The 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl has been announcing the names of accepted prospect invites over the last several weeks. It’s an exciting time for NFL Draft media, as we can finally start preparing for who we are likely to scout for the week in Mobile, Alabama.
One of the notable differences between this year’s game and last year’s — on paper, at least– is the list of quarterbacks who have agreed to participate. Last year’s crop was woefully bad. It looks like this year’s will be fun to watch.
I’ve already touched on one of those quarterbacks, Cody Kessler, here. This piece will focus on the senior passer from NC State.
Jacoby Brissett was one of the more exciting quarterbacks that I studied during the summer months leading up to the 2015 season. He met my expectations this year, although he didn’t take that massive jump into first-round consideration.
Brissett transferred to NC State after two seasons with the Florida Gators. He saw time as a starter at Florida during his freshman season, including a start against LSU (when they were the No. 1 team in the country) in LSU. He never took a firm hold of the starter’s job in Gainesville and transferred to NC State after the 2012 season. Brissett was forced to sit out the 2013 season, but returned in 2014 as the unquestioned starter of the Wolfpack. He’s enjoyed two very good years at the helm, throwing for a total of 5,054 yards and 42 TDs over that span of time. In 2015, Brissett completed 61.3% of his passes for 2,448 yards and 19 TDs (4 INTs). He added 303 yards rushing and 5 TDs on the ground. His rushing numbers were down from 2014, when he totaled 529 yards and 3 scores. It’s worth noting that as a high school recruit, Brissett was considered the third-best quarterback prospect in the nation (according to Rivals.com).
Physically, Brissett is unofficially listed at 6’4″, 235 lbs. He looks bigger on tape, at least from a weight standpoint. He’s a strong guy who’s not afraid of contact, despite the wishful thinking that a quarterback should avoid collisions at all times. He’s powerful enough to shake oncoming pass rushers; rarely will he be brought down by the first pass rusher that penetrates the pocket.
Athletically, Brissett is a deceptively effective runner who has a long stride and the afore-mentioned power needed to tuck and run for chunks of yards. He won’t wiggle his way past defenders, but he has enough flexibility and natural feel for the game to maximize angles and open-field opportunities. He’s not a true ‘running threat’ like we see in the NFL with Russell Wilson (Seahawks) or Cam Newton (Panthers). Instead, he’s a tick faster version of Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers). Brissett uses his athleticism to keep passing plays alive, much like Big Ben. I like Brissett’s open-field athletic ability better than Ben’s, but not quite as much as Wilson or Newton’s.
As a passer, Brissett is a gifted thrower who has the kind of arm strength needed to make every single NFL throw. When he has time to step into the throw, he can flat out sling it. What’s really impressive about Brisset is his ability to take heat off his throws when necessary; he’s not a one-speed thrower. He also takes chances downfield and doesn’t solely rely on quick screens or check downs to move the chains. From a technical standpoint, he has a tendency to throw off his back foot a bit too much which causes his ball placement to be inconsistent at best. That said, when his offensive line gave him time to throw, he flashed top-end upside. In fact, he makes some first-round throws on tape. Brissett is a frustrating prospect from an accuracy standpoint, as he’ll go through stretches of pinpoint laser throws to runs of overthrown balls. Again, I attribute that to some footwork flaws in the face of pressure, but it’s something that gives pause before investing a very high pick on him.
Brissett is one of the more impressive players inside the pocket because of his ability to feel the oncoming rush and escape danger. A smaller or weaker quarterback would not have been able to accomplish what Brissett did this year. His fusion of power, balance and athleticism combined with natural positional instincts allowed for many plays to live on.
Jacboy Brissett is one of the Senior Bowl prospects who has the most to gain during the week of practices. He has the arm talent needed to impress scouts and coaches in the inherently controlled environment, and his physical stature and movement skills should make him one of the “wow” players during the practice sessions.
Brissett is a solid Day Two prospect with the upside to start in the NFL after a season or two of grooming. He didn’t have the kind of senior year that some were expecting, but I think his tape still shows the positive traits needed to feel confident that he could become a franchise’s future answer at quarterback.