#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 Nate Sudfeld as his 19th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
While quarterbacks such as Cardale Jones, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg dominated Big Ten headlines the past few seasons, Nate Sudfeld from Indiana University quietly put up very solid numbers for the Hoosiers. After seeing limited snaps as a freshman, Sudfeld split time with Tre Roberson and finished the season with more than 2,000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, with only nine interceptions. After Roberson transferred to Illinois State, Sudfeld entered his junior season solidified under center. After a quick start he suffered a season-ending left shoulder injury in October. Sudfeld returned for his senior campaign and enjoyed his best year for the Hoosiers, completing 60% of his passes for 3,573 yards and 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, leading Indiana to a 6-6 record and a berth in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Sudfeld has the ideal size and arm strength for the position. At the scouting combine he measured 6’ 6” and 234 pounds with 9 and ⅞” hands. He has the arm strength to make throws to every level of the field, and can challenge narrow throwing windows at the intermediate level. Sudfeld also displays the ability to stretch the football from sideline to sideline, and the arm strength to throw the deep out from one hash mark to the other sideline. He flashes good to great anticipation on throws to the sideline and on deeper curl patterns, timing up his footwork and decisions with the breaks by the receiver. At times he moves well in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield and scanning the secondary for a target.
Sudfeld struggles with accuracy on throws to each level of the field. Even some of his more impressive plays were throws that could have been put in a better spot for the receiver. He also tends to stare down his first target, refusing to go through progressions and forcing throws into covered targets. At times he escapes the pocket without a reason, taking plays off structure and putting the offense into a worse situation, from which a play cannot improve. He needs to see an open receiver to pull the trigger, lacks the ability to consistently throw receivers open. Needs to improve his decision-making and play-speed as he transitions to the NFL.
Because of his arm strength and ability to drive the football down the field, Sudfeld fits best in a Coryell / Arians system where he can push the football vertically. This design would also comport best with his decision-making deficiencies.
Facing a 3rd and 10 early in the second quarter against Michigan State, Sudfeld drops to throw and immediately faces pressure in the pocket. In other situations, he would try to escape out the back door, attempting to angle around the defensive end and putting himself in a more precarious position. But here Sudfeld displays the ability to climb the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and find a target:
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Sudfeld deftly avoids the interior pressure, but never drops his eyes or feels the rush. Instead he keeps his field of vision trained downfield and finds a target late in the play beyond the first-down marker. He delivers a strong throw, allowing Indiana to keep the chains moving.
7th Round – UDFA
One- to Three-Year Projection
Sudfeld is a developmental NFL project. Because of his prototypical size and arm strength, he is more than likely to be in an NFL camp next season. If given the chance to sit and learn for a season or two, he could develop into a long-term 3rd or 2nd string quarterback in the league. In the most ideal of situations, he could be a future starter if everything breaks right for him.