Running Man Chronicles: Red Birds
Over the Summer I had a discussion with an aspiring NFL draft talent evaluator. His breakdown of Easton Stick was as good as anything that I've seen on our quarterback but I disagreed with a few of the points that he made. The one that I am planning to address the most specifically this season is to pay close attention to the running of our quarterback. As a prospect being able to run can be an asset but being a running quarterback in the NFL lead to many injuries that "pocket passers" may not experience. I can count on one hand the number of running quarterbacks that have succeeded for many years without serious injury over the last 20 years in the NFL. Sure Stick could be the exception but I'm not ready to count on that and don't think you should count on that either. Think as you wish, but that's my recommendation.
The challenge I'm going to give myself is to go game by game, watching whether his runs seem to be a part of the designed offense or because it's still a basic instinct & primary facet of his game. At the end of the season maybe it will help shed some more light on our quarterback as a pro prospect.
For the first time this year I counted more running play by Easton then the bookkeeper. 12 vs 10 isn't a large discrepancy but it's not by accident or even a mistake as far as I'm concerned. For the first time this year I took notice of Stick's mobility in conjunction with the passing game. On the pro level regularly rolling out to the right or the left can be a detriment because it effectively limits passing to which side of the field the qb goes to. So I'm still not fond of it being used regularly by a prospect but to use it occasionally and precisely can quite a useful tool on any level of play.
There was one play in particular, during the first quarter, where Stick rolled out to his left, avoided being tackled, while keeping his eyes down field, and threw a nice pass to an adequately open receiver. It was an incompletion but showed me as much as any single play could about his current level of play.
So yeah, I mixed in a few extra uses of his legs because they were scrambles, even as he looked to gain yards through the air. It's a wrinkle and maybe I'll have come up with a way to differentiating between keepers and scrambles to buy time to throw the ball by next Saturday.
For now, it's pretty much all positives. The third space from the bottom was a keeper that was both positive and negative but I didn't see it as clearly one way more than the other so it's a blank on the good decision side. 11.5/12 is a 95.8% rate, a solid A by any metric and as good as anyone should expect of the guy.
I would still prefer less usage of him running the ball but with an absent Bruce Anderson and Ty Brooks only just returning I understand why. It would be borderline catastrophic if he did get hurt doing something that's complimentary and not essential though!
If I were a scout and watched today's tape I would see plenty of positives from the guy. I may never fully grasp how they translate players' skills from lower levels of the game up the pros but today Easton again showed some quality traits. There's room for improvement but he was good today in the use of his skills to amplify the offense and so that he could use his other skills at other times in the game. Running, as has been the case, was a big part of that.