#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 Jeff Driskel as his 12th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
Jeff Driskel was regarded as the top pro-style quarterback in his college recruiting class, and was the Gatorade Florida Player of the Year as a high school senior in 2010. With a number of schools recruiting him, he stayed close to home and enrolled at the University of Florida, and won the team’s starting QB spot as a sophomore. During his first year as a starter, he led the Gators to a 11-2 record and a spot in the Sugar Bowl, and he put up solid numbers during the campaign, completing 64% of his passes for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only five interceptions.
His junior season was cut short when he broke his right fibula early in a game against Tennessee. He returned to the Gators for his 2014 season, but lost the starting job midway through the year to Treon Harris. After being granted his release from Florida, Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech for his final year of eligibility. Now in Conference USA, he put up very impressive numbers for the Bulldogs, completing 62% of his passes for 4,033 yards and 27 touchdowns, with eight interceptions. He led Louisiana Tech to nine victories, including a bowl win over Arkansas State.
Driskel is a very athletic quarterback who was impressive at the 2016 Scouting Combine, posting a 4.58 40-yard dash. He possesses the arm strength to make throws in the short- and intermediate-range with velocity, and can push the football vertically. On deeper throws Driskel has the ability to add touch and place the football on the appropriate shoulder for the situation. He shows good timing on his drops and his footwork often synced well with route concepts, and he has the ability to make timing throws, anticipating the break while throwing his receivers open. The QB is not afraid to challenge smaller throwing windows, particularly the honey hole up the sideline against Cover 2.
When watching Driskel, one area that stands out is his ability to remain calm in the pocket against the blitz. It is rare that designed pressure frustrates him, and against most blitzes he is able to make a quick decision with the football. When facing pressure, Driskel is able to use his athleticism, particularly his quick feet and ability to change direction, to evade pressure and extend the play.
Even though Driskel does a good job of maintaining aggression in the passing game, he does take what the defense gives him on many occasions. He will gladly check the ball down when the coverage and / or situation dicate that it is the smarter course of action, and will live to fight another down. Even though he worked primarily from the shotgun last season, he displayed solid to above-average footwork in the three-step drop game.
Inconsistency is the biggest weakness that comes to mind watching Driskel. He can be extremely accurate with throws to every level of the field at times, but will go through inconsistent stretches where passes are well off-target. Another area of inconsistency is in his decision-making process. At times (particularly against the blitz) Driskel is extremely quick to evaluate the situation and make the right decision with the football. At other times he is too slow to pull the trigger on throws, waiting to see a receiver come open or waiting to confirm the coverage in his mind. This leads to plays losing their structure and their precision timing.
Driskel tends to stare down receivers, and this can lead to some disastrous or near-disastrous situations. This can even happen on shorter routes or bubble screens, and when you add in some occasional slower decisions, the defense can capitalize with a big play or a turnover. In addition, there are times when Driskel is quick to give up on route concepts and does not give a route the time to break open. His ability to work through progressions remains a bit of a work in progress.
The right scheme fit is a tough nut to crack with Driskel, but given his ability to stay aggressive in the vertical game, and how he is adept at pushing the ball vertically and/or putting good touch on deeper throws, a Coryell / Arians structure would best suit his game.
This touchdown throw against Mississippi State is a prime example of his aggression in the vertical game, and the willingness to challenge the defense down the field:
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Driskel does a solid job of looking the safety toward the middle of the field, before peeling his eyes toward the sideline. He also drops in a very accurate throw using the right amount of touch on the pass.
One- to Three-Year Projection
Driskel has many tools that professional scouts covet when evaluating the position. He possesses the big arm to make every throw required of him in the NFL and challenges the defense along the sidelines and deep down the field. Plus, he has an aggressive nature and is not shy to try and stick the football into some smaller windows.
Inconsistency is his biggest hurdle during the developmental process, both in terms of accuracy and his decision-making. Likely, he sticks as a third-string QB for a season or two and is given a chance to iron out these two areas of his playing style. Then he would likely contend for a second-string spot in his second or third season in the NFL, and in the best case earns a starting spot in the league around his fourth season. If everything breaks right he has the potential to be a starter in this league.