Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brett Hundley - 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 UCLA Bruins Quarterback, Brett Hundley.

Brett Hundley is the most interesting prospect who is generating the least amount of buzz. Almost all buzz is dedicated to Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, as they are universally regarded as the top two prospects in the draft. Still, there were plenty of times before this year where Hundley was also seen as a possible top pick in the draft. He didn't really regress during his final year at UCLA, but he also didn't progress much either, and it gave people plenty of time to find the holes in his skill-set. So now the questions become, has the scouting community gone too far, and could Hundley be the answer for teams looking for a quarterback who miss out on the big two? Thanks to Draft Breakdown, I was able to look at his 2014 games against Arizona, USC, and Utah. Unfortunately, Draft Breakdown changed how they do their videos, and since I'm not tech savvy, I can't get them to embed on the blog, so I'll try to be more colorful with my words to paint a beautiful picture of what Hundley does as a prospect. 

Reads
Hundley is able to read a field well, as he stays on his toes and bounces from one read to the next. He's very light on his feet, so he is able to bounce on his toes as he scans from one side of the field to the other. He showed the ability to scan the field and make the necessary throws when he recognizes an open receiver. For as low as people are on Hundley, I was shocked at how smooth he was in his progressions as that is one of the most common aspects that college quarterbacks struggle with. 

Pocket Presence
The Utah game stood out for all the wrong reasons when it came to pocket presence. He exhibited absolutely no feel for pressure, and he repeatedly stood in the pocket while he waited for a sack (the second play from the Utah game is a great example). It was inexplicable at times, as it looked like a video game where you accidentally drop the controller, and although you are scrambling to regain control, your quarterback on the screen just stands there and helplessly takes the sack. 

I have never seen a quarterback be more hesitant than Hundley was in the Utah game. He just held onto that ball like he was waiting for the sack to come. The only time he scrambled was when he slipped a pass rusher and just started to move forward from that. Otherwise, he just sat there, waiting for a single guy to get open before getting taken down. There was one time where Utah sent a double A gap blitz, and Hundley's body language clearly states, "Aw shit," as he just buries his head and takes what's coming to him.

The positive with Hundley is that the Utah game was only the second conference game where the USC game was near the end of the season, and he showed tremendous progress between those two games. Hundley admitted that he was purposely trying to stay in the pocket to display his skills to NFL scouts, but although it's not a good idea to always bail, he can't just stay there and take sacks either, so finding a balance will be essential.

He does display the ability to step up in the pocket and make throws, but even when he does that, he doesn't always work to the best possible place to make his throws as he'll step up but into a pretty tight area. A lot of times, he has just enough room to make his throw, but if he moves in a slightly different angle, he would have a much cleaner look.

If you want to see the most positive play from Hundley, you can find it at 5:35 of the game against USC. The throw is nothing special, but the way he is able to step up in the pocket to deliver the ball gives me that hope that he may be able to learn enough pocket presence to become a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. He actually probably should have had more room, but Leonard Williams put on a really slick spin move to go from outside to inside the offensive tackle, but Hundley was still able to fire the ball into his receiver without being disrupted.

Another positive factor is when he is able to work outside of the pocket, he can escape pressure while still keeping his eyes on targets down the field.

Ball Security
Another thing that I noticed was a consistent fumbling issue. It was only three games, but he struggled with taking snaps, handoffs, and holding onto the ball when running. It's not something I put a lot of stock in for quarterbacks, because I think all of these issues can be solved, but it is something to keep an eye on. 

Mobility
Brett Hundley is a very good athlete, but he is not a great scrambling quarterback as he has terrible vision as a runner.
Just runs into the defense instead of cutting up field to get a first down.

Arm
First off, he has the arm strength and enough accuracy to make all the necessary throws. I cannot imagine that anyone will be questioning his arm capabilities when evaluating him. With that said, he wasn't always able to show off his skill-set. UCLA's offense was not designed to take advantage of space over the middle as they were far more likely to attack the sidelines, but in the opportunities that he was given, Hundley does a nice job of putting the ball either in front of his receivers or away from defenders on his throws over the middle. This might be a hidden strength that he was not able to fully take advantage of during college because of scheme.

I mentioned his ability to read the field above, but something else that he does incredibly well is using his eyes to move defenders. There were multiple examples of him looking at one side of the field to move the safety over before bouncing to the other direction and throwing a deep ball to his receiver who was covered by a corner with no help over the top. That is an incredibly valuable skill that will transition well to the next level.

Overall
I'll admit to being down on him far before most people were, but it has gotten to the point where people are going too far in their criticisms of him. I will admit that I got angry as I watched him take sack after sack against Utah, but he also laid out two of the best deep balls you will ever see, one of which where the process was even better than the throw.

I'm about to drop the meanest comparison possible on him, so brace yourselves...he reminds me of Blaine Gabbert. They are very similar in build, athleticism, and their throwing capabilities. Now, I was incredibly low on Gabbert out of college, but I'm actually much higher on Hundley, because of a few key differences. The biggest one is that Gabbert never learned to scan a field. His entire offense was high-low reads, and he was in bad shape if that wasn't open. Hundley is very smooth in reading the field and also showed the ability to move safeties with his eyes. The latter is more subtle, but it is how they deal with pressure. They are both terrible at it, but in different ways. Hundley just lacks awareness when it comes to a rush but shows flashes of feeling things and moving away from pressure. Gabbert felt pressure but his instincts told him to bail and it led him to sprint backwards a lot of times. Obviously, Gabbert was a total bust, but Hundley has shown flashes of potential in his area of weakness. I don't know if pocket awareness is something that Brett Hundley can learn, but if it's the end of the first round and I need a quarterback, I'm probably going to be willing to find out.

Quarterback Prospect Rankings:
1. Jameis Winston - Florida State
2. Brett Hundley - UCLA
3. Shane Carden - East Carolina
4. Bryce Petty - Baylor
5. Sean Mannion - Oregon State
6. Garrett Grayson - Colorado State
7. Blake Sims - Alabama

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