A native of North Carolina, West Virginia Mountaineers’ quarterback Will Grier certainly looked comfortable playing at Bank of America Stadium in his home state during West Virginia’s decisive 40-14 opening week victory over Tennessee. Spoiling Jeremy Pruitt’s debut as Tennessee’s head coach, Grier carved up the Volunteers secondary to the tune of 429 passing yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions and completing 25 of 34 attempts.
In his second year as WVU’s starting quarterback, there is plenty of Heisman buzz for Grier’s season outlook in 2018. Playing in Dana Holgorsen’s spread offense with fellow senior receivers Gary Jennings (97 receptions for 1,096 yards in 2017) and David Sills (980 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017), Grier is capable of putting up video-game like numbers in his final season in Morgantown. He gets to feast on can’t-cover-anyone Big 12 secondaries with Tennessee, NC State and Youngstown State as non-conference matchups.
Projecting Grier to the NFL is… interesting.
There are some Baker Mayfield elements to his game in terms of his ability to extend plays with his feet, elude pressure, throw on the move and hit throws with touch. But Mayfield is a No. 1 overall talent and I don’t see that type of upside with Grier. So is he more Colt McCoy who is now entering year nine of his NFL career as an unheralded backup but never given the chance to be handed the keys to the car? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
From a physical upside perspective, Grier is modest. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds with enough mobility and arm strength, but he doesn’t “wow” in terms of traits. Spraying the football all over the field, Grier is an extremely fun quarterback to watch but how much of it screams “this is a future NFL starter?” That question will be answered over the course of the next six months and he’s a player that should jump on the opportunity to perform at the Senior Bowl in January. Proving himself functioning in an NFL offense during a week in Mobile would certainly boost his draft stock. It’s there where Mayfield calmed those concerns and a player like Luke Falk from Washington State indicated he had a long way to go.
The NFL is about making plays and Grier knows how to pull the trigger on throws that leads to big gains. Averaging a whopping nine yards per attempt in 2017, Grier put up 12.6 yards per attempt against the Vols in Week 1. That’s a testament to his ability to work the football vertically and hit receivers in stride for chunk plays. Doing just that is how he diced up an SEC defense to kickoff his senior campaign.
This rep is a fine example of how Grier can process a defense and hit a target in stride. Understanding the coverage rotation where the linebacker moves to the flats and the corner drifts back, the space is created for a window throw and Grier hits T.J. Edwards perfectly without having to slow down or adjust to the football just as he clears. Yes, Edwards goes on to score on this play.
Sending a boundary corner on a blitz and leaving Sills one-on-one with a safety on a go route is easy money for Grier. But outside of processing this and hitting a gorgeous throw with touch and accuracy down the field, notice the rhythm and mechanics Grier illustrates on this play. It’s all fluid, deliberate and done with precise timing.
Check out the anticipation from Grier on this dime. Releasing the football when Jennings is at the 20-yard line, he ultimately snags it at roughly the two. Grier understands the leverage advantage Jennings has based on the coverage rotation and drops it precisely over his outside shoulder for a touchdown. Processing… anticipation… accuracy… touch… boxes are checked.
Here’s one more dime from Grier where he drops it in a bucket, hitting Jennings in stride with tremendous ball placement.
Grier promises to be a heavily debated prospect and determining his upside will inevitably lead to wide-ranging viewpoints. For now, enjoy one of the most dangerous passers in college football execute in a QB-friendly offense with an arsenal of weapons he’s familiar with as he builds a Heisman-worthy resume.
The NFL is hungry for quarterbacks and Grier will get his chance. The next six months will define his valuation.