|Class:||RS Senior||40 time:||N/A|
In today’s NFL, a quarterback with a strong arm, impressive downfield accuracy and the ability to run the football can be invaluable. That’s part of why Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has a tremendous shot at becoming a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
One of the top senior quarterbacks of the 2014 draft class, Boyd is a big, athletic passer with the physical tools needed to succeed at the next level. His size (6’1’’, 225 pounds) will dissuade some teams from putting him atop their draft board, but the production – 4,410 total yards, 46 total touchdowns in 2012 – speaks for itself.
The fact still remains, though, that Boyd must answer a number of questions this upcoming season before we can pen him in as a first-round pick.
- Strong arm capable of making all of the throws expected from an NFL quarterback
- Good accuracy, especially on deep and intermediate routes
- Very confident passer who isn’t afraid to fit the ball into tight windows
- Trusts his receivers to make plays on the ball
- Adjusts throwing motion to avoid bat-downs without losing accuracy, zip
- Effective passer when rolling out; keeps his eyes downfield when moving outside of the pocket
- Above average footwork in the pocket allows him to keep plays alive and avoid pressure
- Outstanding improvisational skills to make something out of nothing
- Elusive runner with good open-field moves for his size
- Isn’t afraid to put his head down and plow his way for extra yards
- Electrifying playmaker who can ignite an offense for 60 minutes
- Phenomenal leadership, confidence and resilience (see 2013 LSU game)
- Doesn’t get flustered or overwhelmed in big games
- Doesn’t make his progression reads, often locking onto his first option and forcing passes into coverage as a result
- Inconsistent accuracy on throws outside the numbers, often throwing over receivers’ heads
- Tends to throw off his back foot when under pressure instead of stepping into throws
- Struggles to lead receivers in short-yardage situations
- Often bailed out of bad passes by athletic receivers
- A bit of a “system” quarterback, relying heavily on receiver screens and pre-determined reads to make plays
- Too eager to scramble instead of surveying second, third options
- Can get flustered when sacks start to pile up (see 2012 South Carolina game)
- Takes way too many hits when scrambling; doesn’t do a good job of protecting himself from defenders, often attempting to run them over instead of sliding
- Less-than-ideal height (6’1’’) hurts his ability to make progressions, read underneath routes
- Heavy mileage (351 carries and counting) could lead to durability issues down the road
- Fluctuation in weight could be a sign of conditioning/commitment problems
Boyd has come a long way since taking over as Clemson’s starter in 2011, but still has plenty more growing to do this upcoming season. With electrifying playmakers DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington out of the picture, he’ll be unable to rely on receiver screens and short dump-offs to pick up big yards. Instead, he’ll be forced to make progressions – something he hasn’t done much of up to this point. His post-snap decision making is also something that must improve; throughout 2012, Boyd threw too many passes into coverage and was too eager to tuck the ball and run. Scouts will also be watching to make sure Boyd can keep his weight down after fluctuating over the last two years. At this point, Boyd is the top senior quarterback in the nation but can fall drastically if he struggles to take the next step in his maturation.
2014 Draft Projection: 1st Round
Film Watched: vs. Boston College (2012), vs. Georgia Tech (2012), vs. NC State (2012), vs. South Carolina (2012), vs. LSU (2013)