Connor Halliday Player Evaluation

Scout's Dave-Te Thomas breaks down Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday.

Halliday was unable to participate in agility tests at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did receive favorable news from team doctors in regards to his progress healing from his right tibia and fibula fractures.

While it is doubtful that he will get as many opportunities to pass as often as he did in college (tops all current quarterbacks with averages of 28.94 pass completions and 46.66 pass attempts per game and is second with an average of 322.97 aerial yards per game. Some teams like his moxie, but they want him to become a better decision maker, as his 50 interceptions are not all the result of receivers not running proper routes.

Halliday plays mostly in the spread, but shows good foot quickness driving away from center on the rare occasions he lines up in that format. He is not effective in fooling the defense on bootlegs and play action, as he has the functional quickness needed to throw on the run, but is too often caught for a loss, as he fails to locate room to escape (on 112 carries, he’s lost 492 yards and has never scored as a college ball carrier).

Still, the Cougar maintains good body control on the move and is effective at stepping up in the pocket to take the hit and still deliver the throw. He has a fluid release and enough arm movement to get the ball out quickly, but needs to improve the velocity on his deep throws (they will hang when he fails to step into his throws, as he’s racked up the third-highest total of interceptions thrown for any current passer in college).

Halliday is the type that will force his passes into traffic, but did make improvement last season, reducing his interceptions thrown total to 11 after having 22 passes picked off in 2013). You would hope that he would rather take the sack than throw the ball up for grabs. He can be innovative, but has had marginal protection and adequate receivers to work with (has had one good one each of the last three years, but defenses would often double-coverage that wide-out, knowing the other Cougars do not offer any challenge).

The injured passer also needs to be more alert to back-side pressure, as the bulk of his sacks have been the result of this. He carries the ball chest high and has lots of arm action (bit of a semi wind-up). He can adjust his release to throw, but needs to do a little better job setting his feet going to his left. He plants well to throw and can unload the ball on deep throws. He is effective at executing the check-down and gets the ball out with good spin and movement.

Halliday has good arm strength, but it is not really spectacular. He puts good zip on his intermediate tosses and shows a good short touch. It is hard to gauge his deep ball strength, as he gets the ball out alarmingly slow on those tosses, resulting in most of his interceptions, as defenders can recover and set up to make the play.

The Cougar has very good short-to-intermediate accuracy, but blows hot and cold on long routes. When he does go long, his receivers will sometimes have to adjust. He does a very good job of keeping his receivers in their routes on intermediate passes. He throws a tight spiral on underneath tosses and can drill the ball in the seam. He also shows much better timing on his underneath throws, where he can hit his receivers in stride.

Halliday just seems to struggle going long and needs to do a better job of throwing before the receiver makes the cut. On the short throws, he shows good anticipation and timing. He is under pressure a lot due to a poor offensive line, so some might think he has “happy feet,” but he will step up in the pocket and wait as long as he can before throwing the ball away or run with it.

When Halliday runs, he does not have the speed to make things happen with his feet. Mostly, he will be cool and deliberate when afforded decent protection. He is easy to take down on the times he runs with the pigskin and coming back from his right tibia and fibula fractures, teams are wondering just how it will impact his mobility moving forward.

Halliday is a respected leader, cool under pressure, but needs to show more aggression. He is the type that commands respect in the huddle and you can see that his teammates want to play for him. He shows good awareness of the pass rush in the pocket, but he just lacks mobility and change of direction agility to avoid the big sack.

Connor Halliday NFL Scouting Combine measurable

31 1/4-inch arm length
8 3/8-inch hands

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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