(Note: Prepare yourselves for the tallest article in Seahawks Draft Blog history.)
Previously I had highlighted Seattle’s quarterback options in free agency and the options in rounds 2-4 of the NFL draft. Today, I’ll cover some of the more likely late round options. I was actually going to write this post almost a week ago, but I’ve had horrific computer problems and didn’t fully recover until a couple days back. It ended up being a useful setback though, because now I can cover the late rounds in light of the Brady Quinn signing, which I believe sheds some light on Seattle’s intentions.
Yesterday, I wrote an article that spoke in favor of reacquiring Tarvaris Jackson. What I didn’t write- and should have- was that Seattle obviously wouldn’t trade for Jackson before the draft. When John Schneider specifically talked about not having his hands tied with a backup quarterback signing before the draft, that would obviously preclude a trade for T-jack. Trading anything for a quarterback with Jackson’s experience and connections would essentially cement him as the #2 quarterback the moment the deal was made.
Brady Quinn couldn’t illustrate the idea of a non-committal signing better. What I think Seattle wants is a robust August competition that results in either Josh Portis or a 2013 draft pick stepping up to earn the #2 job. Brady Quinn gives the team not only a low cost option, but he’s not exactly a tough hurdle to clear either. Josh Portis and the assumed 4th quarterback from the draft could enter the preseason with real hope of earning a #2 job, and that wouldn’t be as true with a former Seahawks starter like Tarvaris Jackson in tow. Even in a worst case scenario where all three quarterbacks struggle enough to worry the brass, they could always see who’s available after the final cuts at the end of the preseason. I have to admit, there is a lot of wisdom to this approach, so long as this process doesn’t result in Brady Quinn being named the #2 without showing massive strides in the preseason. And even then, the odds of that move hurting the team aren’t that high.
As far as who that drafted quarterback will be, I do think Seattle prefers a mobile quarterback, but I don’t think they’d rule out players with average mobility that show good instincts (Tyler Wilson, etc). With that said, here are some of the prospects that I think could make some sense from Seattle’s point of view:
Note: Given that these are late round or undrafted players, there typically isn’t enough material that is easily available to make a legitimate scouting report. Please treat these evaluations as first impressions, not as a final word.
Ryan Katz, San Diego State
Once the starting quarterback at Oregon State, Katz transferred to San Diego State for the 2012 season. Katz is no stranger to injury (wrist, ankle) and it caused him to miss the team’s final five games and most of a sixth. His entire career he’s been a wild up and down performer, and at 6’1″ 210 he’s a pretty good bet to go undrafted.
That said, I must confess I see more “Russell Wilson” in Katz’s game than any other 2013 quarterback. The way he runs, the way he sells fakes, the way he checks reads, the arm strength, it’s all remarkably Wilson like. The big difference between the two is consistency and intangibles (not that Katz lacks them, but Wilson’s intangibles are not of this earth). On tape, Russell Wilson was Mr. Perfect. Katz has his share of flaws.
If Seattle wants a backup that resembles Wilson’s skillset, Katz would be a great choice. He’s hardly a lock to pan out, but the skills are there. He just needs to harness consistency, and learn how to stay healthy.
Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
Cameron is one of the more likely options for Seattle. He has plus mobility and solid arm talent despite his inconsistent delivery that can go full sidearm. Cameron is only 6’2″. You couple that with a low release point and you have a recipe for batted passes. Ryan Tannehill has a similar problem, but that doesn’t mean pure talent can’t overcome this drawback.
I’ve talked about Cameron before. There are things I like, but they are outweighed by my concerns over his mechanics, accuracy, and skinny frame. I wouldn’t hate the pick if it happened, but I’d stay away, personally.
Casey Brockman, Murray State
A favorite of a certain reader here, Brockman impresses with a well rounded skillset. His overall game reminds me some of Kirk Cousins (though at a much lower level of competition).
Kirk Cousins, Ricky Stanzi, Matt Flynn, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson all come from the “Matt Hasselbeck category” of quarterbacks. Most of them won’t wow you with their arm or their forty times, but they can surprise you with their mobility, intelligence, and expertise within a timing offense. Brockman may not be a read option prospect, but he would be a good fit for a West Coast Offense, which Seattle runs.
Ryan Griffin, Tulane
Highlight package caveat. Career best game caveat.
That said, Griffin looks pretty interesting to me as a likely undrafted player. His athleticism and arm strength are just average- but look at that touch on his throws- he throws the most catchable looking ball in this draft. I’d really like to see him more, because based on this his accuracy looks pretty good too. He reminds me a bit of Christian Ponder. Both are touch throwers more than a fireballers, and both languish with a low career YPA. Basically, Griffin looks like a low floor / low ceiling type, which could make him a good long term backup in a possession oriented offense.
Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State
Undersized at just 6’1″, 202 pounds, Aplin is very unlikely to be drafted. That said, Aplin might be the best pure point guard at quarterback in this draft- he’d fit our offense like a dream. Aplin has good mechanics, a very quick release, a strong arm, and plus mobility. He didn’t play at a high level of competition, but consider his stat line this past season:
68% completion rate, 8.23 YPA, 24 TD, 4 INT.
He has 1778 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns over his career. Playing for Arkansas State, two of his three losses last season were at Oregon and at Nebraska. Against Oregon he had 304 yards and 3 touchdowns against one pick. He also won his final 8 games in a row. He has never missed a game from injury (shocking considering he’s had 468 career rush attempts at weighs just 202 pounds).
I think we might have something here.
Sean Renfree, Duke
Renfree appears to have a strong arm, but a bit like Griffin, he opts for touch over zip on most of his passes. He’s a career 64.7% passer, including a completion rate of 67.3% last season. That would certainly hint at him having terrific accuracy. With average at best athleticism and a tendency to stay inside the tackles, Renfree profiles as a classic pocket quarterback in the NFL.
Also like Griffin, Renfree has a low career YPA. He’s also got an uninspiring touchdown to interception ratio, poor footwork and a tendency to throw flat-footed. I love touch quarterbacks with accuracy, but that appears to be all Renfree has to offer.
Clay Belton, Findlay
There isn’t a ton of stuff out there on Belton (#13 in the video), but if nothing else he’s got the size, athleticism, and arm that could interest Seattle as his upside is very high for a potential undrafted quarterback. As I’ve mentioned before, Seattle wants to turn their backup quarterback spot into a future trade chip, so swinging on a toolsy option like Belton could make sense for Seattle.
Dayne Crist, Kansas
Mobile and possessing a strong arm with great touch, Crist is a developmental prospect worth keeping an eye on. He has many problems though, most conspicuously his struggles with accuracy, particularly deep accuracy. I think quarterbacks with mobility plus arm talent will interest Seattle the most, so he could be a player they go after depending on how things go down.
Seth Doege, Texas Tech
Texas Tech hasn’t exactly had the greatest track record with quarterbacks in the NFL despite having several prolific college passers, but I must confess, watching Doege is just plain fun. He reminds me of Case Keenum from last year in many ways: same size, same exaggerated offense, same sneaky mobility, same strong intangibles, same dead on comparison to Jeff Garcia.
I was a fan of Keenum’s last year in what was a stellar group of 6’1″ quarterbacks. Of that group, only one (Chandler Harnish) was drafted, but Austin Davis made the Rams’ roster, GJ Kinne was picked up by the Eagles in February and Case Keenum is on the Texans’ practice squad. I expect that Doege will make a roster somewhere. Depending on who’s available, I’d love to give Doege a look in our style of offense.
Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana
Stanley only threw 57 career passes before 2012, and his 2012 season isn’t even listed at sites like ESPN or sports-reference.com. So I’m not quite sure what to make of him.
That said, he’s big (6’5″, 220), is very athletic, and can throw the pigskin through a brick wall. Like Belton, Stanley is a swing for the fences type with terrific physical potential.
Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
You may have heard that Jordan Rodgers is the brother of megastar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. What I think interests me more is that Rodgers played for Vanderbilt, a doormat team in the SEC. It’s quite the difference in competition when considering how the late round quarterback class is dominated by small school players.
I like Rodgers quite a bit, but I don’t think comparisons to his brother help him. The only similarities the two share are the quick pace at which they play and the “body language” they give off when scanning the field on the move. Jordan Rodgers can’t match his brother’s arm strength and mobility though. While he’s (generously) listed at 6’2″, the same height as his brother, he’s only 202 pounds, which could be reason for durability concern in the NFL.
Rodgers did have a very strong senior season, completing 59.9% of his passes for 8.0 yards per attempt with 15 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions. And remember, he did that in the SEC.
(And while it has nothing to do with my evaluation, NFL.com had a fun little segment with Jordan Rodgers and Mike Glennon that you can see here.)
I’ve already written an entire article expressing my support for BJ Daniels in Seattle’s style of offense.
Others worth mentioning:
Landry Jones won’t be a Seahawk (lacks athleticism), but he will be a big name late round option.
Tyler Bray gives me strong Andy Dalton vibes- but I should also say upfront that I was lukewarm at best on Dalton before the 2011 draft. Bray is not athletic in the slightest and doesn’t really fit what Seattle appears to be searching for.
Collin Klein has an amazingly underpowered arm. I’m less of an arm strength nut than most evaluators would be, but he’s clearly below any kind of sane minimum standard. I think he can improve with coaching, as he doesn’t step into his throws very well and improving in that area would boost the zip on his throws. It would not shock me if Seattle drafted Klein late. He has the kind of “tilt the field” intangibles that John Schneider likes, he’s highly mobile, he’s durable, and he’s not a terrible quarterback, he’s just extremely weak armed.
Zac Dysert has his fans- I’m not one of them. His game reminds me a lot of John Skelton’s. I wouldn’t rule out Seattle drafting him since he’s resilient in the pocket (meaning that like Skelton and Big Ben, he can make strong throws while being sacked). His mobility is just average, but his arm strength is legitimately impressive. The one really good thing about Dysert- if Pete can make him look good in our offense, I could see Seattle getting a nice draft pick for him in a trade down the road. Teams are already salivating over his arm talent.
Jeff Tuel has average mobility, a below average arm, and never completely nailed down the starting job during his time at Washington State- a team that was one of the very weakest among the BCS conferences during his time there. I’m a big Pac-12 fan and I’ve seen a lot of WSU football. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of his where I thought “NFL future.” As a Huskies fan, I remember rooting for a very similar quarterback in a very similar situation many years ago: Carl Bonnell. Bonnell showed enticing ability at times, but was highly inconsistent and ended up being a forgotten man by the end. I could see the Seahawks inviting Tuel in as a 5th quarterback during undrafted free agency just because of the Pac-12 connections, but I’d be stunned if they drafted him.
Brad Sorensen is sometimes talked about as a draftable prospect, but based on what I’ve seen, I’d pass. His footwork and accuracy are awful, he’s nothing special physically and he played for a tiny school. I don’t get it.
There are of course many more quarterbacks that I won’t mention here (I’ve gone down NFL Draft Scout’s entire list of 43 quarterbacks). Of the remaining options I am either unable to find enough material to form an opinion or felt they were not worth discussing.
Overall thoughts and a preliminary attempt at a ranking
After going over this quarterback group, it’s not as weak in the late rounds as I initially thought. Katz, Cameron, Aplin, Belton, Crist, Doege, Stanley, Rodgers, Daniels, and Klein all have the mobility necessary for the read option and/or a point guard at quarterback type role.
If I had to attempt a ranking of my favorites from this group (meaning that guys like Matt Barkley or Tyler Wilson are excluded), I think I’d go with the list below for the moment. Remember, I don’t have enough material to scout these players to my own standards, so writing this list feels a bit like giving draft grades the day after. Take it more as a form of entertainment than the final word:
#1. Ryan Aplin: The more I see, the more I learn about him, the more I like him.
#2. Seth Doege: I’m not sure why I have Doege this high. Probably because I’ve always been a big fan of Jeff Garcia, particularly because Garcia was very good when placed in offenses just like the one Seattle currently runs. Doege’s big ugly whip-action windup does scare me, but he seems to compensate for it with outstanding arm speed. It may not look pretty, but his release time is just fine.
#3. BJ Daniels: Daniels is the most extreme read option quarterback of this group. I don’t think he’d pan out just anywhere, but in Seattle’s offense I could see our coaching staff emphasizing his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses. I’d take him any day of the week and twice on Sundays over Collin Klein.
#4. Jordan Rodgers: If there’s a saying I live by- it’s never underestimate a cerebral quarterback. Rodgers shows NFL level awareness and plays at a very fast pace. That he played an entire season in the SEC with just 5 picks should get him drafted.
#5. Ryan Katz: Inconsistent, injury prone, and undersized, but he has “Russell Wilson” type moments, and that makes me think he could be worth a look.
I’d be happy with any of those five in the late rounds. As for rounding out a top 10 of this late round group:
#6. Nathan Stanley: I don’t profess to be an expert on him, but his tools are jaw dropping for a likely to be undrafted player.
#7. Clay Belton: Like Stanley, Belton has excellent physical talent.
#8. Casey Brockman: Of all the game manager types listed in this article, Brockman’s tape shines the best and reveals the fewest flaws.
#9. Colby Cameron: I’m not a big fan of Cameron’s, but other teams will remember the hype Cameron had pre-draft and that will help his trade stock if Seattle turns him into a good quarterback.
#10. Collin Klein: Something tells me that Seattle could make the Collin Klein experiment work. Obviously, there are many quarterbacks I’d rather have. Klein would be an adventure. Maybe the good kind. Maybe the bad kind. Just as a fan, I think I’d rather have an interesting, enigmatic backup than a blase clipboard holder. Wouldn’t want all the winning of football games to make life dull.