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NFL Draft

Is D’Eriq King A Legit NFL QB Prospect?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 8, 2020
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This College football season has given us many stories. Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers are still good, Alabama is loaded again, and Texas is definitely not back. The biggest and perhaps most surprising story of all, however, is the success of the Miami Hurricanes. 

The University of Miami, which finished 6-7 in 2019, is 3-0 and currently sits at No. 7 in the AP Top 25, and has a date with No. 1 Clemson this Saturday in what could be the biggest game of the season to date. Led by second-year head coach Manny Diaz, the Hurricanes have played tremendously on both sides of the ball, and look to be real National Championship contenders. 

Miami’s offense currently leads the ACC in total offense, scoring offense, and ranks 12th nationally in yards per game. The unit is led by transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, who under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, is playing like a bonafide Heisman contender. Through the first three games of the season, King has lit up the stat sheet, completing 66.7% of his passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions. On top of his stats through the air, King has been equally lethal on the ground with his legs with 28 carries for 157 yards and one score.

King’s early success this season shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, King once had a season where he threw for 2,892 passing yards for 36 touchdowns, and ran for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns—but that was with the two seasons ago at the University of Houston. King transferred to Miami this past offseason after redshirting in his senior season at the University of Houston. King received plenty of flack for the way he handled that situation, but he wanted to compete at the highest level of college football, and it is clear he made the right decision. 

One main reason why King wanted to transfer to Miami was that he wanted to show NFL scouts that he can play quarterback at the next level, despite his size and lack of elite physical traits. King wanted to show his abilities as a passer this season, and it is clear, he has definitely improved in that regard since we last saw him in 2019. As we prepare for Saturday’s showdown against Clemson, I wanted to take a look at King from a NFL scout’s point of view, and see just how much he has improved his stock. Here is a quick scouting report on him through three games this season.

King is an undersized right-handed passer who primarily plays under the gun in Lashlee’s spread offense. As a passer, King has above-average accuracy and ball placement, especially on throws in the short and intermediate areas of the field. His accuracy wanes the more outside he gets from the numbers. King’s deep ball accuracy is inconsistent, and he will occasionally miss guys who are open running down the sideline. He has a good, not great arm, but can make all of the throws needed to be a functional NFL player. Right now, King is throwing with his upper body only. If King can continue his development and learn to really use his legs and hips to generate more power in his throwing motion, then I believe he will be able to generate more velocity with his throws. King takes good care of the football and is primarily risk averse in that sense. He seems to have a full understanding of the offense and knows where the ball is supposed to go pre-snap. King is at his best on rollouts and getting outside of the pocket where his natural playmaking ability can shine. He has exceptional pocket movement, and can slip and evade rushers with his excellent short quickness and instincts. As a runner, I believe he is quicker than fast, and is excellent at making the first defender miss. 

Overall, while King has played exceptionally well this season, his projection to the NFL is a tough one. At only 5-foot-9, and given lack of other top physical traits, I just can’t see him ever being a starter in the NFL, and therefore would probably say he projects as a sixth- or seventh-round prospect at best right now. I know people will say, “Well look at Kyler Murray, he is short and is playing very well in the league!” and they would be right. Yes, Murray is a really good quarterback, but the bottom line is King does not have anywhere close to the arm Murray has, nor is he anywhere as dynamic as an athlete as Murray. That’s not meant to be a slight to King, but more of a reminder of how special Murray is.

I know King will be asked to workout at other positions at the NFL Scouting Combine or potentially take reps at wide receiver at the Senior Bowl, but I do think in today’s NFL, where there are so many teams adapting and using more college and spread concepts, that King can be a backup and should absolutely be given the opportunity to stay behind center.

There is a lot of football to still be played this season and King will have plenty of opportunities to put more good things on tape for NFL decision makers. If King can play well, and potentially outplay future No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence on Saturday night, that would go a long way toward silencing his critics and improving his draft stock.

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