After his stellar 2019 campaign, Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan was viewed as an up-and-coming NFL Draft prospect. In 2020, however, his scouting report took a hit. After an uneven redshirt junior season, where does Morgan stand among the 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks? Where might he go off the board next April?
Tanner Morgan NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Minnesota
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 215 pounds
Tanner Morgan Scouting Report
In 2019, Morgan set records. He legitimately put together one of the better seasons by a quarterback in Minnesota football history. After that year, Morgan was commonly in early draft watch lists. Some evaluators had him penciled in as a potential early-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, things have changed. Even in a 2022 quarterback class that lacks any semblance of hierarchy, Morgan is scarcely mentioned. It seems as though many have forgotten about his dominance in 2019. Either that — or 2020 shed light on greater issues within his game. Which is it? Let’s dive into the tape and make our own conclusion.
Tanner Morgan’s physical profile
Morgan doesn’t pass the eye test, but he doesn’t quite fail it, either. The Minnesota QB has a sturdy 6’2″, 215-pound frame. He also has decent mobility. While he’s not an elite athlete by any stretch of the imagination, he can escape the pocket when he needs to. He also has the toughness to stand in the pocket and step up when lanes appear.
Morgan’s arm has a similar outlook upon conducting the eye test. He has a fast, crisp, and compact throwing motion, and that motion can generate good momentum. The Minnesota QB generates above-average velocity when he’s in rhythm. Morgan also has some measured elasticity. He can adjust his arm angles at times, although his flexibility there is somewhat limited.
Among other things, Morgan generally keeps a solid base to throw off of. Additionally, he shows high effort and competitive toughness in off-script situations.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Morgan’s physical foundation is admittedly unspectacular. Where the Minnesota QB truly makes his money is in the operational realm. Here, Morgan shows more promise. The signal-caller’s upper-body mechanics are solid, and his footwork only has minor inconsistencies, which we’ll get into later.
Morgan has a fairly good sense of timing, and he flashes good ball placement at times. He’s at least conscious of throwing receivers open. Particularly with touch passes, he places the ball well and gives his receivers a chance in 50-50 situations. The Golden Gopher has an understanding of leverage in tight spaces — in the red zone and near the sidelines. He also flashes anticipation on in-breaking routes.
Morgan is a relatively decisive passer, especially in the short and intermediate ranges. In this range, he hits his receivers in stride. Morgan’s able to work through his progressions and reset his eyes quickly, and he knows to set his feet and turn his shoulders before delivering passes for maximum torque.
Areas for improvement
Morgan has an assortment of positive traits in the operational category. However, there are many limitations that need to be taken note of. Morgan’s arm strength is decent at best. His passes sometimes drop before reaching their targets, and he can’t always push the ball past defenders in contested situations. His deep balls clearly lack pace as well.
Going further, Morgan lacks upper-level arm elasticity. While he can adjust his arm angles at times, he lacks the elasticity necessary to generate velocity off-platform. Furthermore, he’s not an elite athlete. Although he has some mobility, Morgan is clearly limited in running situations and on rollouts. Overall, he isn’t equipped to go off-script on a consistent basis.
Moving into Morgan’s passing, the Minnesota QB has some mechanical issues to clean up, even if he’s solid there. He doesn’t always step into his throws, limiting velocity and distance. His feet can be skittish in his stance, and he doesn’t always look comfortable. Morgan can navigate the pocket more effectively to delay pressure, but he can also be late to notice pressure at times. He doesn’t have the tools to evade once in danger.
To wrap things up, Morgan’s precision can be an issue. He doesn’t always lead receivers or position for yards after catch. He doesn’t have great natural accuracy and will have uncharacteristic misses, even in rhythm. The Minnesota QB sometimes trusts his arm too much and doesn’t consistently use his eyes to deceive defenders.
Tanner Morgan’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Morgan has some impressive moments on tape. While his arm strength is not top-tier, it’s not quite below average, either. Morgan generates decent velocity in rhythm, and he can put a nice touch on back-shoulder throws and red-zone fades. In structure, his sense of timing and steady decision-making makes him an effective game manager. Still, outside of that structure, he falls off.
Morgan’s athleticism is average at best, and his arm talent can be classified similarly. He’s not a dynamic playmaker, and he doesn’t have the natural talent to create off-script. His operational traits — combined with his leadership ability — should amount to a chance as an NFL backup. Yet, that’s likely where Morgan’s upside comes to a halt.
Tanner Morgan’s Player Profile
Morgan came to Minnesota in their time of need. The Golden Gophers arguably hadn’t had any competent quarterback play since 2010 when Adam Weber threw for 2,679 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Mitch Leidner managed to start for three years farther down the line, but he was inconsistent.
Minnesota needed a new quarterback to rally around. At first, Morgan didn’t seem to be the one. He joined Minnesota as a bit of an afterthought — a three-star quarterback recruit out of Larry A. Ryle High School in Union, Kentucky. He’d fielded offers from Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Louisville, and several MAC schools, but Morgan chose to sign with Minnesota as part of P.J. Fleck’s first recruiting class there.
Morgan’s career at Minnesota
Morgan redshirted his freshman year and came back as a redshirt freshman in 2018. At first, he wasn’t the starter — that title belonged to Zack Annexstad. But when Annexstad got injured, Morgan came in and performed admirably in relief. He ended the year with 1,401 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, carrying the starting role into 2019.
2019 was the year that Morgan set the Big Ten on fire. Minnesota went 11-2, while Morgan lit up opposing defenses with the help of Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman, and Chris Autman-Bell. Morgan amassed 3,253 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions while sporting a 66% completion percentage.
Morgan was a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist and a Manning Award finalist, all while earning academic honors. He was also a second-team All-Big Ten selection, behind only Justin Fields.
Of course, with life’s highs, the lows come as well. In 2020, COVID impacted the football season. In addition to that, Morgan had to deal with his father’s illness. He returned with several playmakers, including RB Mohamed Ibrahim, but the Golden Gophers struggled to find consistency. Morgan completed 57.9% of his passes for 1,374 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in seven games.
Tanner Morgan’s NFL Draft ascension
After this season, Morgan’s years of eligibility will be exhausted, and the Minnesota QB will be forced to move on to the next step — whatever that is. While he has some redeeming qualities as a draft prospect, Morgan simply doesn’t have the upside that’s coveted at the NFL level in the modern era. He ultimately may be forced to carve out a path as an undrafted free agent. His ceiling likely rests in the Day 3 range.
Even so, adversity hasn’t been an uncommon thing for Morgan. He’s encountered plenty, and he’s battled through it each time. Taking on the NFL dream will be no different. At the very least, Morgan’s toughness, leadership ability, and quality character should grant him a place in camp. From there, he may be able to earn a lasting role.