Riley Leonard Draft Profile | Duke, QB Scouting Report

    Does Duke QB Riley Leonard have the necessary upside to earn Round 1 capital in the 2024 NFL Draft? As his scouting report shows, more growth can get him there.

    Could Duke QB Riley Leonard throw his hat into the Round 1 conversation in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle? Past the top two passers, the 2024 NFL Draft QB class is wide open, and Leonard might just have the scouting report to command early-round capital as a potential franchise signal-caller.

    Riley Leonard Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’4″
    • Weight: 212 pounds
    • Position: Quarterback
    • School: Duke
    • Current Year: Junior

    Years of scouting the NFL Draft have revealed that, while physical tools are important for differentiating potential NFL starters at quarterback, having the mental acuity and mindset of a starting QB is just as vital. That’s something Leonard — Duke’s ascending starting QB — appears to have in spades.

    A team captain as a true junior, Leonard is only regarded as humble and measured by those who know him. But on the field, he’s competitive and productive.

    In his true sophomore season — his first year as a starter — he completed 250 of 392 attempts (63.8%) for 2,967 yards, 20 touchdowns, and six picks and tacked on almost 700 yards and 13 additional scores on the ground.

    Now, just a half-decade after the Blue Devils saw Daniel Jones go sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to the New York Giants, Leonard himself could be another potential first-round pick, with real estate to take control of behind Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. Does he have what it takes to get there?

    Riley Leonard Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Has a lean, prototypical build and possesses all of the necessary physical tools.
    • Has great arm strength, challenging the hashes and rocketing throws into windows.
    • Arm angles are freely adjustable, enabling him to layer pace and touch on throws.
    • Exceptional athlete and creator with explosiveness, speed, and plus change of direction.
    • Shows a level of command pre-snap and flashes post-snap recognition and anticipation.
    • Has the capacity to work laterally on progressions and pick out boundary windows.
    • Naturally able to place short RAC passes with situational precision, minimizing contact.
    • Provides glimpses of spectacular situational precision and trajectory manipulation.
    • Instinctive pocket navigator who can snake through lanes and stand tall under pressure.
    • Has shown he can acquire mechanical synergy ahead of throws and torque his hips.
    • Congruent, crisp rotational thrower when his rhythm isn’t disrupted.
    • Maintains an awareness of his checkdowns and can quickly divert when blitzed.
    • Has good competitive toughness and doesn’t shy away from contact as a runner.

    Weaknesses

    • Arm strength and elasticity both fall short of the elite mark.
    • Velocity wanes when pressing farther downfield or when passing off-platform.
    • Composure in tight pockets is inconsistent; struggles to hold mechanics in congestion.
    • Direct pressure threats from the interior can induce hesitation and collapse plays.
    • Can be sporadic and uncontrolled with footwork in pressure situations.
    • Frantic feet can tug shoulders out of alignment, causing launch-point instability.
    • Prone to erroneous misses with inconsistent down-to-down mechanics.
    • At times, lack of hip drive can cause downward shoulder tilt and low misses.
    • Still learning how to process pressure and the field simultaneously.
    • Sometimes hesitates when testing windows and can be quicker to anticipate.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Off of preseason viewings, Leonard grades out as a mid-to-late Day 2 prospect on my current board, but he does have the necessary physical talent to ascend into the Round 1 range with another year of growth and production.

    Like most young passers, Leonard still has room to develop as a processor. There are flashes of anticipation and progression work, but he can be more consistent. Additionally, working against pressure has proven to be a tumultuous endeavor — both mentally and mechanically.

    Interestingly, Leonard is a very instinctive pocket navigator when it comes to space management, but maintaining mechanical congruence amidst pressure has proven challenging. Leonard’s mechanics in closing pockets can be volatile, and by extension, so too can his accuracy and precision. More experience may help strengthen his composure.

    Leonard needs to take another step operationally to reach his ceiling as a prospect, but the physical foundation is there.

    He’s a stellar athlete and creator at 6’4″, 212 pounds, with enough arm strength to generate velocity in the short and intermediate ranges and stretch the field diagonally, and he also has the easy arm elasticity to adjust his throwing angles and layer passes.

    Though his physical foundation isn’t quantifiably elite, Leonard safely passes the talent threshold of a potential NFL starter in the modern age, and some of the glimpses he shows on the operational side — regarding ball placement, poise, and anticipation — are very inspiring. With more growth and consistency, he could vie for the QB3 spot.

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