Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan QB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Can Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby leverage his NFL Draft scouting report into an ascension this coming April? Let's take a closer look.

As the 2022 quarterback class has continued to underwhelm, Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby is a player who’s gained credibility in scouting departments and Draft Twitter message groups alike with his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report. Here’s a look at that scouting report. Can Eleby be a riser in his class, or even better, a future NFL starter?

Kaleb Eleby NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Western Michigan
  • Current Year: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 210 pounds

Kaleb Eleby Scouting Report

He still isn’t in the first-round conversation, but Eleby has been one of the biggest risers on the NFL Draft stage this year. He entered the season with some under-the-radar hype after a strong 2020 campaign. Now, a similar 2021 showing has him comfortably in the middle-round range.

That mid-round projection, however, raises questions about Eleby’s ceiling. With it being an underwhelming QB class, can Eleby take advantage and potentially rise into the early-round conversation? Or is his stock starting to level out where it currently is? A look inside Eleby’s NFL Draft scouting report might provide the answers.

Kaleb Eleby’s physical profile

Eleby has definite appeal as a quarterback prospect, but he’s not a particularly imposing physical specimen. He stands at around 6’1″, 210 pounds, and his frame is somewhat slight by NFL standards. He’s a little stocky, but not broadly built, and defenders can handle him with relative ease.

Athletically, Eleby has a similar profile. He’s not a complete liability, but mobility isn’t a strength for him, either. Despite being listed as a dual-threat quarterback out of high school, Eleby is not a particularly explosive or dynamic athlete. He doesn’t have much creation capacity or escapability, and his feet can be heavy in open space.

Still, Eleby has some modest short-range spryness when navigating the pocket. Those subtle movements help set him up to use perhaps his greatest strength — his arm.

Eleby has a great arm. It may not be elite, but the Western Michigan QB has the arm strength to push the ball over defenders and maximize calculated risks. He has a crisp, quick-throwing motion and can generate easy velocity in the short and intermediate ranges.

With that arm, Eleby can also mix touch and pace into his throws, as well as adjust his throw trajectory and drop passes into tight spaces.

Execution beyond the physical traits

On top of his arm, Eleby has some promising executional traits in his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report. Most notably, the Western Michigan QB has a degree of natural accuracy.

Eleby has shown to effectively place short passes for RAC yardage, and he throws with impressive pace and precision at the short and intermediate levels. He’s very accurate hitting slants and crossers over the middle of the field. Eleby also actively manipulates ball placement to play to receiver leverage.

Going further, Eleby appears to do some pre-snap work autonomously at times. He’s shown to anticipate route breaks, although he could improve his consistency in this area. He’s sharp in the quick game, and when in rhythm, Eleby can be a tough quarterback to stop.

Moreover, Eleby does a good job of standing tall in the pocket amidst pressure. He can take contact as he throws and is a tough competitor with strong resolve. The Western Michigan QB can handle consecutive hits without getting rattled. Additionally, when he does evade single rushers, he has the wherewithal to reset his base and re-load his hips.

Areas for improvement

Although Eleby has a strong foundation with his poise and arm talent, he’s far from a perfect passer. Even with his general accuracy, Eleby can work to improve his mechanics. The Western Michigan QB’s base can be inconsistent at times. His feet have a large variance regarding where they’re set when he throws. Sometimes he’s too wide, and that can make longer passes more erratic.

Like his base, Eleby’s release can be incongruent at times, causing his passes to sail. His hips are occasionally stiff through rotations, limiting the amount of torque generated. Eleby gets happy feet under pressure at times, disrupting his launch platform and rhythm. To that end, he sometimes throws with his feet fading back, distorting his placement.

Beyond his mechanics, Eleby can still improve mentally as well. The Western Michigan QB occasionally predetermines reads and tries to force throws into coverage. He also struggles to progress through multiple reads, and his timing can suffer as a result.

At times, Eleby fails to see looming defenders underneath and can put the ball at risk. His eyes also drop occasionally when he has to step forward to outlast rushers. On the flip side, there are times when he simply doesn’t feel the rush behind him.

Among other things, Eleby can lose his balance when attempting to evade pressure. He also doesn’t have great off-platform throwing ability. While he has good arm talent and strength, his arm isn’t overly elastic, and he’s not particularly flexible in off-platform situations.

Kaleb Eleby’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview

Eleby is an interesting 2022 NFL Draft prospect who clearly has some withstanding NFL upside. He’s not the biggest passer or the most athletic, and there are physical limitations to take note of. He’s not a notable threat as a ball carrier, and other signal-callers provide more dynamic off-script ability as well.

But in structure, Eleby has some definite appeal. The Western Michigan QB has good arm strength, and it shows — both on quick passes and the deep ball. Eleby can generate velocity, and it’s impressive how accurate he is, considering how inconsistent his mechanics can be at times.

However, without dynamic athleticism or elite arm elasticity out of structure, Eleby’s upside isn’t the highest. Additionally, his inconsistency going through progressions presents another potential limitation in structure. Eleby has a good foundation with his poise, arm strength, and accuracy. That said, he might max out as a spot-starter with quality backup utility.

Kaleb Eleby Player Profile

Eleby separated himself with his 2020 season, but before that, he followed a path that many college football recruits take. After breaking records at Pattonville High School, Eleby went from stardom to obscurity, drawing a mere three-star rating on ESPN’s 2018 recruiting board.

Hailing from Maryland Heights, Missouri, Eleby had a few offers in the Midwest region. Power Five programs Iowa State and Illinois both offered Eleby, as did Arkansas State of the Sun Belt and Ball State of the MAC.

Eleby ultimately chose opportunity over the glamor of the Power Five stage. He signed with Western Michigan — a place where opportunity abounded.

Kaleb Eleby’s career at Western Michigan

Upon joining up with the Western Michigan Broncos, Eleby soon became the backup to starting quarterback Jon Wassink. He sat for most of his true freshman season but managed to play five games in relief. Over that span, Eleby completed 92 of 147 passes for 1,092 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.

Wassink would return and stay healthy in 2019, rendering Eleby a redshirt. But in 2020, Wassink left, and it was Eleby’s time to shine.

With the electric D’Wayne Eskridge at his side, Eleby lit up the MAC as a redshirt sophomore. Although he only played six games, the Western Michigan QB still amassed 1,699 yards, 18 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions while completing 64.5% of his passes.

Eleby was eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, but he ultimately chose to stay for his redshirt junior season. As of this writing, he’s started seven games in the 2021 season. Over that span, he’s completed 130 of 209 passes for 1,745 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 2 picks.

Kaleb Eleby’s 2022 NFL Draft ascension

Now a redshirt junior, Eleby’s impending draft aspirations carry a little more weight. The Western Michigan QB can still show more growth, but his NFL arm alone presents great appeal, as well as his competitive toughness.

Eleby needs to do a better job using his feet and eyes in conjunction with one another. Furthermore, he can be more consistent with his mechanics overall. Nevertheless, his degree of natural talent should earn him fans in that middle-round range.

However, there’s one question that’s been left unanswered to this point: Can Eleby go even higher? Is Round 1 a possibility? While anything is possible, I’d lean no. His lack of elite functional athleticism and off-platform ability limits his upside in a certain respect. And operationally, he’s still not a finished product.

Still, the tools are present to keep Eleby around in the NFL for a long time. Over that span, he’ll likely have a few opportunities come his way.

Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Kaleb Eleby

Positives: Athletic QB who can be a game changer behind center. Patient in the pocket, displays great poise under the rush, and possesses a live arm with a quick release. Generally makes good decisions in the pocket, protects the football, and takes the safe underneath outlet if nothing else is available. Knows where receivers are on the field, effectively sells ball fakes, and uses all his targets. Incredibly elusive and improvises or finds ways to keep plays alive. Easily gets outside the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield looking for open wideouts, and delivers strikes.

Sees the field and goes through progressions. Accurate, puts deep passes out in front of targets, and lets them run to the ball. Senses pressure and sidesteps defenders to buy time. Puts touch on throws and delivers a catchable ball. Quickly delivers the ball when necessary and gets passes through tight windows. Sits in the pocket and takes big hits in order to get the throw away. Throws the ball away if nothing else is available.

Negatives: Lacks pocket stature and has a smaller build. Not a true RPO quarterback who is a threat to pick up yardage on designed runs. Was streaky at times in 2021.

Analysis: Eleby was considered a potential Day 2 selection by scouts entering the season, and he lived up to expectations on occasion. He showed a lot of inconsistency throughout the 2021 season, yet at the top of his game, Eleby proved he can carry the offense by playing smart, productive football. Eleby has a high upside but will need proper coaching and time before he’s NFL-ready.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

FEATURED
PFN NEWSLETTER

Every day, get free NFL updates sent straight to your inbox!