It seems as though every quarterback class has an unexpected riser. With his scouting report, can UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson become the unexpected riser of the 2023 NFL Draft? Here’s a look at what he brings to the table, what he needs to improve, and how 2022 could be his year.
Update: Dorian Thompson-Robinson has announced his decision to return to UCLA for the 2022 season.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: UCLA
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 205 pounds
Dorian Thompson-Robinson Scouting Report
Everyone wants to find the next Zach Wilson or Joe Burrow. Admittedly, it’s a fun — and potentially rewarding — exercise. Quarterbacks always come out of nowhere, but pinpointing which ones will emerge is a difficult task. Next year, there will be several candidates. How does Thompson-Robinson stack up in that group?
DTR has been the starter for the UCLA Bruins since 2018. He’s had his ups and downs, but lately, things are starting to turn in the UCLA QB’s favor. The Bruins’ passer is coming off his best season yet, and with another full slate in store for 2022, he’s a player to watch. Does Thompson-Robinson have the tools to be a big riser on the NFL Draft stage? Let’s take a look.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s physical profile
Physical upside is often a catalyst for late risers, and Thompson-Robinson isn’t lacking in that department. The UCLA QB has good mobility, which he uses to escape the pocket and extend plays. DTR has definite lateral burst and evasion ability, and he quickly navigates the pocket when under duress. Furthermore, Thompson-Robinson has enough speed to utilize space and generate big plays. He’s also fairly slippery in congestion.
On top of his mobility, Thompson-Robinson has an above-average arm. The UCLA QB can generate great velocity with his snappy release. He has a twitchy upper body, as well as exciting arm elasticity. He can adjust his arm angles and generate velocity off-platform. In fact, he’s an effortless and natural thrower off-platform — a key staple of his game.
Thompson-Robinson possesses the arm strength necessary to drive passes downfield even when fading back. His lower body doesn’t have to be in sync for him to generate pace. Thompson-Robinson’s elasticity gives him this freedom, and especially when in rhythm, he has the velocity to push the ball into tight windows as they close.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Thompson-Robinson can still seek greater consistency in this area, but the UCLA QB has shown plenty of flashes as a passer in recent years. DTR seems to process information fairly well. He identifies options quickly as he surveys the field and has shown to move his progressions with urgency.
Going further, Thompson-Robinson has a decent sense of timing. When he’s in rhythm, DTR delivers passes with great precision and ball placement. The UCLA product has shown that he can anticipate receiver breaks and throw with timing. He’s also displayed that he can place the ball just out of the defender’s reach.
Additionally, Thompson-Robinson has displayed executional awareness. The UCLA QB commonly defers to his check-down if his progressions yield no chances downfield. Having said that, he’s not fearful as a passer. If an opportunity is there, he has the confidence in his arm to generate productive plays. Thompson-Robinson keeps his eyes downfield while rolling out of the pocket, and he’s flashed the ability to use his eyes to manipulate DBs.
Among other things, Thompson-Robinson can rotate his shoulders back on the run and generate torque off-platform. Moreover, when he feels the rush, he flashes instincts navigating the pocket.
Areas for improvement
Thompson-Robinson has tantalizing upside, but he can continue to improve his process in 2021 — both mechanically and mentally. His lower-body mechanics are inconsistent at times, especially against pressure. There’s not always synergy as he throws, and that can be a problem.
The UCLA QB throws off his back foot far too often, and he can be more poised in the pocket. He also sometimes tucks his elbow back on release, causing passes to miss high.
Beyond his mechanics, Thompson-Robinson can further refine many areas of his game. The UCLA QB’s decision-making is still inconsistent at times. He sometimes fails to anticipate defenders filling certain windows, and he also doesn’t always recognize defenders sneaking into the flats on short passes.
In a similar vein, Thompson-Robinson stares down receiving options on occasion, keying in defenders. He sometimes double-clutches when he sees an open man, delaying his trigger a bit.
Thompson-Robinson is confident in his arm, but he does take dangerous risks at times. He sometimes fails to push passes past underneath defenders, and he’s still learning how to put varying degrees of touch and velocity on his throws. He sometimes puts too much loft on deep passes, giving opponents additional time to react.
Lastly, while Thompson-Robinson has demonstrated he can be precise, he can still improve his consistency. There are times when he resembles an area-thrower downfield. DTR can also be more consistent placing the ball for run-after-catch yards. He got better in 2020, but didn’t show notable progression with his accuracy in 2021.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Thompson-Robinson is far from a perfect prospect entering 2022. And seeing that he’s been a starter for the better part of four years, his developmental stagnation is concerning. Having said this, the UCLA QB showed considerable improvement with his timing, anticipation, and recognition ability in 2020. That improvement stalled a bit in 2021, but the flashes are there to build on as Thompson-Robinson moves on to his final season.
If Thompson-Robinson can keep ironing out mechanical and mental inconsistencies, he has a solid physical foundation. The UCLA QB is a twitchy athlete with good mobility and arm talent. He has enough arm strength to push the ball downfield, with the elasticity to generate velocity without a stable platform.
As it stands, Thompson-Robinson is likely a Day 3 prospect with upside. However, with his natural off-script ability, processing capacity, and developmental potential, he could feasibly rise with a strong final year. But to do that, he has to break through the ceiling he’s seemingly hit in several areas.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s Player Profile
Thompson-Robinson’s natural talent as a passer is clearly visible. That’s been apparent since his days in high school.
As a senior, Thompson-Robinson completed 176 of 256 attempts for 3,275 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. His production made him highly coveted on the recruiting circuit.
Lauded as a high four-star recruit, Robinson was the 34th overall player on ESPN’s board and the second-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the class behind Justin Fields. Thompson-Robinson’s 4.78 40-yard dash and 34.4-inch vertical only increased his interest nationwide. The Las Vegas native had offers from Alabama, LSU, Oregon, and Georgia, but he ultimately chose to join Chip Kelly at UCLA.
Thompson-Robinson’s career at UCLA
Thompson-Robinson has been fairly productive throughout his career with the Bruins. He logged starting experience as a true freshman in 2018, earning 1,311 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions on a 57.7% completion percentage. The following season, the UCLA QB put up 2,701 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. However, he also fumbled 7 times, leading the conference in turnovers.
Although he dealt with injuries in 2020, Thompson-Robinson underwent needed growth. He achieved career-highs in both completion percentage (65.2%) and yards per attempt (8.1) while also amassing 1,120 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in just five games. The UCLA QB produced at new levels of efficiency and entered 2021 with a high bar to clear.
2021 was an interesting season for Thompson-Robinson. The UCLA QB matched a career-high in passing touchdowns with 21, and also passed for 8.5 yards per attempt — another career high. But he also saw a slight dip in completion percentage. It was a solid season for Thompson-Robinson, but it still left him searching for more, from a draft stock perspective. That’s why Thompson-Robinson ultimately chose to return to school in 2022, for one last ride.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s NFL Draft ascension
2020 was the closest thing to a full breakout season for Thompson-Robinson. However, the UCLA QB was only able to play five games. Thus, we didn’t see an adequate sample size of his progression. 2021 will provided that opportunity, but Thompson-Robinson wasn’t able to use the full season to expand on his 2020 play.
Thompson-Robinson needs to continue refining his mental process, and he still has several mechanical inconsistencies to note. Nevertheless, his ability to generate velocity off-platform is unique, and that ability to create off-script gives him a brand of upside that not many quarterbacks have.
Right now, Thompson-Robinson has the tools and leadership ability to be a quality backup. At his peak projection, Thompson-Robinson can be an average to above-average NFL starter. 2022 will go a long way toward pinpointing how close he comes to that peak.