The next quarterback analyzed in this series of way too early scouting profiles is Clayton Thorson, quarterback of Northwestern Wildcats. After suffering a gruesome knee injury, Thorson will try to bounce back with an impressive senior season to improve his chances to be a high pick. There was some chatter of him declaring for the 2018 NFL draft, but he chose to stay one more year after suffering that injury. He had a late round projection last year, another season could really help him.
Way Too Early Scouting Profile: Clayton Thorson Edition
Games Watched: Iowa (2017), Wisconsin (2017), Michigan State (2017), Penn State (2017).
Great footwork: Clayton Thorson’s footwork is among the best I’ve seen from the quarterbacks in this draft class. He also throws from a consistent wide base. His feet are really ahead of most college quarterbacks.
Goes through progressions: Another rare trait these days among draft-eligible quarterbacks, Thorson routinely goes through progressions and makes full-field reads.
Good pocket movement: Even behind a bad offensive line, Thorson moves very well in the pocket. He climbs the pocket well to buy those extra seconds he needs.
Calm under pressure: If there is one thing Clayton Thorson experienced at Northeastern is pressure allowed by his offensive line. He still is able to always remain calm and deliver the ball where it needs to go. He rarely gets flustered and he is tough enough to stay until the last second to make a play.
Short accuracy: Most of his passes are short, and that’s where he displays good touch and efficiency.
Size: At 6’4 225 pounds, Clayton Thorson fits the prototype mold that scouts love in a quarterback.
Anticipation and timing: He is a ”see-it-throw-throw-it” kind of quarterback (Thomas Beekers wrote once:“When talking about this position, one term Greg Cosell likes to use is “see-it-throw-it”-type quarterback. These are quarterbacks that do not throw ahead of the receiver beating his guy, that are limited in their ability to analyze matchups or grow proper timing with their receivers”). He showed it by displaying no anticipation on his throws usually needing to see the receiver open before launching it. Given his impressive footwork and decent mechanics, Thorson should be more accurate, especially on medium to long throws, but he still struggles with timing on his throws and frequently underthrows or overthrows his receivers. His timing issue is more glaring when the pass has to travel over 15 yards.
Rarely throws it over 15 yards: I don’t know if his system is built like this or if he just checks down most of the plays, but in the games I’ve analyzed, Thorson rarely throws a pass over 15 yards, and when he does the results aren’t all good.
Very low yards per attempt: His season yards per attempt stat is a pedestrian 6.55 yds/att, and when we pick just games against good defenses (Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan State qualify). His numbers are as followed: Michigan State (one of his best games) 7.41 yds/att, Wisconsin 4.86 yds/att, Iowa 5.33 yds/att, Penn State (one of his worst games) 3.94 yds/att.
Since 2009 players with under 7.3 yards/att on their final year weren’t really good in the NFL. Players such as Christian Hackenberg, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill, Christian Ponder, Mike Glennon, Trevor Siemian, Logan Thomas, Curtis Painter among others. Ryan Tannehill the best of the bunch so far had 7.1 yds/att which is significantly higher than Thorson’s 6.55 yds/att, but still he is not with good company. In fact, only two players in that span had fewer yds/att than him: Trevor Siemian (5.6 yds/att) and Curtis Painter (6.3 yds/att).
Stats: Yards per attempt isn’t the only stat in which Thorson doesn’t look good. He threw for only 15 TDs and 12 INTs, that’s 1.25 TDs/INT which is an awful ratio.
What to Expect
Not only he is returning from a major knee injury but he also lost his starting running back, Justin Jackson, who was a key player for the Wildcats in 2017. He needs to work on his timing and anticipation, two very important traits at the NFL level. Overall, Clayton Thorson needs to have a good year and put up impressive numbers. He has some very interesting traits but has mediocre stats to show for it.
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