Sefo Liufau: The Senior Bowl QB More People Should be Talking About


There is not much buzz surrounding the six quarterbacks looking to boost their standing among NFL scouts at this weeks’ Senior Bowl.

Of those aiming to impress in Mobile, Cal’s Davis Webb is the one who came into the week with the most hype.

But, while there is a lot to like about Webb, it is another Pac-12 player who is the most intriguing quarterback prospect on show this week.

Colorado’s Sefo Liufau led the Buffaloes to the Pac-12 championship game in 2016, but headed to the Senior Bowl with CBS viewing him as a seventh-round pick.

Reports from Mobile suggest their grade is correct, with RealGM’s Jeff Risdon writing that no player has done less to improve their stock than Liufau.

His apparent poor performance so far in practice is particularly disappointing, as the tape points to a number of reasons why Liufau should be receiving more attention and deserves to hear his name called earlier than the final round of the draft.

The first thing that should be assessed when looking at quarterbacks is arm strength. Do they have the arm to make all the throws? With Liufau the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Not only can Liufau make all the throws, but he can do so with accuracy on a consistent basis.

Deep throws are no problem for Liufau, who regularly demonstrates touch on his downfield attempts.

Here against Michigan, Liufau shows off his touch to drop a perfectly placed ball into the grasp of his receiver for a touchdown.

That same touch is on display later in the same game, connecting with receiver on a fade route in the corner of the endzone.

Equally as impressive as the touch Liufau possesses, is the consistency of his ball placement.

Liufau excels at putting the ball in the best place for his receivers to make a play on it, with one of his best throws this incompletion against Washington State.

It is a deep attempt over the middle that Liufau puts at the perfect height for his receiver to make a leaping catch, but a potential big gain does not materialise as the wideout lets the ball slip through his hands.

Short-to-intermediate throws rarely look difficult for Liufau, who does an excellent job of leading his receivers to allow them to make yards after the catch, as he does on his throw from the Michigan game.

Liufau’s accuracy also allows him to gun the ball into tight windows, with this seven-yard pass versus Washington State serving as an excellent example.

If the throw is a shade to the left or right then the one of the surrounding defenders would have had a chance at an interception, but Liufau’s attempt is an on target dart down the middle that only his receiver can make a play on.

With the arm and the accuracy he has at his disposal, Liufau can make sideline throws that appear beyond the realm of many quarterback prospects.

Here in the meeting with Washington State, Liufau lofts the ball over the head of a defender and on target to his receiver, who is even able to get both feet in bounds.

More striking though is this throw in the game with Arizona.

It is a far hash pass from the 33-yard-line to the eight-yard-line, yet Liufau delivers it on time and, while it is a slightly low throw, the receiver only has to make a minor adjustment and is able to stroll in for the score.

A true dual-threat quarterback, defenses have had to be aware of what Liufau can do with his legs.

Indeed, Liufau found the endzone eight times on the ground in his final season with Colorado, proving to be a tough runner to bring down and excelling on read-option plays.

Washington State learned about Liufau’s abilities as a rusher the hard way as he scored three touchdowns in their encounter, this one coming on a read-option the play after he had picked up a first down with his legs by taking on multiple defenders.

Able to throw accurately while on the move, Liufau is particularly tough to defend and can be a difficult man to bring down not just because of his size because of his elusiveness.

On many occasions, such as on this play in the Washington State game, Liufau looked as if he was about to be sacked only to evade the rush by dipping under the pass rusher. He does that here and has the awareness to find an open receiver for a first down.

His mobility also enables him to buy time and wait for receivers to come open, and on the below play against Michigan flashed his mobility, ability to go throw progressions and accuracy while on the move to hit his receiver on the sideline.

For all his positives, there are – however – some obvious flaws to Liufau’s game that give some understanding to why he is viewed as a late-round prospect.

Durability may be a concern, Liufau’s willingness to stand in the pocket saw him take a lot of hits and he spent much of the season battling a right ankle injury he suffered in the game against Michigan.

But the biggest thing NFL scouts are likely to be worried about is Lifau’s tendency to stare down throws.

Liufau’s tape flags up multiple instances of him keeping his eyes fixed on one target and not looking off the safety, something he almost paid the price for against Washington State, with him extremely fortunate not to see this throw picked off.

Displaying a tendency that many college quarterbacks are guilty of, Liufau will often get lazy with his mechanics and not step into throws, leading to inaccurate passes either below or behind the receiver.

He is guilty of the former on what should be a simple quick out versus Washington State, skipping the ball into the turf instead of making an easy completion.

Liufau will not be able to get away with such mistakes at the NFL level, and defenders in the pros will also salivate at the amount of time he often holds the ball for, leading to throws that come out too late or completely avoidable sacks.

Here Liufau misses out on a huge deep completion against Washington State, his hesitation going unpunished though as the ball is not picked off.

Michigan’s defense was able to get to Liufau because of his bad habit of holding onto the ball, Colorado somehow avoiding a fumble on this play where he completely fails to sense the rush.

That is not say Liufau cannot deal with pressure, though.

To the contrary, Liufau can produce heroics when under duress and delivered one of his best throws of the season at Arizona in such circumstances.

Lifau senses the pressure, rolls slightly to his left to buy time and uncorks a spectacular deep throw that goes for a touchdown.

Above all the other pros and cons, what stands out most when watching Liufau is his toughness, which he demonstrated on a big stage in the Michigan game.

He did so by not only attempting to play through his ankle injury but by unleashing this inch-perfect 70-yard bomb for a touchdown while effectively on one leg.

There are a large number of NFL quarterbacks who are unable to make this throw even when fully healthy, and this combination of grit, arm talent, accuracy and mobility is why Liufau deserves much more attention.

A strong week in Mobile would have done Liufau’s cause the power of good, but regardless of his Senior Bowl performance, he remains a quarterback who is worthy of much more buzz than he has received at this stage in the process.

Comments

comments