We all love anonymous scout opinions, where people that refuse to put their name on something dish on a young man. Sometimes, though, the concerns and issues pointed out by someone in confidence prove to be accurate. I thought I would take a look back at some recent past quarterbacks who have played enough for us to make an evaluation, and see if the scouting comments proved prescient or problematic.
Bob McGinn, who used to write for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel compiled scout comments on the draft for years, and so I am looking at what he relayed for the 2011 to 2014 drafts.
2011, of course, was the year of the lockout and also the year that Cam Newton was entering the league. That entire spring was full of negative comments about Newton, most notably with the controversy involving Nolan Nawrocki’s assessment of Newton.
I could not find a recap that went down each QB individually, like some future editions, but McGinn did go in depth on Newton.
Let’s start of with this fire assessment from one scout. “I don’t like any of them, really. There’s no Sam Bradfords. There’s no Josh Freeman. I think they’re all second- or third rounders.” That one does not stand up well to history. Freeman flamed out soon after and Bradford never became a star, while Cam Newton won an MVP award, Colin Kaepernick appeared in a Super Bowl, and Andy Dalton has started for almost a decade.
Bill Polian was quoted as saying there was a big dropoff after Cam Newton, but of the 24 personnel people interviewed by McGinn, most thought Newton would be a bust. Sixteen of them had Blaine Gabbert as the best quarterback in the class, and only two thought Newton would be a perennial pro bowler.
Some scouts did favor Newton, though. One said, “our coaches just ripped his (expletive), but I’d take him top-10. This guy is so talented, so much a winner, such a force.”
That scout has largely been proven right.
There are many, many parody Twitter accounts on the internet, but the one known as “Capt. Andrew Luck” is easily one of the best. And as you might expect, the real Andrew Luck is aware of its existence.
During an interview at the Pro Bowl over the weekend, Luck shared his thoughts on the account, which now has 500,000 followers despite sometimes not producing content for long stretches of time. The brilliance is in the simplicity, and that is not lost on the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
“It’s definitely not me. I’m not clever enough to write that,” Luck said. “It’s pretty cool. I’m glad people find enjoyment in it when some things on the internet can be a little meaner.”
The Capt. Andrew Luck account treats Luck as though he were a Civil War hero writing letters to his mother. Here’s the latest tweet that was sent after the Colts were eliminated in the playoffs by the Kansas City Chiefs:
Luck may not know the person behind the parody account, but at least he hasn’t been shut out like another prominent football figure was. We’ll be looking forward to the next update from Capt. Andrew Luck.
It wasn’t the greatest divisional round for competitive games, nor was it the finest weekend for some players, either. The four games offered a lot of memorable moments, but there are some who factored into the four results who will want to put this weekend’s action behind them as quickly as possible.
Here are ten of the biggest disappointments from the divisional round of the playoffs.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
The weather seemed to effect Luck more than anyone else on the field in Kansas City on Saturday. It wasn’t entirely his fault — his protection was not up to standard — but he had several passes tipped at the line and avoided a number of interceptions that Kansas City defenders just dropped. His 203 yards were lower than usual, and it’s impossible to look at this as anything but a disappointment, especially against a Kansas City defense that seemed vulnerable.
It was a weekend for upsets in the NFL during Wild Card weekend, with three division champions losing — including both higher seeds losing in the AFC in rather uncompetitive fashion. It sets up an intriguing slate of games for next weekend, but before we get there, we have to remember the action of this weekend.
Many players did themselves justice when it mattered most and can hold their heads high, both in victory and defeat. Here are 10 standouts from Wild Card weekend.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
When Elliott is on, the Cowboys can give him the ball, ride him, and win games that way. That’s roughly what they did on Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks. He was handed the ball 26 times on Saturday, and he took that for 137 yards and a touchdown as the Seattle defense didn’t seem to have much of an answer for him. Tack on a modest 32 receiving yards and you have well over 150 yards of total offense and one of the most dangerous weapons in the game.
With two weeks to go in the NFL season, the MVP race has heated up, and we have a pretty clear idea of who may take home the prestigious award. While there are a number of worthy candidates, two names have really risen above and beyond the rest to make themselves favorites for the award, leaving the chasing pack behind. The race between them will be one of the key subplots of the final two weeks of the regular season. Beyond those two, several other players deserve recognition for the seasons they’re enjoying.
Here are the ten leading candidates for the NFL MVP award.
10. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Wilson has essentially hauled the Seahawks into the playoffs in what many people expected would be a down year for the team. The remarkable quarterback has thrown 31 touchdowns to just six interceptions, and at least through Week 15 is posting the best QBR of his entire career. Wilson’s problem is his numbers just don’t compare to the quarterbacks nearer the top of the list, and losses to teams like San Francisco will do little to bolster his chances. A worthy candidate, but to call him a longshot would probably be generous.
Jalen Ramsey caught Andrew Luck with one of those old “sike!” moves.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback pretended like he was going to help up the Indianapolis Colts quarterback off the ground after a scramble in the second quarter, but then he quickly pulled back his hand.
Punk move by Ramsey, though not something that should catch any of us by surprise. The Jags cornerback is no fan of quarterbacks throughout the league.
It’s no secret that the NFL is loaded with elite quarterbacks. A number of them are experienced veterans, such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, or Philip Rivers. These quarterbacks are in their mid-to-upper 30s — or beyond, in Brady’s case — and simply will not be around forever.
So who are the best of the next generation of quarterbacks? Here are the 10 best NFL quarterbacks under the age of 30 (note: Russell Wilson was left off the list because he turns 30 this season).
10) Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
The 24-year-old Trubisky is a young quarterback on the rise. He’s shown some ability as a mobile quarterback, with four rushing touchdowns to his name over the course of his young career. The flashes of a quality passer are there, too, as shown by a six-touchdown performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. He’s up to 13 touchdowns in six games so far in 2018. Those are very promising numbers for a second-year quarterback who is still learning his craft at the NFL level.
The Indianapolis Colts turned incredibly pass-heavy in their last two games, and that’s not something Frank Reich wants to see.
The Colts’ first-year head coach acknowledged on Friday that he has concerns about how much they’ve thrown the ball, saying it’s “killing him.”
Indianapolis fell behind against the New England Patriots on Thursday night and ended up throwing 59 passes, compared to just 21 runs. The week before, they threw 62 passes compared to 17 runs. They lost both games.
Andrew Luck is on pace to set a career-high in pass completions and attempts, and potentially passing yards. He’s also coming off a serious shoulder injury that left concerns about his arm strength and ability to throw. If there were any thoughts of easing him back into the league after missing last season, they’ve left long ago.
Questions about Andrew Luck’s surgically-repaired shoulder are going to persist until the quarterback shows he can consistently connect on throws down the field, but Luck insists he is not playing with any physical limitations.
Luck is averaging a career-low 5.3 yards per completion this season, and both he and Colts coach Frank Reich have said that is a product of play-calling and game flow. On Thursday, Luck told reporters he’s confident he can “make all the throws.”
“I know I’m at a level where I can make all the throws, and I feel confident I’m going out there with my full arsenal,” he said, via Jay Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t think there’s anything physically holding me back.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Luck ranks 26th in the NFL in passing attempts that travel at least 20 yards in the air down the field. While the sample size is small just three games into the season, he ranked first in that category from 2012 to 2014. Reich said playing on the road against tough opponents the past two weeks has played a role in Indy’s dink-and-dunk approach. He said the intention is never to “play scared” but that sometimes playing in a hostile environment against a good defensive front leads to more short, quick passes.
Many people felt it was very telling that the Colts brought backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett in at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to attempt a Hail Mary. Brissett has a stronger arm than Luck anyway, but the throw only needed to travel 54 yards to reach the end zone. Starting quarterbacks are almost never subbed out in that situation.
Andrew Luck has now played in three games since returning from a shoulder injury that cost him the entire 2017 season, and the results have been mixed. On paper, Luck has not been awful. But to those who watched him before he underwent surgery, he seems like a much different player.
Luck is averaging a career-low 5.3 yards per completion this season, which has led to questions about his arm strength. Colts head coach Frank Reich insisted on Monday that the team has “no concerns” in that department.
“What I’ve seen is he makes all the throws,” Reich told reporters, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “There’s been plenty of throws down the field, in my mind … (What) I’ve seen is a guy who is extremely accurate. I have no concerns about velocity.”
Something has certainly changed, whether it is play-calling, decision-making or Luck’s physical ability. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Luck ranks 26th in the NFL in passing attempts that travel at least 20 yards in the air down the field. While the sample size is small just three games into the season, he ranked first in that category from 2012 to 2014.
Reich can insist all he wants that Luck has regained the arm strength he had before his injury, but it was very telling that the Colts brought backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett in at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to attempt a Hail Mary. Brissett has a stronger arm than Luck even when the two QBs are at their healthiest, but he only needed to make a 54-yard throw to reach the end zone. There’s no way Luck would have been subbed out in that situation two years ago.
It was not that long ago that we heard a report about Luck’s arm strength that was not all that encouraging, so you have to wonder if Reich is being completely transparent.