Hutson Mason did not get an invite to the 2015 NFL Combine, and he is not a highly-touted prospect at the position, but there are certainly things to like about the Georgia quarterback's game. Mason is an inexperienced senior - he started just 16 games during his career at Georgia, sitting behind Aaron Murray for three of those years. Even as a starter in 2014, the offense that Georgia ran was heavily reliant upon a running game led by Todd Gurley.
All that being said, Mason's game tape displays traits which make him an attractive NFL prospect.
More-so than any other quarterback in the 2015 draft class, Hutson Mason has incredible patience and poise in the pocket. Mason does not run out of clean pockets, and he stands in against pressure to make tough passes.
On the above play, Mason takes a short three-step drop out of shotgun, and waits for the receivers' routes to develop on the left side of the field. Mason sits calmly in the pocket, despite the pocket closing around him; standing in and making his reads, he eventually hitting his receiver on a deep in over the middle.
Below, Mason puts this poise on display again, in Georgia's 2014 game against Clemson. Georgia runs a Flat-7 route scheme; Mason drops into a five-step drop off of play action. In synchronization with the offensive line, Mason steps up into the pocket and delivers a strike to his receiver with pressure in his face.
This type of poise in the pocket is shown by Mason consistently; and when you combine his comfortability in the pocket with his ability to get loose from broken pockets and gain yards with his legs, you've got a dynamic player. This is where Mason's second winning trait comes in; this is his improvisation.
Versatility and improvisation
Once outside the pocket, Mason is an intelligent player. He keeps his eyes downfield, looking to pass; however, when a chance to gain yards with his legs presents itself, he is able to take advantage of it. A key designation that is helpful to make when dealing with mobile quarterbacks is whether or not they use their legs as a quarterback or simply as a runner or running back. Mason is one of the quarterbacks who uses his legs as a quarterback, maintaining the threat of the pass and actively looking for the open down-field receiver, before tucking the ball in and running with it. Unlike many of the quarterback prospects in this draft class, Mason does a good job of sliding feet-first to avoid big hits, taking what defenses give to him.
Another aspect of Mason's game that makes him a versatile player is displayed in the below image. On the play, Mason experiences front-side pressure; however, he hangs in the pocket, and adjusts his arm angle to make the pass to his receivers who's run a stick route in the middle of the field. Mason does a good job of hitting check downs, and on this particular play, it is his ability to adjust his arm angle that allows him to deliver a catchable pass. The receiver catches the ball for a minimal gain, but this ability to adjust and complete passes outside of the structure of the play is something that is very valuable in a quarterback.
You can't teach accuracy- which is a problem for a lot of the QBs in this draft class, but not for Hutson Mason. He will not blow anyone away with arm strength or incredible velocity on his passes, but Mason's accuracy is up there with the best of the class at all levels of the field. He throws accurate passes on screens, check downs, short crossing routes, intermediate crossers, seams, and go routes. Mason is realistic with his limitations, and because of these smarts and his ability to hit passes consistently at multiple levels, he excels as a pocket passer. Many QBs in the class are focused on throwing the ball 100 miles per hour on every single pass, relying on arm strength to sling passes into tight coverage. Mason differs in this regard because he uses touch and accurate placement to complete tough passes, allowing him to overcome inferior arm strength.
On this pass, Mason exhibits poise in the pocket and the touch that he possesses with the football, floating a pass to where only his receiver can get a hand on it, with defenders in his face.
Accuracy, pocket presence, and the ability to adjust to adverse circumstances are all traits that translate to the NFL. You're probably not looking at a future Hall-of- Famer here, but there is plenty to work with in Mason's game, and he could be a steal for somebody in the later half of the draft in April.