Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina | NFL Draft Scouting Report

One year removed from being the early QB1, does South Carolina's Spencer Rattler have a salvageable scouting report for the 2023 NFL Draft?

Spencer Rattler begins the 2023 NFL Draft cycle in a much different place from one year ago. Literally. Following his transfer to South Carolina from Oklahoma, Rattler is no longer on a pedestal as the potential QB1 of this class and is under far more scrutiny than 12 months ago. However, as Rattler’s scouting report reveals, there’s still a desirable skill set lurking beneath all the question marks surrounding one of college football’s most mercurial men.

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Spencer Rattler NFL draft profile

A record-setter with over 11,000 passing yards for Pinnacle High School, Rattler was a five-star prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. However, his early football journey wasn’t without incident. The prolific passer missed the end of his senior season due to an incident he described as a “childish, dumb, mistake.” The incident didn’t impact his recruiting, holding offers from the top programs across the nation but opting to attend Oklahoma.

While he saw some relief snaps behind Jalen Hurts in 2019, Rattler rose to prominence in the 2020 campaign. Completing 67.4% of his passes, the former Oklahoma QB threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns as he led the Sooners to a Big 12 Championship. Meanwhile, he set program records for yards per completion and yards per attempt on his way to FWAA Freshman All-American honors.

As a result of his redshirt-freshman performances, Rattler began entered the 2022 NFL Draft cycle as an early QB1 favorite. However, the season failed to live up to expectations. After several narrow wins, Rattler was benched while trailing against Texas. He never reclaimed his starting job for the Sooners. While completing 74.9% of his passes, Rattler tallied just 1,483 passing yards. Opting to enter the transfer portal at the end of the season, Rattler will get a fresh start at South Carolina this fall.

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: South Carolina
  • Current Year: Redshirt Junior
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 200 pounds

Spencer Rattler scouting report

Games studied: Texas 2020, Kansas State 2020, Iowa State 2020, Texas 2021, West Virginia 2021

While Rattler has a very different outlook in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle compared to last season, the South Carolina QB isn’t without allure. The basic selling points of his scouting report from last cycle hold true. There are, of course, some concerns and clear areas for improvement. However, a change of environment could unlock his strengths and help him reestablish his NFL draft stock during the upcoming college football season.

Rattler’s strengths

Rattler possesses impressive arm talent. While he didn’t always demonstrate it last season, he’s showcased the ability to push the ball downfield at will. Although there wasn’t a high percentage of deep third throws last season, that isn’t the only measurement of arm strength. There were multiple examples of Rattler hitting the far sideline from the opposite hash mark in the games studied (including in 2021).

There are other impressive elements of Rattler’s arm talent. The South Carolina QB routinely demonstrates a rapid release, getting the ball out of his hands quickly. He’s able to generate excellent zip on his passes, routinely throwing with velocity. As a result, he’s shown the ability to fit the ball into extremely tight windows. Rattler can throw from multiple arm angles.

In the short to intermediate areas of the field, Rattler’s demonstrated good accuracy. Furthermore, he shows the ability to throw with anticipation, leading his receiver to maximize yardage after the catch. His ability to throw from multiple arm angles makes him a danger to the opposition when throwing on the run. Rattler keeps his eyes downfield and makes accurate throws while on the move. Additionally, he is able to make throws across his body that most QBs would not be able to.

While Rattler lacks an elite athletic profile, there is some upside as a mobile creator. The South Carolina QB has showcased an ability to routinely escape the pocket and make yardage with his legs. He’s no Desmond Ridder in terms of ability to eat up ground with long strides, but Rattler can certainly evade pursuers. Meanwhile, he has good change-of-direction ability to extend rushing plays. In this regard, Rattler has also displayed good vision at times. This is most noticeable in red-zone situations where he can spot a gap.

Although his ability to create out of structure can lead to a hastened escape from the pocket, there are examples on tape of good pocket management. Rattler appears to have developed in his ability to feel pressure in the pocket. As a result, he doesn’t take many avoidable sacks. He’ll accept a dump off, throw out of bounds, or escape with his legs before taking a sack.

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.

Rattler’s areas for improvement

It’s easy to castigate NFL draft analysts for crowning Rattler as an early QB1 in the last NFL draft cycle. During the 2020 season, he had demonstrated development against the areas of improvement. There was every reason, given his trajectory, to believe that Rattler could continue to develop against these. Instead, he regressed in many of those areas for improvement on his scouting report.

The biggest area for improvement is his decision-making. As a passer, Rattler makes some extremely questionable decisions. There were multiple examples in the games studied where he put the ball into dangerous situations downfield into double coverage. Even when double coverage wasn’t involved, he made some passes into single coverage where his receiver was tightly covered and had no chance of being able to complete the reception.

The decision-making issues extend to his pocket management. As mentioned above, Rattler can be quick to flee a seemingly clean pocket, forcing himself to make a more difficult throw on the run. He has very itchy feet in the pocket, rather than remaining poised and calm to evaluate the situation. Rattler’s footwork in the pocket is also an area for improvement. He doesn’t always set his feet correctly, relying on arm talent alone to drive the ball.

Some of Rattler’s decision-making issues can be directly traced to his inability to read the game to a high level. Rattler often gets locked on to one receiver. Like many college quarterbacks, he doesn’t routinely scan the whole field. The South Carolina QB has admitted in interviews that this is a significant area that he’s looking to improve on.

Current draft projection for South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler

One year removed from being a QB1 contender, Rattler’s draft projection for the 2023 NFL Draft is a complicated affair. The South Carolina QB has a scouting report that boasts some high-end arm talent. He also has the creative mobility that the NFL craves. South Carolina will run an offense with more under-center snaps than he’s been accustomed to at Oklahoma, allowing an element of versatility to his game.

However, at 6’1″ and 200 pounds, will Rattler be viewed as “undersized” by the NFL? Furthermore, can he develop enough against the areas of improvement on his report to make him a viable top-level NFL draft prospect? Those are the questions that will need to be answered throughout the course of the 2022 college football season.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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