Is there a prospect that had more intrigue surrounding him prior to the season than Washington QB, Jacob Eason?
The Huskies QB had just sat a year out in 2018 due to the NCAA transfer rules after he left Georgia. Eason, a former 5-star recruit who headed back to his home state to kick start his college career and I, for one, was excited to see what the future would hold for a player who was full of potential.
However, the issue at hand was that in the summer of this year, when we were going through our summer scouting routine, the only game tape we had of Jacob Eason was from 2016, when he was playing for Georgia. Operating in an offense that was different to the Jake Fromm Georgia offense that we see today.
We just had to wait and see…
Fast forward to today and Eason is 10 games into his Huskies career and I feel like now, we can at least begin to assess what kind of quarterback we have on our hands and whether it would be wise for Eason to declare for the NFL draft after this season, his Junior season, with another season of eligibility remaining.
Eason is 6’6 and weighs in at 227lbs, per school measurements. These are nice measurables that NFL scouts and front office staff will love, yet I would like to see Eason pack on a little bit of muscle before entering the pros – I feel like he looks sort of lanky and an extra 10 or 12 pounds would help him be more durable at the next level.
Coming out of Lake Stevens High School in Washington, Eason ranked the No. 4 overall prospect in the nation by 247 sports; rated No. 7 overall, as well as the No. 1 quarterback, by Rivals; listed by ESPN as the No. 13 overall prospect nationally.
So he was pretty good. No shock he was highly recruited and went to Georgia then.
Whilst in a Bulldogs uniform, Eason threw 204/370 (55.1%) for 2430 yards, 16 TD’s and 8 INT’s in his Freshman year.
The next season, in 2017, is when Jake Fromm arrived on the scene and assumed the role of starting QB in Athens. Eason only ended up appearing in 3 games and throwing 7 passes.
So far this season, Eason has completed 63.7% of his passes for 2472 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
So What’s to Like?
So let’s start to dissect Eason then… Well he’s tall, he’s got a strong arm and he’s white, so he’s nailed on to be a first rounder. End of article. Thanks.
I’m joking, of course…Although John Elway is still an NFL General Manager.
Ok so, whilst (spoiler alert) he’s far from a perfect prospect, Eason is a good QB prospect who has good arm strength, which he can use to push the ball to the sidelines without the ball hanging in the air. He can also push the ball downfield when he needs to – This isn’t something we’ve seen a great deal of but there is evidence that he can do this. Here’s one fantastic throw – Strong armed, accurate and pushing the ball to the sideline from the opposite hash mark. Lovely.
From the game film I’ve seen, Eason works really well off of play action and both offenses he’s worked in have used this trait to good effect to set up deep shots down the field. This example is again from the game against Arizona earlier this season – Eason has standard 5 man protection out of I-formation and finds his man deep.
When it comes to passing the football, I feel like Eason is best over short to intermediate distances and when he can get the ball out of his hand on time and in rhythm – Eason has a short, sharp release which aides him, especially when looking to hit receivers on horizontal routes. I feel like early in his career, he would often put the ball behind receivers running across the field and his ball placement generally was spotty at best. He’s still not got the greatest ball placement, don’t get me wrong. He still has the tendency to miss receivers high to this day, but it’s certainly an area of his game that he has taken strides in whilst on Washington’s scout team in 2018 and this year as the Huskies starter. Here’s a few examples below:
First off, the good stuff – Eason hits Hunter Bryant in stride and leads his tight end for a 15 yard gain against Oregon.
Unfortunately, here’s an example of Eason missing an open receiver with a high pass from his Georgia days.
And another from more recently, against Oregon on a clutch 4th down play.
When it comes to being pressured, Eason isn’t afraid to hang in the pocket and find a pass knowing that he’s about to get leveled by an oncoming defender. Although that said, Eason has this crazy tendency to roll to his left when he feels pressure – I felt that this was a big enough issue that I will explore this later in the article. Before that, here’s a great example of Eason delivering a great pass in the face of a blitz and getting a whack for his troubles.
However, it must be stated that this isn’t wholly positive – Eason’s completion percentage drops below 40% when he’s under pressure. That’s pretty alarming and it’s lower than every 1st or 2nd round pick from the past three drafts aside from Giant’s QB, Daniel Jones.
Just before we close out on the good stuff, I will mention that Eason displays sneaky athletic ability for a man his size when he does choose to tuck the ball under his arm and run. He needs to do a better job of protecting himself and the football when a runner but he is brave and has shown the ability to make tough yardage and a first down. Eason is also the master of the QB sneak – from what I’ve seen, the guy is pretty much Tom Brady-automatic from a yard or less.
And The Bad Stuff?
One thing I absolutely need to see from college quarterbacks is accuracy. If you’re not accurate in college, you don’t magically become more accurate when throwing against defenders who are better in coverage and better athletes at the next level – it simply doesn’t work like that.
Eason has improved his accuracy from 55.1% at Georgia in his Freshman season, to a mark of 63.7% (202/317), which is where he stands at the time of writing at Washington, as mentioned previously.
For comparison, Joe Burrow of LSU currently leads FBS quarterbacks with 78.9% (236/299), that mark is frankly outrageous but even an extremely high volume passer (and less talented QB) such as Washington State’s Anthony Gordon is throwing 71% (323/455) and Eason’s percentage is exactly the same as Hawai’i QB, Cole McDonald – someone who came into the season with questions over his own accuracy.
Food for thought.
The issue for Eason seems to be careless ball placement which crops up at times as discussed earlier. The other issue that I feel Eason is only just weeding out is that until recently, he seemed completely incapable of throwing the ball with any touch.
Woah there Jacob, we know you’ve got a strong arm… your receivers are probably better without broken fingers.
And that leads us into our next problem… Eason knows he’s got a pretty strong arm and at times he trusts it way too much.
This throw was super, ill-advised… trying to hit your guy who was in triple coverage against one of the best defensive backfields in college football.
Silly. Justin Blackmon east those up.
This was the first of two picks that Eason threw in the game against Utah… the other one, Jaylon Johnson returned for a touchdown.
Speaking of throwing into coverage… Well, this is something that Eason seems to have a pretty annoying habit of doing. Is this a case of not having the mental processing skills associated with high level quarterback play? Yes. Could this improve in future? Maybe.
For every throw like this one against Oregon where he lays it in nicely in between zones…
There’s one like the Blackmon interception or one like this, from his Georgia days against TCU
I mean… Come on, it was a good thing he throws this one long.
Let’s get inside the pocket now and see what Eason is like as a pocket operator.
You’ll notice in the clips I’ve used that one thing that you don’t see much of with Jacob Eason is nifty footwork. In fact, you don’t see much footwork inside the pocket at all; no climbing; no sliding to give himself extra time; I just don’t see much movement.
In the modern NFL, you need your QB to be mobile. I’m not talking Lamar Jackson style athletic ability, that’s ancillary and a huge bonus, I’m talking that bare minimum is Brady/Rivers/Brees type little movements to just avoid that defender’s outstretched arm or just moving up in the pocket to allow your tackle to push the edge rusher downfield.
Eason is a statue, a lot of the time – I feel that this is something that comes with games and experience, knowing when to move, knowing the tendencies of you offensive linemen and of the pass rushers who are hunting you.
Obviously this could develop in time, but it’s just a matter of games,yet there’s no guarantee that it’ll click for him and Eason could just be the next (post Superbowl) Joe Flacco instead of the next big thing.
Now let’s dive into Eason biggest pocket habit…
To the Left, To the Left
Jacob always rolls outta the pocket, to the left…
It is startling to see. For a right handed QB to want to escape to the left this badly just doesn’t make sense. In the video below, you’ll see how often this happens, he even throws in a double spin to the left for good measure at one point.
Don’t get me wrong, he does escape pressure to the left at times but as a righty, it doesn’t make sense.
As a right handed QB, if you’re running to the left, it takes longer to turn your body to reset your feet to throw off of your usual base OR you end up throwing across your body – both of which result in your throw being less accurate and both of which are obviously compounded by having to throw under duress whilst on the move. These will be contributing towards the sharp drop in completion percentage when under pressure, which I went over earlier.
It’s something that Washington Head Coach, Chris Peterson addressed after the Utah game, saying, “We’re trying to emphasise him staying in the pocket. It’s your game to step up [in the pocket], not out”.
Here’s a short video on the issue:
I feel that Eason has a very high ceiling, both from what I’ve seen on tape and the improvements he’s made from 2016 to now and also the physical traits and measurables that he possesses.
However, the mental side of his game, his footwork and his accuracy aren’t what I would want from an NFL quarterback, especially one that I may be drafting in the first round, and these areas need work.
He simply wouldn’t get away with the shoddy ball placement and throwing into coverage nearly as much in the NFL as he does in the Pac-12.
NFL defensive co-ordinators would gameplan for his tendency to move to his left and just to apply pressure on him generally to see if they could exploit his lack of footwork and he would obviously have to avoid bigger and strong defensive players coming for him whilst trying to process the game quicker.
In short, I feel like Eason simply needs more experience. He’s got the talent but with another year of eligibility left, I feel he would be wise to use it and work on the aspects of his game that need some polish.
Jacob Eason turns 22 years old this Sunday, (17/11/19), next season may be the season when he takes the leap. It seems to be the way of things that QB’s hit a golden zone around the age of 22/23. Patrick Mahomes won NFL MVP at 23, Joe Burrow has taken a giant leap this season when he has turned 23 years old, Lamar Jackson (who is 4 weeks younger that Burrow(!!)) is tearing up the NFL at 22 and will be 23 in January.
Could Eason be the next QB to go through this growth spurt at this time? I think it’d be worth trying to find out… It’s an awful lot easier to develop in college than it is in the NFL.
Stay in school Jacob, it may just be on the verge of clicking.
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