Editor's note: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein will "dare to compare" prospects to NFL players throughout the college football season. This week, he provides a scouting report and comp for Washington State QB Luke Falk, who is separating himself from the pack at his position, according to one scout.
Nothing is more appealing to scouts than a gun-slinging quarterback with gaudy statistics, good size and the ability to change an NFL franchise's fortunes. Of course, with the proliferation of spread offenses, gaudy stats don't mean that much anymore as it pertains to the NFL draft.
However, Washington State's Luke Falk isn't just another stat-padding system quarterback who doesn't have the ability to transition into the NFL. I see attributes in him that are similar to what we look for from good NFL quarterbacks, and I believe he will transcend any "system" concerns whenever he enters the league. Here's my scouting report and comp for the redshirt junior.
Falk (6-foot-4, 216 pounds, per school measurements) stands tall in the pocket and has no problem seeing over the defensive line. Of all his positive attributes, the most important might be his poise. Falk doesn't rattle easily when the pocket gets noisy -- he plays with an unusual amount of patience. Falk rarely rushes his throws and is more than willing to wait for receivers running crossing routes to sail into the clear before throwing it their way. Falk does an excellent job of getting through his progressions and the tape shows he's willing to scan the entire field rather than just one half of it.
Falk's lack of panic allows him to keep his eyes up the field and on his targets. It also prevents him from drastically altering his mechanics, which would hurt his overall accuracy. Falk has an unusually compact release on short throws, allowing the ball to come out quickly and with excellent accuracy. Falk's accuracy on deep sideline throws is top notch and he has the arm to make all the NFL throws. Add in his mobility, and you've got a prospect who is picking up steam in scouting circles.
Falk is somewhat lanky through his lower body. I would say it's safe to assume that his lower half could use more "leg days" in the gym. At times, Falk defaults to his lightning-quick release over a fundamental delivery. He could operate with more consistent balance in his base. While Falk does a nice job of scanning the field, there are times when he misses intermediate opportunities and defaults to the final checkdown option.
The biggest concern, in my opinion, centers around Falk's inconsistencies with his anticipatory throws between the numbers. There are times when he appears to wait for his targets to break open rather than throwing to windows that are opening. When he delays, it opens the door for safeties and/or linebackers to come crashing into the passing lanes. It's worth noting that five of his six interceptions this season have come in the middle of the field.
Falk reminds me of former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, a three-time Pro Bowler who retired after last season. For starters, Hasselbeck and Falk are similar in height, weight and body type. Both quarterbacks can count mobility as a plus and can elude pressure inside the pocket while continuing to look up the field.
Hasselbeck never led the league in passing yardage, touchdowns or quarterback rating, but he took Seattle to the playoffs six times, and all the way to the Super Bowl one of those years thanks to his accuracy, leadership and confidence, which are all traits I see in Falk. I think Falk might have some of the same interception issues that Hasselbeck did. However, I also believe in Falk's ability to attack on all levels of the field and operate with the type of calm that resonates with an NFL team looking for a capable leader who has winning traits.