Few college football quarterbacks have had a path to the 2022 NFL Draft more winding and arduous than Florida State QB McKenzie Milton. Once a rising star at UCF, Milton now faces pressure to revitalize his career as a member of the Florida State Seminoles. After suffering an injury that almost ended his career, can Milton resurrect his NFL Draft scouting report in 2021?
McKenzie Milton NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Florida State
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 189 pounds
McKenzie Milton Scouting Report
Milton is one of the elder statesmen of the quarterback position in college football — but not by choice. Milton was a rising junior prospect with three years of starting experience in 2018 when a career-altering injury nearly ended his time on the field for good. The Florida State QB is back now, but it’s unclear if he’ll be the same quarterback he was.
If Milton is the same quarterback, however, what does that mean for his NFL Draft stock? The former Knight was one of the AAC’s most productive playmakers in his prime. Furthermore, he was an electric leader for his offense and a reliable catalyst week in and week out. What kind of value does Milton bring as a player, and is his skill set translatable to the NFL?
McKenzie Milton’s physical profile
Milton isn’t the hulking physical specimen that some cerebral evaluators prefer at the quarterback position. He stands around 5’11” and 189 pounds. His frame is noticeably small and slight for NFL standards, but he has great athleticism to counteract his size.
Milton has solid speed and elusiveness for the position, and he’s an excellent lateral mover. He shrugs off arm tackles and stays on his feet with shifty maneuvers, and his athleticism translates into good escapability in the pocket.
Going further, Milton uses his athletic traits well. He seems very natural navigating the pocket, with a good feel for pressure and how to move as he encounters it in different spots. Milton steps into his throws when he’s in rhythm, and he generates decent velocity on short and intermediate passes.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Milton’s athleticism pops, but so too do his intangibles. The Florida State QB is a strong operational passer with a lot of nice qualities. He’s mechanically sound when in structure, with a strong base and good rotation. He also keeps his feet active when going through his progressions. Milton steps up into his throws when in rhythm, and he can be accurate in structure, particularly in the short and intermediate ranges.
Mentally, Milton shows promise. He’s shown the ability to work through his progressions and trigger with decisiveness. Furthermore, he flashes the ability to throw with anticipation. He leads receivers fairly well in the short and intermediate ranges, and he has solid field vision and foresight as a passer.
Going further, Milton has veteran savvy. He delivers the ball with touch down the field, and he understands trajectory manipulation. He can also utilize deception as a passer and has flashed the ability to lead safeties astray with his eyes. Moreover, Milton has the wherewithal to throw the ball away when nothing’s there. He’s a high-motor competitor who adapts quickly when plays modulate.
Areas for improvement
Milton is athletic and smart, so what’s the holdup? The most significant issue with Milton’s scouting report, it seems, is his arm talent. The Florida State QB has an average to below-average NFL arm, and that’s where a lot of his negative notes stem from.
Milton can only generate modest velocity with his arm. His deep passes don’t carry much pace at all, and passes with too much loft can easily be preyed upon. Milton needs to strain to put enhanced pace on his throws, and more often than desired, his passes drop as they reach their intended targets. Milton’s passes stall easily when he doesn’t bring forward momentum into his throws, making mechanical consistency especially important.
Milton’s lack of arm strength means that even well-anticipated throws sometimes arrive later than desired. Additionally, his middling arm talent prevents him from consistently manipulating ball placement. He doesn’t have the arm talent to consistently fit passes into tight windows downfield. Furthermore, he doesn’t generate great velocity or consistent accuracy off-platform. By extension, his deep accuracy is a pressing concern.
Among other things, Milton is aware of his arm limitations, and it affects his play at times. He’s sometimes indecisive and tentative against tight coverage. He also tries to compensate for his lacking strength by overshooting passes at times.
McKenzie Milton’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Milton has a lot of redeeming qualities as a passer when he’s healthy. Before his major injury, he was athletic, scrappy, and relatively solid from a mental standpoint. The questions that come up revolve around Milton’s upside. His arm is visibly subpar in the NFL context, which may prevent him from earning considerable draft buzz, even if he has a productive 2021 campaign.
Even without NFL arm talent, Milton still has traits that should make him an appealing backup or third-string quarterback. He’s tough, composed as a leader, and has enough athleticism and adaptability to perform off-script when things break down.
Milton’s never going to make jaw-dropping throws with his arm, but his mental toughness — combined with his mobility — makes him an ideal safety blanket in the late Day 3 range. Health will likely determine whether he’s picked or not, but he’ll get a shot in camp no matter what.
McKenzie Milton’s Player Profile
The odds seem to be stacked against Milton as he seeks to surge back onto the NFL Draft stage. Yet, that’s the only way Milton knows how to work. He’s always been fighting an uphill battle, but he’s never batted an eye. It started as early as high school when Milton was an oft-forgotten two-star recruit out of Mililani High School in Hawaii.
At just 5’11”, 165 pounds, Milton’s size turned a lot of teams away. However, his 4.64 40-yard dash and 35.5-inch vertical earned some fans on the other side of the country. He had a local offer from Hawaii, but an offer from Scott Frost and the rising UCF Knights proved more enticing.
Milton’s career at UCF
Milton enrolled with the Knights in 2016 as a true freshman and wound up starting 10 games in his first season in the American Athletic Conference. Such a feat might have been unlikely for another quarterback, but Milton made it look easy. The future Florida State product threw for 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in his first year, then proceeded to lock down the Knights’ starting quarterback job through 2018.
In 2017, Milton tore up the AAC, amassing 4,037 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on a 67.1% completion rate. Additionally, he rushed for 613 yards and 8 scores. The next year, he put up similar numbers, logging 2,663 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He was set to finish that season strong, but a low hit against USF caused a severe dislocation of his knee.
Milton was rushed to the hospital upon being injured, and emergency surgery was conducted to repair damage to the arteries in his knee, saving him from potential amputation. Even so, the road to recovery was a long one. Milton had reconstructive surgery early in 2019, but an infection later that summer set his timetable back. He returned to football readiness in 2020, but Dillon Gabriel was entrenched as the starter by then.
Milton decided to transfer, respecting what Gabriel had built, choosing Mike Norvell’s Florida State as his next destination.
McKenzie Milton’s impending NFL Draft ascension at Florida State
The nation holds its breath as Milton looks to return to full-scale action at the college football level. His knee has been heavily reconstructed at this point, but Milton looked good in Florida State’s spring game. He was spry on his feet, sharp as a passer, and most importantly, he produced. Milton earned a reputation as a winner at UCF, and he’ll have a chance to restore Florida State’s legitimacy in 2021.
Milton’s redemptive arc is inspiring, and it may ultimately earn him a chance at the NFL level. He’ll be 25 years old by October of his rookie year, and his slight frame will turn some teams away. Nevertheless, in the late rounds, or as an undrafted free agent, Milton’s sheer resolve and ability to withstand adversity deserves credence in a reserve capacity. He may never be an NFL starter, but Milton’s presence alone has proven to make a difference.