Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: Tajh Boyd

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Earlier this season, Tajh Boyd was seriously considered as a candidate for the first quarterback that would be taken in the draft. He was tearing up defenses and Clemson was a legitimate national title contender. Then Florida State happened and all that shine got rubbed off quickly. I have watched a decent amount of Clemson games over the last few years and Boyd always struck me as solid but never wowed me with his potential. I saw him in person at the Orange Bowl and was mostly left with an infatuation with Sammy Watkins. Still, I wanted to put him under the microscope to see where he ranks among the other quarterbacks in the draft. I took a look at his games against Georgia, Florida State, and Wake Forest (Editor's note: This was originally all about Tajh Boyd, but it's impossible to talk about him without bringing up Watkins, so there is some Sammy Watkins love sprinkled in).

First off, here is a nice throw from Boyd on an out route to Sammy Watkins.

Look at Watkins attack that ball with his hands. If he lets the ball come into his chest, the defender breaks it up, as he has great coverage, but Watkins extends his arms to meet the ball as soon as he can. A nice play on both ends, as Boyd put the ball where it needed to be.

This is a very nice deep ball from Boyd.

He pump fakes, and it may have caught the defender, but the two camera angles are impossible to sync, as it may have just been Watkins stutter step that froze the corner. Either way, Boyd tosses up a beautiful deep ball, and then Watkins hits the after burners to make it into the end zone.

He shows the ability to make some nice throws on intermediate routes.

He does a nice job of putting it through the zone on this play and leading Watkins perfectly.

Here is a touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd.

Alright, so I'm full on breaking into Sammy Watkins highlights. Can you blame me? Look at that catch. That's simply not fair.

This is a throw where if he puts it in front of the receiver, he can get a big play. Unfortunately, he throws it behind his receiver instead of leading him. Most receivers won't be able to catch this ball.

That being said, Sammy Watkins is not most receivers. He reaches behind his body and makes the catch, trucks a defensive back, and sprints to the end zone. Still, this is the sort of play that looks great on a stat sheet for Boyd but not one that looks all that impressive when actually looking at the throw.

He just doesn't show much for accuracy or great decision making on this play.

He overthrows this ball, which is a positive, because the cornerback had coverage on anything thrown over the top. Still, he had a receiver down the sideline in single coverage. If he tries to make a back shoulder throw, the receiver might be able to make a play on the ball for a good gain.

On this pass, he not only makes a bad decision to throw the ball when the safety had easy coverage over the top, but he also overthrows it as well.

A more experienced safety probably intercepts that pass. Instead, Sammy Watkins is able to turn it into a pass interference call on the defense.

This is a bad case of Boyd showing tunnel vision when targeting his receiver.

He never sees the defender drifting over, and even had that guy not been there, he was still trying to squeeze a ball with two men in the area.

The Florida State game was really ugly for the entire Clemson team. Florida State got away with some contact throughout the game, and his receivers were often just not on the same page. Boyd made some bad mistakes as well, but that beating was the cause of Florida State being great and Clemson being really poor. I can't come to the conclusion of him not rising to the occasion; I think it was more just that guys are always going to have some bad days. These are the best examples of the team being out of sync.



Going in a different direction, he does a nice job of reading the field on this play.

He starts off looking to his right, then works over to his left and throws a very nice pass to his receiver. Unfortunately, that ball was still dropped. Still, the blame cannot be placed on Boyd as he made a nice play. This was not a skill I saw very much of, but that is partially due to the design of Clemson's offense which has a lot of quick screens and is built on presnap reads instead of having the quarterback make a lot of decisions once the ball is snapped.

Although he has good mobility, he doesn't move well within the pocket. Here, only one rusher is causing any sort of penetration, and Boyd has two blockers on him, yet he still cannot avoid the rush from him.

This is an issue I saw pop up on a few of his dropbacks, as he does a nice job of looking towards receivers, but does not do a good job of subtle movements to avoid pass rushers.

Inconsistency. That seems to be the story with every part of Tajh Boyd's game. He can throw some great deep balls...and some awful ones. He can lead receivers perfectly...and throw it well behind them. He can move well and scan the field...and panic and make ill-advised decisions. If all you had to do was flash talent, Boyd would be a first round pick. Unfortunately, there is just very little consistency in anything that he does on the football field. He always runs hard, but that isn't enough to draft a quarterback off of. His stats are inflated, because of receivers making plays around him. I went to the Orange Bowl and saw him throw for 378 yards and 5 touchdowns and thought he was just fine. His first touchdown to Watkins was nice; other than that, he had wide receivers (Watkins especially) making plays for him. And this was on a good day. The potential is there with Boyd, but with all the inconsistencies, it's a gamble I wouldn't bet on before the late rounds of the draft, as he is much closer to Logan Thomas than he is to Zach Mettenberger.

Here are my quarterback rankings for the prospects I have looked at so far:
1. Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville
2. Blake Bortles - Central Florida

3. Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois
4. Zach Mettenberger - Louisiana State

5. Tajh Boyd - Clemson
6. Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
7. Brett Smith - Wyoming
8. Aaron Murray - Georgia

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