Joe Milton III’s Draft Profile | Tennessee, QB Scouting Report

Joe Milton played college football for six years, but he is still relatively inexperienced. What did he do in 2023 to elevate his NFL Draft scouting report?

Joe Milton experienced a late-career surge in production as Tennessee’s QB, but does the tape lend itself to a comparable 2024 NFL Draft evaluation and scouting report? Here’s the rundown on Milton’s tape and how tantalizing his traits can be.

Joe Milton Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 235 pounds
  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Tennessee
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior

Before choosing the Michigan Wolverines, Milton was a top-250 recruit in the nation and a four-star by Rivals, ESPN, and On3. Meanwhile, 247Sports did not have him nationally ranked but handed him a three-star rating as the 60th-best player in Florida.

Milton didn’t get on the field much early in his Michigan career. But in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he started five of Michigan’s six games. Cade McNamara eventually relieved Milton against Penn State in their sixth game, and Milton transferred afterward.

Milton started for Tennessee during the first two games of the 2021 season, but an injury sidelined him, allowing Hendon Hooker to take over. Hooker didn’t relinquish the role until an ACL tear late in 2022. Yet, Milton played well enough in a limited sample to generate excitement for 2023.

In his lone season as Tennessee’s full-time starter at QB, Milton operated the offense efficiently, completing 229 of 354 attempts (64.7%) for 2,813 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. He also ran for almost 300 yards and seven additional scores.

Milton’s talent has always been superlative among his peers, and his late-career production earned him a Reese’s Senior Bowl invite in 2024. But does Milton have the composite profile to be drafted?

Joe Milton Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Possesses a rocket launcher for an arm and can generate effortless high-level velocity.
  • With his velocity, able to hit fleeting windows in the deep third and outside the hash.
  • Can drive passes beyond deep coverage and adequately lead WRs on the vertical plane.
  • Velocity can help compensate for processing delays when throwing outside the numbers.
  • Has the necessary arm elasticity to layer touch on high-velocity deep passes.
  • Built like a tight end, with the linear burst and physicality to create yards in open space.
  • Can function as a freight train in space with his long-track speed, frame, and physicality.
  • Has a quick release on screens and has shown he can keep his shoulders level.
  • When kept clear from pressure, rotational mechanics are fairly solid and stable.
  • Flashes good poise in the pocket and a willingness to stand tall and wait for windows.
  • Has a degree of general accuracy in the intermediate range, reliably hitting the torso.
  • At least has the short-range areal accuracy and crisp release to operate the quick game.
  • Occasionally flashes window anticipation on short throws over the middle of the field.
  • Has great competitive toughness as a runner and is willing to lower his shoulder.

Weaknesses

  • Tennessee’s offense was dominated by one-read throws and spacing that won’t translate.
  • Has a suboptimal level of experience with pure drop-backs and multi-read throws.
  • Not autonomous with pre and post-snap reads and will force predetermined decisions.
  • Prone to staring down schemed targets and isn’t always able to adapt when needed.
  • Too often needs to see breaks before throwing and largely lacks anticipation as a QB.
  • Eyes are often static on initial reads and fail to manipulate defensive looks.
  • Processing speed and reaction to stimulus when reading breaks severely underwhelm.
  • Whole-second delays from break to trigger will greatly increase turnover risk in the NFL.
  • Lacking field vision and anticipation frequently causes quality chances to go untested.
  • Sometimes springs up too much with his back foot on release, dipping his front shoulder.
  • Situational precision on short RAC throws and slants can be erratic, forcing adjustments.
  • Can be quick to scramble out of the pocket when threatened with interior pressure.
  • Despite size-adjusted athleticism, lacks elite creation capacity and can be stiff laterally.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Milton grades out as a late-round or potential PFA prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. He has one of the biggest arms in the class, and that alone will generate interest for him. But in Milton’s profile, there’s also plenty of uncertainty regarding how he’ll translate in the NFL.

Physical tools serve as the main selling point for Milton. At around 6’5″, 235 pounds, he’s an exceptional linear athlete with great burst and speed in open space, and he’s also a rocket-armed signal-caller who can drive elite velocity to all ranges with effortless ease.


Milton’s physical gifts also trickle into other parts of the passing game. His arm strength lends him impressive deep passing ability, and his velocity allows him to drive the ball where only his WR can reach. He’s also tough and poised in the pocket.

All this being said, Milton’s near-complete lack of autonomous processing and anticipation as a field general causes concern for his NFL transition. At Tennessee, Milton was almost entirely reliant on one-read throws, with very few pure drop-backs and progressions baked in.

Even on one-read throws, Milton experienced startling delays between recognition and trigger at times, and his inability to adapt off of schemed targets also created turnover opportunities for opposing defenses.

As a late-round developmental QB option, Milton’s physical talent does produce intrigue — but as a 24-year-old rookie, he’s shown very little as a processor and independent decision-maker. In the NFL, QBs need to be adaptable, and Milton’s tape at Tennessee was the antithesis of that.

Ultimately, with his size and athleticism, a move to tight end could be feasible in the future. But it’s hard to imagine Milton won’t at least get a look as a developmental QB3 first, with the arm strength he possesses.

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