Size isn't everything, at least that's what we're told. However when it comes to evaluating QB's, if it's not everything, it's almost everything. I haven't been able to post half as much as I'd have liked to in the run up to the NFL draft, but if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I have a lot of time for Vernon Adams, and my belief is that he'll soar in the NFL if given the chance.
Let me just start this by stating that Vernon could go undrafted tonight. Will he be a priority free agent? Absolutely, Could a team take a flier on him in rounds 6 or 7? Intelligent ones will. So why am I wasting my pre-draft word count on someone who may not even go drafted?
He played three years at Eastern Washington before transferring to Oregon for his final year. The level of competition he faced wasn't consistently proven. He's small with a slight frame, think 5'11 and 200lb's...similar to the frame that Russell Wilson possesses and slightly smaller than Drew Brees. He doesn't look like a QB, he looks more like an athletic safety.
So I put my hands in the air and admit that his level of competition for three years was not great and he's a small QB. There is no disputing those facts.I saw a stat this week that was pretty illuminating. Of the 229 QB's that have been drafted since 1996, only five have been under 6 feet tall. So the odds are stacked against him, and they don't have be stacked that high to dwarf him.
However in his one year at Oregon he threw for 2,643 yards for 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. At Eastern Washington he threw for 10,438 yards, 110 touchdowns, 31 interceptions for a 64.8% completion percentage. He was heralded as one of the most impressive prospects at the Shrine game where he led three touchdown scoring drives in three attempts. Numerous teams spoke about how well his personal workouts went.
The stats are impressive, but it takes more than college production to make it in the NFL. So I watched over 12 games worth of footage on Vernon to try and get a grasp of the QB that he is. I couldn't be more impressed. To the point where he's my 3rd ranked QB in this draft, crazy? maybe! However I've never been shy about going out on a limb for a player I truly believe it.
His work ethic is fantastic. He creates something out of nothing. He throws with good accuracy whether in the pocket or on the move. His eyes stay downfield, he has pocket awareness and he slides away from contact. I know it's cliche to compare him to QB's his size, but if you watch him and don't see Russell Wilson....I'm not sure what you're seeing.
He has excellent balance, and although he doesn't run as much as he could, he uses his open field agility to gain important yards. He shows excellent touch and velocity on short to intermediate routes. His timing with receivers is mostly excellent. He's competitive and fiery and was often described as a natural leader.
He works through his progressions better than any QB in this class and he makes excellent decisions. If the pass isn't there, he'll get rid of the football. He avoids counter-productive plays.
Don't get me wrong, he sometimes plays within himself, not testing the safeties. Sometimes he'll struggle to see the whole field because of his height and he's taken some sacks in his career. However personally, I'd rather a QB take a sack rather than throw an interception (if he can't safely get rid of the football).
Some have questioned his ability to push the ball deep, but twice in his career he's averaged 10 yards or more per attempt and on passes over 20 yards, he's thrown 15 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Again I'm not saying he is the perfect prospect, all I'm saying is that if he goes undrafted it will be one of the biggest oversights I've ever seen in the history of the NFL Draft.
If Christian Hackenberg is a 2nd round prospect and Dak Prescott is a 4th round prospect....you tell me how Vernon Adams is being regarded as a priority free agent. It all comes down to size, and yes it's important...but when you have so many other traits, the size limitations can be managed.
If I have one wish for the NFL draft this weekend, it's that the Jets pick up Adams.
I'm going to leave you with a quote from Adams himself, as it sums up perfectly the way I feel
"Put on the film when I'm not playing, and put on the film when I am playing. And see how much of a game-changer I am. The size, man," says Adams. "I'm not going to get any taller. It is what it is ... Just put on the film, man."