Draft Daily: Jacoby Brissett, An Intriguing QB
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. We’ve already covered more than a dozen players, including Myles Jack, Dak Prescott, Jack Conklin and Kenneth Dixon. If you have a player you think should be covered, shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE BACK STORY
I told Jacoby Brissett he was making a mistake. I said it (mostly) in a joking manner, and I’m sure he’d heard the faux criticism before, but the then-18-year-old just flashed a smile and walked away.
I was covering the ESPN National High School Invitational in April of 2011, a prestigious high school basketball tournament, and Brissett led Dwyer High School with 30 points to an upset win over the defending champions. Afterward, I suggested to Brissett that maybe he should play basketball in college instead of football, but the Florida commit didn’t seem terribly interested in entertaining the wisecrack.
Basketball was his first true love, and he only started playing football as a kid because he was chubby and coaches wanted him to play offensive line, but he became one of the top quarterback recruits in the country and he eventually made the difficult decision to switch his focus.
When he got to Gainesville, however, he was joined by the No. 1 quarterback prospect, Jeff Driskel. After Brissett became the first true freshman in program history to play his first snap at quarterback as a starter, he spent the majority of his two years as a backup, so he transferred to North Carolina State.
Brissett touched on his decision at the NFL Combine and whether it was tough to make.
“Most definitely,” he said. “It’s just how things happen in this world. You just gotta fight it and keep going. You know it’s difficult, but it’s just about having the right people around you, having a strong faith and understanding it’s not over, and just still loving the game is, I think, the most important part of it.”
As a redshirt junior in 2014, Brissett threw 23 touchdown passes, the seventh-best single season mark in school history. He was also just one of three Power 5 conference quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passing yards, 300 rushing yards, 20 passing touchdowns and five or less interceptions. After last season’s performance, with just 25 games under center, Brissett now ranks fifth in N.C. State history in career passing touchdowns.
When you look around to try to determine Brissett’s draft stock, it’s impossible to find any type of consensus. ESPN’s Scouts Inc. ranks Brissett as the sixth-best quarterback in the draft, with a second-to-third round grade; CBS Sports, meanwhile, projects him to be a fifth-round pick.
The Eagles have said they’re going to draft a quarterback, and Brissett will likely be selected somewhere in the middle rounds, but it’s unclear when, exactly, either of those two things will happen.
The big takeaway from Brissett’s spider chart: he’s not a great athlete, but he has NFL size. I expected him to measure out better in Indianapolis, though, considering he ran for about 900 yards and nine touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons.
According to Mock Draftable, Matt Ryan is the closest comparison to Brissett in terms of measurables.
One thing that quickly jumps out at you when watching Brissett’s film is his ability to improvise. His size and strength make him tough to bring down, he throws well on the move and he can be accurate even when he’s off balance. He’s occasionally a bit loose with the ball when trying to escape pressure, but that’s a minor thing he should be able to fix in the NFL.
Brissett’s 8-yard touchdown pass against Florida State is probably the best example of his ability to extend plays.
His mobility also led to a 59-yard touchdown pass against Wake Forest.
Another reason Brissett is attractive to scouts is because he can connect on big plays. He needs to improve his ball placement on deep throws, but he can fit the ball into tight windows down the field and he has good arm strength.
His 58-yard touchdown pass against Wake Forest is one that stands out.
Brissett’s 65-yard touchdown pass against Presbyterian is another good example.
He also displayed good touch on both intermediate and deep throws, which he combined with excellent ball placement on this 28-yard touchdown pass against Clemson.
However, one notable knock on Brissett is he’s sometimes late on passes. He also occasionally misread coverages and is somewhat inconsistent with his ball placement on what should be easy throws.
I think he’s a bit tricky to project because of the offense he played in at N.C. State. His experience under-center is attractive to NFL teams, but how much do you knock him for mental mistakes given the fact that he’s operating in a pro-style offense that demands more football IQ than many other college schemes?
I’m guessing his meetings with teams and how he does on the board drawing plays will go a long way in determining that answer.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Brissett is a tough guy to get a handle on because of the (sometimes wildly) varying opinions on him. I think he’s underrated by many and would be a good fourth-round pick, but using a Day 2 selection on him seems like a reach. He appears to be a guy who could legitimately go in the third, fourth, fifth or sixth round.
He showed significant improvement in his two (playing) seasons at N.C. State, and I think several of his bad habits (carrying the ball loose, leaving the pocket a bit too soon, throwing off his back foot because of pressure) can be fixed with good coaching. However, it’s reasonable to wonder what the ceiling on his accuracy and decision making is, and how much better it can really get.