The ability to create is becoming more and more valuable in the modern NFL. What does that mean for Louisville QB Malik Cunningham and his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report? Let’s take a closer look.
Malik Cunningham NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Louisville
- Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 192 pounds
- Length: 31 3/8
- Hand: 9 1/2″
Here’s a trivia question for you: Who is the all-time touchdowns leader at Louisville? No, it’s not Lamar Jackson. It’s not Teddy Bridgewater. And it’s not Chris Redman or Brian Brohm, either.
The all-time touchdowns leader for the Louisville Cardinals is Malik Cunningham — who beat Jackson’s previous record late in the 2022 season. Granted, Cunningham was a four-year starter to Jackson’s three — but it’s impossible to ignore the impact he’s had on Louisville’s football program.
Interestingly enough, Cunningham was taking a redshirt while Jackson was attempting a second consecutive Heisman season in 2017. Another year passed with Cunningham as the backup, before the Louisville QB took the reins in 2019.
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Since then, all Cunningham has done is produce. Across his four-year starting career, Cunningham amassed 9,664 passing yards, 70 passing touchdowns, and 29 interceptions. And on the ground, he tacked on 3,184 yards and 50 scores.
The highlights were high across Cunningham’s tenure. He was an absurdly efficient passer in 2019 and accumulated 20 touchdowns on the ground in 2021. But last season, he seemed to fade a bit as time went on, before declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft in early December.
Cunningham may not be the level of prospect that Jackson and Bridgewater were — but his declaration still bears noting. In a senior QB class that lacks overwhelming depth, Cunningham’s measured upside could serve him well.
Malik Cunningham Scouting Report
- High-energy athleticism and creation ability
- Flashes good pocket management
- Can anticipate route breaks
- Situational ball placement
- Ability to layer intermediate throws
- Quick decision-maker
- Competitive toughness
Areas for Improvement
- Below-average arm strength
- Average arm elasticity
- Stares down targets
- Inconsistent field vision and progression work
- Mechanics under pressure
- Lighter frame and projected durability
Louisville QB Malik Cunningham Current Draft Projection
Cunningham grades out as a late-round pick at best and a potential PFA. Whether he gets selected in the 2023 NFL Draft will largely be dependent on preference. Cunningham is a lighter passer who’s noticeably lacking in arm strength, but he does have redeeming qualities to offer — most notably his athleticism.
Despite his late-round billing, Cunningham does have one elite trait in his corner — creation capacity. He’s a phenomenal athlete with burst and speed in space, but his lateral twitch, agility, and throttle control serve as equally exciting properties. Cunningham’s athleticism can help alleviate pressure right away, as well as give teams flexibility. His 4.53 40-yard dash at the Combine provided a glimpse of that potential.
Cunningham’s below-average arm strength and talent severely cap his upside at the NFL level. Nevertheless, Cunningham does have some functional qualities as a passer, too. The Louisville QB has surprisingly steady pocket management. He can stay poised at his drop, as well as navigate through space while keeping his eyes up.
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Beyond his pocket management and creation capacity, Cunningham is a fairly quick decision-maker, who’s efficient in the short range and has shown to work the intermediate third to a degree.
With his inconsistent field vision and lacking velocity, the downfield element is visibly lacking in Cunningham’s game. He’s not the level of operator to consistently counteract that limitation. But there is something to be said about Cunningham’s athleticism, toughness, and efficiency in the pocket.
Particularly for teams who value athleticism at QB — like the Ravens, Giants, Bears, and Cardinals — Cunningham would fit early on as a developmental backup worth stashing. He’ll need to keep adding weight and refining his operational traits, but a career in the mold of Tyler Huntley could be in the cards.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Malik Cunningham
Strengths: Athletic quarterback who possesses a live arm. Remains poised under the rush, has a quick, explosive release, and possesses a big-time arm. Knows where receivers are on the field, puts touch on throws, and also delivers strikes downfield. Easily eludes the rush, gets outside the pocket, and keeps his eyes downfield. Looks off the safety and effectively sets up screen throws.
Weaknesses: Must improve his overall accuracy and pass placement. Makes receivers work too hard to come away with the reception. Has targets waiting for the ball to arrive.
Overall: Cunningham was very productive at Louisville and is an RPO passer for the next level. He lacks upside, yet has enough ability to make a roster as a third signal-caller.