Oregon redshirt senior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is one of the most intriguing players in the entire 2016 NFL Draft class. He is very undersized for the position at 5’11”, 200 lbs. with 9 1/8” hands. He will be a 23-year old rookie.
The first thing that stands out when evaluating Adams is his athletic ability. He is a good athlete with an impressive ability to improvise and make plays while on the move. He is very comfortable throwing while scrambling to either side and he displays the ability to make very difficult throws from multiple platforms.
Unlike many athletic quarterbacks, he does a good job of protecting himself and avoiding big hits as a runner.
Although Adams throws with good velocity and touch to all levels, his ball placement is inconsistent to the short to intermediate levels of the field. Adams typically does a good job of throwing the ball to a place where it is catchable, but he does not consistently hit the receiver in the optimal position to create yards after the catch. Inconsistent lower body mechanics lead to missed throws.
Deep ball accuracy is inconsistent, as he does not always do a great job of giving his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball running down the sideline. Too many throws end up out of bounds or are placed too close to the boundary.
In spite of playing in an offense that includes many short predetermined throws, Adams shows the ability to stand in the pocket and read through full field progressions. His sense of timing and internal clock must improve as he has a habit of holding the ball and trying to do too much.
Adams is a very aggressive, confident passer who shows no fear testing tight windows down the field. However, he does not consistently anticipate and throw receivers open. Instead, he prefers to wait and see receivers come open before pulling the trigger.
Field vision is not great as he sometimes misses open receivers early in the down and opts to look for the big play down the field instead. Likely due to his lack of size, Adams is adept at moving to create throwing lanes. This is evidenced by the fact that he had only three passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage during the 2015 season.
There are many flashes of impressive pocket presence on Adams’ resume. He will slide up and maneuver in the pocket to evade the rush and when forced to escape from the pocket, Adams consistently keeps his eyes downfield in an effort to make big plays with his arm rather than his legs. On scramble drills, he does a great job of recognizing and exploiting blown coverage.
Adams possesses uncommon instincts that allow him to make big plays when things break down. While he shows flashes of very good play within structure, Adams is at his best when chaos ensues. He shows a great deal of comfort holding the ball and trying to make things happen rather than operating within the structure of the offense. This leads to hits and negative plays at times, but there are also many times when his team reaps rewards from his ability to toe the line between being fearless and reckless.
Adams does a good job of understanding situational football. He makes a lot of big plays on third down, rarely puts the ball in harm’s way, and typically gets the ball in the hands of the right player based on the defense.
Overall, Vernon Adams Jr. has a very intriguing skill set for teams who are looking for a developmental quarterback. In spite of his underwhelming size, he has a rare knack for improvising and making plays when things break down.
To go along with this, he also shows enough pocket presence, experience reading through full field progressions, and understanding of the nuances of the position, to get me excited about his potential as a pocket passer.
While he may not ever get a chance to play in the NFL because he does not look the part, I believe Adams has the talent to serve as a backup early on in his career with the potential to develop into a starter over time. With the right opportunity, coaching, and dedication to his craft, Adams has a chance to become a successful NFL quarterback.
The Cleveland Browns should consider selecting Vernon Adams Jr. at any point from the third round until the end of the 2016 NFL Draft. Under the tutelage of Hue Jackson, Adams could develop into a good player.
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