Exploring the film from Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke yields a ton of positive analysis and a lot to like about the Hurricane signal-caller as well as the 2023 NFL Draft class as a whole. A candidate to rewrite the ACC record books when it’s all said and done, Van Dyke is an interesting case study of raw talent on a college football field versus enticing intangibles that may or may not correlate to an NFL field.
NFL Draft Film Analysis: 2023 QB Prospect Tyler Van Dyke
First things first, Van Dyke is absolutely a dominant college football quarterback. He threw for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns against just six interceptions in his first season’s worth of action for the Hurricanes. Despite just nine starts (and 10 total appearances), Van Dyke made Miami a scary opponent for ACC defenses a season ago.
He’s entrenched as the starter entering 2022 and a viable candidate to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. The redshirt sophomore has immense potential as a college football quarterback and joined the likes of Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston for most 300-yard, 3-touchdown games in one season as he’s riding a six-game streak of accomplishing such a feat.
However, it wasn’t all glitz and glam for the former Suffield Academy standout quarterback. Van Dyke didn’t enter the year as the starter and didn’t earn the right to be the team’s leader until beating out highly-touted recruit Jake Garcia following the Central Connecticut State game in Week 4. More importantly, watching every one of Van Dyke’s throws from a season ago was an eye-opening experience. Mainly good, but sometimes wanting more.
No level of the field is a challenge for Van Dyke
The first thing that jumps out for Van Dyke is his ability to hit every level of the field. Charting all of Van Dyke’s throws yielded even more eye-popping moments than just simply looking at his box-score numbers. My very own proprietary Noteworthy Football Throws (NFTs) chart those exceptional moments from a quarterback. No, not every touchdown is an NFT as they are classified as passes thrown into tight windows, with anticipation, downfield, and/or away from coverage.
NFTs are essentially those throws that consist of roughly the top 10% of all throws. Moreover, they are throws that only 10% of quarterbacks can make on a regular basis.
Van Dyke had 28 of our NFTs, three more than his 25 touchdowns. Throwing out the gimmick plays and double (sometimes triple) reverse passes to wide-open receivers, Van Dyke did a great job at finding his receivers where only they could make plays on the ball. Most notably, Charleston Rambo feasted on cornerbacks down the field and at the sideline because of Van Dyke’s mastery.
A perfect throw beats great coverage every time – Tyler Van Dyke mastered this throw in 2021 pic.twitter.com/utL66wnnnd
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 17, 2022
Van Dyke was able to carve big play after big play against a variety of defenses because of his ability to spot pure man coverage and send shots with defenders’ backs facing him. He also showcased an ability to fend off safeties with his eyes.
Ridiculous throw from Tyler Van Dyke here, enticing the safety down, and throwing his WR open over the top in a tight windowpic.twitter.com/JViUt6bmmT
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 17, 2022
Looking safeties off is one thing. Trusting your arm to make tight-window throws is another. On multiple occasions last season, Van Dyke made excellent decisions that led to some awe-inspiring moments. He showed anticipation at times, layering shots over defenders at others. Beating man coverage is a great skill, but Van Dyke’s ability to trust his arm by driving throws into zone-coverage holes makes him most enticing as a prospect.
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (FL) –
A Cover-2 hole shot vs. UVA displays the power and quick decision-making as well as the trust Van Dyke has in his arm. He got rolling after this against Virginia. pic.twitter.com/Ad6mdLUYNG
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 2, 2022
Van Dyke lasers a throw in between Cover 2 defenders, perfectly above the dropping cornerback and in front of the over-the-top safety. That takes not only arm talent but the aforementioned trust in the arm talent and a keen understanding of the defender’s speed, or lack thereof. It also showcases his ability to make a snap decision with his arm, anticipating the coverage and reception.
NFL throws aren’t an issue for Van Dyke
That’s right, there’s a difference between NFL and NCAA throws. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Collegiate playbooks are not at all simple. However, what they ask of a quarterback is not nearly as complex nor as challenging as what NFL playbooks ask of their signal-callers.
NFL throws can be easily bucketed into a few categories or any intermingling of the following: deep passes (20+ yards), second- and third-read throws, out-breaking shots 10+ yards downfield, cross-hash throws, anticipatory passes, layered downfield throws, receivers-thrown open, and/or coverage beaters.
There are certainly other passes that could fall into the “NFL throw” bucket, but it’s essentially any pass that looks semi-routine on Sunday but is rarely seen on Saturdays.
Van Dyke made some of those throws look easy. There was plenty of cross-hash darts. Plenty of quick read, out-breaking shots thrown with pace and on time. His accurate, quick decision-making is by far one of his more favorable attributes heading into 2022. When he combines those aspects, however, Van Dyke is nearly unstoppable.
Tyler Van Dyke effortlessly rifles this beauty to Key’Shawn Smith ~50 yards downfield pic.twitter.com/GgAx4wSro1
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 17, 2022
Van Dyke navigates a quick three-step drop, identifies coverage, moves to his second read, and snaps a pass nearly 50 yards downfield in the blink of an eye. Anticipation, secondary reads, coverage diagnosis, accuracy, and arm strength are all shown in one throw. Those special moments give pause for an even brighter future for Van Dyke. But there was a common theme in those special moments.
Van Dyke’s statistical output potentially covers systemic problems in his game
As mentioned, it wasn’t all perfect for Van Dyke during his redshirt freshman season. Though he had just six interceptions, charting every single one of his throws yielded a different result. In fact, he benefited from a few dropped interceptions and got away with a few more throws in multiple games that should’ve been intercepted. Like NFTs, my proprietary Interceptable Pass Attempts (IPAs) totaled 12 for Van Dyke in 2021. As they sound, IPAs are those ill-advised throws that are or could and should be intercepted.
For Van Dyke, these IPAs came at times when he had to go off-script — when he played out of the structure of the offense. And most notably, when the offense was well past the scripted offensive game plan (typically the first 15 or so plays of a game). Was Van Dyke’s inability to win games and go off-script more a play-calling issue or a systemic problem in his game? Before diving into it, it’s important to note that 2022 will be a tell-tale season for Van Dyke as Josh Gattis has taken over play-calling duties from Rhett Lashlee this season.
Now, Lashlee’s system did Van Dyke no favors after the scripted offense. Van Dyke was nearly perfect during his ridiculous stretch of at least 300 yards and three touchdowns from Week 8 on. But, somehow, it could have even been better. Take the Pittsburgh game, for instance, his finest performance of the season. He finished 32-of-42 for 426 yards and three touchdowns. Yet, there was a lull in the action for Van Dyke where he and the Canes could have pulled ahead even further.
Miami started the game on fire, scoring three touchdowns on their first three drives, including two first-quarter TD throws from Van Dyke. After their fourth drive stalled with penalties, the offense reverted back to bubble screens and attempted to get receivers the ball in space on the outside and behind the line of scrimmage instead of trusting Van Dyke’s arm downfield. Pittsburgh was able to crawl back into the game and ultimately hang in through the end because of this change in offensive game plan.
The result aside, the bigger question remains: Was this just Lashlee’s issue in play-calling, or was this because of a bigger problem in Van Dyke’s ability to react in-game? Again, this wasn’t always the case and there were his fair share of mental mistakes and trusting his arm too much (the first half of the FSU game). But there was a glowing change in his level of play after the first 15 plays or three drives.
It got corrected at times during games, or it allowed other teams to claw their way back in and stymied his creativity as well as his confidence in others. Attempting to answer this is a fool’s errand, however, as Lashlee is gone and Gattis is in. We’ll have our answer once the season starts.
Tyler Van Dyke’s current 2023 NFL Draft projection
It’s a great time to be a college quarterback with NFL aspirations. After the top two prospects (C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young), the race for QB3 is up for grabs in the 2023 NFL Draft. Van Dyke certainly has the raw skill set to challenge for that coveted spot. But he also has small issues that could be part of a bigger systemic issue in his game as a whole.
As of right now, Van Dyke is absolutely on the fringe of Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. But with another resoundingly good season, thanks in part to the intangibles he possesses, he could challenge for the top 10.
However, if the aforementioned issues persist, he could ultimately fall out of the Day 2 conversation due to a stacked middle tier of quarterbacks. There’s a lot to like about Van Dyke, and he’ll be must-watch TV this fall, but there are also some minor concerns that could develop into major issues.
Here’s hoping a new system and another year in the program help iron those out, and we get those first 15 plays worth of Van Dyke all season long.