Scouting report: Vikings QB Taylor Heinicke

There is a lot to like about QB Taylor Heinicke but also areas of his game he needs to clean up to make the Minnesota Vikings roster. NFL scout Dave-Te’ Thomas looks at the strengths and weaknesses in Heinicke’s game.

Taylor Heinicke
Old Dominion University Monarchs
Atlanta, Georgia
Collins Hill High School

Taylor Heinicke has above-average body control, playing speed, strength and change of direction agility, as he is a bright kid who learns and retains well. He makes a lot of checks on the field and understands the game, as he has complete command on the field. He is very tough, with excellent agility, balance and playing speed. He scans the field and recognizes defensive formations, making very decisive moves to counter. He is an overachiever of sorts, who will put in extra hours in the film room and even sits in the coaches’ meetings.

Heinicke shows above-average quickness and fluidity when he drops and sets up. He has above-average body mechanics. He has good quickness getting away from the center and is very effective throwing on the move. He shows a smooth, almost effortless set-up and gets to his drop point quickly. He appears to understand coverage packages and reads defenses well. He is a touch passer who comprehends even the most complicated of defensive coverages.

Heinicke is an instinctive player who will get into trouble at times, as he will not hesitate to run with the ball when his receivers are covered, but he has had some ball security issues, with 14 fumbles as a starter. He checks down effectively and generally makes quick decisions, especially when rolling out of the pocket.

Heinicke has a good, snappy release, showing great quickness, especially on his short and intermediate throws. He displays a high release, throwing across his body effectively. He will improvise on the move, showing just as much velocity on his sidearm tosses as he does with his classic overhead motion. He gets the ball off instantly due to his compact delivery.

Heinicke has good arm strength but looks capable of throwing the ball a lot harder. He is best on the short and intermediate routes, but has enough of a big-league arm to be equally efficient with the long ball. When throwing long, he puts very good zip behind his attempts, doing a nice job of getting the ball over the receiver’s shoulders.

This is a high percentage passer with good accuracy at all levels. He is very effective at changing up the speed on his tosses to make the completion. His timing is good on the move, but much more consistent when standing in the pocket. He does an excellent job of placing the ball into his target’s hands where they can get additional yardage after the catch. Few show the short touch he displays, drawing comparisons to Russell Wilson in this category.

Heinicke shows good placement and throws an easy ball, but it doesn’t always come out tight spiraled when on the roll. He has solid field vision and makes good adjustments when reading the defenses. While he has the strength to connect anywhere on the field, he does not always show a cannon for an arm, but has enough power to get the ball to his receiver on deep patterns. His feel on crossing and timing routes sets him apart from others.

The Monarch displays very good poise and composure. He doesn’t panic or force the ball when pressured. He wants to throw to his targets, but will not hesitate to tucking the ball and running with it when he can’t locate any receivers. It is as if he has a distain for defenders, as they never rattle him or take him out of his focus. He is not what you would call a big rah-rah guy, but he does command the team’s total respect and is a good leader.

Heinicke shows good pocket awareness and has a feel for stepping up or sliding away from the rush. He has solid instincts and presence, showing a great knack for feeling when the pocket will collapse, as he suddenly steps up to make the completion. His linebacker’s mentality will sometimes cause him to stand in the pocket a bit too long, but he is quick to bounce off tackles and still maintain concentration on the receivers through their routes.

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