One more week, my people. In just seven days, we get to watch a football game that hasn’t been played. Even though it “doesn’t count”, I am excited for some new games to dissect.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open.
Parity of the ACC Coastal
Over the last six years, six different teams have claimed the ACC Coastal Division and earned the opportunity to loose to either Florida State or Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Virginia is the only team yet to win the Coastal and if the trend continues, the Division is theirs for the taking in 2019. To my surprise the credentialed media at ACC Kickoff last week in Charlotte picked the Cavs as the favorite to win the Division.
To me, the logical pick was Miami who returns a loaded defense and talented skill players offensively. The highly-touted Tate Martell transferred in from Ohio State and is set to invigorate the quarterback position. Add in Manny Diaz who brings new energy at head coach while also preserving continuity and I think you have who should be the favorites in the Coastal.
I really like Virginia. They are well-coached and the defense is talented although not near the level of Miami. Bryce Perkins is an interesting quarterback that brings a tough-to-defend dual-threat presence but I just don’t believe there is enough around him offensively to win the division.
Drew Lock Is Not a QB Per Fangio
Shots fired! Part of me wonders if this is just Fangio’s way of sending a message to Lock, but in either case this is quite the statement. Some believed Denver would select Lock in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he slid to the second round where the Broncos scooped him up with pick No. 42 overall.
A 46-game starter in the SEC, Fangio clearly states he doesn’t believe Lock is anywhere near ready to compete at the NFL level. Any notion that Lock is going to beat out Flacco for Denver’s starting job would be unlikely given Fangio’s sentiments.
While the NFL has been more open-minded to drafting and playing quarterbacks coming from college spread systems, the 60-year old Fangio certainly doesn’t see it that way when it comes to Lock. It will be interesting to watch Lock against Atlanta next Thursday in the Hall of Fame Game. Will Fangio even let a guy who he claims is not a QB yet, play the position in a preseason game?
Tua is QB1
I recently took the deep dive into Tua Tagovailoa tape and I LIKE what I saw. He’s my QB1 entering the season. Here are my scouting notes from summer scouting:
Pros - Love how controlled he is among chaos and somehow finds ways to stay in rhythm. He’s a cool customer that wins from the feet up in the pocket. Does a terrific job navigating the pocket, keeping his eyes down the field and finding his outlets under duress. He isn’t the tallest quarterback but the density of his frame is ideal for his style of play. He is balanced and rhythmic with his footwork in the pocket and is generally synched up properly with his routes. Has success challenging all levels of the field with sound accuracy. Takes full advantage of the incredible speed at his disposal with the Bama WRs and works the football down the field with excellent success. Generally does well to get himself aligned properly to his targets. Very deliberate with lower body follow through and rotation. There were some challenges late in the 2018 season but Tua generally reads coverages with comfort and understands coverage rotation while showcasing the ability to hit throws with anticipation. Processing speed is mostly sound. Does well to recognize opportunities pre-snap and execute post-snap. Love his overall tempo between his drops, progressions and trigger. Effectively mixes up his fastball and changeup based on the type of throw required for the situation. Makes some gorgeous touch throws that are dropped in the bucket and between zones.
Cons - Delivery features a slight hitch. Base will occasionally narrow and impact his release point. Has some intermittent issues staying on top of the ball on quick outs. Missed some coverage rotations vs Georgia and Clemson late in 2018 that led to costly turnovers. On a few instances (enough to note), it appeared that he didn’t read the same leverage as his receiver on some deep shots. Has plenty of arm strength but it isn't a cannon.
Don’t Sweep Henry Under The Rugg
In watching Tua, it doesn’t take long to understand he has elite weapons. While Jerry Jeudy gets most of the hype when it comes to the Bama wide receiver corps, there isn’t much of a drop off if any when it comes to Henry Ruggs. He’ll be in my top-10 prospects once my initial board is released in the coming weeks.
Pros - Unbelievable speed. There won’t be many - if any - players on opposing defenses that can keep pace with him. Absolutely destroys pursuit angles with the ball in his hands. Rare ability to accelerate and achieve unprecedented speed. Isn’t just a fast guy - football skills are absolutely present at a high level. Features outstanding body control and ball skills that make him effective in contested situations. Plenty of reps that illustrate his ability to elevate and win through contact when necessary. Has no issues establishing his frame at the catch point and hauling in the football outside his frame with extension. Makes excellent adjustments to the football in every direction. Competitive demeanor is evident in everything he does. Works his tail off to block and competes with the ball in his hands post-catch.
Cons - A touch lean but plenty big for his size. Has room for technical growth as a route runner. As it stands, he is fully capable of separating based on athleticism but he can be even more dangerous with more work selling breaks and creating leverage.
2020 Odds For No.1 Overall Pick
Trevor recently wrote a fun piece on the opening odds for the top pick in the 2020 Draft and it reminded me of the opening odds for the 2019 Draft. They were:
- Ed Oliver -150
- Nick Bosa +275
- Justin Herbert +750
- Field +175
Oliver went No. 9 overall, Bosa No. 2, Herbert stayed in school and the field turned out to be the correct bet as Kyler Murray was the eventual top pick.
Tua Tagovailoa is currently the favorite and to me, that makes sense. There will be QB-needy teams in the mix for the top pick and Tua is perfect for how the game is trending. I know he’d be my pick if I were making it today. While Herbert may have better physical tools, I like Tua’s ability to handle pressure and his intangibles appear to be superior.
Critical Year Looms For Justin Fuente
This is a make-or-break season for Justin Fuente in 2019. Winning 10 games during his first season in 2016, Fuente followed that up with 9 wins in 2018 and only 6 last year. His ACC win totals have also decreased each year with 6 coming in 2016 then 5 in 2017 and only 4 in 2018.
In 2018, a makeup game win over Marshall was what it took for the Hokies to continue its nation-leading 26-year active streak of consecutive bowl appearances and eventually lost in the Military Bowl to Cincinnati.
The roster is full of Fuente’s own recruits and this team needs to bounce back quickly. The extension Fuente signed in April of 2017 that ties him to the University through 2023 was awfully premature.