Working behind a young and inexperienced offensive line last season might pay dividends for former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles.
He sure learned how to throw under pressure.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Thursday in a media conference call, that he has been impressed with Foles in that aspect of the game.
“I spend a lot of time looking at them under pressure,” McShay of the second-level quarterback prospects behind Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.
“Those are the times when you hurry, you’re hit, you’re knocked down … any time you’re affected by pressure in your face or have been flushed and had to make a play. What do you do?
“Those are the throws you have to make in the NFL. That’s what separates the good from the great, and sometimes separates whether you can be a starter or not at the next level and win consistently.
“I have been impressed with Nick Foles in that regard. Doesn’t move very well and while he was underwhelming at the Senior Bowl, I do think that he is a little bit better than maybe what the public opinion is now. He really handles pressure well and knows where to go with the ball.”
Foles is competing to be the third quarterback selected in the draft. Most draft analysts peg Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill to be the best of the second-tier.
“I think he is just more consistent with his ball placement than what he gets credit for,” McShay say, adding that Tannehill’s intangibles are “through the roof.”
“It won’t surprise me if he really climbs up the draft board.”
McShay rated Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler “slightly ahead” of Foles and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, in some order, as the fourth-best quarterback available. NFLDraftScout.com also ranks Osweiler (No. 62 overall) ahead of Foles (106th overall).
Scouts are about to get their first up-close look at Osweiler at the NFL Combine, while they already have picked over Foles’ game.
Foles’ dad, Larry Foles, said his son “got dinged” at the Senior Bowl last month for his footwork and for not being as accurate as he could be. Larry said some of that was that Nick took six weeks off from throwing after the season and wasn’t in the best rhythm, which could be different next week.
Foles will be going through all the workouts at the combine, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. In the meantime, he is working with quarterbacks coach Ken O’Brien while training with Athletes First in Irvine, Calif.
“Nick is not worried. He’s going to keep working, keep working,” Larry said.
“He just wants to show that he’s progressing, that he is learning from the Senior Bowl. They are making tweaks to his footwork, tweaking a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”
Larry added that he thought Nick received good training at Arizona from quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, who remains in touch with the family even though he wasn’t re-hired to be part of the new coaching staff at UA.
“He gave the quarterbacks strength and positive attitude,” Larry said. “The first thing he said to Nick when he met him was, ‘I’m going to help you fulfill your dreams in football.”
Nick Foles will be back in Tucson for the Arizona Pro Day on March 19, another critical day for his draft stock.