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The 5 O’Clock Club: Senior Bowl MVP Kyle Lauletta should be the Redskins next quarterback of the future

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

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Reese's Senior Bowl Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The Senior Bowl

I watched the Senior Bowl last week and after hearing so much hype about Darnold, Rosen and Allen, I was surprised to come away from the game impressed by two quarterbacks I’d never heard of before: Mike White and Kyle Lauletta.

These two guys went to non-power schools (Western Kentucky for White, and University of Richmonod for Lauletta), which means they were probably lightly recruited out of high school and probably didn’t get a lot of national attention during their college careers.

Mid-to-late round draft success at the QB position

If the last few years have taught us anything, it has probably shown that if you aren’t picking first or second in the draft, your chances of hitting on a great quarterback don’t change a lot between the third pick and the 193rd pick.

Don’t believe me?

  • Tyrod Taylor #180
  • Dak Prescott #135
  • Tom Brady #199
  • Russell Wilson #75
  • Nick Foles #88
  • Kirk Cousins #102
  • Derek Carr #36
  • Jimmy Garoppolo #62

The first 6 names on that list are starting quarterbacks in the NFL who were picked between the 3rd and 6th rounds of the draft.

Quarterbacking the Redskins

With Alex Smith now on the way to the Redskins, I still believe what I believed a month ago — the Redskins need to strengthen their defense. It’ll be harder now that Fuller is gone along with the team’s 3rd round draft pick, but it’s still a laudable goal.

I feel the team needs to add another Jonathan Allen-type defensive lineman in the draft, which means going DL in the first round.

I think the team needs to add an explosive running back, and the free agency pickings are mighty slim, so I’d love to see a new ball-carrier come to the Redskins from a deep running back class in the second round.

With the 3rd rounder gone, from the 4th to the 7th, the team needs to get the best players available, but there’s one position that I don’t want the team to ignore — a developmental quarterback.

The Redskins need a quarterback of the future. Colt McCoy isn’t that guy, and neither is Alex Smith. Smith is the bridge, McCoy is injury insurance. Now we need the guy who will relace McCoy as the backup in ‘19 and be ready to take the reins in 2020 or soon after.

Think Jimmy Garoppolo for a moment. He was drafted late in the second round and sat for three years behind Brady. Then, at the end of the ‘17 season he looked like a savior for the Niners.

The Skins should be drafting a young guy on Saturday — preferably in the 4th, 5th or 6th round. It needs to be a guy who expects to hold a clipboard for a while, but who has the tools to be a starting quarterback someday.

I’d feel great about White from Western Kentucky, but I don’t think he’s gonna be there when the Redskins pick in the 4th round.

But I think the Senior Bowl MVP, Kyle Lauletta may be there, and I think he may be perfect for the Redskins and Jay Gruden. Let’s start with a USA Today report on the Senior Bowl:

Lauletta capped the weeklong audition for NFL teams in strong fashion, thriving amid more heralded passers from the North team. That group included Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, a potential No. 1 overall draft pick who also had a huge third quarter.

During the Senior Bowl, when Lauletta threw for 198 yards and 3 TDs in half a game, Mike Mayock described him as a guy who wasn’t great at any one thing, but didn’t have any weaknesses. That’s the headline I’d write if I was a scout looking for a Jay Gruden quarterback. Jay is a conservative, don’t make a mistake kind of guy.

But Lauletta showed in the Senior Bowl that he could play with the big boys.

A bonus is that Lauletta is a local kid from the University of Richmond. The Redskins have traditionally done well with Virginia and Maryland players; guys like DeAngelo Hall, Morgan Moses, Vernon Davis and Kendall Fuller. In fact, having just traded away the immensely popular Virginia Tech cornerback, drafting a local kid this season would have a bit of PR value.

But that’s not the reason to draft him. Lauletta may not be a Day 1 NFL starter, but he ticks all the boxes as a guy who will be ready someday in the not-too-distant-future. In fact, CBS Sports is projecting Lauletta to have a successful NFL career, and compares him to Jimmy Garoppolo:

It’s not one of the names you know, not a Baker Mayfield or a Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. Instead, it’s a less-heralded prospect, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, who could be eyed as the “next Jimmy G”....

For starters, he has experience and has shown to be an accurate passer who minimizes mistakes. Lauletta threw 73 touchdown passes over four years (three as starter for Richmond) to just 35 interceptions. That’s not a perfect ratio, but he is playing at an FCS-level school. Extrapolate Brady’s stats over three years as a starter and he would have had 45 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Don’t take my word for it

I’m no scout, but I know how to find information from smart people online, so let me share some other people’s opinions with you.

Nicholas Martin, a writer from Behind the Steel Curtain, is a guy who can break down film very well, and he wrote a very lengthy article about Lauletta in October 2017. In my view, Behind the Steel Curtain may be the best and smartest SB Nation NFL site going. I strongly urge you to click the link and read the whole thing, and watch the multiple film clips included with the analysis if you’ve got 20 or 30 minutes to spare, but just in case, let me give you a couple of highlights from the article:

Kyle is a 22-year-old from Exton Pennsylvania. He played for Downingtown East High School and ended up accumulating 5,243 total yards and 64 total touchdowns in two seasons. Named a team captain there, he helped propel his team to a couple of Chesmont League titles, along with a 19-2 record.

Kyle comes from a football family. Kyle’s Dad, Joe, played quarterback for Navy in the 1980s. His father has had a big impact in what he’s taught him about being a leader.

Throughout his time as a starter, he has helped lead Richmond to the FCS playoffs both in his Sophomore year (2015, he red-shirted 2014) and Junior year. He’s been a team captain since his Junior year. Unfortunately, his Junior year ended abruptly, after he suffered a torn ACL vs William and Mary and he ended up missing the FCS playoffs.

Scouting Report

Positives

Lauletta is a quick-footed QB who can make things work from the pocket. His quick feet allow him to reset quickly and fire. He has good weight transfer, and his hips and upper body are usually in sync when throwing. His throwing motion is very efficient with little wasted movement.

Lauletta doesn’t drop his eyes when the bodies come flying at him, and he’s an accurate passer under pressure. Subtle footwork allows him to manipulate the pocket to elude rushers. Also, he can get outside the pocket and pick up yardage with his legs when he has to. He shows good touch and placement when throwing on the move.

Lauletta doesn’t need a perfect platform to showcase throwing velocity and accuracy. He’s got sufficient arm strength to test a secondary deep at approximately the 50-55 yard range, even when throwing from the far hash. His placement on intermediate routes gives his intended receiver the chance to maximize yards after the catch.

Lauletta also can throw long breaking outs from the far hash with decent velocity and great timing. The ball is often out well before the receiver has even broken off his route. He throws with great anticipation, often seeing the window well before his target breaks open. He works the middle well and sees underneath linebackers in coverage, often throwing over them to fit the ball to his target. He also does a good job using his eyes to freeze safeties and linebackers to create open throwing windows.

Lauletta’s pre-snap recognition is evident as he makes checks at the line of scrimmage and reads the defensive coverage. He works through multiple progressions and doesn’t stay riveted on one read. He’s very good selling play-action, dropping his shoulder and selling the run.

Negatives

While his arm strength is sufficient, he doesn’t fit every system. He’s best suited for a west coast timing-based offense. Because he plays in the FCS conference, that makes it harder to gauge whether he can fit his passes into tighter windows (but not saying he can’t). While he has no notable injury history, he has sustained an ACL injury. His deep-ball accuracy is inconsistent, as he generally tends to overthrow in breaking deep posts towards the middle of the field. His decision-making is generally solid but not perfect (need more film to confirm the root of this issue).

I can see coaches falling in love with his leadership and football intelligence. He has great nuance in his throwing ability and, if he continues to have a great season, he could get that invite [to the Senior Bowl].

Man, to me, that sounds like the quarterback job description that Jay Gruden would write for the guy he wants to run his offense. Smart, accurate, quick release, good feet, good eyes, doesn’t panic.

But the writer from the Steelers SBN site isn’t the only one to be impressed. Check out some of the other comments that Lauletta has inspired along the way.

Peter Thamel of Yahoo Sports:

Lauletta’s unique college experience has prepared him for nearly every possible scenario. He played for four different offensive coordinators, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards. He shined his final year, totaling 3,737 yards and 28 touchdown passes.

“I’ve seen every play in the NFL,” he said. “Looking at the playbook from the Texans and just being exposed to some NFL concepts, I’ve seen it all. There’s nothing you can throw at me that I haven’t seen before.”

The other thing that stands out about Lauletta is that he stuck around Richmond for his final season to play for first-year head coach Russ Huesman. While Huesman had run a more quarterback run-based system in his former job at Chattanooga, he adapted it to allow Lauletta to take more deep shots and throw the ball over the middle more.

“It would have been very easy for him to go be a grad transfer somewhere else at a bigger place,” Huesman said. “He stayed because of his teammates and the University of Richmond. That’s a loyal kid right there. A lot of people wouldn’t have done it.”

Sporting News had nothing but praise for Lauletta:

While Allen has been hailed as a potential No. 1 pick, an unheralded prospect stole the spotlight Saturday.

Lauletta showed a quick release, good accuracy and mobility inside the pocket. He draws comps to Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, and once you see him play it’s hard to argue. Lauletta has been projected as a third-to-fifth rounder on some boards.

Measurables

I’ve seen Lauletta listed at 6’3” and 215 pounds, though I read one article that suggested that he may not measure the full 75 inches when he reaches the combine. In any event, he’s got pretty good size for a quarterback, and we’ll have accurate measurements on him in about 3 weeks.

Mocking the Redskins draft on Hogs Haven

Our very own Mark Tyler just published a full 7-round mock draft — the first since the Alex Smith news broke — that I just love.

Look at what he’s done in the 5th round:

RD 1: TRADE - The Redskins trade the 13th overall pick in round one to the Buffalo Bills in return for picks 21 and 22 overall (Buffalo moves up to select a quarterback with pick 13).

- Pick 21: Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama - For the second straight year, the Redskins take an Alabama defensive tackle in the first round. Payne’s strength is his stout play against the run - an area the Redskins struggled last season.

- Pick 22: James Washington WR Oklahoma St. - Washington won the Biletnikoff Award as college footballs top receiver for 2017, after catching 74 passes for 1549 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6’0” 205 pounds with 4.4 speed, Washington will remind many in D.C. of a young Pierre Garcon with his toughness and superb run-after-catch ability.

RD 2: Ronald Jones II RB USC - Jones is an absolute lightning bolt at running back, and will give Jay Gruden and Alex Smith some security and big-play ability in the backfield. He could stand to add 10 pounds, and has the frame to carry it without losing any speed. Seeing how the Chiefs used Kareem Hunt, I can only imagine how Gruden and Smith will use Jones.

RD 4: Jalen Davis CB Utah St. - Davis is known for his cat-like quickness and his ability to make plays on the football. He’ll have a chance to earn his keep as a slot corner in the NFL. I think his draft stock is on the rise.

RD 5: Kyle Louletta QB Richmond - Louletta doesn’t have the strongest arm, and he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he throws with nice touch and anticipation, and can benefit greatly learning for a few years behind Alex Smith.

Lauletta summary

This is a kid who has NFL skills, but should also have the patience to marinate for a year or two.

This is the guy who Mike Mayock says has no weaknesses.

This is a guy that the Steel Curtain targeted back in October as a replacement for Ben Rothlisberger.

This is a guy that CBS Sports called ‘the next Jimmy Garoppolo’.

This is the MVP of the Senior Bowl.

This is the guy that Mark Tyler thinks the Redskins should pick on Saturday of the draft.

This is the guy who could be the Redskins next quarterback of the future.

Poll

When should the Redskins draft another quarterback?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    this year
    (426 votes)
  • 18%
    2019
    (102 votes)
  • 2%
    2020
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    2021
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    2022 or later
    (4 votes)
549 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Given the Redskins current QB situation, rate Kyle Lauletta as a Redskins draft target in 2018

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    A
    (200 votes)
  • 42%
    B
    (218 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (69 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (8 votes)
510 votes total Vote Now