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NFL Draft

Why Isn’t Kedon Slovis Living Up To Expectations?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 15, 2021
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Kedon Slovis looked like a quarterback to watch in 2019.

It’s because of the flashes of greatness we saw that year—when the USC signal-caller recorded a 71.9% completion percentage, throwing for 3,502 yards with 30 touchdowns and just nine interceptionsthat there’s been reason to hold out hope for him getting his feet back under him. It’s even easier to be optimistic about Slovis, who regressed in 2020 when he completed 67% of his passes for 1,921 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, when we look at things from an injury perspective. 

Slovis suffered an elbow injury during the Holiday Bowl that could very well have been the main reason for his apparent step back, but moving into this season, we haven’t seen much pop from Slovis. He’s been underwhelming and has fallen in the rankings, now expected to be taken in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft at this rate, as he’s completed 51-of-78 passes (65.4%) for 479 yards with three touchdowns and one interception this season.

In his most recent outing, a 42-28 upset loss to Stanford, Slovis completed 27-of-42 passes (64.3%) for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This game marked what looked like quite a collapse on USC’s end (hence the firing of head coach Clay Helton), so it was far more than Slovis that was the issue, but he certainly finds aspects of his game on the long list of things that must improve.

1. The lack of physical traits.

Looking at Slovis, there’s nothing that particularly wows you. The physical tools aren’t there -- his arm strength is unimpressive and his size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds doesn’t do much for anyone either. Considering that Slovis doesn’t seem to have any elite level of processing (and if anything, he has looked hesitant and holds the ball for too long, something that won’t get you far in an offense with Air Raid concepts) or special, redeeming traits from a mental aspect that make up for all of this, it’s hard to build a strong case as to why he should be one of the top prospects in this year’s class. 

2. Plenty of talent surrounding him.

Slovis’ supporting cast has been better than some of the quarterbacks across the country who rank higher than him. He has one of the best groups of wide receivers to throw to, which includes Drake London, who reeled in a career-high 13 receptions for 144 yards in the 30-7 win over San Jose State earlier this year. London is one of the standouts after USC lost veterans Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown, two players who combined for 5,000 career receiving yards.

Within this stacked room of wideouts that has a great amount of upside are transfers K.D. Nixon (Colorado) and Tahj Washington (Memphis). Washington had three 100-yard games last season. Bru McCoy, Gary Bryant Jr., and Kyle Ford were also top-50 recruits in their classes, respectively.

Just the way LSU is largely known as “DBU,” USC is one of the programs that has earned a reputation as “WRU.” A quarterback ought to be able to make something of several years of great recruiting at this position.

3. A (slowly) ticking clock and new circumstances.

All of this being said, there’s still time for Slovis to redeem himself. After all, we are only two games into this season and it’s technically too early to overreact. Slovis hasn’t done a lot of egregiously terrible things in 2021, it’s more that he’s not made the jump he’s been expected to make after moving past the injury. 

How much did Helton potentially hinder Slovis’ development as a quarterback? That’s a question that’s hard to properly answer and one that’s really tough to evaluate. But in the case that Helton was a culprit of Slovis’ stagnance, the quarterback has a chance to move on under someone else with plenty of season left to play. The progress he has or hasn’t made by late October should give us a more solid idea of who he’s going to be and if there’s any chance left that he can be the prospect we once saw.

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