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Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 QB Prospects – Week 6

Travis Wingfield

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Recapping Week 6 of the College Football Season

The news that Ryan Fitzpatrick beat out Josh Rosen for the opening day start in Miami is a tough pill to swallow. Rosen’s wait only last two weeks, he’ll start Sunday in Dallas. Easing the blow to Rosen’s long-term franchise answer probability, is the fact that Miami is staring down the barrel of a loaded quarterback class set to hit the draft next April.

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow and UW’s Jacob Eason have been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Jordan Love at LSU, Loss 42-6
Stats: 15/30 (50%) 130 yards (4.3YPA) 0 TDs, 3 INTs

The same issues that Jordan Love entered the 2019 season with have plagued him in the early going. While the ridiculous arm talent and big-play ability is on display each week, so are the inconsistencies in his set up and mechanics.

Because he’s capable of driving the football from any platform, regardless if he’s aligned in his lower-half, he will set up in the quick game without establishing his foundation. The result, erratic accuracy showing up on layup throws.

Another area of Love’s game that needs grooming, recognition of the danger areas on certain throws. His interception in the first half could’ve been avoided by putting the ball over the pylon, and making it catchable only for his receiver. Instead, he’s short and the ball is picked off (by an electric true freshman). There are also instances where Love is a beat late in his anticipation throwing.

The zip, velocity, and easy gas to challenge every blade of grass regardless of the circumstances are intriguing. Those traits are the reasons why scouts think he has a big time future, but it will probably take more developing than some of the other, more ready-made products in college football.

Risk versus reward. The way the situation stands in Miami, Love would be instantly inserted into savior status, and that might be too much on the young man. The best bet for Love is to go the route of his ceiling comparison, Patrick Mahomes. An established program that can ease him in behind the scenes would be the best path for Love’s career.

Joe Burrow vs. Utah State, Win 42-6
Stats: 27/38 (71.1%) 344 yards (9.05 YPA) 5 TDs, 1 INT

The classic pocket passer, Joe Burrow is adept at winning from within the structure of the offense. He throws a catchable football and can change speeds for the required throw (touch on downfield shots, zip on slants and in-breaking routes).

He has a firm grasp of the offense in his second year at Baton Rouge, and it allows him to anticipate and work to areas of the pocket where he can effectively deliver the football with accuracy.

There’s a clip in there of Burrow missing an open downfield shot because he takes his eyes off the progression and peeks at the rush. This is something of a common occurrence with Burrow, and it’s probably due in large part to his lack of quick-twitch ability to get off his spot at the top of the drop.

Pocket passers (Brady, Brees, Rivers) are still getting it done at a high level in the NFL. But the way the league is going, drafting a quarterback that can turn statue under the face of the rush is a risky proposition.

Jake Fromm at Tennessee, Win 43-14
Stats:
 
24/29 (82.8%) 288 yards (9.93 YPA) 2 TDs

This was Fromm’s coming out party for the 2019 season. Playing more of a game manager role through September, Fromm took the reins with sharp processing, accurate throwing, and big plays all night long.

That video thread contains a clip of the color commentary breaking down Fromm’s full-field reads. Getting through four progressions in a play is commonplace for Fromm. That level of quick decision making, and consistent mechanical set up, makes Fromm a lot more intriguing than his tangible traits would suggest.

The back-shoulder throw has become Fromm’s signature toss. There was a rhythm and tempo to the offense that demonstrated the complete comfortability and command from the Junior Quarterback. He still hasn’t thrown an interception this season. The big tests are coming, but something about Fromm’s makeup leads me to believe he’ll pass those test without much of an issue.

Justin Herbert at Cal, Win 17-7
Stats:
 20/33 (60.6%) 214 yards (6.48 YPA) 1 TD, 1 INT

The story is the same with Justin Herbert. Every game, Herbert showcases the ridiculous size, strength, and massive arm that can put the ball on any inch of the field from any platform or arm-angle. But he also demonstrates the same shortcomings that leave his offense sputtering against formidable foes.

There’s no video thread tonight, so we’ll use description. Herbert’s first interception of the season was a misidentification of the Cal coverage. He tried the middle of the field and a safety came over to step in front of the pass. This is often an issue as Herbert is late to pick up on the defensive plan post-snap, and he can’t always overcome the lapses with the physical traits.

Cal’s swarming defense was alternating between a variety of pressures, and dropping eight into coverage. The lack of comprehension of this disguise magnifies his propensity to drop his eyes and anticipate the pass rush.

The evaluation becomes increasingly difficult as Herbert engineers an offense based on the short game. With plenty of runs and screens, the downfield shots are few and far between.

Jacob Eason at Stanford, 10:30 ESPN
Stats:
 16/36 (44.4%) 207 yards (5.72 YPA) 1 TD, 1 INT

With the easy gas to drive the football down the field, Eason prefers to do his work from the pocket. His big arm and wrist action allow him to vary speeds between squeezing tight windows and laying the vertical shots out in front of his target. There’s a smooth, arching trajectory when he takes his deep shots to future draft pick, Aaron Fuller.

Those highlight plays come from clean pockets, but any compromise of Eason’s surroundings typically spell trouble. His initial instinct in this game was to retreat and extend the play by running away from the rush. By doing this, he eschewed opportunities for big plays within the structure of the offense.

Stanford would change the coverage-look post snap by moving a safety on the signal. Eason missed Fuller in the red zone because of this disguise, and the frequency of the issue stems from his own sense of pressure — whether it’s actually there or not.

Weekend Recap

This will provide detractors of this column — or the opinions I share each week — to label me as a biased observer, but watching every throw of all these quarterbacks, one thing is obvious: There’s a big gap between Tua and the rest of the crop. The upside of others (Herbert, Love) might intrigue scouts, and both could develop into better prospects, but the choice is clear right now.

Still, this is a great year to need a quarterback. There’s a chance that six passers come off the board in the first round.

As far as Miami’s concerned, that only serves to benefit the Dolphins. More QBs coming off the board early means big-time players at other positions will slide down the board for Miami’s other, many high draft picks.

Week 7 Schedule

Herbert – vs. Colorado, Friday 10:00 FS1
Fromm – vs. South Carolina, Noon ESPN
Tagovailoa – at Texas A&M, 3:30 CBS
Burrow – vs. Florida, 8:00 ESPN
Eason – at Arizona, 11:00 (PM) FS1
Love – Off

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Prospects –

Grant Delpit, LSU Safety

Aaron Fuller – Wide Receiver, Washington

Paulson Adebo – Cornerback, Stanford

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 QB Prospects – Week 7

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Recapping Week 7 of the College Football Season

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap
2019 Week 6 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow has been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Justin Herbert vs. Colorado,Win 45-3
Stats: 18/33 (54.5%) 261 yards (7.9 YPA) 2 TDs

Regardless of what happens throughout Justin Herbert’s professional career, he will flash moments of brilliance. The consistency of those spurts, however, remains uncertain. When the defense reacts according to the play call, it’s over. Herbert’s ability to quickly drive the ball down the field excites scouts everywhere.

The issue of inconsistency remains, well, consistent. Lapses in accuracy, proper mechanical alignment and anticipatory throws raise concerns over Herbert’s ability to translate at the next level. When there’s no urgency, everything is rosy. Herbert can adequately process and adjust his throw type when he’s free of adverse circumstances.

When Herbert is forced to speed things up — get away from an unexpected free rusher, anticipate a route opening up against the leverage of the defense — errors occur. Balls on the wrong hip/shoulder, late throws into tight windows, there’s a lack of trust in what he sees post-snap.

The upside is difficult to ignore, but those issues have to become hardwired corrections for Herbert to ever realize that potential.

Jake Fromm vs. South Carolina, Loss 20-17 (OT)
Stats: 28/51 (54.9%) 295 yards (5.78 YPA) 1TD, 3 INTs

The first 54 minutes of this game were a struggle from Fromm and the Georgia offense. After early success that has Fromm accomplishing whatever he wanted against the Gamecock defense — man or zone — Fromm’s decision making and location went south during a 42-minute scoring drought.

The good version of Fromm showed anticipation, timing and location on point, as they all typically are. Fromm’s interception on a throwaway attempt to close out the first half started a cascade of poor football. His accuracy waned, his normally perfect communication with the receivers went awry, and Georgia trailed with just six minutes to play at home against an inferior football team. Fromm also lost a fumble on a failed quarterback-center exchange on the doorstep of the red zone.

Executing a 96-yard, game-tying drive when he had to have it speaks highly to Fromm’s character. The NFL will present adversity, and Fromm has showcased the ability to overcome hurdles. Still, at the end of the day, he made too mistakes for Georgia to win this game.

One week after elevating his draft stock ahead of Justin Herbert and Jordan Love, Fromm comes back to earth and makes one thing abundantly clear — there’s a big gap between Tua and the rest of this class.

Tua Tagovailoa at Texas A&M, Win 47-28
Stats: 21/34 (61.8%) 293 yards (8.62 YPA) 4 TDs, 1 INT

On a day where Tua wasn’t as finely tuned as we’ve come to expect, he surpasses A.J. McCarron for the career touchdown passes record at Alabama with another four touchdown day. Tua’s second touchdown was a classic example of his pre-snap acumen, post-snap mechanical alignment, and precise ball location against an A&M blitz. Quickly getting to his spot and setup, Tua throws it right in behind the blitz and right on the bullseye for a big play.

The fourth touchdown was a fantastic anticipation strike to Henry Ruggs. Tagovailoa’s trust in his own eyes and processor allows him to anticipate better than any passer in the country.

He also showcased his fluid pocket mobility. Whether it’s escaping, or climbing up and wading through the trash, the only thing more dangerous than Tua on-script, is the improvising version of Tua.

The trust can lead to some mistakes and easy turnovers, however. Tua’s interception was a carbon copy of one of his INTs in the SEC Championship Game in 2018 against Georgia. Tua checked his backside read and attacked play side with the information he gathered. He was wrong in thinking the safety was bailing out. Instead, the safety robbed a dig route from Jeudy, and Tua was late with the football for an easy pick.

There were additional accuracy issues (available in the video thread) in the game, but not by a significant margin. Typically, when he makes a mistake, he erases the wrongdoing on the next play. Tua can play better, certainly, but I sometimes wonder if we hold him to an unrealistic standard.

A career 9:1 TD:INT ratio will do that (81 TDs, 9 INTs).

Joe Burrow vs. Florida, Win 42-28
Stats: 21/24 (87.5%) 293 yards (12.2 YPA) 3 TDs

Kirk Herbstreit said it best early fourth quarter after Joe Burrow beat another Gators blitz. Herbie referred to Burrow having all the answers for the looks Florida threw at him, and it led to a strong, efficient performance.

Burrow not only threw on-time and on-target within the structure of the offense, he navigated murky pockets and extended plays with big results.

Burrow’s growth in year-two in this offensive system makes for a master attacking the middle, intermediate portion of the field. Dropping the ball in behind linebackers and underneath the safeties, Burrow’s accuracy on crossing routes leads to big plays after the catch for the talented Tigers receivers.

Burrow forced his way into this discussion. The big four have become the big five and Burrow could wind up top-three if he continues this success.

Recap

We’re entering the portion of the season where we can begin to compare common opponents. Fromm earned his way into QB2 status with steady, consistent play through six weeks, but Fromm had his ugliest showing of the year Saturday.

That three-interception performance comes against a defense that Tua carved up for 444 yards and five touchdowns. The already significant gap between QB1 and QB1 increased after the performances of Tagovailoa and Fromm this weekend.

Herbert has nothing to prove against inferior foes. His physical talents are too much for poor defense, especially units that are poorly coached like Colorado. For Herbert to enter QB2 status, he’ll have to show out in adverse circumstances — something he really hasn’t done in his career.

Love was off this week; perhaps the bye week we’ll supplement his familiarity in yet another system. Burrow has passed all of his tests this season, but he still has a way to go before he’s even considered a one-year wonder.

Half way through the college football season, my quarterback big board goes:

  1. Tua Tagoavailoa
  2. Jake Fromm
  3. Jordan Love
  4. Joe Burrow
  5. Justin Herbert

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Prospect Video Threads

Alabama Linebacker, Anfernee Jennings

Oklahoma Center, Creed Humphrey

Oklahoma Wide Receiver, Ceedee Lamb

Oklahoma Linebacker, Kenneth Murray

LSU Edge, K’Lavon Chaisson

Penn State Edge, Yetur Gross-Matos

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 QB Prospects – Week 5

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Recapping Week 5 of the College Football Season

The news that Ryan Fitzpatrick beat out Josh Rosen for the opening day start in Miami is a tough pill to swallow. Rosen’s wait only last two weeks, he’ll start Sunday in Dallas. Easing the blow to Rosen’s long-term franchise answer probability, is the fact that Miami is staring down the barrel of a loaded quarterback class set to hit the draft next April.

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Ole Miss, Win 59-31
Stats: 26/36 (72.2%) 418 yards (11.61 YPA), 6 TDs, 1 rushing (7 total)
Season: 113/148 (76.4%) 1,718 yards (11.61 YPA) 23 TDs, 2 rushing (25 total)

Detractors are running out of things to say about Tua. Evading pressure, throwing strikes 45 yards down the field, manipulating the defense to create passing lanes, the Heisman front-runner did it all on Saturday.

The repetitive work habits to strengthen his lower-half mechanics allows Tagovailoa to stay on-time and on-target with better consistency than any passer in this class. The routine slant routes that often go the distance aren’t necessarily impressive in a vacuum, but the regularity with which the play is executed to perfection has scouts fawning over this prospect.

That sturdy foundation also allows Tagovailoa to quickly get off of his spot, change directions, and use ball fakes to fool rushers and defenders as they close in for tackle attempts.

Jordan Love vs. Colorado State, Win 34-24
Stats: 17/33 (51.5%) 204 yards (6.09 YPA) 2 TDs, 2 INTs

This was not the version of Jordan Love that scouts project to go in the top 10 next April. While the freaky arm talent was on display at times, so were the inconsistencies that lead to mistakes in Love’s game. He threw a pair of picks on drive throws to the field — one a hitch, another an out — both undercut by a defensive back driving out of his back pedal.

Love doesn’t consistently get from one read to the next with his mechanics aligned. He’s more than capable of ripping those throws, but unbalanced platforms cause Love to lose velocity.

It was a rainy night in Logan, and that probably impacted Love’s performance. He dropped a snap on a second and goal situation, and was uncharacteristically erratic in the short game.

Another week, another decisive gap demonstrated between Tua compared to the rest of the class. Right now, given the way Love and Fromm have performed of late, it’s down to Herbert and Tagovailoa.

At this point, it’s difficult to imagine anyone supplanting Tua as the top of the class — he’s been nearly flawless. Dolphins nation is all in.

Week 6 Schedule

Love – at LSU, Noon SEC Network
Fromm – at Tennessee, 7:00 ESPN
Herbert – vs. Cal, 8:00 FOX
Tagovailoa – Bye Week

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Twitter Video Scouting Threads From Saturday:

Isaiah Simmons – Safety/Linebacker/Slot, Clemson

Tee Higgins – Wide Receiver, Clemson

Tyler Biadasz – Center, Wisconsin

Lucas Niang – Right Tackle, TCU

Ceedee Lamb – Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

Khalid Kareem – Edge, Notre Dame

Jeff Okudah – Cornerback, Ohio State

JK Dobbins – Running back, Ohio State

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 QB Prospects – Week 4

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Recapping Week 4 for College Football’s Top QB Prospects

The news that Ryan Fitzpatrick beat out Josh Rosen for the opening day start in Miami is a tough pill to swallow. Rosen’s wait only last two weeks, he’ll start Sunday in Dallas. Easing the blow to Rosen’s long-term franchise answer probability, is the fact that Miami is staring down the barrel of a loaded quarterback class set to hit the draft next April.

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Southern Miss, Win 42-7 (In Progress)
Stats: 17/201 (81%) 293 yards (13.95 YPA), 5 TDs

A mere 20 minutes into the game, Tagovailoa had already posted four touchdowns and better than 230 passing yards, and it wasn’t his best day. The explosive play-making ability of Henry Ruggs made things easy on Tua; his first touchdown was a double-slant combination with an on-target strike and a big run after the catch.

The second touchdown was also to Ruggs, this time a sluggo that created a mile of separation down the field. Tua laid it out there and ensure Ruggs made the catch, but the complaint was that the ball was under-thrown (see in the video thread).

Jerry Jeudy won a decisive post route that Tua was a little behind on, and that led to a pass break-up. That, a near interception where Tua was fooled with the post-snap picture, were Tua’s only incompletions in the first half (in addition to a thrown away pass).

The touch and timing of his throws, the ability to change speeds without sacrificing accuracy, and the anticipation of his throws are all part of the comparison to Drew Brees. This is a special quarterback, regardless of the opponent he plays. Every little detail matters and it shows in the post-snap manipulation aspect of his game.

Tua played free of pressure until the final possession of the first half, but he wriggled free of that pressure. The next play, however, was a sack, and the Crimson Tide offense was finally stopped.

It’s going to be a long year for nitpickers and naysayers trying to critique this young man — he’s damn near perfect.

Justin Herbert at Stanford 7:00 PM EST
Stats: 19/24 (79.2%) 259 yards (10.79 YPA) 3 TDs

Justin Herbert is a problem for college defensive coordinators, and maybe he’ll develop into one for the professionals, but the translation isn’t clearly as smooth as it is with Tua. He can drive throws that Tagovailoa will never be able to rip, but that’s about where the victories end for Herbert.

Attention to detail shows growth in Herbert’s game from last season (detailed ball-handler, efficient release that doesn’t lose velocity when he’s off-platform, or has to shorten up his delivery), but changing the touch and sustaining accuracy when he’s not aligned are challenges.

The most frustrating aspect of Herbert’s game is his play under pressure. He’s skittish when rushers arrive, and though he’s a straight-line speedster with the requisite size to shake off tackles, he’s not quick-twitch in a phone booth, and he struggles to mitigate protection issues.

Jake Fromm vs. Notre Dame 8:00 PM EST
Stats: 20/26 (76.8%) 187 yards (7.19 YPA) 1 TD

The Georgia game plan condemned Jake Fromm in a way. Only one of his videos comes from the first half because conservative nature of the Bulldog offense. Through four games, Fromm has been a caretaker in an scheme that minimizes his exposure.

The first three games, Fromm made the throws when he was asked to, but the Notre Dame defense changed that story. He missed a seam shot on the first drive of the second half, a throw that NFL will ask him to rip regularly, and he didn’t have the juice to get it there.

Maybe Fromm is capable of more, and this is simply the Bulldogs preferred formula to victory. Fromm is the captain of a loaded offense, he has that in common with Tua and Herbert. The Tide and Duck quarterbacks drive their respective offenses; it feels like Fromm is a passenger in his.

Jordan Love at San Diego State, Win 23-17
Stats: 30/47 (63.8%) 293 yards (6.23 YPA) No touchdowns or INTs

Every week, Love shows the eye-popping traits that has confident coaches all over the league believing that can spin magic with this unique passer. From the video thread, Love’s first throw was a field-side drive throw to the sideline, and even though the football traveled some 30 yards, Love kept in on the clothes line.

The natural elasticity in his arm means that the platform and arm angle are largely irrelevant to his accuracy — he can hit the target from an uneven base. There are some deficiencies in his game mechanically — primarily with his footwork — that he covers up with that howitzer. He is still throwing too many interceptable passes.

Easy gas refers to the ability to throw the fastball without a lot of laboring in the process. Loves’ quick, over-the-top release features no hitches and is as seamless as anyone that’s ever played the position. It looks like he’s playing with a nerf ball as he effortlessly flicks the pill all over the lot.

Love shows enough aptitude for identifying the pre-snap picture that makes me believe he’ll be able to handle the increased workload of the NFL.

Lastly the Utah State center had a miserable night dribbling multiple snaps to Love. Love covered up multiple disaster situations because of his absurd athleticism.

The conference schedules are coming and the statistics of these quarterbacks are piling up. As expected, Tua is the Heisman frontrunner. Maybe this was expected too, but through four weeks, it’s glaringly obvious which of these future first-round picks is best in show.

Tagovailoa wins in every football category aside from arm-strength. The way he moves, the way his offense functions at his controls, the way he beats every different plan a defense can throw at him…in a class that is chock full of impressive signal callers, Tagovailoa stands out.

Week 5 Schedule

Tagovailoa – vs. Ole Miss, 3:30 EST CBS
Love – vs. Colorado State, 7:30 CBSSN
Fromm – Bye Week
Herbert – Bye Week

@WingfieldNFL

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