The 2021 NFL Draft starts tonight. Quarterbacks are going to dominate the first couple of picks at the top of the draft. There’s going to become a time where teams start maneuvering for the top passers on the board. One quarterback that has a chance to get drafted a lot earlier than you may realize is Florida’s Kyle Trask.
Trask led the nation in touchdown passes in 2020 with an astounding 43 scores. Turn the tape on and it’s easy to see why Trask was so successful in 2020. He remains calm in the pocket while circling through his progressions. Trask delivers the ball on time and accurately.
Trask spoke exclusively with The Draft Network to discuss why he took such a big step forward in 2020, how he balances being aggressive with taking what the defense gives him, why he’ll make such a big impact at the next level, and so much more.
JM: What an unbelievable step forward you took in 2020. You got significantly better in every area of the game. You led the nation in touchdown passes with 43. What changed for you in 2020?
KT: I felt good about my game in 2019. I feel like I did a great job but I knew I could still improve. I had the range to command the offense. I really just figured out the “why” behind every play. That’s mainly what changed for me in 2020. Instead of just running into the huddle and trying to do my job, I took it a step past that. I wasn’t satisfied with just executing. I wanted to dig a little deeper. I wanted to understand the “why” behind what we were doing as an offense. I learned why we ran certain plays versus certain looks, coverages, and so on. It really helped me understand the game of football at a higher level. That’s why I took that next step in 2020. For example, I learned why defenses do certain things when it comes to their rotations. I learned how to recognize and exploit that. It helped me see the field better. It made me more efficient.
JM: That’s a terrific answer. You trained throughout this process with Adam Dedeaux and John Beck of 3DQB. They worked with you on your mechanics. Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and K.J. Costello were working at the same facility. You also worked with Eric Renaghan at Sanford Power on transforming your body. It’s a bit of a loaded question, but what were your takeaways from working with all of these great coaches? I’m sure there was some friendly competition among the QBs.
KT: We had a great group of competitors out there. We all got better every single day. It definitely helped us in the long run. Some of the things we worked on at 3DQB, we did a lot with my footwork. We worked on body posture while throwing the ball. Those guys really break it down to the finest of details. We tweaked some of my mechanics. I became a more efficient passer throughout this process. They make sure you don’t muffle the ball. It was very effective. Those guys at 3DQB have a great eye and knack for QB play. They pay attention to the minor things that not everybody gets to see. They’re able to pinpoint that and really help you out. We didn’t make any major mechanical changes, but we did tweak some things that will help me in the long run. Eric and Sanford Power do terrific work. They really helped me get right and transform my body. I’m in the best shape of my life right now.
JM: You’ve met with a ton of teams over the past few months. Just about every team attended your Pro Day. You had a fantastic day throwing the ball. Through it all, what do you think you’ve proven to general managers and scouts throughout this process?
KT: Firstly, I think I proved that I’m more athletic than I get credit for. I have the burst to move outside the pocket when necessary. I’m very accurate outside the pocket. I can play in whatever system I get thrown into. I can fit your scheme. I really wanted to showcase that at my Pro Day. I’m not gonna be Lamar Jackson, but at the same time, I’m not gonna be a statue either. I dropped 15 pounds in the offseason. I wanted to be quicker on my feet. I wanted to be an accurate passer that throws the football with great precision and timing. I wanted to be the whole package. I did all of this so I could fit into the plans of any of the 32 teams. I’m going to be thrilled and ready for the situation I end up in.
JM: You talked about commanding the offense and having a better understanding of it. What can you tell me about the Florida offense? What were some of your responsibilities?
KT: I felt a lot better going into this past season after having 2019 under my belt. I had a lot more responsibility in 2020. I had to make the IDs. I had to make the protection calls. There were a lot of things I was asked to do. I had a ton of freedom when it came to checking out of plays. If I saw a seven-man box, man coverage, blitzing scenarios, I could always check to taking a shot or whatever. I pretty much had the freedom to do whatever I wanted as long as I had a good reason for it.
JM: It’s obvious that you had a lot of freedom. You earned the trust of your coaching staff and it paid off for everybody involved. As a quarterback, how do you balance being aggressive with taking what the defense gives you?
KT: That’s a great question. That’s one of the things that can separate the good quarterbacks from the great ones. It’s important to know when to be aggressive. It’s just as important to know when to check it down. That’s just something I picked up on over time. It comes with game experience. You can’t take a shot on every single play. There are tons of times where you just have to take your check down.
When you study the way Tom Brady plays the game, he gets the ball out of his hands very quickly. He typically gets it out there on his first hitch. He checks it down a ton. That’s part of what makes him so great. He knows what the defense is doing and oftentimes, he’s just taking what they give him. He sees the field so well. It helps set him a tier above everybody else. Personally, that’s something that I’ve picked up on over the past few years. It came with experience. I definitely recognize the importance behind it. There’s a time and a place to be aggressive. You also have to take what the defense gives you sometimes.
JM: That’s a great way to look at it. When I turn the tape on, I see a quarterback with the ability to manipulate defenders with his eyes. You remain very calm and poised in the pocket while going through your progressions. You’re very accurate. How did you develop these aspects of your game?
KT: That’s something that coach Dan Mullen does a great job of teaching. I put all of my trust into our coaches at Florida. I’ve seen what they could do. They have a terrific resume. You saw what coach Mullen did with Dak Prescott, Tim Tebow, and Alex Smith. He coached all three of those guys. Coach Mullen does a terrific job developing quarterbacks. That’s a long list of great quarterbacks that went on to play at the next level. They know what they’re doing. I trusted everything they said. I took it to heart and did the best that I could. I’ve really learned a lot of good things. I learned how to manipulate safeties and flat defenders with my eyes. I think that had a lot to do with the success I had in 2020.
JM: What are three traits that a successful quarterback must possess?
KT: You definitely need to be accurate to play at the next level. That comes first. You need to be poised. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to play in a lot of big-time games. I’ve played in some high-stress situations. It helped me develop. I showed a lot of poise in those games. Last but not least, you need to be a leader. The offense looks to their QB. They expect you to know exactly what to do. I have to know what everybody’s job is. You have to be the leader of your offense.
Accuracy, poise, and leadership are three must-have traits. It’s easier said than done. Those are the three traits that make up a lot of the great quarterbacks.
JM: You had to wait patiently for your opportunity. You didn’t get the chance in high school that you thought you would because D’Eriq King transferred in. You waited seven years to become the starter. It’s a crazy story. What’s the biggest lesson you learned throughout all that adversity?
KT: I definitely learned a lot about integrity and determination. You never know what somebody is dealing with behind closed doors. You have to earn everything in this life. Most of us aren’t given much in this sport. I knew that I had to grind a lot. I didn’t give up after those six or seven years. I was the backup. At the same time, I always remained optimistic that I would get an opportunity. I just had to make the most of it when it came. That’s exactly what I did. Luckily, it happened for me in 2019.
JM: You’ve definitely made the most of it. You were raised by a single mother in Manvel, Texas. What is your biggest takeaway from your childhood? Your mom must have set a great example for you.
KT: You definitely grow up a lot quicker. I was the man of the house. My brother went off to college when I was in the eighth grade. It was just my mom and I throughout my time in high school. We had to do things that maybe a lot of other people didn’t. I wouldn’t change it if I could, though. It made me into the person I am today.
My mom is awesome. She was the valedictorian in high school. She’s super smart. She taught me a ton of great lessons growing up. I’ll forever be thankful that I grew up in the situation that I did.
JM: She sounds like a terrific woman. Between Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney, you had two of the most exciting weapons in all of college football at your disposal. What kind of players will they be at the next level?
KT: They’re both going to be great players in the NFL. They’re going to fit into whichever system they land in. Whichever team drafts those two guys are getting players that will find a way to be successful no matter what. Kyle Pitts, you couldn’t build a player any better if you tried (laughs). His wingspan and ability to go up and highpoint the ball is bar none.
Kadarius Toney is so electric. The cuts he makes are out of this world. I’ve never seen anybody cover him one-on-one and be able to stick with him. It’s pretty much impossible with the ways he can move.
I’m super excited that we got a chance to be on this journey together. I’m excited to see where they’re gonna end up. I hope we all go on to find success at the next level.
JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Kyle. We want to wish you the best of luck this week. In closing, when a team uses an early draft pick on Kyle Trask, what kind of guy are they getting?
KT: They’re getting a guy that isn’t gonna back down from any challenge. You saw me playing in some of the biggest games at Florida. I always produced on the big stage. I’m a hardworking kid. I’m gonna give it my all in everything I do. My hope is to help a franchise win a bunch of Super Bowls.