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Film Room: Colts Rookie QB Jacob Eason

Is Jacob Eason a future franchise QB or just a back up in waiting?

The Indianapolis Colts have completed the 2020 NFL draft and pick eight new players to join the team.

In today’s film room, we will look at Eason’s film in college and talk about why this can be a low risk, high reward type of pick for the team and if Eason can become a franchise quarterback or nothing more than a back up.


PROS

Arm Strength

Many different aspects of the quarterback position can be taught. Footwork can be improved. Progressions can be taught. Release points can be tinkered. Arm strength is God-given. And when Eason lets the pigskin fly, you can tell it has a little extra juice on it. His arm strength is his main attribute and the foundation for his play.

Here’s a perfect example. He takes a nice 5 step drop and looks for his X receiver who is running a deep drag route. Eason then fits the ball in a tight window between the MLB, the CB and the SS.

Another great example is in this red zone play versus BYU. In this case, Eason takes the snap in shotgun formation with the HB to his left. He runs the RPO, choosing to keep it. He then goes for his 1st read, the Y receiver running a post. Most collegiate QBs would pass on a window that minuscule, but not Eason. He rips it and is able to fit it between the CB and the SS. Kudos to the WR for playing through contact and maintaining possession.

Touch/Deep Accuracy

In my eyes, having touch and deep ball accuracy is the next step beyond being a regular QB with a big arm. It’s one of the reasons I liked Love so much and wasn’t a big fan of Herbert. The ability to drop the ball in a basket down the sidelines and put some air under the ball is something Eason is quite skilled at. Which is a great thing for Reich and the rest of his coaching staff.

A lot of pundits think to seem that Eason is just a tall, big-armed QB with no finesse to his game, and I could not disagree more. Don’t get it twisted, he’s got a long way to go before he becomes a finished product, but there are some wrinkles to his game that I like. His deep ball is one of them.

A prime example of such a play is this 1st quarter rep versus Eastern Washington. The right outside receiver is going to run a go, but the Washington offense needs to give him time to beat the off-ball coverage. Eason starts off under center, faking a hand-off just to turn around and see that his WR has beat his man. He widens his stance and drops a beautiful ball right in the receiver’s bread-basket.

One thing I would like is for Eason to use a bit more of his lower body in this throw along with getting more torque out of his hips. That’s just nitpicking though, and Eason is more than capable of getting the ball there with just sheer arm strength.

Here’s another play-action that works to perfection. The fake hand-off gives the WR enough time to develop his post route and gain separation. Eason could have a bit better footwork when he’s turning his hips and setting into his stance. However, I like the release and follow through once he gets comfortable in the pocket.

One last rep. This play can go two different ways. Either Eason hands off the ball on the RPO and the HB runs it up the middle, or Eason decides to keep it and Washington goes into a BoB man blocking scheme, that’s why the HB picks up the MLB who blitzes down the right A gap. While this is happening, the slot receiver does a good job of beating his man with a double-move leading into a corner route. That’s Eason’s first read and when he realizes the FS is late to bite on the play, he airs it out for a TD.


CONS

Progressions

Eason, like most 4th round picks, has a laundry list of attributes he needs to improve upon. Like any player, he’s not perfect. As a matter of fact, he’ll never be. However, it’s in that pursuit of perfection that legends are made.

If I listed every single facet that Eason needed to improve upon, this article would be endless. So, instead of doing that, I wanted to focus in on what most worries me: his inability to get off his first read.

All too often, Eason locks on to his first read and thinks one of two things. Either “He should be open, let me throw it” or “It’s a small window but I can fit it”. The thing is, some of his best throws are when he trusts his arm and tries to fit the ball into small windows.

What you can’t do is fit the ball in windows that are non-existent. This play starts with Eason under center. He then fakes two hand-offs, one to the HB and one to the WR running a jet sweep. Meanwhile, the other back is running a flat that turns into a wheel route down the right sideline. Unfortunately, for Eason, his receiver doesn’t beat the coverage. At this point, he should move on to his second read, but instead he decides to lob up a pass hoping his receiver can make a play. That problem is that the *FS sniffs out the fakes and undercuts the pass for an easy interception.

Plays like this litter Eason’s film and while sometimes they pan out, they often lead to a broken up pass or an interception. In my eyes, learning how to move through his progressions is going to be the aspect that makes-or-breaks Eason’s career.

For now I chalk up plays like this as inexperience that comes from only starting two full seasons. However, to be a big time QB in the NFL you have to throw the ball on-time and on-target. If Reich and Co. can’t help Eason correct this, I cannot see the Washington product become more than a career backup.

*Julian Blackmon is the Utah player that intercepts the ball in the previous clip.

Conclusion

The more film I watched on Eason the more I realized what an exceptional talent he is. He does have some red flags in the form of character concerns as some football insiders have reported that at times he lacks the drive and work ethic to perfect his craft. Nonetheless, from what I’ve heard he’s a beloved member of the UW family whose teammate gravitated towards.

He has all the tangible traits you would want in a QB from height to poise to arm strength. He needs to fine-tune some aspects of his game such as his footwork and anticipation. As of now, the only on-the-field habit that worried me was his inability to let go of his first read sometimes, which would get him into trouble as he would try and force throws.

I don’t think he’ll ever be an escape artist like Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray, but unlike some other analysts I actually like his presence and movement in the pocket. He’s going to greatly benefit from having the Colts OL block for him as Eason’s at his best when he has a clean pocket to work with.

Overall, my concluding thoughts are that getting someone with Eason’s physical tools in the 4th round is an absolute steal. He’s a bit rough around the edges, but I think most of that can be attributed to him only starting two full seasons in college. Right now he’s a great piece of clay that Reich and his staff are hopefully going to mold into the next great QB to represent the horseshoe.

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