No team has gone longer without drafting a quarterback than the Panthers, and there is a good reason for this – you may recognize him, he wears #1 – but with Newton’s shoulder a lingering concern going into the offseason, this is something that will likely change in 2019. Newton is expected to be ready for training camp, but that was also meant to be the case in 2017 and it took until several weeks into the season before his arm was anywhere close to back to full strength; add to this the value of hitting on a day three quarterback and it is certainly worth the Panthers exploring the 2019 quarterback draft class One name that might begin to pop up in Panthers draft circles is Brett Rypien, but before we get too heavy into the Boise State QB, I invite you to check out my quarterback big board where I rank Rypien higher than most analysts – and our latest episode of The Great British Drafting Show in which we discuss the entire quarterback board itself, including multiple late round options for the Panthers.
Now let’s get to the nephew of former Washington QB Mark Rypien and what he can offer the Panthers.
Arm Talent And Accuracy
Often when teams look for quarterback value on the final day of the draft, what they are actually looking for is arm talent, with the idea that hitting on a late round QB is hard and so you want to maximize the ceiling of the prospect so that you get the most out of it if you do guess correctly. There is some logic to that, but that doesn’t mean that every quarterback taken on the final day of the draft has to have a rocket for an arm – with any quarterback, what you want to see if the ability to push the ball vertically while having the velocity to work the outside of a defense. While Rypien doesn’t have a cannon, he did show the ability to push the ball vertically:
Though as with most quarterbacks without elite arm talent, he is dependent on effective footwork in order to generate power – so there are a couple of ugly underthrows on tape from where he either wasn’t able to or simply didn’t step into the throw properly:
With the other related issue being the loss of accuracy when forced to try and heave the ball downfield:
Additionally, while his ball velocity was generally decent-to-good, there were also instances on tape where he underthrew receivers on outside routes:
This isn’t a catastrophic issue, and wasn’t a persistent theme – he was usually able to set his feet properly and throw effectively, but it is something the NFL teams should and likely will be aware of, and could become more of an issue if teams are able to consistently make him throw from a poor base.
Of course, none of this arm talent is worth very much if you aren’t able to consistently get the ball where it needs to be – Rypien showed some of the best pure accuracy of any quarterback in this draft class. Most quarterbacks can make the simple underneath throws with some consistency – in fact, the failure to do so is far more noticeable – what Rypien showed that was less common was the ability to work the ball into tight gaps towards the outside of the field:
With the ability to remain accurate on both intermediate passes:
And those deep down the field:
One of the most impressive things about how he was accurate, and something that often goes unsaid when examining quarterbacks, was that he showed the ability to not just hit the open man but also the ability to throw receivers open by leading them away from the defender. This is something that is extremely beneficial on quick slants:
And has the added effect of making it easier for the receiver to run after the catch. There were, of course, occasions where the receiver was forced to make catches away from their frame or which forced them to break stride:
But even some passes which initially appear inaccurate were actually him using the throw to move the receiver away from the defender in order to make for an easier catch:
These are high-level accuracy traits that become increasingly important at the NFL level when quarterbacks are forced to work with tighter windows and separation is harder to come by. It would also be imprudent of me not to mention that Rypien made a handful of throws on tape which showed a level of accuracy that would make all-but-the-best NFL quarterbacks jealous:
On all of these throws there was only once place the ball could be to allow for the catch – and Rypien got it there.
However, the ability to hit a point in space is only one half of being accurate in the NFL, with quarterbacks also needing to show the ability to be accurate in terms of the depth of their throws – this is what allows them to work between layers of zone defenders and to work over the top of man defenders on vertical routes. Rypien repeatedly and routinely showed the ability to hit receivers in stride down the field:
While also showing the ability to place the ball where only the receiver could get it on outside routes against man coverage:
In short, Rypien might not have the biggest arm in the world, but he is still able to make all the throws when able to set his feet and show the kind of high-level accuracy and touch that is needed to be consistently successful at the NFL level.
Up Next: Could Rypien Run An NFL Offense?