Eve Craig/SunDevilSource

Arizona State preparedness / potential grades: Quarterback

How do we rank the Arizona State quarterbacks entering preseason camp and how ready are they to play at this level? Here's our perspective.

1. Manny Wilkins (sophomore) -- Wilkins is the most so-called "dual-threat" of the group competing for the job. He's without question the quickest and most elusive -- though Bryce Perkins may be faster in a longer race --and  the most capable of making plays with his feet both in the read option game and also as a pure scrambler. In that regard, Wilkins is like an upgraded version of former ASU starter Taylor Kelly. But Wilkins' arm is also very good, certainly better than Kelly's in terms of on-time throwing range and the ability to fit balls into tighter windows at depth. Wilkins also throws a very clean ball and tends to be accurate down the field when his feet are set. 

From a skill-set standpoint, Wilkins has no deficiencies. He's quite athletic, is mechanically sound enough to be successful, has plenty of ball velocity and accuracy. What will ultimately determine whether Wilkins emerges victorious in the competition is pocket poise and how well he's able to get through his route progression. Wilkins has had a tendency to bring his eyes down and transition from passer to runner too quickly and he has to break that natural tendency and force himself to cycle through his second and third progressions on a consistent basis. That's the only way that Wilkins will be able to unlock the full breadth of his talent. 

Though he has improved in this regard to some degree, Wilkins is not yet someone who extends plays to find someone down the field in a way that leverages his ability to evade pressure. He's also capable of missing open receivers further into his progression, or making jeopardy throws by not accounting for zone defenders. The strides that Wilkins has made in this regard must be further improved upon if he's to not only win the job, but be successful to his own expectations, as well as his coaches. 

In spring football Wilkins showed a lot of intangible leadership and avoided putting the ball in jeopardy or giving up negative plays. Those are key criteria set forth by ASU's coaches in the competition to win the starting job. If he continues to do well in these areas he's got a chance to be very successful. Preparedness grade: 2.5 / Potential Grade: 4

2. Brady White (redshirt freshman) -- Style-wise, White is somewhere in between sophomore Manny Wilkins and redshirt freshman Bryce Perkins. While Wilkins is the most frenetic in terms of movement and energy and Perkins tends to remain in the pocket without as much movement, White is comfortable both in the pocket and moving outside of it, but does so with a focus on trying to extend plays long enough for receivers to get open, even after completing their routes and freelancing. 

At times, White actually is overly patient and is prone to taking sacks when he should throw the football away or take the check down option. This is a dual-edged sword through, because for an offensive coordinator it's better to have a quarterback who thinks like White and has his inner calmness than someone who has a hard time maintaining composure in the pocket. He just can't take negative plays because it's a key criteria set forth by ASU coaches Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.

White doesn't have the quickness or agility of Wilkins or the overall speed and athleticism of Perkins. He won't be on par in the read option game to Wilkins, in particular, but he's a full service player in the ASU system who is probably more mobile than he's given credit for. 

Mechanically, White has impressive tools to work with and no real flaw with his footwork or delivery. He's got a better arm than Perkins and is probably about on par with Wilkins when it comes to throwing the ball down the field. I would go as far as to say that I like the way Wilkins and White make 30-plus yard throws better than former starter Mike Bercovici, who tended to throw the ball too flat, and Taylor Kelly, who had to really step into such throws. 

The biggest challenge for White will be to get the offense operating at the type of pace that Graham and Lindsey will want, and to do so without increasing the number of errors. Given Lindsey's background with a non-mobile quarterback, Perkins and White are probably a bit helped by the coordinator change when compared with Wilkins, as Norvell seemed a bit more reliant on the read option. That's somewhat of a hunch though that will have to be developed in time. 

White has worked on his intangibles and leadership skills this year and made it a focus of his development. How he manages the team on the field -- getting them lined up and functioning quickly and efficiently -- will go a large way in determining his success, along with whether he can avoid negative plays and turnovers. Preparedness Grade: 2 / Potential Grade: 4

3. Bryce Perkins (redshirt freshman) -- The evolution of Perkins from athlete to quarterback in the last three to four years has been truly remarkable. He went from a player we though would never be able to play the position successfully at the highest college level as a high school sophomore at Chandler to someone who led his team to a state championship in an MVP season, and later demonstrated impressive poise and proficiency while redshirting as a freshman at ASU in 2015. 

Perkins is strong and athletic at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, already one of the fastest and strong quarterbacks to wear an ASU uniform in recent memory. He prefers delivering the football from the pocket to running though, and has patient and reliable footwork to that end. He's a very different type of athlete than Wilkins, though both are athletic in a general sense. Perkins feels pressure well and will reorientate his feet to deliver the ball, and keep his eyes processing the field. 

The foundational base of Perkins as a passer is sound, and he has tended to make good decisions very consistently with the football given his youth, though this was tested in the spring where he had some shaky practices. He's typically accurate on shorter throws and gets the ball out relatively quickly. Perkins doesn't have the quick twitch athleticism of Wilkins in the read option game, and is more of a glider who runs well in the open field when carrying the football, with great top end speed for a quarterback. He doesn't have the start and stop ability of Wilkins, but is bigger and harder to bring down with contact, both in and out of the pocket. 

Perkins' biggest potential drawback right now is his downfield playmaking capability. He doesn't have the throwing range or ball velocity of the others in the position group, with vertical shots harder to access and tight intermediate throws also a potential challenge, particularly to the far sideline. The way to offset that is getting the ball out more quickly, but that's tough for a quarterback who has never played at this level before. In this regard, Perkins is a bit like Taylor Kelly, a player who had similar challenges with his arm when trying to win the job. Preparedness Grade: 1.5 / Potential Grade: 3.5

Preparedness/Potential Grade Key

5: All-American level performer

4: First/second team all-league level performer

3: Mid-level Pac-12 performer

2: Fringe Pac-12 performer

1: Non-Pac-12 level performer

Editor's note: Players are ranked in terms of overall current preparedness and not based on potential.


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