NFL Draft Profiles: NFC West QB Perspective

December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) drops back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is an incredibly in depth process of both physical and mental evaluation of potential NFL players.  Every major media outlet covers the NFL scouting combine and several of them even have their own “scouting experts” create player profiles for each future NFL player.  Of course ESPN has its own scouting department that creates fairly detailed player profiles every year, and after reviewing some of the latest profiles for the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft it got me thinking about the accuracy of these scouting reports.  That of course got me thinking about the scouting profiles of the young gunslingers in the NFC West and how accurate they appear to be given the limited evidence available.  Without even looking at the scouting reports you could probably assume that Russell Wilson’s scouting report sold him short, while some would argue that Sam Bradford’s scouting report must have been way too generous.  Since these 3 players weren’t in the same draft classes, there are some minor differences to the way their scouting profiles were done by the folks at ESPN.  The QB specific traits vary a little from year to year, with 4 distinct categories for Russell Wilson but 5 for each of the other two.  For the purposes of this comparison though it was trimmed down to 4 categories total by combining two of the categories for Bradford and Kaepernick and creating a composite score.  Here is the table with each players scouting profile, which I will follow up with some discussion on each player including comments from their scouting profiles.

Player Bradford (2010) Kaepernick (2011) Wilson (2012)
Basic Info

6’41/4” 236 lbs

6’45/8” 233 lbs

5’105/8” 204 lbs

Scouts Info

 

 

 

Grade

97

81

69

Position Rank

1

7

8

Overall Rank

3

57

104

Arm Length

34.3”

33.375”

31”

Hand Size

9.5”

9.125”

10.25”

40-yd Dash (sec)

4.7

4.53

4.55

Football Traits

 

 

 

Production

1

2

1

Height/Weight/Speed

2

2

4

Durability

4

2

4

Intangibles

1

2

2

QB Specific Traits

 

 

 

Mental Makeup

2

2

2

Accuracy

1

3

3

Release/Arm Strength

2

2

3

Pocket Mobility

3

2

2

Grading Scale: 1=Exceptional 2=Above Average 3=Average 4=Below Average 5=Marginal

Sam Bradford.  Sam was taken with the first overall choice in the 2010 NFL Draft for a reason, he is an incredibly talented QB who had some very impressive numbers while at Oklahoma.  With an overall grade of 97 from the scouting profile it is easy to see that he has the ability to become an elite player, but even with such a high grade he isn’t without some negatives.  For most draft analysts the biggest question marks surrounding Bradford were health related, and more specifically as it related to his surgically repaired shoulder.  Bradford possesses the prototypical height and weight for an NFL quarterback, with above average athleticism for the position and an above average but not elite arm.  Mentally Bradford has very high football IQ as well as toughness.  His poise under pressure and calm leadership style are also noted in the scouting report.  Bradford did come from a spread offense where audibles were called from the sideline, which was a big question mark in his scouting profile.  He also showed a lack of patience in the red zone and an unwillingness to give up on a play.  The final negative in Bradford’s scouting report was related to his mental clock and an occasional failure to sense the rush.  So far in Bradford’s NFL career it is safe to say the scouting report on him was fairly accurate, although he has proven that durability with the shoulder isn’t a concern his toughness and willingness to play hurt cost him during the 2011 season.  The constant carousel at offensive coordinator also appears to have cost him some when it comes to audibles and red zone efficiency.  His mental clock appeared to have been sped up a little bit too fast there for a while, but with the health issues that the Rams have had along the offensive line its fairly understandable.  Bradford could take a huge step forward in the 2013 season, with the same offensive coordinator in place for the first time in his NFL career his command of the offense should improve.

Colin Kaepernick.  Much like Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick possesses prototypical size for an NFL quarterback.  That is pretty much where the similarities end between the two of them as Kaepernick is an elite athlete for the position, having clocked a 4.53 40 yard dash time at the combine.  That speed was displayed in unforgettable fashion against the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 playoffs as Kaepernick set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback.  Kaepernick also possesses elite arm strength, but his delivery mechanics dropped his grade in that category on his draft profile.  When looking at Kaepernick’s grades you pretty much see 2′s across the board for him, however in the actual scouting report he was given a 1 and a 4 that I took the liberty of combining into a 2 for the purpose of this comparison.  The 4 was largely due to the perceived difficulty he would have learning a pro style offense after having run the pistol in college, so my decision to make the combined score a 2 versus a 3 was definitely affected by his level of play in 2012.  The interesting thing about Kaepernick’s profile is that a lot of his positives come with a “but”.  His grade for pocket mobility was a 3, and even though he is an excellent athlete his grade suffered because a lack of “pocket awareness” and seemingly being too willing to tuck the ball and run.  His accuracy was also an interesting grade, the write up mostly cites his mechanics for inconsistent accuracy but also noted that short and underneath routes are the most difficult for him.  His leadership abilities and physical gifts are the highlights of his scouting profile, while questions about his ability to manage an NFL offense and refine his QB skills were the primary negatives.

Russell Wilson.  At this time last year it is very likely you had no idea who Russell Wilson was, and probably didn’t take much note when the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the 3rd round.  Wilson’s overall rating of 69 reflects just how much stock draft analysts put into the height/weight/speed measurables when churning out grades.  In fact while giving him a 4 rating in that category the scouting profile states that there was no starting quarterback shorter than 6′.  Of course the ratings aren’t entirely focused around his height, as there were other legitimate questions regarding his abilities coming out of college.  In fact the only area where Wilson was given a 1 rating was on his production, as he was a very productive player while at both North Carolina State and Wisconsin.     He had above average marks for his pocket mobility, intangibles and mental makeup categories citing his leadership abilities and decision making as big positives.  He received an average score for both accuracy and release/arm strength which seems about right after watching him play in the NFL.  One area he seemed to struggle with in particular in the NFL is fitting the ball into receivers that aren’t wide open, something that would be affected by both accuracy and arm strength.  Of course Wilson scored a below average score for the height/weight/speed category due to his height, but he also scored below average for his durability.  In college he missed games due to concussion, shoulder injury and torn PCL in his knee.  The scouting report did state that he had remained healthy following that knee injury, but that once again his frame makes durability more of a concern.  The Seahawks were very smart about how they used Wilson in 2012 and tried to use the playbook to protect Wilson from unnecessary hits, but with an entire offseason of tape on Wilson and the Seahawks offense I wouldn’t be surprised ot see more teams getting more hits on Wilson in 2013. 

Conclusion.  When looking at these scouting profiles you have to remember that they are grading these players in terms of ability, not necessarily assigning them with “future NFL career” rating.  A players success in the NFL is dependent upon so many things, the first of all being their relative health and the second probably being their fit within a scheme.  So far Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have found themselves in ideally suited schemes while escaping the 2012 seasons unscathed.  Sam Bradford on the other hand lost pretty much his entire sophomore season to injury, and has jumped from scheme to scheme (none of which seem to be tailored to his abilities) since entering the NFL.  Based upon each of these players NFL careers up to this point a majority of people would say that these rating systems are seriously flawed.  I personally am a big believer in Sam Bradford and his abilities and have the same belief that Jeff Fisher has that Bradford could develop into “the best QB in the NFL”.  He has all of the tools to become that type of player, and as the Rams continue their climb from most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL towards respectability he is going to play a huge part in their successes or failures.  Bradford has played slightly above average for an NFL quarterback in his first 3 NFL seasons, while leading a team stocked with mostly average or below average players.  If the Rams front office has the type of offseason success they enjoyed in 2012 then the Rams could be a perennial contender within 2-3 years right as Bradford should be hitting his prime.  The future appears bright for the St. Louis Rams, and it all starts with the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.  Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!!

Topics: NFL Draft, St. Louis Rams

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