#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 Kevin Hogan as his 10th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
One of the more experienced signal callers in this class is Stanford University’s Kevin Hogan. The redshirt senior saw measurable playing time during his redshirt freshman year, and earned the team’s starting job the following year. In his first year as a starter, he guided the Cardinal to an 11-2 record, including a win in the Pac-12 Championship Game over Arizona State, and a Rose Bowl berth. Hogan completed 61% of his passes for 2,630 yards and 20 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions that year.
As a junior, the right-handed QB improved slightly on his numbers from the previous campaign. Hogan completed 66% of his throws for 2,792 yards, with 19 TDs and 8 INTs. The Cardinal took a step back in the conference, notching only eight wins, although they ended the season on a high note with a blowout victory over Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl. Hogan threw for two touchdowns in that contest and was named the MVP of the game.
Hogan returned to Palo Alto for his senior year with high expectations both for his personal performance and for the performance of his team; however, the season did not get off to the ideal beginning, with the Cardinal dropping their season-opener on the road against Northwestern, a game in which Hogan showed some curious decisions with the football . But in the wake of the loss, the team rattled off an impressive eight-game winning streak, with victories over USC, Arizona, and UCLA. A loss to Oregon and Vernon Adams ended any outside shot at a National Championship run, but the Cardinal rebounded with a victory over the Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl. For his part, Hogan experienced his best season as a QB, completing 68% of his passes for 2,867 yards and 27 touchdowns, with only 8 INTs.
Dubbed the “ugly duckling” of this quarterback class by Matt Waldman, Hogan is a quarterback whose flaws might leave some scouts and evaluators questioning his ability at first glance. But when you dig past those flaws (which we will get to) there is potential for a NFL player. Due to his experience, Hogan is poised in the pocket on most plays, and can use his above-average athletic ability to slide and move in the pocket to find space to make a throw. Rarely does pressure, whether organic or via a blitz, rattle him or force a poor decision. He might be at his best against the blitz, when he still demonstrates patience to work progressions and find the open receiver in a vulnerable secondary. Even when the defense brings pressure, he’ll still do the little things like executing a pump fake to get the secondary on tilt, as he does here against California:
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Hogan delivers a strong, accurate pass to Devon Cajuste. The wide receiver catches the pass in stride and immediately cuts upfield, but is quickly tackled. However, this great read and throw picks up nine yards, putting Stanford in position for 3rd and two. While Christian McCaffery would be stopped for a short gain on the next play, the decision and execution from Hogan on 2nd down kept the playbook wide open for offensive coordinator… excuse me, The Andrew Luck* Director of Offense, Mike Bloomgren.
We don’t know for certain if the pump fake was by design, or something Hogan incorporated during the flow of the play. But, despite the blitz, Hogan is calm and confident enough to pump the football to the left side, before working back to the trips side of the field, reading his progressions. He does not speed up ‒ rather, he takes a extra few moments to pump fake the deep route. With both linebackers blitzing, the underneath area of the field is now wide open for the completion.
Hogan is also adept at working through progressions reads, whether against the blitz as previously demonstrated or when operating in a clean pocket. He is also well-versed in the three- and five-step drop game, and his footwork in the pocket tends to mesh well with the route constructions. He also can deliver throws on time and with a bit of anticipation, something he will be asked to do on a regular basis in the NFL. He is aggressive enough to challenge narrow throwing windows, whether over the middle or in the vertical game. He also displays a high level of understanding of route concepts and coverages, and can deviate from structure and adjust to situations on the fly in response to external stimuli. He is generally accurate with the football, although at times his footwork can lead to misfires, which we will address shortly.
At the outset, Hogan has enough of an arm to operate in the NFL, but there is a catch. His mechanics as a passer are flawed: Not at the Tim Tebow level, but enough that it merits a closer look. Hogan is adept at using his left shoulder and arm to generate sufficient torque to increase velocity on his throws, but two issues persist: First, his lower body is inconsistent. There are times when he throws with too wide a base, whether as a result from sloppy footwork at the end of a drop or using too large of a lead step. This tends to impact his accuracy. Second, there is a long loop to his delivery:
The issue here is that it slows down the release point and timing of plays. This has generally not been an issue at the collegiate level, but it raises two questions for me as he advances to the NFL: First, will the elongated delivery make it more difficult for Hogan to challenge the smaller windows he will see on Sundays? Second, if he tries to shorten the delivery, will this impact his current level of velocity to a point where any advantage in speeding up the release will be negated by less zip? How these questions are answered might ultimately tell the tale of Hogan’s NFL career.
Finally, Hogan makes some throwing decisions at times that leave you scratching your head, whether it’s in terms of forcing a throw, or failing to pull the trigger. One of his more curious no-throw decisions is referenced in this article: Kevin Hogan, Carson Wentz and the No-Throw Decision.
This is a bit of a difficult determination at this point in Hogan’s career, given the mechanical flaws in his game which may – or may not – be addressed during his transition. At this time and with the tape available, he fits best in an Erhardt-Perkins scheme, where he can operate in the short- and intermediate-range and challenge those areas of the field. Projecting him to a Coryell system might make sense for him if his mechanics are refined and he doesn’t lose too much velocity that he cannot challenge secondaries deep. Or if the arm strength is impacted with a switch to a more compact throwing motion, he might fit best in a West Coast scheme.
Given the idea of him possibly operating in an Erhardt-Perkins scheme, let’s take a look at running one of that offense’s concepts, the Tosser Concept, on this play against California:
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Stanford opens their game against the Golden Bears with Hogan in the shotgun and 11 personnel aligned with slot formation to the left and a pro look to the right. The defense responds with their 4-2-5 nickel, and they drop one of the linebackers down on the line of scrimmage over the tight end. The Cardinal run a RPO play here, with Hogan taking the snap, putting the football in the belly of his running back, and reading the defense. He can either hand the ball off, or throw to the slot side of the field where he has the dual slant routes that make up the Tosser Concept. Hogan does a great job of reading the middle linebacker, who flies toward the run. Seeing his, the QB makes the immediate – and correct – decision to pull the ball and throw the inside slant route. With the middle of the field open, Hogan leads his WR perfectly on the slant for a very good gain on first down.
By comparison, here’s Tom Brady running the Tosser concept:
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Brady manipulates the linebacker not via a RPO design, but by looking in the opposite direction, trusting Julian Edelman (#11) to be at the spot where the ball is to be thrown. As the QB takes the snap he swivels his head outside to his left, toward Danny Amendola (#80) and Brandon LaFell (#19). Seeing this the MLB cuts to his right ‒ away from Edelman.
As the QB hits the final step of his drop, he pulls his eyes off Amendola, pivots, and turns back to the right, finding Edelman on the slant route. The LB quickly recognizes this and attempts to cut back, but the window has been opened. The pass is placed perfectly, and the receiver does not break stride as he cuts upfield past the first down marker.
This is by no means a one-to-one comparison between Hogan and Brady, but an example of how the Stanford QB might operate in a similar offensive structure and design.
Late 3rd Round – Early 4th Round
One- to Three-Year Projection
Given the scheme fit variance, Hogan’s NFL path is muddier than some of the others in this class. In all likelihood, he is a backup for the first year or two in the league, and his mechanics are either refined, or accepted and incorporated into his future plans with his first organization. If his first organization is patient and works him into a system that meshes well with his eventual NFL mechanics, he can challenge for a starting job in the third year of his career, and will likely be a long-term NFL committee starter-type. However, if he is forced into a situation that does not fit well with his skill-set, he might see his NFL ceiling be that of a long-term backup.