Talk about Power O football and how it's one of the most versatile plays in the playbook. Can block any front. Lots of figures and examples. Apparently very applicable to Wisconsin this year, maybe more than Michigan even.
Over at Maize n Brew I start to look at blocking the Power O run play. It takes many calls and changes with the defensive front, this is a primer to set you up for tomorrow, when we get into more depth about blocking the play.
This play is a favorite of Michigan, but almost any team with man blocking plays will utilize Power O at some point or another.
Over at Maize n Brew I discuss how a U-back can be utilized to add variety to the run game. I also briefly get into how a U-back can be moved to manipulate the defensive scheme, allowing for the offense to exploit weaknesses in the defense.
Over at MGoBlog, I have a post detailing the progression of a QB (in this case Devin Gardner) and detail how a combination of game speed slowing down and footwork dictating reads can greatly improve QB play.
Wisconsin Commit D.J. Gillins supposedly used to have about a 13 minute highlight tape. Unfortunately that got taken down and no subsequent highlight film has been uploaded onto the internet. Therefore, he goes unranked here, though he sounds like a good player. Iowa also does not currently have a QB commit for the '14 class from my understanding.
So for an overall field, I think the B1G recruited some good QBs this year. My belief is that a lot of them will end up playing for their teams and contributing, and if they do, most teams will be relatively happy with their QB play. However, there is a real lack of "star" or big time prospect in this class. I think the closest is Michigan State's Durkin, who can be a true dual threat at the next level with some improvement in mechanics and really bring something new to the B1G. Depending on your opinion of Denard Robinson, Ulmer also has a high ceiling. He is a superb athlete who will threaten defenses whenever the ball is in his hands.
On the flip side, outside of Durkin and Ulmer, I don't see a sure fire player in this group. A lot of them could end up being backups if they don't pan out. Of course, a lot of this depends partially on the players brought in around these recruits.
I think the biggest surprise of the group was David Blough. Since I've seen his film I've really raved about him. If he was a few inches taller he'd likely top this list, particularly at the baseline. I have a bad feeling that I've undervalued him, but the worries I have for him are significant. If he can't see the middle of the field, much of his passing windows will be closed down which makes success that much harder. Still, Purdue picked up a very good looking QB. Nebraska's Darlington looks good on film but not superb. But because of his fit in the Nebraska system, expect him to be a real pain in the side of many B1G schools. He looks a bit like Taylor Martinez 2.0, slightly less athletic, but with a slightly better arm. If he goes one way, I believe it will be toward his ceiling.
Michigan's Speight is a guy I haven't touched on much. Speight has great touch and can really throw the deep ball. His mechanics are good and he can move the pocket some to make up for a lack of mobility. He needs to improve how he throws the ball underneath, but with his size and big arm, he has a lot of potential going forward. Out of Michigan's own back yard, Wiegers is a similar QB. I think Wiegers right now has a better deep ball and post pass, but I worry about his ability to read defenses. At the end of the day he doesn't quite have the same upside, but could be a very underrated pick-up out of Michigan.
As for some of the guys lower on the list, I was actually pretty impressed by guys like Crouch. Crouch likely won't be a star at the next level, but he has an arm to get it to the play makers around him. Thorson is the same way and is easily one of the quicker underneath passers in the class, both in terms of release and zip. But he needs to be able to get defenses to respect him deep to maximize his potential at the next level. Collier in his own right isn't a bad prospect, he just doesn't have anything that really stands out, as an upside, baseline, or downside. The way OSU has recruited around him, I wouldn't be surprised if Collier was a career backup, and honestly, he wouldn't be a bad back-up if that's the case.
Gets the ball deep and is a great passer on throws 10+ yards (particularly post patterns)
Very comfortable throwing on the run, particularly moving right
Keeps his eyes down field and gets the ball into the hands of his play makers.
Can really push the ball deep by having good arm strength and a nice flight trajectory. Ball drops in pretty well and he allows for his WRs to make plays. Good throwing power on intermediate routes, gets good height and zip on his post and dig type routes, really steps in and fires it well. Stands tall in the pocket to see the field. When plays breakdown he understands his limitations as an athlete and continues to look down field and holds the ball in a position to still release the ball quickly to get it into the hands of his play makers. Maintains decent foot mechanics on the move, especially when moving right. Weaknesses
Needs to improve elbow snap to get more velocity and accuracy on shorter throws
Doesn't make many reads at this stage, partially because the superior athletes he's surrounded by
Not a great athlete, will be a pure pocket passer at the next level
Doesn't seem to naturally have great zip on the ball. Struggles to put the ball on a line and on the short quick throws. Closes down his release on short throws and tends to try to push the ball into windows rather than throwing it (he actually gets better as the route gets deeper, for instance, he's better at throwing a post than a slant). When he tries to put extra heat on the ball, the ball tends to come out wobbling, likely because he's over-gripping the ball. Whether it is the case or not, he does not show the ability to go through progressions in his reads. He often zeroes in on his targets and makes throws, usually to mostly open receivers, but sometimes throws that he shouldn't make. Not a great athlete, and may struggle to escape defenders that are college level athletes. Doesn't really threaten to run when he roles because of a lack of pure speed. Video
One thing that makes projecting Wiegers more difficult is the simple fact that it is obvious that the athletes he's throwing to are exceedingly better than the ones they are going up against. Many of his passes were to wide open receivers over the top. I had this question above in the form of making reads. Not many high school QBs make a ton of reads anyway, but it may be an even bigger jump for Wiegers, and reading defenses will probably be the most important thing for him seeing as he isn't a great threat to run.
He does have a good arm though. He has one of the better arms on throws 10+ yards down field for the incoming B1G QB class. Has a nice trajectory, touch, and velocity on his post passes, with enough air to get over the LB level and enough speed to get it to the receiver before safeties can collapse down. On throws over the top and he push the ball down field by getting more air under the ball. His throwing motion, which allows his release to follow the ball down the field, makes it so the ball doesn't hang as much, though this is an area he could improve with more elbow snap (this would help get more zip on his short passes more than anything else). As a QB, he's always looking to throw the ball and holds the ball ready at all times. He has good size to see the field and is already comfortable throwing on the move, particularly when rolling right to his dominant hand. Projection
Will take some time to learn to read defenses
Can fit really any offense, but is comfortable in a pro-system, utilizing play action to put the ball over the the top of defenses or on intermediate throws between the LB and safety depths.
Wiegers is a good QB that can do a lot of things well. I suspect it will take him a few years to really get comfortable reading defenses at the next level, as he won't be able to simply throw it up to his superior athletes. That being said, he has an arm that is very adept at taking advantage of defenses that attack the run. If he can be paired with a good running game to force LBs and Safeties to commit up in run support, he should be able to get the ball into the hands of his guys.
Good trajectory to throw into the seam or over opening between CBs and safeties in a cover 2
Fast and quick runner that can take it for a TD at any time
Gets low behind the LOS and sets up blockers well to get into the second level
Decent throwing strength. While he struggles to push the ball deep and doesn't have pure arm strength, he can wind up and use his body to get the ball over top of defenses trying to play tight. Does a good job of getting the right amount of air under it, enough to let the receiver run underneath it but not hanging it up.
Smooth runner that doesn't look like he has to press to be fast. Naturally quick and fast. Accelerates quickly. Gets low behind the LOS and burst through into the second level. Good top end speed. While he has a longer stride, is agile enough to set up blockers at the second and third level and to make defenders that don't break down miss in the open field. All it takes is a step and it's difficult for anyone on the field to keep up. Stops quickly to cut across the grain, and again, gets up to speed quickly. Good vision to cut back. Weaknesses
Needs to improve pure arm strength, and will struggle to fit the ball into short windows
Needs to quicken release and improve accuracy
Holds the ball loosely and always in his right hand
Short QB that will find it difficult to see over the middle of the field. A long, looping delivery that takes a long time to get started and then released. Not much ball velocity. Over steps on his throw, which will lead to inaccuracies. Will find it difficult to put the ball on a rope with accuracy. Really only has a single trajectory, and that's one that can find receivers in the seam or toward the deep sideline against cover 2. Doens't appear to have a great arm for hitting short to intermediate passes such as digs, hitches, and post. Completely changes throwing motion on underneath throws, pushes the ball like a dart, causing him to short arm receivers. His footwork when set in the pocket lacks great technique; too much jumping for any real lack of movement or building back up into the pocket.
Holds the ball in his right hand only. Doesn't hold the ball high and tight when running. Doesn't display much leg strength to move the pile, and will struggle to get free if contained in the pocket.
How you feel about Ulmer will likely be reflective of how you saw an athlete like Denard Robinson play QB in college. I'm not sure Ulmer has quite the stop-start quickness or the top end speed, but he is a very good runner in his own right, there is no denying that. He gets up to speed quickly, burst through the LOS by getting low and hiding behind blockers, and has good elusiveness in the second level and the speed to turn a 20 yard gain into a TD. Like Denard, he'll need to take better care of the ball, as right now he is a bit reckless with how he holds it.
As a thrower, he is a bit different than Robinson was. I don't think he has the arm strength to put the ball on a rope, but I do think he has better touch to put the ball over top of defenses. But he has a long, loopy release that will allow defenses to read and jump his underneath routes and have a good chance to break up some deeper passes as the safeties become more athletic. He doesn't have the arm strength to make all the passes, and may struggle on the short zones. He'll really have to improve technique if he wants to also be a successful passer at the next level.
Will be given a chance as full-time QB at some point
Start off as an "Offensive Weapon" flex type player
Fits well in a run based, inverted veer heavy spread attack that heavily utilizes seams and outside receivers over the top.
There is no denying that Ulmer is a very, very good athlete. He is a fast, quick athlete that can threaten the defense with his legs. He should be able to do this as a kick returner, a change of pace RB, or at the WR position where he would really threaten defenses out of the slot. But it is extremely tempting to put the ball in his hand with an extra blocker. What is to be seen is if he will be a good enough athlete to make up for what is a limited arm. I think he could be successful against some teams, and will likely be a real threat when he does, but I question whether the threat will come to fruition against better defenses. I'm not sure he has a accurate enough or strong enough arm to do so.
Still, even if he is given a chance to prove himself and then is moved back to a flex role, he appears to be athletic enough to make a name for himself. The question here is whether people are willing to accept him as an athlete playing QB or a flex type player, or if he gets faulted for not fitting a single role clearly. Regardless, it's hard to see him not being successful somewhere on the field outside of the possibility that a man of many trades is a master of none.
Very good quick release with great arm and wrist snap for good ball velocity
Capable of putting the ball over top of the defense and drop the ball in a barrel with little wasted hang time
Moves well within the pocket and has good footwork at this stage
Very good at stepping up into the pocket and escaping out of the natural lanes that form by pass rushers getting up field. Little wasted movement going from read to throwing motion; ball doesn't extend much behind helmet and is snapped forward quickly at a height just about at the top of his helmet. Really has a quick arm snap and gets a lot of good spin on the ball. Finishes with arm on throwing side of the body, snaps wrist and releases toward target, finishing with his hand to the target. This greatly improves ball speed in the air and also accuracy. Can put the ball in the air and has very little extra air on it; ball drops down quickly over the top of defense. Short passes get on receivers quickly and can be fit into small windows. Good enough athlete to move about the pocket, works to get shoulder back up field and does a good job utilizing body torque along with proper follow through to get good velocity on the ball, even when rolling to the left. Capable of hitting both short passes with velocity or long passes over the top while on the move. Good footwork on drop and set, climbs into pocket, quick to release to the sideline. Gets depth quickly on drop, giving time to set and look around field. Gets feet set and shoulders directed to target before delivering the ball on short passes. Not afraid to step into hits in order to get the ball to where it needs to go.
Size will cause issues for him for several reasons
Will struggle to attack the middle of the field
Not great pure arm strength, won't be able to attack far sideline
Size could be an issue. Will struggle to see over offensive line and not get ball knocked down by defenders. With his height, you'd like to see a higher release point and an ability to switch arm angles; this would help him get the ball over the top of defenses, allow him better access to the middle of the field, and would allow him to manipulate the pocket without the hesitation involved with moving his body because he would be throwing directly into passing windows. Could improve the speed at which he resets and gets into throwing position on 1 and 3 step drops. Not great pure arm strength, but throwing motion covers up a lot of it. Don't think he's capable of a straight drop and hitting the far sideline. His accuracy on his deep ball is also a little less consistent as he's forced to put more body into the throw, but overall this is an above average aspect of his game. Will be forced to move the pocket in order to attack all areas of field. Didn't see much intermediate game, including seams and dig routes. Possible that he struggles with reading (though he will throw the inside slant), also possible that he struggles with intermediate touch to put the ball between LB and safety level. Height very possibly has something to do with this, as he can't get a high enough release to really drop it in that quickly at that distance. Video
From a pure passer standpoint, there are few that are better than Blough at this stage and there may not be a single QB in this B1G class that can out throw Blough. He has great ball velocity, spins the ball well, and has the technique to have great accuracy with his passes. Slants and short hitches, attacking short zones should be a strength for Blough going forward. While he doesn't have the arm strength to attack the far sideline, he is capable of putting more air on the ball and pushing the ball deep and over the top of defenses and moving the pocket to shorten the his throws. He can manipulate the pocket with good footwork and athleticism, and throws the ball well on the run, getting his hips and shoulders in proper throwing position.
The biggest worry, by far, is Blough's ability to attack the short and intermediate middle of the field. Height will be an issue in terms of seeing this area. He also has a low release point, meaning the passes will tend to get knocked down. The other significant thing that release point means is that it will be difficult for him to get the ball on a trajectory to drop the ball over the DL and in front of LBs or behind LBs and in front of safeties. What this means is that he always needs a clean passing window to throw to his receivers on anything intermediate in distance or shorter. If a team has good safeties, defenses can run a lot of cover 2 and really shrink windows, and Blough could struggle forcing the defenders to gain a lot of depth on their drops as he'll struggle to hit anything over the top that isn't over top of the entire defense. Also, if Blough is forced to roll to attack the sidelines, zones and windows will further shrink, and his ability to add touch will become more important. As a pure thrower, Blough is very advanced, but the questions in his game are extremely significant.
Could potentially see early playing time, as mechanics are advanced for age
Simplified short pass concepts (slants, hitches) that allow him to attack between the numbers and the EMOL without having to attack the middle of the field.
Blough is advanced for his age as far as mechanics. But his limitations force a fairly specified offense for him to fit in. Likely Blough will require an offense that utilizes a slot, whether that's from under center or more of a spread look isn't a necessary requirement. He's a good athlete, but not great and won't require designed runs for him. I like how fast he gets back in his stance from under center, and despite his height, may excel from there. However, shotgun would allow him to see the field better, as height is a concern. It also potentially allows him to get the ball out quicker before defenses can drop into zones and shrink passing windows, forcing Blough to use more touch. I think Blough is best being paired with a downhill run game, one that forces the safeties up, either to be an extra man in the box or to cover up inside the alley. If he can get a good downhill run game, then he can threaten over top of the entire defense, and this would allow the underneath passes to open up more.
If he improves vision and release height, along with possibly learning to change his arm angle to attack throwing lanes, and can really threaten the middle of the field, then the ceiling is very high for Blough. His ceiling is likely similar to former Texas QB Colt McCoy. If he can't improve his passing over the middle, he could struggle to attack defenses all together. As a baseline, he's likely to be a QB that can be really successful against less athletic defenses that struggle a bit more in pass coverage, and then turning around and struggle against faster, more athletic defenses that can close down windows outside the box and force Blough to prove he has touch and ability to see and throw into the middle of the field.
Favorites: Penn State (Commit) Other Notable Offers: Michigan State, Miss St, Mizzou, Rutgers, South Florida, Vandy
Very quick, compact release leaves little time for defenders to anticipate throws
Capable of switching up trajectories with good touch
Size allows him to see field and go through progressions well at this stage
Has a nice, quick, compact release, finishes with his arm releasing to throwing hand side. Capable of switching up ball flight trajectory and applying touch for different types of throws. Has great height and size for a QB. Is able to see the field very well and scan through progress; should be able to stand up to hits at the next level. Capable of putting some air under the ball and dropping it in. Can hit outs to the sideline from the middle of the field and has nice timing on hitch routes. With his quick release, ample height, and good vision, it should be difficult for defenders to jump his routes or collapse on anticipated throwing windows. When he's comfortable in the pocket and allowing a more natural throw (ie not trying to fire the ball in a small window) he shows better wrist snap, gets better ball rotation, and the ball drops in quicker and cleaner, getting on the receiver faster. While I don't think he will be, nor should he be, used for designs runs (outside of an occasional draw, particularly in the red zone) or options, he is athletic enough to eat up yards on scrambles when LBs drop and make a few tacklers miss if they don't break down properly. Has surprising agility, will be able to make pass rushers miss. Weaknesses
Struggles with drop and set in pocket
Doesn't have great pure arm strength to make all throws consistently
Has inconsistent accuracy, likely because footwork needs a lot of work, especially when it comes to resetting
Doesn't step into throws when pressured and too often throws off back foot when on the move. When sitting in the pocket he has a noticeable hop, feet aren't moving quick and like choppy like climbing a ladder, and therefore can't reset quickly and isn't prepared to get the ball out quick. After several hops, or if initial read isn't there on quick passing patterns, his feet become static and he struggles to reset for next receiver in progression. His drop leads to poor accuracy, as he doesn't get his feet properly set many times, leaves his body open to his target, and slings the ball with his arm and waist rotation rather than stepping into throw. This makes it so he is much less consistent with accuracy as well as not being as capable at putting a lot of heat on his short passes. Guessing he needs to improve the actual release off of his hand, or at least the consistency of this release, as the ball tends to have a flutter to it, especially when he tries to put more muscle or some air on it. This is likely because he's squeezing the ball too tightly when trying to put more muscle on it. For his deep passes, this tends to hold the ball up in the air and force it to under throw the receiver; on short passes it makes it so it takes slightly longer to reach the receiver. Doesn't get his hips up field when rolling, and doesn't get good shoulder turn, allows his moving momentum to carry his passes and adjusts his aiming point accordingly; is capable of hitting his target, but accuracy is inconsistent and doesn't get the velocity you'd like to see.
Frankly, my baseline projection for O'Connor is higher simply because I think the types of flaws he has can mostly be corrected by the coaching of O'Brien. In most other systems he'd likely be a quarter to a half lower than where I have him. I think his total upside is somewhat limited because a lack of great pure arm strength. His footwork is also likely to revert when pressured, and it's his footwork that is the cause for a lot of his problems. O'Connor does show potential though. When he throws at his more natural velocity, the ball spins better and gets on receivers faster, but on throws where he tries to apply some speed or distance it appears he over-squeezes the ball and then it tends to flutter. Part of the reason he over squeezes is probably because of a lack of great arm strength to get the ball there naturally, so he's really trying to push the ball deep, part of it may he just needs to be coached not to do it. Regardless, it'll be a difficult habit to break. At the end of the day though, the footwork can be fixed, and with O'Connors height and vision, along with an adequate arm, he can be capable of hitting open receivers, which will happen at the college level. If he can improve some of the other things, his ceiling is much higher than many, but if he can't his ceiling can be a bit lower. Projection
QB all the way
Will take some years to clean up footwork and throwing mechanics
Best fit in an offense that allows short and intermediate passes that don't require throwing in tight windows, so lots of crossing routes, mesh concepts, and somewhat advanced route combinations to get receivers open
There seems to be a trend with some of these QBs, in that they are picking offenses that fit their style of play. In my mind, that's good to see, as it means the level of play is likely to be higher. O'Connor fits into this mold. When O'Connor gets to PSU he will need some years to improve his footwork and accuracy; the rest of the mechanics will hopefully come along, but are less likely to because they have been so ingrained in him from thousands of throwing reps. Still, with footwork, he should improve accuracy and he has an adequate arm to hit a lot of passes between the number and potentially even to the sideline from the center of the field. O'Brien won't ask him to do much more than that. O'Brien loves the mesh concept, he likes a lot of rubbing routes that get receivers open easily in man coverage and leave receivers open in wide windows where the QB isn't forced to rocket the ball into a small window. But to have a QB capable in this system, he needs to be able to be smart and to read defenses well. O'Connor's size should help in this regard. PSU is a very good fit for O'Connor, and because of that and the fact that I trust O'Brien to fix his footwork, I project his baseline to be higher than it would nominally.
Favorites: Ohio State (Commit) Other Notable Offers: Boston College, Cincinnati, Wake Forest
Great size for the QB position
Shows flashes of potential when technique improves
Strong runner that breaks arm tackles and keeps legs moving on contact
Great size for a QB. Sees the field pretty well. Has the capability of putting some air under the ball and going deep. Shows flashes of potential. When he gets proper technique he can deliver the ball better and more on a line. When he delivers the ball over top of his shoulder and finishes toward the target and combines some lower body torque he can add ball velocity. Even flashes it at times when moving the pocket. When he cleans up his technique he can get the ball out quicker. He can be more accurate and he can put better touch on it, dropping the ball in on corner patterns or on fades.
Strong runner that keeps legs moving on contact and can break arm tackles for people who don't complete the take down.
Little to no consistent technique at this point
Doesn't have great arm strength and struggles to put velocity on the ball
Not a great pure running threat
At this point has no technique in his drop, just kind of steps backwards with his body facing the LOS. When throwing, there's very little weight transfer. Doesn't have good natural arm strength. All throwing mechanics are inconsistent, from footwork to arm motion. This causes inconsistent accuracy on all passes. Doesn't have good feel for depth or touch deep, and while he can get flight trajectory and put some air on the ball to push it long, doesn't put it on receivers in stride. Most common throwing motion is to push the ball from his chest, forward, and finish with his hand across his body. Get little good wrist or elbow snap and therefore his ball spin could use improvement. Passes tend to float and don't get on receivers as fast as other prospects. Not good technique throwing on the run, gets very little extra strength into his throws outside of his arm.
Not particularly fast running, can gain some ground and escape the pocket a little bit, could potentially be used on designed runs, but doesn't have great acceleration or initial burst and would require being used as a secondary threat. Lacks agility and vision in the run game, more of a straight line runner.
Collier is a difficult prospect to evaluate. He really lacks any technique is all aspects of being a QB. His drop has bad form, his footwork is inconsistent, and his arm angle goes anywhere from bad to alright. I don't believe he has great pure arm strength, and while he is capable of pushing the ball deep, the ball does tend to hang in the air longer than necessary because it lacks ideal spin. He's a guy that can hit all the areas of the field, but the ball will take a long time to get there and won't necessarily drop in the spot he's looking for it to drop. But he does show flashes of potential. Occasionally he'll step into throws and release over the top and finish to the target, and when he does his ball speed improves and the ball cuts through the air much nicer. On top of that, if he can do that his accuracy will improve as well.
As a runner he can get some yards in short yardage situations. He's a big body that knows he's a big body and runs like a big body. Churns his legs well, breaks arm tackles, but doesn't dance a whole lot. I don't see a guy with great speed or acceleration, he's not very elusive and he doesn't stand out in the way he sets up blockers. So while he's not a natural runner, and likely won't be the number one run threat in an offense, he can improve and become a solid runner in his own right. He's a prospect that needs a lot of time and reps to become what fans of his will want him to be. Projection
Start at QB, could end up being a TE or outside WR in OSU's system if a position change happens
Will need time and patience to be molded into a viable QB option
Fits in a spread system that allows him to be a secondary run threat and attack defenses over the top, rather than in short and intermediate zones with a quick passing attack.
If Collier is to become a viable option for OSU, he'll need some time to develop his consistency. Even then, he simply doesn't have the physical tools in my mind to be great. He doesn't possess elite athleticism, and he doesn't have a good enough pure arm to likely be great at the next level. But he does show the ability to be good at both passing and running, and maybe that will be enough. Right now, he's a secondary run threat that can pick up yards on his own in short situations and displays some ability to put the ball over top of a defense. With improved mechanics, should be able to work the ball around a bit more, hit some corner routes and such, but he'll need to work on throwing on the run to be comfortable hitting shot passes in tight winders and out routes to slot receivers.
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.
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.
Favorites: Michigan State (Commit) Other Notable Offers: Cal, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern
Ball velocity and rotation, putting the ball on receivers fast
Very good running ability
Capable of threatening every area of the field with arm
Has the ability to make throws to every part of the field. Has good pure arm strength and releases the ball with good arm and wrist snap, giving the ball pretty good velocity and puts it on the receiver fast. Quick release allows him to get the ball out of his hands fast. Capable of putting the ball in all areas of the field and should be able to develop his mechanics below his waist to be better adept at throwing outs. His ball velocity allows him to attack seams and dig routes and his quick release gives defenses little time to jump routes before making the throw. Also, this allows him to get the ball out quickly on screens.
As a runner he is quick to get down hill and up to speed. Great size and build for the QB position. Not extremely elusive, but elusive enough to break arm tackles. Gets shoulders low and keeps feet churning to pick up extra yardage, and while he doesn't have the pure straight line speed to take it to the house, can have runs designed for him, both on option runs and pure QB leads and draws to pick up good yards on a consistent basis. Capable of escaping the pocket and difficult for less agile defenders to break down in space and get solid hits on him. Will be a very good red zone threat.
Needs improved footwork when passing the football leading to higher consistency
Changing ball speed and trajectory
Really needs to focus on his footwork, as it is a bit all over the place. Often fails to even step into throws and his weight transition from back to front foot is lacking. For Durkin, it isn't so much as a matter of fixing throwing power as much as becoming more consistently accurate. It would also help him to hit deep outs should that be a pass he will make at the next level, as getting it out there with pure arm strength could cause it to float and be undercut. Struggles at times to change up passing trajectory and put some air under it, can struggle to fit the ball between levels and sometimes over the top of defenses with consistency. Doesn't do a very good job of getting his shoulders and hips up field when moving the pocket and accuracy will be an issue when he is forced to move around. Will need to improve his ability to hit receivers between zones toward the outside, which means he needs to improve footwork again to fit into those windows.
Whether he is capable or not, I'm not sure, but he did not make many reads in the run game, leading me to believe he was much more of a pure runner than a reader at this point. Also didn't look comfortable under center, either getting depth out of there, or with his back to the defense on play action, where his footwork went to hell.
For his ability to run with the football, Durkin is a surprisingly capable passer. He holds the ball high and releases the ball with good arm and wrist snap, allowing the ball to spin well and get on receivers quickly. Because of that, combined with his pure arm strength, he can make pretty much every pass at the next level. But he does need to improve his footwork for other reasons. He rarely did a good job of transitioning his weight or really even stepping into throws. While his throwing power is good despite that, it would significantly help his accuracy by making him more consistent, while also giving him a better opportunity to hit the deep outs and such, that regardless of arm strength, are difficult to impossible to throw at the next level without good mechanics below the waist. His success as a pure passer will likely depend on if he can improve his footwork and abilities to read defenses.
Early playing time via a special package
Red Zone threat early in career
In my opinion, Durkin could take a couple of paths to playing time. I do think he's more than capable enough to be a QB at the next level, but if for whatever reason that doesn't work out, he could potentially make a switch to fullback or even an H-back. If he can tackle, he's a potential candidate even for special teams, though that is unlikely.
As a QB, I think he could see early playing time in designed packages. He'll likely be a good threat in the red zone because of his ability to run with power. As long as he can continue to improve his reads and progressions, he should be able to play it safe toward that end of the field, occasionally mix in QB runs with some fake QB runs to hit open receivers. Outside of that, he likely won't be asked to run a pure passing game, especially towards the end zone in and goal and long early on. If his footwork develops, he can be a multi-year starter at the next level. The best offense will allow him to threaten defenses with his legs, particularly on designed QB runs rather than option type runs. A quasi-spread-single-wing offense will allow him to see the field well as well as run the ball. I do think to take advantage of his abilities you do not want him under center, and rather want him playing mostly out of a gun. He didn't look comfortable with his back to the defense or with his footwork from that position, and likely hasn't taken many reps to see or feel the defense as well from that position. It will be interesting to see how/if MSU combines what is their typical down hill, inside zone rushing attack along with Durkin. Optimally, they would run some inside zones while only doing the read for show purposes, while also keeping the depth between the RB and QB somewhat minimal so that designed QB leads and sweeps can be implemented.
Regardless if he develops a lot as a passer with mechanics and reads, he should at least be able to have a package as well as the potential to even switch positions, giving him a fairly high floor. His projection now is due to the fact that I don't anticipate MSU to mold an offense around him. It will likely be a mix of what they currently do along with some of the things Durkin does well. There's a fine line between fitting and offense for a QB and fitting an offense for your team. It's left to be seen if how high Michigan State can push Durkin's level of play to maximize their ability on offense as a team.
I have no idea why sites are listing him as a pro-style QB. Likely because he isn't a speed QB, but that's nonsense. Durkin will likely start as a QB that uses his legs more than his arm, as he has tended to do in high school, and will continue to use his legs at the next level, particularly in the red zone and in "and short" situations.
Other Notable Offers: Arizona, Boston College, Minnesota, Miss St, NC State, Ohio St, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Really zips the ball through the air to put it on receivers quickly in short passing game
Gets ball out quickly in pass game to his play makers
Effective running QB, makes good reads and sets up blocks well
Really snaps the ball with his wrist to let it cut through the air. Ball doesn't spend much time in the air, and he can hit the receivers in windows in the short zones. Gets the ball out quickly, little wasted movement on slants and hitches and releases from the wing/TE/backfield. Good grasp of his playbook, knows when,where, and which receivers will be open quickly, gets ball out early. Puts the ball in the hands of his play makers in the pass game. Moves very well in the pocket, is comfortable with initial footwork dropping from gun or from under center, also has good footwork off of play action. Very good at this stage at play action fakes, really holds defenders well which allows him to break contain on his boot and get open throwing lanes to make his passes easier for himself. Can operate from both the shotgun and from under center.
Good enough speed to call designed runs and designed options for. While not overly elusive in the open field, can beat people with deceptive speed and is hard for DL to track down. Makes good reads on designed option plays, pulls the ball late and gets up field fast. Little wasted movement when running. Reads and sets up his first and second level blocks well. Puts head down and gets extra yards when DBs try to bring him down.
Inconsistent footwork through his passing motion
Not good enough pure arm strength to really hit receivers toward the sideline
Needs to improve touch on passes and decision making with ball.
Footwork while going through the passing motion is inconsistent. Gets lackadaisical with footwork on short passes, leading to passes that aren't as accurate as they should be. Doesn't get his shoulders and feet pointed to receiver, opens up his body and flings, sometimes making his passes drift or rise. Often throws off his back foot. While he occasionally squares up when rolling, and has some decent passes while on the move, more often than not his stepping hip and off shoulder don't get up field as well as they should. When rolling left his off shoulder and stepping foot pretty much face the sideline and he flings it. When rolling right he'll end up at about a 45 degree angle and almost jump through. Leans backward pretty far and exposes ball behind his body for too long before getting into what is a fairly quick forward motion. Doesn't have pure arm strength - even with the zip he puts on the ball - to really push the intermediate routes such as seams, posts, and out routes or other routes toward the sideline, especially when he doesn't step into it. Doesn't consistently step into throws even when not pressured. Has a low release point, kind of a half sling/half pushing motion that doesn't give him a lot of arm strength or movement, most of his throwing power comes from shoulder and wrist action. Doesn't have great touch on the ball, often under throws receivers and puts the ball in positions where defenses will intercept or knock down at the next level. Struggles to hit receivers on the sideline due to lack of pure arm strength and touch. Doesn't always take care of the ball, especially when pressured. Video
Darlington does a lot of things very well, but isn't great at a single major attribute. His short passing game is quick, getting the ball out fast and cutting the ball through the air, but because of his throwing motion, both through his arm and footwork, he isn't always accurate. He makes some exciting plays through the air, but the decision process isn't always best and will more often than not lead to bad things at the next level. He moves well in the pocket and is comfortable escaping pressure, but his throwing mechanics really break down on the run. As a runner, he will be able to beat most DL with his initial acceleration and speed, and will even be able to beat some LBs, but he won't out run DBs at the next level and will be able to get funneled for tackles. He's not overly elusive, but can make defenders that fail to breakdown miss, and will run over DBs in the middle of the field. He's inconsistent at best passing deep because of a lack of pure arm strength, his throwing mechanics, and a lack of touch on the ball, but he can effectively orchestrate a short passing game combined with a good run game. Size is probably a touch below average, speed is a touch above. Essentially, well, he's a lot like Taylor Martinez. Projection
QB, though if passing really doesn't work out could be effective WR
Fits best in an offense that mixes up shotgun, pistol, under center, gives QB options in the run game and provides a short passing game off play action
So essentially what I described was Nebraska's offense. I believe Darlington is a great fit in that offense, which lends me to believe that he will come closer to his ceiling than he normally would. Frankly, look at Taylor Martinez and project him in a different offense. But in Nebraska's offense, despite all T-Mart's faults and inconsistencies, he's always produced. That's how I see Darlington. Darlington is probably a better passer than Martinez, but I don't think he's quite the pure athlete Martinez is. But both struggle to push the ball down field or to the sideline, both can hit the short passes, although sometimes with varying accuracy. Then in the run game, they make pretty good reads, set up their blockers, and get up field in a hurry. I predict Darlington will stay at QB, though he could make a decent WR if needed, but he fits what Nebraska currently runs so well that I find it difficult to believe his career will be a ton different than Martinez's.
Able to drop the ball into various levels of the defense
Very good escapability in the pocket
Physical player on defense
Gets relatively good rotation on the ball so that it doesn't hang in the air much. Can drop the ball in between levels of the defense with little extra hang time because of this. When he does step into throws and get a higher release he is capable of hitting digs and some shorter posts with good ball velocity, putting it on the receivers relatively quickly, but he is very inconsistent in this area.
Does a good job escaping initial pressure. Uses his hands well to shed tacklers and then finds openings and attacks. Doesn't run beyond his capabilities, picks up the yards his is able to without losing yards trying to make a bigger play - this is a very good thing for most QBs, IMO, because it sets you up to be in better position on the next play and protects the QBs body.
As a CB he is a very willing hitter. He will dip his shoulder and isn't afraid of contact. Reacts well to underneath routes when run off on the outside receiver. Has a pretty good understanding of pass route concepts.
Height will be an issue at QB seeing the whole field
Slings and pushes the ball, causing accuracy issues
Decision making is often highly questionable when pressured
Size is going to be the first thing talked about by most. He is relatively short and he is still pretty slight when actually looking at him.
As a QB, his footwork is still very choppy and robotic. He doesn't look fluid dropping back right now and transitioning to a throwing position. He tends to sling or push the ball rather than come over the top. Makes some poor decisions when pressured, throwing into traffic that he won't get away with at the next level. Not good at throwing on the run, slings the ball across his body rather than getting shoulders and hips up field and driving the ball through and over the top. Doesn't have great zip on the ball, can't fit it into small windows in the short game or push the ball on a line up the field deep. Will struggle to hit outs at the next level, though the ball velocity is adequate enough for a B1G level on many other passes.
Not an explosive athlete in the open field, doesn't make many defenders completely miss, instead often gets slowed down and sheds tacklers with his hands. Will take hits at the next level because of that.
As a CB he has very little technique to speak of right now. He appears slow in his back peddle and looks uncomfortable turning and flipping hips (in the little footage there is of that).
It's difficult to tell a lot about McKinzy because his video isn't very clear. On top of that, he's clearly a very raw athlete that has some ability at QB. But right now he simply is not very polished. His throwing mechanics are all over the place, particularly with his feet and body positioning. He tends to sling the ball, which will cause it to sail at times and lose accuracy, especially if he really tries to push the ball into windows. When he does step into his throws and does throw over the top, he shows much improved ball velocity and accuracy, but he rarely does this at this stage. Has decent zip on the ball, so it doesn't float, but it also doesn't get on receivers as quickly as you'd like. He's unlikely to be making many out route throws or really attacking the sideline, and until he learns to throw on the run it'll be difficult for him to attack the whole field with his arm.
As CB he is also raw. He isn't an explosive athlete, and lacks some quickness and top end speed. But he is willing to step up and hit someone, he is willing to press, and he does recognize what is happening underneath.
Start at QB with potential to switch to BCB
Will take some time to learn technique
I do think McKinzy has some potential, but how much of it is difficult to say. He flashes some nice play making abilities, but I just don't see the pure arm strength or athleticism to make him a great player at the next level. I do think he stays at QB, though, as he may provide some things there and be able to step in when called upon. I think his best fit will be in a sort of heavy run based spread. Utilize some pistol and other heavier formations but not place him under center. Allow him to work off play action and fit the ball between levels, and then occasionally scramble to pick up extra yards.
Good Arm and body rotation in combination to push the ball deep
Effectively alters ball trajectory to fit the ball in at different levels
Height allows him to see the field well, and despite lower release point, can still snap his arm down and have a decent release height to get good spin on the ball. Very good at rolling the pocket and throwing on the run, does a good job of getting his front hip and shoulder down field so he can get good body rotation into his throws as long as he isn't pressured. With his mix of body rotation and arm strength he can deliver the ball well down field. Does a good job of getting air on the ball and dropping it down for receivers to run under and can hit any area of the field with his throwing distance and the air he puts under the ball. Can show good accuracy on intermediate passes, but needs to get more consistent with footwork and release point to retain accuracy. Looks comfortable stepping into pocket, up and out into natural lanes that form when the pass rush comes from the outside, keeps his eyes down field, and can find open receivers. Does a good job of differentiating passing arch to fit the ball over top of different levels of the defense, whether between the safeties and LBs, or behind the safeties.
Hitch in throwing motion
Lack of speed on short and intermediate routes
Tends to throw off back foot rather than transfer weight through throw
Hitch in his throw makes for a longer (timed) delivery than is preferred. Throws the ball next to his ear hole rather than with good arm extension. This makes it more difficult to get good ball velocity and throw a ball on a rope, making it more difficult to throw the short quick passes in tight windows. Tends to get sloppy with his footwork on quick passes as well, especially fades or three step drops. Too often resorts to leaving his weight to his back foot rather than shifting his balance forward through his throwing motion and ultimately to his front foot. Some of this is due to his somewhat porous high school O-line, but he seems to have gotten into a habit of it and does it sometimes when not pressured. Can struggle to reset his feet if being forced to move in the pocket, his footwork gets sloppy and his arm angle can become wonky. Drop is awkward at this stage, and he needs to work on gaining better depth off his first step and closing down when getting ready to throw, his transition from drop to throw put his plant foot and therefore his step foot in a bad position, which is part of the reason he struggles on three step drops or when being forced to step into a throw directly following his drop.
Speight has pretty high upside if he can fix some of his mechanical and footwork problems. He understand ball trajectory and has the capability of utilizing both his body and arm to put the ball in any area of the field. The worry is that he won't develop his short game and ball velocity. He struggles to throw bullets to fit the ball into small windows and really flourish in a short passing game. He doesn't have the ball velocity to truly threaten on hitch and out routes to the outside off play action and may struggle to fit the ball between LBs on slants and dig patterns. Some of the outside routes should be able to be made up for with his ability to move the pocket and maintain relatively good accuracy and velocity on the ball, but with a lack of great mobility, it's also a risk that moving the pocket may allow outside pressure to get in his face and without the need to send extra pass rushers. He already possess potential in some of the more difficult areas, namely, throwing on the run, with pressure in his face, and pushing the ball deep, but it's yet to be seen if he can overcome his lack of pure ball velocity on short and intermediate balls to have access to the entire field.
As a runner, he has poor acceleration, but he's decent at manipulating the pocket with his footwork and actually has decent straight line speed if he has room to get up to it. He'll never be a running QB, but if defenses play prevent and he gets a chance to step up in the pocket he can pick up some yards better than some would expect him to.
Will need some time to fix throwing hitch
Best in a system that allows him to push the ball deep rather than a short passing game
I'm not sure the West Coast Offense is the best system for Speight. If he can improve his drop to throw transition and improve his ball velocity, he could fit in any passing offense. As is, he's best in a traditional run based offense that forces defenders up and allows him to fit the ball over levels and over the top of defenses. This is a common trait in some run, play action heavy offenses - think some of the old Oakland Raiders offenses - but isn't necessarily so in Al Borges's quick hitting West Coast Offense. If Borges truly wants to unleash the dragon and attack deep, and focus even more on a downhill attack than he would typically prefer, then he can fit, but some adjustments in play calling will need to be made if Speight doesn't improve on some of his short route weaknesses.