Since Lincoln Riley became the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners in 2017, the program has become a quarterback factory for the NFL Draft. They’ve produced Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall selections in consecutive seasons with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Jalen Hurts parlayed his transfer to Oklahoma into a second-round pick. After a barren year, the Oklahoma QB conveyor belt is back in full effect ahead of next year’s annual selection event. Let’s take a look at Spencer Rattler’s scouting report and see if he can emulate his predecessors as a first-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Spencer Rattler NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 205 pounds
Spencer Rattler Scouting Report
Rattler has the skill set required to ensure that Oklahoma has another first-round quarterback in the NFL Draft. That starts with his ability as a passer. The Oklahoma QB has excellent arm strength, allowing him to push the ball downfield at will. Furthermore, Rattler generates awesome zip on the ball, giving him the ability to get the ball into his receivers anywhere. He demonstrates the ability to throw across his body seemingly effortlessly. Rattler is also extremely impressive throwing on the run.
This brings me nicely to the next part of his game: Rattler is a pro-style quarterback, but he displays good athletic ability. However, don’t get under the illusion that he’s Lamar Jackson. Still, Rattler can escape the pocket and make plays with his legs when required. He demonstrates a good change of direction, which he puts to good use both in the open field and in the pocket.
Rattler’s maneuverability in the pocket is impressive. He looks to have good awareness when pressure is bearing down on him. He rarely took an unnecessary sack in the games studied, opting to either escape the pocket, throw the ball out of bounds, or dump the ball off for a teammate to make a small gain.
His ability to avoid a sack shouldn’t be mistaken for fear of contact, however. There are multiple examples of him standing firm in the face of pressure and delivering a perfect pass before taking a hit.
Areas of improvement for Rattler
There are areas for improvement for all NFL Draft prospects — Rattler is no different. Despite praising his ability to escape the pocket when needed, he also needs to improve in that facet of his game. There are times when he will flee a seemingly clean pocket, forcing himself to make a more difficult throw on the run. This was a criticism leveled at Zach Wilson during the last NFL Draft cycle.
Another area for improvement is his reading of the game. Rattler needs to develop his game where he is reading the entire field and not leaving plays on the table by locking into a specific target early in the play.
During the early part of the season, there were multiple examples of Rattler staring down his target. One example that springs to mind is one of his interceptions against Kansas State. It was clear where Rattler was going to throw the ball, and it allowed the Wildcats defender to make a play on the ball.
Lastly, Rattler needs to be more conscious of ball security. He fumbled the ball on multiple occasions early in the year. Although this improved throughout the season, it is something that he must ensure doesn’t creep back into his game.
Spencer Rattler’s Player Profile
Ahead of a season that will propel him to the stage at the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s worth remembering that Rattler is no stranger to the spotlight. The Oklahoma QB has been a star for his entire football career to date. A starter for Pinnacle High School as a freshman, Rattler had already accumulated 5,278 passing yards and 48 touchdowns by the end of his sophomore season.
Naturally, the phenom from Phoenix garnered significant attention early in the recruiting process. A five-star prospect and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class, he earned double-digit offers from schools across the nation. In-state offers came from both Arizona and Arizona State. Alabama and Miami tried to secure his signature, and both premier programs in Texas attempted to tie him down.
However, it would be the Longhorns’ Red River rivals, Oklahoma, that would provide the perfect environment for the young gunslinger. “It’s the perfect setup at OU. Coaches are amazing; facilities are crazy, school, everything,” Rattler enthused when announcing his commitment to the Sooners before his junior season.
Breaking records but also breaking rules
Rattler was so confident in his decision that he never wavered, despite having two full seasons of high school football to play. During those two years, he established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Arizona high school history.
Rattler set a state record with 11,083 passing yards while adding 116 touchdowns. Furthermore, he demonstrated his dual-threat ability with over 1,000 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. A natural athlete, Rattler even guided Pinnacle to a 6A State Championship in basketball and fielded offers to play baseball.
With the cameras of the television series QB1 following his every move, Rattler had the opportunity to deliver a football championship to Pinnacle as a senior. However, following an incident that he later called a “childish, dumb mistake,” he was suspended for violating a district code of conduct policy.
Rattler would never play for Pinnacle again but did represent the school at the All-America Game. There, he threw 2 touchdowns to now Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson. His play during the game earned comparison to Patrick Mahomes.
Rattler’s career at Oklahoma
With Murray departed to the NFL Draft, Rattler was expected to be the starter for the Sooners as a freshman. But having decided against enrolling early, Oklahoma secured Hurts from the transfer portal, and the former Alabama quarterback earned the starting role. For the first time in his career, Rattler would have to ride the pine as the backup quarterback.
Although he would redshirt in 2019 and retain a year of eligibility, the Oklahoma QB would get the opportunity to see the field as a freshman. In the second game of the season against South Dakota, Rattler made his collegiate debut. He completed all four of his passes in a comfortable win, throwing for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Three weeks later, in another blowout win, Rattler completed 2-of-4 passes against Texas Tech for 23 yards. He wouldn’t see the field again until the College Football Playoff defeat to Louisiana State. Rattler completed just 33 percent of his pass attempts for 8 yards while adding an 8-yard rush.
After a shaky start, Rattler steadied the ship to emerge as a star
After reaching the playoffs in 2019, the Sooners were highly ranked coming into Rattler’s first season as a starter in 2020. Expectations were high and were further elevated when Oklahoma put up 31 points on Missouri State in the first quarter of their season opener. Rattler threw for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns, becoming the first Oklahoma QB to throw 4 scores in their starting debut.
However, the crowning of a new quarterback king seemed premature just three weeks later. The Sooners lost the next two games, suffering a shocking defeat to Kansas State and then losing to Iowa State in Norman. Although Rattler threw for a career-high 387 yards against the Wildcats, his 3 interceptions helped contribute to the Sooners’ downfall. Through his first four games, the Oklahoma QB had 5 interceptions.
Despite the shaky start, Rattler regrouped, and down the stretch, led the Sooners to success. Over his next seven games, he threw just 2 interceptions to 15 touchdowns. Rattler ended the season with 3,031 passing yards, 28 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, with an additional 6 rushing touchdowns.
Furthermore, he earned AP first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors. Additionally, he was just the second Oklahoma QB named a freshman All-American by the FWAA.
Rattler ended the season on a high with a win over Florida. He carries that momentum into a redshirt-sophomore season, where he is an early contender to be the next Oklahoma QB to win the Heisman Trophy. After that, Rattler could be yet another first overall pick to come out of Riley’s offense when the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.