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Colts Quarterback Draft Prospects: Washington’s Jacob Eason

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NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our journey through the list of quarterback draft prospects for the Indianapolis Colts, there’s a wide range of possibilities given the fact that the team’s feeling for each of them is unknown at this time. We don’t know when, or even if they’ll decide to go with a quarterback in this draft, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a fan who doesn’t think the team needs to at least add one in some way this offseason.

We’ve already looked at Anthony Gordon, and Jake Fromm, and now we’re going to look at Jacob Eason from Washington. Once you get past the top prospect or two, especially at the quarterback position, you’ll find that consistency in how evaluators view these prospects differs, even widely at times.

Eason is one of those passers who I’ve heard a lot negative about, in terms of on-field production, and I went into his evaluation expecting to see just that. However, what it may have done, is question those writing him off so quickly with only minimal criticism. There’s typically been one or two things being tossed around, but I have found myself on the other end of the spectrum — completely.

Eason transferred to Washington from Georgia after injuring his knee in 2017, and the starting job was then Jake Fromm’s to lose. Eason didn’t expect to get that job back with Fromm showing so much potential during the 2017 season, and made the decision to transfer to Washington to continue his college career.

Eason was quite productive, completing over 64 percent of his passes in 2019, he threw for over 3,100 yards with 23 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions (1 every 51 attempts) on 405 attempts. While his TD/INT ratio may not jump off the screen in comparison to guys with 30 to 40-plus touchdown throws, Chris Petersen’s offense in Washington was built on patience, and multiple looks where the running, and passing game complement each other rather than one being the dominant identity of the team.

Eason did throw more than 30 times per game in Washington, however, he wasn’t a quarterback who forced much, taking what the defense gave him the vast majority of the time. Moving the sticks, and offensive efficiency was the priority, but when a big play opened up, he took his shots.

Eason is a big quarterback standing 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, and though we haven’t seen a lot of those pure pocket guys come out and excel lately from the NFL Draft, Eason — in my opinion — may be cut from a bit of a different cloth.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with Eason’s arm talent, his precision at all areas of the field, his ability to move through his progressions, and the pure amount of “NFL throws” that I felt he was making despite his modest touchdown numbers.

Eason in some ways was just like any other college quarterback. For example, he’ll rush throws occasionally and fail in his fundamentals, he’ll make a bad decision every now and again, but my overwhelming take on Eason, is that he’s being vastly underrated and has all the tools to become a legit NFL starter.

I went back to showing some clips of exactly what I saw, and what may interest you, as well as what you may not be hearing at the water cooler about a guy like Eason who is flying under the radar right now.

In the first clip you’ll see a throw that we see every single Sunday. A fade to one of the team’s top red zone threats against man coverage, in which the lone defender typically always has his back to the quarterback. Eason takes this one out of the shotgun, plants his foot and releases an absolute dime.

The whole point in these throws from quarterbacks that we watch on Sunday, is to put it in a place where only his receiver can get to it, yet precise enough that his receiver can actually haul in the pass. This is one of many examples of this very situation that Eason proved to be able to execute time and again, and at all areas of the field.

It’s simply a gorgeous throw, and let’s not pretend that it’s not an equally fantastic catch.

In the next clip you’re going to see Eason’s ability to recognize what the defense is doing, how he can make good, snap decisions, and also show off his accuracy all in one play.

Here against Eastern Washington, you’ll see the secondary rotating in their zone as the receiver goes in motion. Naturally, the safety reads a possible screen pass, and needs to take away the quick swing pass, and he shoots towards the line of scrimmage with that in mind.

The defender covering the slot receiver also has his eyes in the backfield here, and gets caught flat-footed as the receiver buzzes right past him, and doesn’t stop to block as he presumes. Once Eason sees that the defender doesn’t turn and run with his slot option, not only is it a mismatch against a linebacker or safety, but he knows that defender can’t possibly drop deep enough into his zone against this route combination.

The slot receiver posts up to keep the other safety occupied, and the receiver who came in motion only has to get even with the safety who came up against the possible swing pass in order to break the zone. Eason spots it immediately and puts the ball perfectly in between the second and third line of defense for an easy first down throw.

He took exactly what the defense handed him, and completed this pass with ease, and without a second thought.

Our third clip really emphasizes Eason’s accuracy that I witnessed game after game, and throw after throw throughout my evaluation of him. This one is almost too easy to be perfectly honest.

Here, Eason knows he’s got man coverage to the field side of the play, and he’s got it with a single receiver to use all of that field as well. The field-side safety is right at 10 yards deep at the snap and will provide no help at all over the top. But, Eason isn’t even trying to wait around just to throw it as deep as he can, rather he makes the play that he needs to in order to move the chains and keep the ball away from the defender.

Eason’s receiver wins at the line of scrimmage, and takes an outside path to get outside the numbers. Eason takes the snap out of shotgun, gets to his drop, steps into the throw and puts the ball outside and on point where only his receiver has a chance to make a play on the ball.

Again, I can’t even count how many times I saw this sort of throw from Eason through his games. This sort of accuracy downfield just impressed me over and over again, and admittedly began what has obviously turned into a bit of a draft crush at the position for me.

Here’s another that I simply couldn’t leave out. Earlier I showed you a red zone throw inside of the 10 yard line from the middle of the field, and this one comes at about the 20 yard line, but from the opposite hash mark, and comes with a little bit of stank on it.

This one comes against off-man coverage with the cornerback starting with about a 9-yard cushion. The receiver runs a post-corner route, forcing the corner to attempt to come up and make a play on the first move from the receiver. With Eason eyeballing the receiver, the corner attempts to jump the route.

But, as the receiver transitions to the corner route, Eason again steps into his throw after getting his drop, and puts the perfect trajectory on the ball — with the right amount of velocity — to put this one on the money. Eason shows off his arm strength, accuracy and execution on this beauty, and it made me gush.

If this isn’t a textbook “He can make all the throws on the field” type of NFL throw you want to see from a prospect, then I clearly don’t know what is.

Now, we get into a situation in which Eason makes a snap decision to hit a receiver, and in spite of tight coverage, he still throws the ball away from the defender and completes the pass. Now, I won’t argue that Eason could have waited to release this ball and potentially made a bigger play as the route developed further downfield, but what I noticed the most from this clip, once again, was his fantastic ball placement, and the velocity on the ball.

From the time Eason hits his back foot, and begins his throwing motion, his receiver only had about 5 yards of space between himself and the safety who was closing quickly. Yet, Eason was able to squeeze the ball in to his receiver to move the chains.

Again, I’m not thrilled with the decision he made deep in his own territory, but he also saw a slot blitz coming on third down, chose to get the ball out quickly, move the chains, and keep the drive going. I can handle that.

Much like the last clip, I’m not saying that Eason can’t make mistakes, or that he doesn’t make the occasional poor decision or bad throw. Our final clip is a great example of that, and it also comes off of a very quick decision, with a better option open, and with pressure coming. Eason forces a ball against off-man coverage from the opposite hash, and fails with his footwork which trickles down to poor velocity and accuracy.

To make matters worse, Eason has a crossing route opening up underneath, but he rushes his process, and pays for it by putting his team in a hole at a critical juncture in the game.

Overall, I’m very intrigued with Eason. He’s got a lot of potential at the next level, and looks to have the skillset that teams will want to bring in with hopes of developing a guy into a potential starter. Eason is a fiery guy, he stands tall in the pocket, delivers a beautifully accurate ball the vast majority of the time, and typically makes the right decision.

Something else that I noticed with Eason is that within the offense he ran at Washington, you will see him under center, out of the shotgun, in empty backfields, with double tights, and literally everything in between. Petersen’s offense uses a hefty dose of different sets, and it reminded me a lot of Frank Reich’s offensive sets.

Between his skillset, the offense he ran in school, and his natural feel for the position, Eason feels like a very good fit for the Colts.

Not everyone will agree with me on this one, and there’s still a bit more tape to watch on Eason, but I didn’t see much variance from game to game, and his core play was exactly what I would want out of a guy who may come in and sit and learn for a year, then be given the reins of the team.

Utah State’s Jordan Love will be next on the list.