The NFL Draft Scouting Combine is an entertaining enigma. For the savants of the coaching world, important conclusions on a player’s draft stock are somehow drawn from padless drills, track and field exercises, cattle auction-like weigh-ins and medical examinations more in-depth than at Area 51.
Stop and realize Ohio State’s Nick Bosa sat out half of Ohio State’s season and passed on a shot at an appearance in the national title game for this.
For former West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, each of the throws he makes this weekend at the Combine may be as important for his draft stock as his legendary touchdown heave to Gary Jennings at Texas.
If you take any credence from what the national “analysts” are floating out there in their latest mock drafts, then Grier is becoming an afterthought in this year’s quarterback class. It’s puzzling. These same analysts, who, this time last year, were speculating where Grier was in the pecking order with the likes of eventual first rounders Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson, are now dismissing him behind the likes of Daniel Jones and Ryan Finley.
So, what are they thinking? How has he fallen in what was considered a weaker quarterback class?
This is a guy who, according to Pro Football Focus, finished the season fourth in the country in yards per attempt (9.7) and ninth in the country in touchdowns and first downs (171). Grier received PFF’s second-highest passing grade (91.9) and third-highest grade overall (91.9) following his 3,864 yard, 37 touchdown senior season. When blitzed, PFF found that Grier had a 68.5 completion percentage on 124 attempts for 1,303 yards. The kicker—his touchdown to interception ratio was 22-0. Lastly, according to All Pro Analytics, Grier had two of the top five most impressive games on film among the class of 2019 quarterback prospects (number-two: @ Texas and number-four: vs. Oklahoma).
Clearly, he’s got the numbers and the game tape. Plus, one should fairly factor in that Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray participated in two more games than Grier this season, when comparing stats. So is it his physical measurables?
At 6’2”, height is a moot point against Grier, especially considering 5’10” Murray is being fantasized as a potential number-one overall selection. At 220 pounds, Grier’s the same weight as Geno Smith when Smith entered the draft, and there weren’t any concerns about him pre-draft in that category. Fans are probably quick to forget Grier was touted as a “dual-threat” gunslinger when he came to West Virginia from Florida. Remember that hurdle against Virginia Tech?
Grier’s undoubtedly beefed up from his junior to senior year (think Jon Snow in season seven of Game of Thrones compared to season one), but there’s reason to believe he still has wheels and will have a similar 40 time as Smith. He didn’t scramble this year because, as fans witnessed in 2017, West Virginia’s season went down the tubes once Grier got hurt. The coaching staff was rather conservative with Grier running the ball this year.
The Grier doubters of the world will tell you the major knock against Grier is his arm strength. That’s ironic, considering he recorded the fastest ball velocity (66.1 mph) at the Senior Bowl. Let’s talk about that Senior Bowl, shall we? It’s been chronicled that Grier struggled with his accuracy at the Senior Bowl, and he dropped a peg on the totem pole to Drew Lock because of it.
Exhibit A: Any time someone wants to criticize Will Grier’s arm strength, show them this clip vs. Oklahoma State
It may be an excuse, but could rapport with new receivers have had anything to do with it? His deep balls to his main man David Sills looked pretty spot on. Could his ankle still have been a bit dinged up? Draw what you want from those practices. Note that a shotgun, spread system quarterback was praised for his footwork under center too.
Analysts need to put the Florida situation to bed, as well. Grier’s a new man, who stayed out of “trouble” at WVU. If a failed PED test from three years ago is viewed under the microscope and judged in the same light as a criminal offense, then the system is broken beyond repair and everyone should be considered to have some sort of “off-the-field” issues. Plus, Patrick Mahomes and Mayfield debunked the myth about Big 12 quarterbacks in the NFL this year.
If Grier was to completely botch his performance at the Combine, then there is cause for concern that the Grier of Mobile and Indianapolis is not the same Grier of Morgantown.
There’s reason to believe there are six NFL teams that are in need of a quarterback and a few others that would like to draft their quarterback of the future in April and have him wait in the wings this upcoming season.
Grier will impress those teams this weekend.