#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 Brandon Doughty as his 16th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
A sixth-year senior who put up prolific numbers for the Hilltoppers, Brandon Doughty battled through multiple knee injuries to finish his career under Jeff Brohm on a very high note. The quarterback improved on already gaudy 2014 numbers by completing 72% of his throws for 5,055 yards and 48 touchdowns, with only nine interceptions. These statistics translated to a very strong campaign for the Hilltoppers, who won Conference USA with an unblemished conference schedule and a victory against Southern Mississippi in the conference title game, before defeating South Florida in the Miami Beach Bowl. Their only losses came on the road to Indiana (a three-point loss) and on the road to LSU (a 28-point loss in a monsoon).
Doughty is a very accurate passer, who can put the football where it needs to be on a number of throws and to all levels of the field. He has the ability to work through progressions and move his eyes from each side of the field as he works through his options. Doughty is a quarterback who plays without fear, whether it comes to standing in the pocket and taking a hit, or when he needs to challenge smaller throwing windows down the field or over the middle. He can throw the vertical ball well, displaying very good touch on his passes and the ability to drop throws down into the arms of his target and over defenders in coverage.
Doughty also displays decent footwork in the pocket, and has experience working from under center as well as in the shotgun or pistol formations. He is a very aware quarterback who can quickly identify the blitz and then get the football out to a hot read. He shows the ability to manipulate defenders at times, freezing a safety in the middle of the field before attacking the sidelines.
Doughty’s medical history will raise a number of red flags for many teams. He suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during his freshman season that sidelined him for two years, and will see him enter the league at the age of 25 – old by NFL standards. He is not an overly athletic quarterback, and while he can keep plays alive with his feet, he lacks the ability to change the game or a situation by tucking the football and making plays on the ground. Doughty’s arm strength is average at best, and he will likely face difficulty challenging deeper throwing windows in the NFL when the game speeds up around him. While he can work through progressions, he would be wise to speed up this process, as he often lingers on an option too long and throws the timing and structure off of plays.
With his aggressive nature and ability to challenge short– and intermediate-throwing windows, as well as his accuracy, Doughty projects best to an Erhardt-Perkins system similar to what Tom Brady runs in New England. This will allow him to attack those areas of the field which best suit his arm talent and accuracy, while not forcing him to speed up his decision-making too much as would be required in a more West Coast-based system.
On this play against Louisiana Tech, Doughty displays both the ability to read a coverage and freeze a safety in the middle of the field, before showing great touch and accuracy on a deep vertical route, all while working a full-field progression read. Western Kentucky has 20 offensive personnel on the field, with Doughty in the shotgun, an inverted slot on the right and both running backs in the backfield. The Bulldogs have their 4-2-5 package in the game, with a safety down in a linebacker’s alignment, showing Cover 1 in the secondary. Here is what the Hilltoppers run on this play: On the backside they use a quick curl route, while they have dual underneath crossing routes from the slot WR and the fullback. To the outside, they get a deeper curl route from the outside WR, while running back Leon Allen turns upfield on a vertical route along the sideline.
As the play begins, Doughty opens up and shoots his eyes to the left at the backside curl route, likely to freeze the free safety in the middle of the field. He then checks the underneath crossing routes – and nearly pulls the trigger. You can see him start the throwing motion and then reset. Then, after checking the deeper curl route, he spots his fourth (or fifth) read: Allen:
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Now that Doughty has spotted a target, he needs to execute the pass. His throw is perfect, just over the diving attempt of the LB in man coverage, to the outside shoulder of the RB.
From this view, we can watch the QB’s helmet, and eyes, as he scans the field for an open receiver:
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Notice how he first is staring at free safety Xavier Woods (#7) in the middle of the field, to hold the defender in place. Doughty then comes off that player to the underneath crossing routes, then to the curl, and finally to Allen on the outside, where he executes a perfectly placed throw.
Late 6th – 7th Round
One- to Three-Year Projections
Entering the NFL as a 25-year-old rookie is not an ideal situation for Doughty, or any young QB. This is when most quarterbacks start to enter their prime in the league, not just enter the league in general. When you add in the other weaknesses to his game, such as the arm strength, Doughty is likely a career backup. But his ability to work within a system and to work through progression reads translates well to the NFL game, so if he lands in the right spot he could be a player who lasts in the league for a while.