#1 best-selling author Mark Schofield reveals his list of the top quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. Schofield, who wrote 17 Drives – a chronicle of the 2015 college football season – has ranked Jake Coker as his 20th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
It was a long journey for Jake Coker – from Florida State as a recruit to Tuscaloosa as a National Champion – but the quarterback made the most of his one year as a starter. Coker was in line to start for the Seminoles when he was beaten out by a freshman – Jameis Winston. After transferring to Alabama and sitting out 2013, he expected to take over the reins for Nick Saban’s offense – before losing the battle in camp to Blake Sims. Even when he won the job this season, he was benched early in the year and played in a timeshare in the Crimson Tide’s only loss of the season. After that game, Coker solidified his spot on the roster and helped steer Alabama to their playoff berth.
Coker’s prototypical size for the position is paired with a decent arm that has the ability to deliver the football to all levels of the field. Under Lane Kiffin he was tasked with making multiple progression reads on most plays and operated in a somewhat complex offensive system. He excelled running a number of different concepts under Kiffin, including the mesh concept, the spot concept and various vertical looks based off bubble screen designs, while displaying a solid decision making process when implementing these schemes. Coker exhibits proper footwork in the pocket, and is experienced operating under center, out of the pistol and in shotgun formations. He is also athletic enough to extend plays with his feet.
Coker was not tasked with making many anticipation throws, and when the situation called for them, he was often late to pull the trigger. While he has the arm strength to make throws to every level of the field, accuracy is a concern. Throws, particularly deep out routes and intermediate routes, could be improved with more properly placed balls. Coker does tend to bird dog routes at times, locking onto his first or second read and never looking the coverage away from his intended target. While his decision making process is generally sound, he needs to speed up the rate at which he processes information and gets the football out of his hand if he wants to be permanent fixture on an NFL roster.
With his prototypical size and above-average arm strength, Coker is best suited for a Coryell / Arians deeper passing scheme that looks to push the ball vertically down the field. Some of his better throws during the 2015 season came on vertical shots down the field, including a gorgeous strike to Calvin Ridley in a driving rainstorm against Georgia. This would also be best suited for his decision-making and processing abilities.
(Editor’s Note: Each quarterback profile will contain a breakdown of one play that presents a best case scenario for his transition to the NFL)
As previously indicated, the Alabama offensive design did not require Coker to make many anticipation throws, and his tape does not contain a lot of situations where he threw a wide receiver open. But on one play against Clemson in the National Championship Game, with the game on the line, Coker showed both of these abilities:
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Clemson brings an interior blitz on this play, but the quarterback doesn’t display fear for even a second. With pressure in the pocket preventing him from stepping into this throw, he delivers a well-placed ball deep down the sideline to Ridley. His target is well-covered at the time Coker decides to throw, but the QB does a good job of leading him down the field and away from coverage, displaying the ability to anticipate a throwing window, throw his receiver open, and a bit of fearlessness to boot.
7th Round to PUDFA
One- to Three-Year Projection
Despite leading Alabama to a national title, Coker remains a developmental project at the next level. While he possesses the traits evaluators look for, his accuracy and decision making process need improvement. With the news that he played the entire season with a broken toe on his right foot, perhaps being healthy for his entire rookie season will give him a boost as he enters the league. Ideally, Coker remains on a roster as the third-string quarterback as a rookie, and grows into a backup role after a year or two in the league. In the right situation and with a patient coaching staff, Coker can develop into a long-term backup in the NFL.