NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2018. This is the ninth in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason. Click through the tabs below to see all of them.
Who's the best quarterback in college football? If you asked five different personnel evaluators, you might get five different answers. In other words, it's a wide-open contest. West Virginia's Will Grier is right in the thick of that discussion. He's coming off a monster year and he'll have a great group of skill-position players around him this fall. I recently studied four of his games. Here's my First Look scouting report:
Will Grier, redshirt senior quarterback, West Virginia
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 212 pounds (school measurements).
2017 statistics: 250-of-388 (64.4 percent) for 3,490 yards, 34 TDs and 12 INTs.
Game tape watched: Virginia Tech (Sept. 3, 2017), TCU (Oct. 7, 2017), Kansas State (Nov. 11, 2017), Texas (Nov. 18, 2017).
What I liked: The one word I would use to describe Grier: smooth. He's an effortless thrower who's very poised in the pocket. He has outstanding foot quickness in his setup and he's elusive versus the pass rush. He has shown the ability to subtly side step edge pressure or spin around and escape the pocket. He is also effective creating plays as a runner on both zone reads and scrambles.
Grier lacks elite size, but he has plenty of arm strength. I watched him throw live last month at the Elite 11 Finals in Redondo Beach, Calif., and I was very impressed with his combination of zip and touch. He also put on a show when throwing on the move. He makes it look easy. Grier has a quick delivery. He can accurately drive the ball on skinny posts and hole shots near the sideline. He can also operate with limited foot space in the pocket. His accuracy doesn't suffer when he's off platform or forced to change arm angles.
Where he needs to improve: Obviously, things didn't end well for Grier at Florida. He received a one-year suspension from the NCAA for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs before transferring from UF to WVU. He'll need to answer some questions about that issue from NFL evaluators in the spring. On the field, there are two areas in which I'll be looking to see improvement in the fall: his deep-ball accuracy and cleaner footwork in his drop. His deep ball can be a little flat at times and he has a bad habit of drifting at the top of his drop. Both areas can be corrected.
Biggest takeaway: I was surprised by how many times I saw Grier make full-field reads. The WVU offense is more complicated than I anticipated. He routinely works from one side of the field to the other. That will make his transition to the next level easier. Also, the more I watched Grier, the more I liked him. I had a quarterback coach in college who used to always say, "How smooth can you be?" Grier is extremely smooth. He has an ease of movement in the pocket and his throwing motion is very natural. That bodes well for his future.
He reminds me of: His skill set reminds me a lot of Andy Dalton when he was coming out of TCU. Both guys are very athletic and creative with the ball in their hands. They don't wow you with size, but they have every tool necessary to play at a winning level for their team. They can use their legs to get out of trouble and they can also win from the pocket with accurate, on-schedule throws.
I can't wait to watch him play: Texas on Nov. 3. The Longhorns run an NFL-style defense, presenting one look before the snap and then rotating after the play begins. They also possess a very young, athletic secondary. I believe West Virginia is a legitimate candidate to win the Big 12 because of its offensive firepower. The Mountaineers have a big test coming out of the gate against Tennessee in Week 1. And Oklahoma, who they'll host in the regular-season finale, is probably the most talented opponent they'll square off against. However, the Texas game is the one I'm most anxious to watch.