety level with much touch. His throwing motion will also cause his accuracy to be more inconsistent. However, he has fairly developed footwork for this stage. He is very comfortable rolling and with his athleticism truly threatens the edge when rolling. Possibly from baseball, he looks comfortable throwing off the run, even when his footwork sometimes looks more like a charging short stop than a QB. In the run game, he can keep defenses honest and make defenses pay when DEs cheat and crash on toward the RB. He can eat up yards pretty quickly if LBs drop without regard to his running ability, and he can manuever around pass rushers that take bad angles because they poorly anticipate his acceleration and pure speed. He has a fairly high ceiling, but in my opinion, his throwing motion is holding him back from a higher level.


  • QB who could be used as an outside WR early
  • Best in a spread system that utilizes his legs and a short, quick passing game
I think Thorson sticks at QB, though it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he makes a cameo at WR at some point while learning the QB position. He does have a live arm, and can really whip the ball around, but his motion holds him back a little. If he can fix his throwing motion and display some different kinds of throws, he has a bit higher ceiling, but that ceiling is unlikely to be truly elite. On the other hand, right now, as long as he improves his accuracy a bit, he is a good enough athlete to threaten defenses with his legs and get by on the short passing game. This gives him a bit higher floor than a lot of similarly ranked QBs.

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