2014 NFL Draft: Every Team Should Target QB Prospect Stephen Morris
Stephen Morris came into the 2013 college football season with a lot to prove, but so far he’s looked the part of a top NFL quarterback prospect. He isn’t the complete player that Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr are, but after a couple of seasons working in an NFL system, Morris has the tools to be one of the next top quarterbacks in the league.
One of the biggest knocks on Morris is his decision making, which has led to him throwing 19 interceptions as the Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback the last two seasons. In that same time however Morris has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 42 touchdowns, and has led the Hurricanes to a few upset victories as well. Aside from the interceptions, Morris has made numerous other bad decisions with the ball this season and sometimes it appears he simply doesn’t see the defender he’s about to throw the ball to.
If it weren’t for the poor decision making from the senior quarterback, he very well could be one of the higher rated senior quarterbacks right behind the first-round talent and previously mentioned Carr. The main tools Morris possess that make him such an intriguing prospect is his elite arm strength and deep ball accuracy when using proper footwork in the pocket.
When Morris steps into his throws, his accuracy is top of the line and has allowed him to complete at least one 50-yard pass in nine games this season, the only quarterback in the country to accomplish such feat. Too many times however Morris can get lazy and rely on his arm strength to get balls down the field, many of which end up five or ten yards in front of the intended receiver.
Morris’ athletic ability is another one of his best assets as he shows great escapability in the pocket and can make almost any throw while on the run. As with most mobile quarterbacks, their decision-making improves while on the run, and Morris is no exception as he’s not afraid to throw the ball away, or tuck and run if nobody is open.
Morris already possesses many of the tools needed to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, but before he’s to step onto the field in a meaningful game he must improve his decision-making and consistency when in the pocket. This was displayed in the Hurricanes’ loss to the Florida State Seminoles when Morris threw two interceptions, but also made a few impressive throws that only a handful of college quarterbacks could make.
While he has some major downfalls in his game at the moment, Morris is an intriguing prospect that every NFL team should be considering at some point in the upcoming draft. He’s a player that will need time to develop, so even though teams like the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons already have a franchise quarterback, drafting Morris would be a smart move as his ceiling is amongst the highest of any quarterback in the upcoming draft class.
I am in the group that thinks Morris will be a late riser because of his physical traits that will be on display at the NFL Combine, most notably his arm strength and athletic ability. He didn’t run a read-option system at Miami, but he does posses the speed to be effective running the ball if a team were to use a system similar to the San Francisco 49ers who have Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who is very comparable to Morris.
The Hurricanes still have their bowl game against the Louisville Cardinals, a game in which Morris will have the opportunity to outshine the presumed No. 1 quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater. After ending the season with the Russell Athletic Bowl, Morris will compete in the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine before learning which team he will begin his NFL future with.
Come draft day Morris likely won’t hear his name called until at least the third-round, and the senior quarterback won’t provide immediate dividends for whichever team drafts him, but in a few years he very well could be the next up and coming quarterback you wish your team would have taken a chance on.