Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sean Mannion - 2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report

With the college football season over, the 2015 NFL Draft season immediately starts up to fill that void. I plan to take a look at all of the top quarterback prospects but will also be willing to take suggestions if there are prospects at other positions that you would like to see analyzed. But my bread and butter is quarterback play (a position I still feel is underrated in the draft). Today, I am taking a look at Sean Mannion from Oregon State University.

Mannion is a guy who built up a little momentum early on in the 2013 season, but he struggled down the stretch and never really found that rhythm during his senior season. I'll admit to not watching a lot of the Beavers football, so I came in very fresh for this breakdown. Unfortunately, I couldn't find videos of his 2014 games, but since I never heard anything about any great progression he made during his senior year, I felt fine taking a look at Mannion's 2013 games against Utah and Hawaii (As always, thanks to Draft Breakdown for the videos).

Awareness
One thing that most quarterbacks struggle with is the ability to go through progressions. Coaches have gotten the most out of quarterbacks who cannot do this by giving quarterbacks pre-snap reads or making simpler high-low reads after the snap. Sean Mannion actually does do a good job of going through his progressions.

Here, he looks to his right, sees that he will not be able to make that throw and quickly looks to the middle of the field and delivers a pass to his tight end who settled in a hole in the zone. It's not a flashy play, but it is effective.

This was probably the most impressive pass I saw from Mannion.

There is a single-high safety on this play, so the first thing Mannion does is look to his right to move the safety. He never has any intention of throwing it to that side, but it frees up his receiver running deep on the left as the safety will not be able to make a play over the top. Then, despite pressure coming in on him, he is able to drop the pass into his receiver for a big completion.

Mechanics
Mannion throws off of his back foot ALL OF THE TIME. That is a slight exaggeration, but he still does it way too much.

He completes these throws, but he could easily set his foot and deliver a strike instead of barely generating velocity with these mechanics. This works at the college level where receivers get good separation, but floating balls like that will lead to interceptions and your receivers taking big hits from the defense.

He has room to make this throw, but he still doesn't, because there is a defender within a few yards of him.

If he steps through his motion, he can deliver a strike and make a play. Instead, he is recoiling from a possible hit while throwing the ball and he cannot deliver an accurate pass. I don't blame the guy for not wanting to be hit by a defensive tackle, but if he can't step up and make that throw, I don't see any way he can be a successful NFL quarterback.

Another thing that bothers me is that he will often not square his shoulders towards his target. It's amazing that he can be fairly accurate with the mechanics he uses, but he can occasionally make the stilted mess into a work of art. But the poor mechanics more often lead to ugly throws than a masterpiece.

The Oregon State offense played to his strengths, as he threw a bunch of dumpoffs and deep balls. There was very little crossing patterns and out routes. This was necessary as although he can go through his progressions, he is not always great at telling what is and isn't open in the middle of the field. Plus, with his mechanics, I don't see how he could consistently place those balls without making big mistakes.

When he actually does plant his front foot and fire a pass, it works out really well.

That's a throw that will be successful at any level. He makes a quick drop, generates velocity by stepping into his throw and delivers a strike to Brandin Cooks coming across the middle. Unfortunately, those passes are incredibly rare.

Overall, the thing that I was most impressed by was Brandin Cooks. He consistently made cuts to get significant separation from the defender and was also able to adjust to balls to make plays on them. I think that is a huge reason why Mannion got much more love from scouts during his junior year. To be fair, Mannion was able to throw some nice deep balls and shows the ability to scan the field. But those mechanics of constantly leaning back and throwing off his back foot any time that he doesn't have at least five yards of free space all around him is something I can't get over. It looks like he's afraid to be hit. I don't blame him; I wouldn't want to get hit by 300 pound linemen either. But he's been playing football for a long time, and I can't see that facet of his game changing. With those mechanics, he cannot be a successful quarterback in the NFL, so although there are some aspects of his game I like, I wouldn't do anything more than drafting him in the 7th or signing him as an undrafted free agent and see if my QB coach paired with a sports psychologist can't get him over things. I think it's a longshot, but in this class of quarterbacks, at least there's a shot.

Quarterback Prospect Rankings:
1. Jameis Winston - Florida State
2. Shane Carden - East Carolina
3. Sean Mannion - Oregon State
4. Garrett Grayson - Colorado State
5. Blake Sims - Alabama

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