Being the starting quarterback of the Florida Gators isn’t a guaranteed one-way ticket to the NFL draft. In fact, the Gators haven’t sent a signal-caller to the annual selection event since Tim Tebow in 2010. Beyond him, you have to go back to Rex Grossman and Danny Wuerffel to find drafted Gators who played quarterback. After a prolific senior season, is Kyle Trask set to join them in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Kyle Trask NFL Draft Profile
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 240 pounds
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Florida
- Year: Redshirt Senior
Kyle Trask is not your average college football quarterback. Unlike fellow 2021 NFL Draft prospects Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, Trask wasn’t a highly-ranked, heavily-recruited high school quarterback. His meteoric rise to college football fame is more corresponding to Joe Burrow following his transfer from Ohio State. Yet, despite the over-used comparison to the last quarterback who set the Southeastern Conference on fire, Trask is different from Burrow in many ways.
Trask’s journey is far more unlikely, and his 2021 NFL Draft projection is far more complicated
Kyle Trask has traveled his path to the NFL draft in the shadows rather than the spotlight. He spent his high school career as the backup to D’Eriq King. Although he started as a freshman for the Manvel High Mavericks, Trask spent more time riding the pine than putting up points.
That’s not to say he wasn’t successful when the opportunity arose. During his junior and senior season at Manvel, he threw sixteen touchdowns to zero interceptions. Despite not starting a single game, he put up 1,545 passing yards. Trask provided a glimpse into his most valuable trait — accuracy, with a completion percentage over 70% in his final two years at Manvel.
A lack of tape proved pivotal for Kyle Trask as he transitioned from high school to college football
As a three-star recruit and just the 92nd-ranked pro-style quarterback in his recruiting class, offers were few and far between for Trask. As a result, Florida was his only opportunity to play Power Five football.
A combination of injury and fellow 2016 Florida quarterback recruit Feleipe Franks kept Trask mired in the shadows. He played just three games in three years before an injury to Franks in the 2019 season gave him his opportunity.
Trask grabbed the opportunity with both hands, throwing for 25 touchdowns and putting up 2,941 passing yards. Due to Trask’s performance, Franks transferred from the program, leaving Trask as the starter for the 2020 season.
Sour end to a sweet season for Kyle Trask in Cotton Bowl defeat
Kyle Trask threw for a season-low 158 yards and three interceptions as the Florida Gators lost 55-20 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Trask played just one half before giving way to backup quarterback Emory Jones. It was a sour end to a statistically superb season that saw the Florida quarterback garner Heisman Trophy consideration.
Although it is important not to allow one game to discredit an entire body of work, the performance reinforces question marks over Trask’s 2021 NFL Draft stock. Despite receiving first-round buzz due to his statistical brilliance this year, he simply isn’t in the same conversation as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Zach Wilson.
Although one of the interceptions against the Sooners could be attributed to a tipped pass, Trask was at fault for the other two
He stared down his receiver on Tre Norwood’s pick-six allowing the defender to make an easy read. An underthrown ball into the end zone was responsible for the final interception. Trask’s arm strength has been the biggest knock on his draft stock. Alongside his mobility, those are the major concerns for his NFL projection.
A Kadarius Toney or Kyle Pitts may have been able to make a play to prevent the final interception. However, that only goes to show how important the Florida playmakers have been to Trask’s performances in 2020. The Gators’ worst offensive performances — against LSU and Oklahoma — have come without the star tight end.
As a result, Trask declared for the 2021 NFL Draft with an emotional farewell video on his social media accounts. He ends his Florida career with 7,386 passing yards and 69 passing touchdowns. Trask will have the opportunity to impress at the 2021 Senior Bowl.
Kyle Trask comes up short in wild SEC Championship Game
Kyle Trask went toe-to-toe with Alabama’s Mac Jones in a record-setting SEC Championship Game on Saturday night. In the battle of two Heisman contenders, Trask ultimately came up short in a 52-46 Florida loss to Alabama.
Trask completed 26 of 40 pass attempts, throwing for 408 yards and three touchdowns. The Florida quarterback also rushed for a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Even in a defeat, the statistics are impressive. How far did Trask’s performance answer prior questions about his game?
Arm strength and deep ball accuracy
Kyle Trask’s NFL Draft profile is littered with the same observations. His short to intermediate accuracy is impressive but does he have the arm strength and accuracy to make deep throws with consistency? Unfortunately, the answer to now has been no.
There were several examples on Saturday night of Trask completing delightful 20-plus yard throws. On the opening drive, he found Kadarius Toney with a deep pass that hit the wide receiver perfectly in stride for the first Florida touchdown. It was the longest pass play completed against Alabama cornerback Malachi Moore all season.
Another example came on the second quarter touchdown that made the game 28-17. Trask tossed a 39-yard dart perfectly placed between two defensive backs. Despite these examples, there are far too many deep throws that are uncatchable for wide receivers. Often times, Trask’s efforts to create velocity come at the expense of his accuracy. As a result, he continues to be a divisive figure in terms of his NFL Draft projection.
Mobility and ball security issues
Kyle Trask is never going to be Lamar Jackson. His mobility is more corresponding to Tom Brady right now. This is causing issues for Florida play calling but also to Trask’s NFL Draft stock. With no rushing threat from the quarterback position with Trask, Florida resorted to bringing in Emory Jones when they wanted to call a designed quarterback run.
Several times in Saturday’s game Trask was sacked or tackled for minimal gain as he tried to manufacture yardage on the ground. He was practically stationary trying to find tight end Kyle Pitts when he took a sack that led to a fumble early in the fourth quarter. Trask had two fumbles on the night and could have had a third if not for a penalty against Alabama.
Florida will face Oklahoma in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to end their season. However, Trask’s best opportunity to impress NFL scouts will come at the 2021 Senior Bowl in late January.
Kyle Trask suffers night to forget in loss to LSU
The Gainesville fog wrapped up Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, leaving Kyle Trask’s Heisman candidacy and NFL draft stock as unclear as the Saturday night air. LSU, an overwhelming underdog, shocked the Florida Gators with a 37-34 win. The loss could ultimately cost Florida a shot at the College Football National Championship. The individual implications for Trask could be far worse.
With the opportunity to impress against a depleted LSU team, Trask failed to lead his team to victory. The performance only served to amplify some of the question marks around his game, rather than answer them.
Arm strength and deep ball placement concerns despite breaking 400 passing yards
As mentioned below, one of the primary concerns with Trask is his arm strength. He doesn’t have anything remotely approaching elite arm strength, and that will have an impact on his NFL Draft stock. On Saturday night, that lack of arm strength resulted in some deep ball placement issues and impacted his overall accuracy.
Trask started off brightly for sure. On the first Florida drive of the night, he placed a beautiful pass 35-yard pass from the left hash to the right numbers, finding receiver Kadarius Toney in stride for a big gain.
There were several successful 20-plus yard pass attempts on the night. However, despite hitting 474 passing yards, for every completed deep pass, there was an off-target throw. As a result, Trask’s completion percentage on the night was just 61 percent, well below his season average.
Third-down conversion, turnovers, and lack of mobility cost Florida
This was particularly noticeable on third downs. Florida only converted five of 13 third-down attempts — less than 40 percent. It was clear that the loss of tight end Kyle Pitts was of huge detriment to Trask, especially in the red zone. One failed third-down play highlighted another primary area of concern for Trask’s NFL projection.
Late in the fourth quarter, with Florida driving to take the lead, Trask was faced with a third-down situation. With no passing option available, Trask evaded pressure in the pocket and attempted to scramble. However, his lack of mobility hampered his progress and he was easily stopped.
Trask’s lack of mobility also led to a second-quarter fumble. Add in two interceptions, one of which was the result of attempting to force the ball to Toney on the sideline. It was a night to forget for Trask.
Trask faces the biggest challenge of his career this Saturday against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. His performance there, and at the Senior Bowl, will go a long way toward defining his NFL draft stock.
NFL draft stock skyrockets for Kyle Trask in 2020 season
Last season, Joe Burrow came out of nowhere to lead LSU to a National Championship and was taken with the first overall pick of the NFL draft. A lot of preseason discussions focused on which player would make that rise in the 2020 season. Although the first overall pick is practically inked in as Trevor Lawrence, it’s difficult to argue that any other player has increased their 2021 NFL Draft stock more than Florida quarterback Kyle Trask.
Trask opened the season with six touchdowns against Ole Miss and has proceeded to rip up the SEC record books. Through six games, he broke the record for most passing touchdowns in a single campaign, although a conference-only schedule limits its value. Trask has also set the record for touchdowns thrown in conference play.
Record-setting 2020 performance
In addition to the SEC records, Trask is making Florida quarterback history with every game he has played in the 2020 season. Most notably, he is set to eclipse Danny Wuerffel’s single-season program record of 39 touchdowns from 1996. The following season, Wuerffel was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Through Week 14 of the 2020 season, Trask leads the SEC in completions, attempts, and passing yards. His 38 touchdowns lead college football by a considerable margin, although Alabama’s Mac Jones has played one less game.
Some of the numbers that Trask has compiled this season — 230 for 322, 71.4% completion, 38 touchdowns to three interceptions — stack up favorably to Burrow’s Heisman campaign. In fact, through eight games, Trask has more passing yards and passing touchdowns than Burrow did at the same point.
However, Trask is by no means a consensus first-round quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Why not?
Kyle Trask’s skill set as an NFL draft prospect
There are two notable differences between Joe Burrow and Kyle Trask when you evaluate them as NFL draft prospects.
For as impressive as Trask has been throwing the ball in the 2020 season, he lacks the mobility and athletic ability that is almost a prerequisite for success in the modern-day NFL. He has enough mobility to manipulate the pocket and evade pressure, but that’s about as far as it goes. Trask isn’t going to escape the pocket and extend a play with his legs, and he isn’t going to provide you with a consistent dual-threat in the red zone either.
Trask also lacks the deep ball arm strength of an elite NFL quarterback. The majority of his success at Florida comes from short and intermediate passes that give the wide receiver the opportunity to make yardage after the catch. If he is to be considered a future starting NFL quarterback, that will need to be his main area of improvement.
There is a lot to like in Trask’s game, regardless of his limitations
Trask has the ideal size for an NFL quarterback and has competitive toughness. The journey that the Florida quarterback has taken to get to this point is evidence of his mental toughness. Trask has excellent football intelligence and uses this to make good decisions on the field, as evidenced by his consistently low interception numbers throughout his career.
NFL teams should love that element of Trask’s game combined with his accuracy. Trask also has the advantage of having played under center, out of the shotgun, and in the pistol. A large percentage of college football quarterbacks have never taken a snap under center and many struggle to adjust. Teams won’t have that problem with Trask.
2021 NFL Draft team fits
There will be a large number of quarterback-needy teams after the 2020 season. Some teams, like the New York Jets, need an immediate upgrade at the position. Others, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, will have one eye on the future as their current starters head into their final years under center.
Which teams should be looking at Florida quarterback Kyle Trask in the 2021 NFL Draft?
In my recent four-round NFL mock draft, I placed Trask with the Indianapolis Colts in the second round. Although they drafted Jacob Eason last year, I’m not convinced that the Colts view him as the future of the franchise. Philip Rivers may have another season left in him and that would create the perfect environment for Trask to succeed.
Washington, New England, and Indianapolis are all potential landing spots
Both the Colts and the Patriots would utilize Trask’s skill set well. Neither team asks their quarterback to rely on the deep ball. Both teams sit in the bottom half of the NFL for intended air yards, as per NFL Next Gen Stats. Trask’s short-to-intermediate passing ability would fit perfectly, and his size and frame are reminiscent of the Patriots’ current quarterback Cam Newton, even if Trask lacks the same mobility.
Both teams also have stellar offensive lines, which help relieve pressure on a young quarterback.
A third option is the Washington Football Team. Presently, they are in a position to draft one of the top quarterbacks, but if they fall further down the 2021 NFL Draft order, then Trask could be their man. The Florida quarterback would be a pocket passer in the same mold as Alex Smith. For Trask to succeed there, however, Washington would need to add further offensive weaponry at the wide receiver position.
Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and NFL analytics contributor for the Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.