Reiding Between the Lines: July 8th

Photo: © Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to July, also known as the last month before football season starts. We are inching closer to the start of the season on the gridiron and there's plenty to be excited about. There's already preseason hype about 2020 Quarterback class and rightfully so.

Spanning all across the country, there's prospects of all different shapes and sizes. With the demand of the most important position at an all-time high, plenty of evaluators are excited to see if Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm, and Jacob Eason can reach their expected potential. There's a lot of others that many scouts will have their eye on, but I wanted to share my summer scouting reports on what's considered the early standouts.

Tua Tagovailoa, 6-1, 215, Alabama, Junior

Pros: Possesses a quick and tight over-the-top release, the former Tide signal-caller is able to layer the ball to all three levels of the field with ease. He has the understanding of knowing how to properly place the ball into certain windows and when to anticipate into each of the openings. Terrific at seeing and anticipating “covered, about to be uncovered” targets and navigating the ball into certain regions in order to allow the receiver to haul it in without caution. 

Jitterbug-like movement skills within the pocket and when escaping outside of it. Slippery and tough to get a grasp on because of his wiggle. Has plenty of examples of off-script completions that seemed impossible after seeing the launch point. Explores various avenues and only seems a glimmer of hope in order to get the ball off after escaping. Poise and accuracy remains intact no matter the difficulty of the throwing surface and substitute patterns.

Exceptional at finding his way through the pocket while still keeping his eyes down-the-field. Stares down the barrel of the gun and is able to deliver against pressure. Isn’t scared to climb into the eye of the storm and still maintain his ability to distribute accurate throws no matter the amount of surrounding chaos.

Cons: Because of his knowledge of the offense and surrounding personnel, Tagovailoa had an overly high amount of confidence in their abilities to generate explosive plays. Because of this, it became a disservice with his actual progression speed and risk variance. Always feeling that every play had a chance to be a splash play resulted in him taking some unnecessary risks when simply finding his outlet or check down may have been the better option. Accepting the fact that some plays will be minimal gains and not chunk plays is an area that needs to be comprehended more consistently.

Carrying the ball mostly in one hand while turning his back to the line of scrimmage when escaping from the pocket has made him vulnerable to fumbles. Sense of awareness can be low when outside of the pocket and backside pressure can catch up to him, leading to loose balls because of only holding it with a singular hand.

There are many occurrences where Tagovailoa attempts to do too much instead of just accepting minimal gains on some throws. Instead, he tries to be a wizard by scrambling or circling around in the pocket instead of simply throwing the ball out of bounds or taking off an running ahead. This is where many of his fumbles or big losses have come from. Having the understanding of there’s more than enough talent around him in order to where he doesn’t have to play the role of hero was lacking for stretches, especially in big games/moments.

Justin Herbert, 6-6, 235, Oregon, Senior

Pros: When Herbert maintains and even base with his feet underneath him, he can deliver strikes over the short-to-intermediate areas. The offense allowed him to take advantage of matchups that he liked pre-snap, while also being able to take 3-to-5 step drops on occasions to attack the deeper portions of the feet. Utilizing many motions to create advantageous situations, he was able to cash in on those opportunities consistently. 

Possesses above average foot-speed enabled the offense to incorporate him as a threat with zone-read running concepts and changing the launch point with bootlegs and designed roll outs. Has enough athleticism to elude pressure and get himself out of trouble within the pocket. Not shy about tucking the ball and running if initial options aren’t available. Has the scrambling ability to keep plays and drive alive with his legs when necessary.

Cons: His arm strength is above average, but Herbert can be a bit shy with testing vertical throws down the seams, hashes, or over the middle of the field. In some instances, he becomes a bit apprehensive. When having the wherewithal to test throws in tightly contested areas, his ball trajectory tends to die, which explains why he can become uncertain when picking and choosing his actual options that he wants to explore. 

Durability is a huge issue. Has endured a broken femur (2014) and broken collarbone (2017). Long list of major injuries throughout his career may be attributed to his slight build. Frail top and lower halves that need to continue to add muscle mass in order to develop the armor needed to surrender hits over the duration of his career.

Involved in a system that incorporates a mixture of quick game and true drop back passing concepts. Because all of the rapid and inconsistent mixtures, it becomes a detriment to his eyes and being able to disguise where he wants to navigate the ball. On throws in the intermediate-to-deep areas that involve development, Herbert becomes fixated and locks into his first few reads, not knowing when to progress through to the next. Telegraphing throws have been a constant bad habit, which had led to many of his turnovers and bad decisions.

Jake Fromm, 6-2, 220, Georgia, Junior

Pros: Withstood the storm of two five-star prospects during his tenure because of how safe and close to script he sticks when operating the offense. Surrounded by plenty of weapons yearly, like a point guard, he was responsible for delivering the ball to all of the surrounding talent and allow their yards after the catch abilities to take over. Against off-coverage, he excels at throwing short out-breaking routes towards the sideline or quick hitters on the perimeter to allow his targets with plenty of yards after the catch opportunities. 

Operated a classic, pro-style type of offense, where a large portion of it operated through his control. He was held responsible for setting and altering protections at the line. Boundary, field, and full-field reads were apparent. Based off of pre-snap reads, he showed to almost always take what the defense gave him. 

Fromm has a smooth and efficient drop back that doesn’t alter because of the depth associated with it. His tempo and speed when gaining ground remains the same. Reticent upper and lower-half demeanor and his body language remains steady throughout even if there’s ensuing chaos early into them.

Cons: Doesn’t possesses a lot of consistent juice behind his throws. It is evident when forced to test tight windows, far hash throws, having to hit targets in condensed regions, and passes outside of the numbers. Besides deep go balls on the outside there aren’t many shots deep down the field. Third level accuracy remains a question mark and a massive area of concern.

Has a negative habit of failing to keep his lead leg (left) bent and ready to fire. When ready to throw and progressing through his wind-up, there’s a time lag with his lower half following identifying targets. Locks his lead leg and knee out in a linear style, which deters him from adding velocity behind his throws and results in poor ball placement on passes in the short-to-intermediate areas.

After reaching the apex of his drop, his feet have a tendency of going dead and there isn’t any sense of moving in any direction to avoid surrounding traffic. There are plenty of plays where he could’ve escalated into the pocket, but he was comfortable with just standing at the tip point of it and remaining there while deciphering progressions. Learning to climb it will allow him to slide past the turmoil within the pocket and discover clearer surfaces and possible throwing windows.

Jacob Eason, 6-6, 230, Washington, Junior

Pros: Ball consistently jumps out of his hand violently and with a purpose. Plenty of juice to make throws at all levels of the field. Rarely ever tries to guide the ball into spots. Makes it an emphasis on getting it from Point A to Point B quickly as possible. 

Whether out of the offset shotgun or operating from under-center, Eason shows to have plenty of comfort coming off of persuasive play action fakes prior to latching onto reading concepts.

Cons: Often times, Eason has over the top confidence in his arm, which results in getting him into trouble because he completely ignores the lower body portion of the throwing process. When doing this, his base/feet are erratic, which end up in an inconsistent hit-miss rate with his throws. Most passes are fastballs even when targets are short distances away from the launch point. Understanding and having the awareness of when to tone down the RPMs (rotations per minute) on throws will need to be coached into him.

Uberly strong arm leads to a lot of lower body repercussions. Has more than enough oomph on passes to get them to intended targets based solely off of his arm and core strength. As a result, there will be plenty of unorthodox body positions prior to passes being thrown. To avoid oncoming hits, there will be glimpses of falling away, poor footwork, and bad decision-making. When throwing to the left side, he often falls completely off of his throwing platform.

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Founder of Former QB and Coach at North Carolina Central Univ.