While he hasn’t been talked about nearly as much as some other quarterbacks who may be entering the 2014 NFL Draft, Missouri‘s James Franklin is a guy who has plenty of skills which could enable him to succeed at the next level.
For starters, Franklin is a great athlete. He has an imposing physical build which has earned him the nickname “Frank the Tank” among Tiger fans, and it’s very evident in his play. Franklin runs with a very physical style that is reminiscent of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
He also has a very good arm and complements it with above-average accuracy. He can make long throws downfield and is at his best when he lays passes over the middle. The only areas in which he is inconsistent at times are with short passes behind the line of scrimmage and with long passes near the sideline. While he has made plenty of good throws to these areas, he seems to struggle with how much touch to put on the ball when he makes them.
The other quality which makes Franklin intriguing is his intelligence and ability to lead. In fact, Franklin has said that he would be interested in becoming a motivational speaker once his playing days are over. If he makes it to the combine he could be a guy who wows teams during individual interviews.
The biggest negative for Franklin is his struggle to stay healthy. Though he played through his entire sophomore season, his junior year was plagued by injuries. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery and then sat out with arm soreness against Arizona State. He came under fire following this game for refusing to take pain medication due to a family policy against doing so. He then returned only to strain his MCL against Vanderbilt. While struggling with that ailment, he also suffered a concussion that ended his season early.
This year, Franklin had to win his starting job back while competing with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk. He earned the position and made his coaches look good for giving it to him as he led Mizzou to a 5-0 start. Unfortunately, he suffered a shoulder injury against Georgia which prevented him from starting the next four games. Amid controversy, he was inserted into the starting lineup again last week against Mississippi.
Franklin hurt his draftability significantly by getting hurt again this year. However, with Mizzou having had such a great season, he’ll have a great stage to up his stock over his final few college games. If he plays well enough, maybe he can earn himself a selection in the later rounds of the draft. Otherwise, he should be a guy who at least gets signed as an undrafted free agent and perhaps developed in a backup or practice squad role.
- Fantastic mid-range accuracy
- Capable of making pinpoint passes over the middle, even at distances as long as 50 yards downfield
- Very quick release
- Physical power running style
- Great physical build
- Aggressive and talented at shaking off defenders
- A natural leader who can be the voice of a franchise
- Will need to adjust to a more normal drop back progression after playing in an unorthodox system at Mizzou
- Inconsistent on long passes targeted near the sideline
- Needs to put more touch on short screen passes
- Tends to collapse under pressure if he doesn’t have a viable receiver to throw to; not great at deciding when to get rid of the ball
- Not too much experience working under center
- Injury-prone (has missed seven games over the past two seasons) and refuses to take pain medication
Franklin missed a large chunk of the Tigers’ conference schedule, but when he’s been on the field he’s been very effective. He’s completed 67.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Meanwhile, he’s regained his rushing ability following an injury-riddled season that limited him mainly to passing from the pocket. This year, Franklin has rushed 73 times for 332 yards (an average of 4.5 yards per carry) and has scored three touchdowns on the ground. He should have two or three more big tests during his college career, beginning with the Tigers’ battle with Texas A&M. If Missouri defeats the Aggies, they’ll face the winner of Alabama and Auburn as they fight for a BCS bowl berth.
2014 Draft Projection: Seventh Round or Undrafted
Film Watched: vs. Ole Miss (2013), vs. Georgia (2013), vs. Florida (2012), vs. Arizona State (2011)