In many ways Will Grier is an enigma wrapped in a riddle.
Before he was a Mountaineer, Grier went 5-0 and completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,202 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions his freshman year at Florida.
A pretty darn good start, but Grier was suspended for taking a prohibited performance-enhancing supplement in October 2015. He returned from the suspension but left the Gators because he felt unwanted by his coaches.
The last two years in West Virginia, Grier threw for 7,354 yards, 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while completing 65.7 percent of his throws. He did this in a system that was constantly looking to attack deep down the field, and it shows. He averaged 10 air yards per attempt during his time at West Virginia.
The results speak for themselves, but the system label has stuck to Grier because he’s coming out of an Air Raid offense. How much of it was the quarterback driving the offense and how much did he simply benefit from it?
-Ball placement in the 0-20 range is a big plus.
-Throws with anticipation.
-Great placement on bucket throws.
-Can read the field, but his eyes need to quicken. Some system Q?s here.
-Reports suggest he’s a strong leader.
-Comes up big in the clutch moments.
-His accuracy breaks down when he’s moved from his spot.
-Is a gunslinger at heart, good and bad. Doesn’t always respect his limits.
-Needs to take the single that’s there instead of risky triples.
-His arm is nothing special. Meets NFL standard, but that’s about it.
-Pressure brings out the worst in his game.
What I’ve heard/read
Grier benefited from the West Virginia system, but that same system definitely benefited from his time there. He is a confident leader who would much rather press for the big throw than play it safe underneath. His lack of plus arm talent and release quickness might not match his gunslinger mentality against an NFL secondary. Grier will have to win from the pocket, which means working the middle of the field with better anticipation and getting rid of the ball much sooner. His disappointing Senior Bowl and combine performances have likely hurt his stock.
Meanwhile West Virginia’s Will Grier — a player few experts have mocked to go in the first round — looks to be the second-best QB prospect of the class. With his excellent college production and nearly prototypical size at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, Grier is a player whose stock could rise with a good performance on and off the field at the combine.
Hermsmeyer’s CPOE system came out with Grier as the second-best prospect in this draft class, behind Murray. QBASE has Grier as the worst of these seven top prospects. What gives?
What you’re seeing are the effects of two projection systems built very differently. Hermsmeyer’s CPOE system is based solely on the on-field production and statistics. It’s built on a smaller sample of quarterbacks, going back to just 2012. (QBASE is built on quarterbacks going back to 1997.) But because it only includes recent quarterbacks, it can base its projections on more advanced, intricate game-charting statistics that we don’t have for older quarterbacks, primarily average depth of target. Grier had excellent stats last year. His 10.7 adjusted passing yards per attempt ranked third in FBS behind Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. He completed 67.0 percent of his passes. And he had a high average depth of target, which helps him score well in the CPOE system.
Grier appeared destined for an exciting career in the SEC before Jim McElwain quit on him because of the suspension which was to the delight of Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia. Grier is at his best slotting throws in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field with reads designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly with the occasional shot down the field. Where Greier becomes erratic is when pressure closes and his process has to speed up. It’s there when the train falls off the tracks and things get reckless. Grier profiles best as a quality backup but could have some low level starter appeal in a west coast offense.
Keenum’s game wasn’t given just credit coming out. In my opinion, Grier is getting that credit. I find the four guys above him on this list varying degrees of overrated. But I mostly see Round 3 grades on Grier and that’s perfectly reasonable. Grier’s upside isn’t nearly as high — if/when he starts, he’ll be a below-average starter his team is looking to replace — but his floor is absolutely higher than Lock’s. In fact, if I got decent odds on Grier starting more career NFL games than Lock, I’d drop the cash.
And while I thought long and hard about rating Grier over Lock, I in the end couldn’t do it for the following reason: If a coach can fix Lock’s processing and composure issues, he’s going to be a solid NFL starter. Whereas Grier figures to blur the good QB2/bad QB1 line like Keenum, existing in that qualitative QB28-44 quagmire.
Why he fits
If the Broncos are looking for a quarterback who is strong in the short to mid range game but can also threaten 20+ yards downfield Grier would be a solid option after Day 1. He doesn’t have the pure arm talent a Drew Lock has, or the mobility Daniel Jones brings to the table, but he’s more accurate than both. While Grier isn’t exceptional at squeezing the ball into tight windows in the vertical game, he’s very good at dropping the ball deep, sort of like a catapult. That would pair exceptionally with Courtland Sutton’s ability to torch corners on 9 routes.
Grier throws with the kind of anticipation that gives his playmakers the chance to make the most of their receptions. He also has the onions to thread the needle into spots that require precise accuracy. His ball placement jumps off the tape. He doesn’t shrink from the moment, and has enough functional mobility to offer a threat in the rollout game with additional coaching.
Why he doesn’t
Grier will chuck some throws he shouldn’t and his eyes can be slow to notice trouble. NFL coordinators will be able to bait out that gambling mentality and make him pay for it.There are times he tries to squeeze passes into spots that leave you holding your breath. Then there are times he chucks the ball up and it becomes little more than a prayer. He’s also shaky against pressure, and once he’s moved off his platform his passing efficiency plummets.
Grier is the kind of quarterback that will probably win you a game or two you shouldn’t, but will throw a boneheaded pass or two as well. I didn’t study Ryan Fitzpatrick coming out, but Grier reminded me of New York and Tampa Fitzmagic. Neither are the most talented signal callers, but both have that kind of confidence in their own ability and can steal games they shouldn’t.
I’ve seen Grier as high as 24 on one board and that’s really rich for me, but I like him enough to say I’d place him in the top 5 quarterbacks in this class. To reach his potential he’ll need the kind of receivers that can take advantage of his accuracy in the deep game. He’ll also need to improve his decision making, progressions, and footwork. He’s probably a low end starter at best, but would be a quality number 2 with a little refinement to his game.
Would you want the Broncos to draft Will Grier?
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