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 at the New England Patriots undrafted free agent.
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 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.
As soon as he took the starting job, all Cunningham did was 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 across the 2022 campaign, he seemed to fade a bit as time went on, before declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft in early December.
Cunningham wasn’t the level of prospect that Jackson and Bridgewater were — but he was still able to earn an opportunity as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots. And in a place that values his versatility, he could end up being a gem.
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
Malik Cunningham’s 2023 NFL Outlook
Cunningham graded out as a late-round pick at best and a likely priority free agent on my board. He ultimately went undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft and signed with the Patriots as a UDFA.
Cunningham is a lighter passer who’s noticeably lacking in arm strength, but he does have redeeming qualities to offer — most notably, his athleticism. His creation capacity, in fact, is elite.
Cunningham is 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, he 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.
Beyond his pocket management and creation capacity, Cunningham is a fairly quick decision-maker who’s efficient in the short range and has proven he can 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 that can consistently counteract that limitation.
Nevertheless, there is something to be said about Cunningham’s athleticism, toughness, and efficiency in the pocket.
Cunningham could earn the QB3 spot behind Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe and make the Patriots’ roster. Not only that, but his ability as a gadget player and a WR hybrid could allow him to see the field at times in the regular season.
He likely won’t take too many traditional QB reps unless injuries strike, but his creation capacity is something he has that the Patriots’ other QBs lack.
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