Thanks in part to the partnership with Pro Football Network and the East-West Shrine Bowl, readers can now go beyond the games on Saturdays and obtain a virtual look at the scouting process for the 2023 NFL Draft.
For some, the draft takes place in April. For those initiated, the 2023 NFL Draft has already begun with preparation, film study, analysis, and now live looks at some of the top players as Week 5 has come and gone.
Below are observations and analysis from Shrine Bowl Director Eric Galko from the previous week of action.
A Scout’s Eye: 2023 NFL Draft Quarterbacks
This week began the start of conference play for every team in the country, coupled with rain and lackluster conditions in what felt like 75% of college football games this weekend. But with stiffer, more prepared competition and situational weather limitations comes a showcase of traits, ability to overcome obstacles and pressure, and big-game performances that can paint a picture of “NFL starter quality” for some of these senior quarterbacks.
With a live exposure to two prime-time impressive performances on the West Coast for the others, it was a productive week of senior QB evaluations as October starts and more firm evaluations of these quarterbacks begin to take place.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA (vs. Washington)
Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been the UCLA starter for five seasons, and especially in 2022, his experience is starting to show in his comfortability as a passer and maneuvering quarterback. Against Washington, DTR displayed outstanding pre and post-snap progressions and adjusted off his first read many times with natural adjustments and accuracy.
He finished in tight windows, finished on third downs across the middle and on the perimeter, showcasing one of the most important traits for an improvising and athletic passer like himself — the ability to adjust velocity and arm angles to the situation.
Thompson-Robinson’s mastery of throwing angles and confidence in progression, throwing windows and situation has led to only one interception, few, if any, other turnover-worthy throws this season, and a deserving top-20 ranking on the season for a talented UCLA team.
Phil Jurkovec, Boston College (vs. Louisville)
I got a chance to see Jurkovec play live, in the rain, in what became a shootout vs. fellow senior quarterback Malik Cunningham (more on him below). Jurkovec had his fair share of plays he’d like back, including a poor interception early in the game and a fumble on an attempted throwaway, both of which led to Louisville touchdowns.
But Jurkovec’s toughness as a pocket passer and downfield accuracy made up for it. He powered through consistent pressure by the Louisville defensive front seven, staying true in the pocket and not missing opportunities in muddled situations. Plus, he and star receiver Zay Flowers linked up for two deep passes, set up by Louisville pressure unable to reach/drag down Jurkovec in the pocket.
His decision-making needs improvement, but Jurkovec clearly has NFL traits and has been acutely followed by NFL personnel for the last three years.
Malik Cunningham, Louisville (vs. Boston College)
Along with Jurkovec, Cunningham impressed greatly in my live viewing despite the rain and being on the road in Boston. Cunningham’s athleticism and elusiveness are impossible to ignore, and seeing how Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, and other athletic quarterbacks are able to keep drives alive with their feet, Cunningham’s ability as a runner can’t be discounted as a “college-only” quarterbacking trait.
Cunningham was highly accurate across the field, with two perfect perimeter throws along the right side and consistency in underneath throws all game long against a talented Boston College defensive back group. Cunningham is both a game manager and an efficient mid-range passer with electric running ability. In today’s NFL, that could be the makeup of a quarterback who can start (and win) games at the next level.
Jaren Hall, BYU (vs. Utah State)
Jaren Hall has benefited from playing multiple non-Saturday games this year, which has probably helped make him an even more household name with NFL coaches and decision-makers this season.
Hall’s aggressiveness downfield continued to be his calling card against Utah State, although his downfield tendency can sometimes get him in trouble, including against zone coverage. But his placement, velocity, and velocity control continue to wow.
Hall benefits from a controlled release and natural balance as he adjusts up and around the pocket. He rarely misses perimeter and downfield placement throws, and continues to pick up first downs and create run-after-catch opportunities around the hash marks. Hall, week by week, continues his trek towards being a top senior QB.