Chase Garbers, Cal QB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Set to be a four-year starter, does Cal QB Chase Garbers possess the upside to elevate his scouting report in the 2022 NFL Draft?

In every draft cycle, there are late-round quarterbacks — or even undrafted free agents — who find a way to stick around in the NFL for years on end. Can Cal QB Chase Garbers be that NFL Draft prospect with his scouting report? Or does he belong in a different conversation — one that takes place earlier on the draft board?

Chase Garbers NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: California
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 225 pounds

Chase Garbers Scouting Report

Quietly, the California Golden Bears have been one of the more productive quarterback factories in college football history. The school’s most recent success draws the most attention. Its most noteworthy claim is Aaron Rodgers, one of the greatest signal-callers ever to play the game. There’s also Jared Goff, who’s been a starter since his No. 1 overall selection in 2016. But dating back to the mid-1960s, first-round picks like Craig Morton, Steve Bartkowski, and Rich Campbell all came from the Golden Coast.

The Golden Bears haven’t had a quarterback drafted since 2017. Part of the reason for that, however, is that they’ve had the same starter since 2018. Garbers has been the man under center for three seasons now. He’s accumulated a lot of experience and produced a ton of tape. But how does he ultimately grade upon being evaluated? Let’s take a closer look.

Chase Garbers’ physical profile

Of all the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Garbers is one of the more intriguing ones. The Cal QB stands at 6’2″, 225 pounds, and has a well-built frame. He’s also a decent athlete for his size. He owns above-average mobility, and he uses space and evades rushes when necessary. The Cal QB has modest escapability, and he also has some spryness laterally. Garbers can sidestep blitzing defenders, and on the move, he brings good toughness.

Garbers’ arm also generates some intrigue. The Cal product has a fairly smooth, easy release and flashes a degree of elasticity. Garbers has great touch when fitting the ball into small windows, and he adjusts his arm angle to loft the ball over penetrating rushers. While he’s not dynamic off-script, Garbers makes accurate throws on the run. He’s also shown to have the capacity to adjust the trajectory of his passes when targeting windows downfield.

Execution beyond the physical traits

Garbers is generally a safe, conservative decision-maker. Although he takes some uncharacteristic risks, he has improved there since 2018. He also does some work pre-snap to help with his post-snap execution. He can identify mismatches before the play and is decisive in attacking them, which happens most often in the short and intermediate ranges.

Mechanically, Garbers is relatively solid. He has excellent footwork in structure, keeps his base steady, and his feet active as he scans the field. The Cal QB’s upper-body mechanics are also smooth, and he has some synergy between his upper and lower halves. When Garbers steps up, he can put good pace on the ball and lead receivers downfield. He at least has placement awareness when attacking down the sideline. Moreover, he can throw with anticipation on in-breaking routes.

Among other things, Garbers flashes the ability to run through his progressions and keep his eyes moving. Furthermore, he can position the ball for yards after catch in the short-range, raising his floor as a distributor.

Areas for improvement

Over three seasons as a starter, Garbers has shown off some underrated utility. However, there are drawbacks and limitations in his game that must be noted.

Garbers’ arm, above all, is not elite. His arm strength is questionable, and he doesn’t generate great momentum off-platform. His velocity generated isn’t top-tier, and especially on deep passes, he gives defenders a lot of time to react. Additionally, his passes sometimes drop before they reach their intended targets.

Having said all this, some of Garbers’ velocity questions might be quelled if he can fix some mechanical and mental inconsistencies. Garbers sometimes fades backward when faced with pressure. By extension, he occasionally throws off his back foot, limiting his ability to push the ball past defenders.

More notably, Garbers’ mental process can erode at times under pressure. Although he flashes good navigation and escapability, his eyes drop quickly when faced with pressure. The Cal QB can also get shell-shocked by consecutive pressures and fade backward on subsequent reps. He doesn’t always keep his eyes downfield when scrambling out of the pocket — and because he’s not an elite athlete — those physical traits can’t be relied on consistently.

Going further, Garbers could improve his decision-making. He still takes bad risks at times and passes up open receivers as well. Garbers isn’t always pinpoint accurate in the intermediate and deep ranges, and he doesn’t have the arm talent necessary to manipulate leverage in the deep range.

Chase Garbers’ NFL Draft scouting report overview

Garbers’ style of play is fun. He clearly has the ability to extend plays and provide utility on the ground, and his arm isn’t bad. He has some elasticity, and when he’s in rhythm, he generates good pace and accuracy, especially in the short and intermediate ranges. That’s where he does most of his work.

For Garbers, the questions come under pressure and when needing to make something happen downfield. He’s inconsistent when faced with adversity, and while his traits are decent, he doesn’t have the elite physical ability necessary to consistently create on his own. With his anticipation, progression work, and pre-snap awareness, Garbers can be a solid backup or spot-starter on Day 3. However, he lacks the traits to be a franchise passer.

Chase Garbers’ Player Profile

On the heels of Goff’s ascension, Cal’s QB position became a desired location for recruits nearing the college football stage. Garbers — then a budding star at Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California — was one of those prospects who had his eye on Cal as a potential training ground for his NFL aspirations.

By his senior season, Garbers was a four-star recruit and the 176th overall player on ESPN’s board. With a 4.78 40-yard dash on record, Garbers had the mobility to boost his profile, and he received plenty of Power Five offers. Ole Miss, Washington, Boise State, and Arizona State all pursued the prolific passer, but the Golden Bears’ recent developmental success prompted him to stay in-state.

Garbers’ career at Cal

Garbers redshirted his true freshman season in 2017. But since then, the Cal QB has been a mainstay on the Pac-12 stage.

In 2018, Garbers started 10 of 12 games, amassing 1,506 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 61.2% of his passes. The next season, he toned down the turnovers, this time putting up 1,772 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He also upped his yards per attempt from 5.8 to 8.2.

Garbers was trending up heading into 2020, but the COVID-impacted season hit the Pac-12 especially hard. Garbers only played in four games and completed 85 of 136 attempts for 771 yards, 6 scores, and 3 picks. The Cal QB was eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, but he opted to return for his redshirt senior season and set his sights on the 2022 NFL Draft instead.

Chase Garbers’ NFL Draft ascension

Most mock drafts won’t have Garbers going in the early rounds, and he’ll have many players ranked above him heading into the season. There’s a reason for that. To this point, Garbers has only flashed off modest upside, and his operational processes are still somewhat inconsistent.

Nevertheless, Garbers has some appeal as a Day 3 prospect with decent off-script traits. He doesn’t have an elite physical skill set, but if he shows more poise against pressure and adds a consistent deep passing element to his game, he can lock in his draft stock and earn a spot on the board next April.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Chase Garbers

Positives: Once-highly rated passer whose game has really dropped off the past several seasons. Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers, and displays a sense of timing on throws. Accurate, puts touch on passes, and does not make receivers wait on the ball. Delivers some beautiful passes downfield and throws incredible fade and corner patterns.

Remains poised under the rush, goes to the safe underneath outlet when nothing else is available, and throws the pass away rather than forcing the ball to covered targets. Puts air under deep passes and lets receivers fight to come away with the reception. Shows great awareness and knows where targets are on the field.

Negatives: Plays like an average athlete. Lacks a big-time arm and cannot fire passes downfield. Lacks pocket stature and isn’t big enough to withstand the rush.

Analysis: Garbers was a productive quarterback at Cal who showed next-level ability early in college then watched his game leveled off. He does not own great physical skills for Sunday football, but he could be a solid third quarterback in a system looking for a game manager.

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