NAME: Clayton Thorson
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 18
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
Accuracy – Ball placement is spotty, especially down the field and when under pressure. Does well to work the ball between zones when hitting short, timing stuff. Ball doesn’t always spin off his hand cleanly which impacts his ability to put the ball where he wants it. Limited vertical passer.
Arm Strength – Puts ordinary zip on the football and it certainly doesn’t explode off his hand. Knows when to dial up the fastball and drop it in with touch. Ball noticeably slows down as it nears his targets on out breaking patterns and down the field.
Decision Making – Illustrates good patience in the pocket to allow routes to develop but turtles when pressure arrives. Will force throws into windows it cannot fit. Results of testing man coverage is inconsistent. Has too much confidence in his modest arm at times.
Anticipation – Has some positive flashes, particularly against zone coverage of allowing routes to develop and pulling the trigger at the right time to hit his targets between zones if his protection holds up. Challenging leverage down the field is highly inconsistent.
Pocket Skills – Feels the outside rush fairly well and is able to climb the pocket while keeping his eyes up and hitting his check downs. Is guilty of abandoning a clean pocket on occasion. Turtles under pressure and struggles to find quick platforms when needed. Fades away from pressure in his face.
Throwing Mechanics – Has an efficient throwing motion that isn’t elongated. Release points are fairly consistent when his base is set. Is guilty of flat footed throws and he struggles to execute off platform throws. Ball doesn’t always come off his hand clean and will flutter.
Feet – Has good rhythm in his three-step drops to his his back foot and deliver. Not as comfortable with deeper drops or when he takes an extra hitch. Setting a quick base is a challenge. Has enough foot quickness to climb the pocket.
Progressions – Will read the entire field but is also guilty of seeing plays through a straw at times. Not solely a one-read passer but lacks consistency when his first read is not available. Needs to do more with eyes/pumps to move coverage and create throwing windows.
Run – Not a candidate for designed runs and picking up yards with his feet as a scrambler reveals a lack of natural ability as a runner. Ability to extend plays and throw on the move is below average.
BEST TRAIT – Rhythm Throws
WORST TRAIT – Vertical Ball Placement
RED FLAGS – None
Thorson has the ability to hit rhythm throws and illustrates a quick trigger to be proficient in a west coast scheme that features timing throws. In terms of working his progressions, ball placement, arm strength and handling pressure, Thorson is a limited prospect which inhibits the notion that he has starter potential. By year three, Thorson could be a No. 2 quarterback but major growth is needed.
Arm Accuracy –Doesn’t appear to get on top of the ball in efforts to drive with velocity, resulting in almost every throw beyond 10-15 yards sailing high. Often forces his receivers to adjust late to the football, minimizing RAC. Quick game mitigates issues with shallow depth of target.
Decision Making –Processor can be slow and he puts his receivers in harm’s way working into the middle of the field. More consistent throwing shallow and throwing outside the numbers where there’s less traffic and simpler reads to be made.
Progressions –Habits can get the best of him at times, will get honey potted by a pre-snap look on occasion and often times gets off the rails when he’s forced to hold the ball for extended time in the pocket. Not a lot of intentional movement with his eyes to open throwing windows.
Anticipation –Hesitant to have let ball rip on deeper targets until seeing a flashing receiver uncovered down the field. Has a pretty nice feel for short area windows and timing on slant routes and slant/flat combinations. Little too much reliance on visual windows.
Poise –Shy under pressure, is willing to loft a ball out there in an effort to avoid taking sacks. Has a big frame and does well enough on extended plays to get outside the pocket and look down the field but at that juncture he’s a high variance passer with little consistency in results.
Arm Strength –Ball lacks pop coming off of his hand and will float to destination. Deeper targets have a high arc and are delayed in delivery, would like to see more push from the lower half on his throws. Misses on tight windowed throws due to inability to slot the ball with force.
Pocket Awareness –Has mobility within the pocket and does slide to extend plays, although lacks in the athleticism or foot quickness to snap back into a balanced posture afterwards. Has drifted into some sacks by being late to climb the pocket and allowing rushers to box him in.
Mechanics –Has poor rotation through his hips and trunk on throws, ends up hopping through his release on deeper targets and doesn’t truly throw from the ground up. Doesn’t put the ball in harm’s way while holding in the pocket and has a fairly quick stroke to release the ball.
Footwork –Gets a fair amount of depth off his drops and does well to collect at the top of the drop in the event that his primary is open and available. Does well initially to slide and stay ready but once fully flushed off his spot is not usually able to reset and get a balanced throwing platform.
Mobility –Moves with modest mobility and has enough vision to flush and pick up a few yards against man coverage but should by no means be considered a legitimate runner or a mobile passer. Pedestrian agility and sub-par speed.
BEST TRAIT – Experience
WORST TRAIT – Arm Accuracy
BEST FILM – Michigan State (2017)
WORST FILM – Penn State (2017)
RED FLAGS – 2017 Torn ACL
Clayton Thorson will check the superficial boxes teams look for in a potential starting quarterback, but beyond the surface of his resume there are massive pitfalls and holes. Thorson often makes even the most routine of throws look difficult and despite his notable experience as a starter in the Big 10 he struggles greatly with accuracy, throwing mechanics and velocity. Thorson is a fringe rosterable player who likely has reached his ceiling: a limited and erratic passer.