I remember talking to then-Arizona Wildcats quarterback coach Frank Scelfo after his first spring practice in Tucson in 2010.
He was new to the area, having spent most of his career in Louisiana. We talked about UA’s woeful quarterback history, and he was shocked to learn that the Wildcats hadn’t produced a quarterback who had thrown a pass in the NFL since 1973.
“That’s OK,” Scelfo said. “We’ll get us one pretty soon here.”
How about two?
Scelfo helped develop Nick Foles, who was a third-round pick in this year’s draft and is now in the middle of an extended audition as the Philadelphia Eagles starter.
And Scelfo helped improve the passing fundamentals of Matt Scott, who just completed an excellent senior season and appears to be climbing draft boards.
NFLDraftScout.com, which had been ranking Scott as a fifth- to sixth-round possibility has upgraded his status to the third- to fourth-round range.
Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com, quoted an anonymous NFL scout as saying this about Scott:
“Look at the rookie quarterbacks playing so well this year — they all have the ability to extend plays due to their mobility. That’s where the NFL is going now at the quarterback position. Scott has that ability, too. He’s the guy lying in the weeds that I could see jumping up and surprising some people with how high he goes.”
I talked to Rang on Monday for more on Scott.
“The biggest thing is that he has the skill set that NFL teams are looking for, kind of the new quarterback model,” said Rang, who has studied several Arizona games this season.
“He has a strong arm and shows the ability to throw with touch as well, but he’s absolutely a dynamic athlete. He’s more and more the type of quarterback, that dual threat, that NFL teams are looking for. It’s evidence of how the NFL has changed. He fits the prototype.”
Scott, who was second-team All-Pac-12, completed 301 of 499 passes for 3,620 yards, with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, as a senior. He also ran for 506 yards.
This was the first extended playing time of Scott’s five-year Arizona career, so, developmentally, he isn’t as far along as, say, USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith. That could actually end up working in Scott’s favor, as scouts might be able to project a lot of room for him to move further along the learning curve.
Scott last week said he didn’t know which postseason all-star game he would attend. At this point, he’s probably hoping for the Senior Bowl, which typically invites six quarterbacks. Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel are three who have publicly accepted invitations.
Best bet: Look for Scott to go to the East-West Shrine Game, Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“They are going to like his arm strength because he spins the ball well,” Scelfo said in a phone interview Monday. “They are going to like his athleticism. His size is not going to be that bad. He’s probably going to have to gain a few pounds.
“And then there’s his competitiveness. That’s an intangible that not everyone has.”
Scott is listed at 6-3, 196. He might come in at 6-2 when measured by the NFL.
Scelfo, who keeps in regular contact with Foles and Scott, said the new Arizona staff of Rich Rodriguez did a nice job of evaluating Scott and putting him in position to succeed within the read-option offense.
“(Quarterbacks coach) Rod Smith did a nice job with him,” Scelfo said.
This quarterback class isn’t as talented or deep as last year’s group — “there’s not a lot of slam-dunk guys,” Rang said — which does give Scott a chance to stand out.
Rang said the questions about Scott heading into this scouting period will be his accuracy on deep throws and his ability to read NFL-style defenses. College spread offenses are often (relatively) simple for quarterbacks to run.
Just as it was a year ago with Foles, it will be interesting to track Scott’s progress toward the NFL. If Scott does well in workouts, Arizona might produce a top 100 pick at quarterback in back-to-back years.
“It’s good to see the talent coming through Tucson now,” Rang said.