What an NFL Draft analyst thinks of Arizona quarterback Nick Folesby Anthony Gimino on Oct. 08, 2010, under Nick Foles
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is only one-third of the way through his junior season, so it’s a little early to nail down any kind of draft projections.
I said a little early.
But not impossible.
Through four games of the season, in which Foles has led two late game-winning drives and hit 74.5 percent of his passes, Foles has risen to the second-best junior quarterback prospect in the nation, according to NFLDraftScout.com. He trails Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett.
Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, has carefully gone over Arizona’s games against Iowa and Cal. He isn’t completely comfortable putting a draft grade on Foles right now, but when pressed about the possibilities — assuming that Foles shows natural improvement over the rest of his college career — Rang said he could see Foles being a high second-round pick in 2012.
“While he is in a spread offense, which is going to give scouts some concern, he does have the prototypical size and has shown improvement in terms of ball placement and footwork from last year to this year,” Rang said.
Football has been Foles’ focus since the spring, when new quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo arrived.
“The biggest thing is that he is stepping more into throws. He is not throwing off his back foot,” Rang said.
“If your feet aren’t set, you have to be an extremely special player to be accurate with just your arm. I don’t know if Foles is that special. Don’t know if many NFL guys are that special.”
Drafting quarterbacks involves a bit more guesswork than at other positions. And quarterbacks who play in the spread offense in college have added mystery, because they haven’t been asked to make the same kind of reads they will have to make in NFL-style offenses. In the pros, those spread quarterbacks have to adjust to being under center more and facing more of a pass rush.
“But this is a bright kid, and that is something you are looking for as well,” Rang said. “The NFL is willing to gamble on quarterbacks who have that kind of size.”
Foles (6-5 and 245 pounds) has shown he can make the short and intermediate-range throws, Rang said. Velocity isn’t an issue. But the draft analyst would like to see more consistency from Foles’ deeper throws.
“When he has really reared back to throw it, the ball hasn’t been as accurate,” Rang said. “Arm strength isn’t so much a concern as the combination of arm strength and accuracy. You just want to see that more consistently.”
In any case, Foles is well on track to be the first Arizona player drafted as a quarterback during the Pac-10 years.