Georgia Tech only singed one QB recruit for the 2018 cycle, so I want to go a little more in-depth with this analysis than previous ones in this series. Option QBs are so hard to analyze coming out of high school. They need the athletic tools of a RB, along with the arm and defense-reading skills of a more traditional QB. So which 5 categories should an option QB rated against? It isn’t that simple. In order for an option QB to be properly rated, he must be rated as a runner and as a signal-caller.
As a reminder, here are the ratings for each category:
- 5: Power 5 Elite
- 4: Power 5 Above Average
- 3: Power 5 Average
- 2: G5
- 1: FCS
As a Runner
In order to rate QBs as runners, I’ll be using the same categories that were used for the RBs. Those are:
Descriptions of each can be found in the RB analysis article.
- Size: 3
- Bend: 5
- Burst: 4
- Speed: 4
- Power: 2
Graham is a first-rate talent as a runner, displaying several tools above-average or higher. He has a solid frame with room to grow and add weight as needed. He displays elite bend, absorbing hits to the midsection like a sponge. He’s also fluid and decisive in and out of his cuts.
Graham has a special blend of burst and speed that is easily evident on tape. He isn’t playing against top-tier competition, but it’s still evident that he is absolutely flying. He blew by the angles defenders thought they had on him repeatedly, and easily reaches his top speed quickly.
Graham doesn’t run behind his pads and prefers to use his bend, burst, and speed to win in the open field. This will limit his ability as a power runner, but Georgia Tech QBs have shown they can be effective without being powerful.
As a Passer
As a baseline, these grades will be based on Power-5 average for a dual-threat spread QB. Expect the grades to be a bit low for the most part. Given the small number of flexbone QBs in modern college football, creating a baseline for “average” is a bit difficult.
A QB needs to move his feet in the pocket, and will need to use his feet and core in his throwing motion in order to generate velocity on the ball, as well as throw it accurately. This is commonly referred to as “stepping into the throw.” At the point of release, the QB should have almost all weight on his front foot. If not, he’ll throw a high, arcing pass that can easily be picked off. This has been a problem in the past for a couple Tech QBs.
This one is fairly simple. How far can the player throw the ball and with what kind of velocity?
More than just hitting the receiver or completion percentage, it’s ball placement. Is the receiver being led away from coverage? Does the ball placement match the route? Can the QB “throw the receiver open?”
Reads - Run
Usually not much real run reading going on in high school, so this one is difficult. If the QB ran a system similar to Tech’s in high school, check what reads they QB is making.
Reads - Pass
Does the player progress through reads, or does he only throw to his first target? Does he give up quickly in the face of pressure and scramble or does he keep his eyes downfield? Is he making any ill-advised throws?
- Footwork: 2
- Arm Strength: 3
- Accuracy: 3
- Reads - Run: 3
- Reads - Pass: 3
I’ll have to preface this by saying that Graham was very difficult to grade in these categories. He often flashed brilliance, but at times looked pedestrian, even within the context of a highlight video. His footwork needs work. He doesn’t drive into his throws and cuts his follow through off too early. These are teachable corrections, but many QBs never fully learn footwork before they leave the college ranks. Graham’s arm strength doesn’t look as good as it is on tape due to a large number of late throws. A lot of this, however, is due to throw timing and footwork. If he can get his timing down, the strength will show. He flashes good strength with some quality deep shots on film, but will need to get more consistent velocity in college. His accuracy looks shaky due to timing as well, but he showed on film that he can drop dimes. Graham executes some extremely difficult throws to the sideline, but also is late on others. Firming up his timing would greatly help Graham reach his ceiling.
As the best athlete on the field, Graham wasn’t asked to read much. He was often always going to get the ball. He’s just that gifted a runner. As such, it’s difficult to ascertain his ability to make run reads. He has great vision, however, regularly seeing the hole and taking it. This makes me confident that he can see the field and make split-second decisions with practice. Graham’s passing reads are even harder to judge. Graham often hit his first read on film, as his first read was usually open. That shouldn’t count against him in my eyes, so I gave him a 3.
Graham is, based on all the film I’ve watched of this year’s class, the best signee for the 2018 recruiting class. He has all the athletic tools to be the most talented runner to play QB in Paul Johnson’s offense, and he has enough QB skill to stick as the signal caller, with room to hone those skills and get even better. He’s a blue chipper in this offense, and I can’t wait to see him take the field.