For 2016 NFL Draft prospects, the season has just begun. The East-West Shrine Game had evaluators anxious to see the talent on display. Ted Nguyen saw former Oregon Ducks’ quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. dominate the competition.
When thinking about Vernon Adams Jr., the first thing that comes to mind is “playmaker.” Adams more than proved that label is legit in the 2016 East-West Shrine Game. Adams finished the day 6-9 with 191 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive considering that most quarterbacks struggle in this game because of unfamiliar teammates, and playbook. Adams displayed a quick release, the ability to manipulate a defense, and his trademark aggression.
On his first touchdown, the offense runs a smash concept with an underneath out route and a corner route over the top. The out route opens up as the corner drops back deep, and this is where most quarterbacks would go with the ball:
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But Adams isn’t most quarterbacks. In Ben Roethlisberger-like fashion, he pump fakes to the underneath route and throws a perfect ball to the back of the end zone for the West’s first touchdown of the game.
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Adams’s first progression is the seam on his left, but the underneath defenders collide, taking it away. Once Adams sees this, he should move along to the opposite seam. However, he locks on to the left seam while climbing the pocket. Cutting down on these mental errors and staying disciplined with his progressions will be crucial if Adams is to succeed in the NFL. Luckily, his offensive line buys him extra time and entices enough of the defense to allow his receiver to break open. Adams sees this and uses his lightning-quick release to hit his receiver in stride for a 93-yard touchdown.
Adams’s final touchdown of the day was his most impressive, as he showed the ability to manipulate coverage with his eyes. The play call is a tosser concept: double slants to the right with a swing underneath, as well as a rub concept to the left. This play is a half-field read, meaning he will pick one side to read before the snap:
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He has a favorable matchup to the double slant side because the running back draws a linebacker out to the flats, leaving the wide receivers one-on-one with no help to the inside.. To keep the free safety from providing inside help however, Adams looks quickly to the left after the snap. Then, he shifts to the right and throws a laser to the deep slant. Tom Brady showed the same type of eye manipulation to great success on a similar concept in the AFC divisional playoffs, so this ability could bodes well for Adams.
Maximum Vernon Potential
Adams showed that he is a more polished passer than some thought, while continuing to display the intangibles that everyone knew he had. If he can continue to prove that he has the mental capacity and discipline that he’ll need to succeed, he could be drafted in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Follow Ted on Twitter@RaidersAnalysis
Ted Nguyen is a former player and coach who has written about the Raiders run/pass packages, the Patriots use of formations to get favorable matchups, and the spread passing game.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.