Redskins Need a Quarterback...A Look at Arizona's Nick Foles

With it being so close to Christmas, I've been feeling really lazy. But I felt guilty not doing anything this week so I thought I would look at Arizona quarterback prospect, Nick Foles. I'll say now I'm not going to bother with any pictures for this post, just a general overview of what I saw on film in bullet point form.

Now that I've lost half of you for not having any pictures, lets look at Foles up-side.

  • Foles stands at 6'5", 240 pounds. Ideal for a traditional pocket passing quarterback.
  • Pretty accurate passer. This season he's thrown 69.1% completion percentage. This is helped by his offense being made up of a lot of short high completion rate throws, but I think his accuracy is fine in general.
  • Displays a good play fake and pump fake ability. Sells both well and gets defenders to bite on them, buying time and space for his receivers.
  • A lot of sites project him to run a 4.92 40 yard dash. But his doesn't reflect his true mobility. He can run bootlegs and roll-outs effectively.
  • He knows exactly when to step up into the pocket to avoid the outside rush, and when to get out of the pocket altogether.
  • He can throw well on the run.
  • Has shown that he can look of a safety, but fails to do so on a consistent basis.
  • Has a quick release for his height. A lot of 6'5" quarterbacks get a bad habit of holding the ball low forcing them to wind up as they begin the throwing motion. Foles holds it high and has a relatively quick delivery.

Then we have Foles downside/things he needs to improve.

  • He plays in a pistol offense, but the offense is built around a lot of short simple throws. A high percentage of his throws are slants, screens, throws to the flats and quick in/outs. Doesn't mean he can't do the other throws but these aren't tough for a quarterback to do and don't impress scouts (Blaine Gabbart had a similar offense -not pistol but short passing game, didn't show us anything special).
  • Arm strength is a huge question. Arm strength can be one of the most over-valued traits of a quarterback, but there is such a thing as an 'NFL arm'. There are big doubts as to whether Foles has the ability to make all the NFL throws (such as the 40 yard corner throw to the opposite hash mark - among the hardest throws in the NFL)
  • His deep throws (and worryingly some of his intermediate throws) have a tendency to hang in the air, giving defenders time to locate the ball and make a play on it. It can also disrupt the timing between a quarterback and his receiver. If the ball hangs in the air, the receiver will have to slow down or even stop and come back to get the ball.
  • His arm strength problems appear to come from his footwork, or lack there of. When he has time in the pocket to step into his throws, he delivers them with good zip and velocity which leads me to believe his arm strength can be improved with a few years of good coaching. But a lot of his problems come when he doesn't have a perfectly clean pocket. while he does a good job of avoiding pressure, he fails to reset his feet properly. This can lead to all sorts of problems, all of which I've seen at one point or another on film. These can be over-striding in his throwing stride which causes the ball to sail over the head of receivers (Jake Locker suffered from this problem in college) or the reverse where his feet get too close and he throws it into the ground (like we saw with Donovan McNabb).
  • His release is slightly odd. It's a lot lower than it should be, as you can sort of make out in the picture above. His elbow drops meaning the ball comes out pretty low (and with less zip behind it). Luckily he's 6'5", which means he gets away with it and rarely has any passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
  • Has a slight tendency to throw with just his arm when throwing to his right or across the middle. This may sound odd, but to make an accurate throw your whole body goes into the throw. He throws better to his left because he's forced to open his chest, turn his hips which gives his arm a built up momentum to get power behind the throw. When he throws to his right in particular, he doesn't have to open his chest or turn his hips, so his arm loses power. Again, this is something that could be fixed with a few years of good coaching, but is a bad habit to get into.

So those are my notes on Foles. I may revisit this closer to the draft and add pictures. I ultimately think he'll be a second to fourth round pick (it's too early at this point to pin him to one round, having not looked at all the other prospects). Is he a quarterback to catch Shanahan's eye? I'm not too sure. On the plus side he excels at selling play-action, fairly accurate on the run and is ideal size. But I feel that his mechanics need at least 2 years of solid coaching to get him ready for the NFL. It remains to be seen just how much he can improve his arm strength and Shanahan's offense is built on the deep shot to force safeties back and open up the run game. I'm not sure Shanahan is going to take a guy that needs a lot of work when he could well be on the hot seat next year. But what do you think?

I hope you all enjoyed a little bit of a change up from my usual type of post. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all.

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