First thing’s first: Yes, this blog is going to be biased as hell. But please keep reading and hear me out.
Today, Bleacher Report published an article about how former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley knows he’s not at the top of most NFL teams’ wish list going into the 2019 NFL Draft. They go into how this dude has been doubted at every level of football he’s ever played, and how he’s attempting to rise above expectations heading into the NFL. If you’re a Penn State fan like myself, this is not news to you. Once arriving in Happy Valley, this undersized and under-recruited quarterback was one of the major reasons the Nittany Lion football program rose from the dead and returned to being a relevant force in college football. He has also set the following Penn State program records during his career:
- Career wins (31)
- Completions (703)
- Passing yards (9,653)
- Passing touchdowns (75)
- Total offense (11,275)
- Rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (29)
- Touchdowns responsible for (104)
- 300-yard passing games (10)
- 200-yard passing games (27)
As if setting these program records weren’t enough, he’s also ranked third in Big Ten history with 104 touchdowns responsible for behind only Dwayne Haskins and the Purdue legend Drew Brees.
Drew motherf****n’ Brees.
However, at the moment, the greatest quarterback to ever play in the Blue and White is being disrespected. My guy is currently projected being picked in the sixth round or later in the 2019 draft, and has reportedly only met with the New York Jets, Washington Redskins, and Minnesota Vikings thus far. He is one of eight quarterbacks invited to this year’s Senior Bowl in Alabama, and seems to be the one attracting the least amount of attention from NFL teams.
McSorley’s doubters, of which there are many (some of whom I believe are colleagues at Thoughts From The Bench), point to his size and arm strength as reasons why he will fall to the late rounds of the draft. I get it, these are fair points. However, I am going to attempt to show why these doubters could be very, very wrong about his success in the NFL.
Three names: Baker Mayfield , Russell Wilson, and Drew Brees.
We’ll start with Baker Mayfield. The Cleveland Browns starting quarterback is currently only listed at 6’1″. After being lightly recruited out of high school, Mayfield went on to walk on at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma, where he won the 2017 Heisman. He was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and is currently the favorite to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Okay, not too shabby for a guy who’s only 6’1″.
Next, there’s Russell Wilson. Wilson is currently listed at only 5’11”. His NFL Draft profile had the following line in his description heading into the 2012 Draft: “However, at his height teams will have concerns whether or not he can see to make the throws at the next level.” Sheesh, sounds like this guy was about to have himself a ROUGH time in pro football. Except, he didn’t, and instead became the shortest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, AND currently holds the record for the most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first seven seasons.
Finally, there’s Drew Brees. Brees is currently only listed at 6’0″. He fell to the last pick in the second round of the 2001 Draft in large part due to his size (and what was considered to be “mediocre arm strength”, but I’ll get to that later). What did Brees go on to do? Oh, nothing I suppose, just a Super Bowl XLIV win, Super Bowl XLIV MVP, eleven Pro Bowl appearances, two NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, the most career passing yards of all time, the most career completions of all time, the highest career completion percentage of all time, etc. Not a big deal though, right?
Bottom line #1: Despite McSorley only coming in at 6’0″, it’s clear that size doesn’t always matter for NFL quarterbacks.
#2: Arm Strength
I’ve already mentioned how Drew Brees fell in the 2001 Draft because of his perceived “mediocre arm strength”. However, I’m going to bring up one more name: Tom Brady.
BEFORE YOU PANIC, I’m not in ANY WAY saying McSorley is going to be the next Brady, and I realize I’ll be criticized for even mentioning McSorley’s name in the same breath. I really have no clue how anyone could EVER repeat Brady’s success in the NFL. My only point is this:
Key words from this Instagram post: “Lacks a really strong arm, Can’t drive the ball downfield”. Absolutely no one thought Brady was an impressive physical specimen, and because of that, he fell to the 199th pick in the 2000 Draft. He then, of course, went on to win a Super Bowl his first year as a starter, and then FOU more after that. Even now, there aren’t many who would say he has “elite” arm strength, despite his massive success in the league. With the right system, play calling, and leadership, anything can happen.
Bottom line #2: McSorley might not have “elite” arm strength heading into the draft, but sometimes, that doesn’t matter.
But I will just leave this here…
#3: Hand Size
This one’s easy. Trace McSorley’s hand size is currently listed at 9 1/8th inches, which is considered to be on the small side for quarterbacks. Heading into the 2016 Draft, Jared Goff’s hand size was measured to be only 9 inches. One wise (now former) NFL head coach was quoted saying this during the 2016 Draft process:
“It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow, and it’s different,” Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations, and so we’ll look for a guy that fits what we’re looking for in a quarterback, and, is hand size important? Yes, it is.”
Oh, Hue. You’re adorable. That kid with the tiny hands is about to start at quarterback for the Rams in Super Bowl LIII next Sunday.
Bottom line #3: Hand size is stupid and doesn’t matter.
This is the one that I believe sets McSorley apart from most prospects. This kid can handle the pressure of big moments:
He can be an effective leader in the locker room:
And he’s known as being one of the toughest and grittiest players on the field, even when injured:
Bottom line #4: If you’re looking for intangibles, Trace McSorley has them.
Having said ALL of that, am I guaranteeing that McSorley will be successful in NFL? Absolutely not. College success doesn’t always translate to NFL, and I get that. But I definitely think he at least has a chance to make some noise.
Plus, wasn’t f*****g Paxton Lynch taken in the first round?