Every college football season there’s a player that jumps into the spotlight and exceeds expectations. This year, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, of the University of North Carolina came to play. In his first year as a starter, he threw for over 3,400 yards and 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Not only did he prove to be one of the best quarterbacks in college football in 2016, but he also cemented himself as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. Will Trubisky’s lack of experience as a one-year starter affect his draft stock, or will his size, accuracy and ability to make NFL throws, be enough to ease the mind of some NFL GMs? Only time will tell.
University of North Carolina
DOB: 08/20/1994 (22 years old on draft day)
Trubisky ranked as the 19th best quarterback in the country by scout.com. He was also a member of the ESPN 300 team and rated the as best dual-threat quarterback by 247sports.com. During his career at Mentor high school, he became the first QB to pass for more than 9,000 career yards and more than 4,000 yards as a senior. Interestingly enough, he was also the punter and averaged 40.8 yards
On May 21, 2012, Trubisky committed to the University of North Carolina. He would redshirt his freshman year in 2013 and appeared in 10 games in 2014 while backing up starter Marquise Williams. During his sophomore year, he appeared in nine games completing 40 of 47 passes for 555 yards and six touchdowns with a pass completion percentage of 85.1 and a passer rating of 226.4.
In his first and only season as North Carolina’s starting quarterback, Trubisky excelled to the point NFL draft analysts are projecting him as a first-round quarterback prospect. If in fact Trubisky or “Mr. Biscuit” as he has been nicknamed, decides to declare for the draft, where he lands will be key.
At 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Trubisky stands tall with a good build and good athleticism. There’s no doubt he passes the eye test, using his big frame and toughness to make it difficult for defenders to take him down. His prototypical size should make him very intriguing to any quarterback-needy NFL team.
Accuracy and Ball Placement:
What jumps out immediately when talking about Trubisky is how accurate he was in 2016. With a respectable 68.9 pass completion percentage and a 161.0 pass efficiency rating, Trubisky’s accuracy would become his calling card.
Here you clearly see how technically sound Trubisky is, as he showcases solid footwork and leads his receiver, putting the ball where only his receiver can catch it. He maintains good knee bend in his stance, good upper body mechanics and a nice smooth throwing motion.
Against FSU, Trubisky completes a nice three-step drop, setting up a good “platform” which is the balance and alignment of his body to the target. Notice how his trigger foot points slightly in front on his receiver’s ending route, allowing his receiver to facilitate YAC or yards after the catch.
Trubisky has very good arm talent which he displays here. Here he shows the ability to change the velocity of the football, displaying very good touch on this bucket throw to allow his receiver to catch the ball outside his frame and in front of the defender. This is an impressive throw where he displays good timing and anticipation.
In this clip, Trubisky hits his receiver over the middle of the field and places the ball where only Switzer can get to it. This throw is impressive for many different reasons.
First, you see Trubisky stand tall in the pocket with a solid base. If you watch him closely he goes through his progressions and reads the field very well. He then showcases a very functional and compact throwing motion, putting a good amount of zip on the ball. The placement of the ball to Switzer’s upfield shoulder allowed Switzer the opportunity to catch the ball away from the defender. This is a testament to Trubisky’s arm talent and decision making.
Extending the play:
An important trait for any quarterback at the next level is the ability to extend the play within the pocket. This doesn’t only mean escaping the pocket to gain yards, but having a healthy balance of knowing when to escape the pocket and when to stay in the pocket.
This play is a perfect example of how Trubisky facilitates functional movement within the pocket. Here he maintains light, quick feet as he steps up as the pocket collapses. He keeps his head up and eyes downfield identifying the open receiver to make the throw for a very impressive touchdown. Not only does he showcase good movement within the pocket, but we also get a chance to see his arm strength, along with accuracy and good ball placement.
On this play versus FSU, Trubisky decides to escape the pocket while using a very effective pump fake to elude defenders. His athletic ability and competitive toughness are on display as he runs the ball in for a touchdown.
Not only does Trubisky do a good job of rolling out of the pocket on this play versus FSU, but he also shows very good mechanics as he keeps his shoulders and feet squared to his target. What really jumps out is his ability to roll out to the left and throw across his body while still maintaining good accuracy.
A trait that every quarterback going into the NFL needs to have is competitive toughness. Trubisky exhibits very good competitive toughness as he is able to withstand hits and pressures as he still gets up and competes.
Here you can clearly see Trubisky standing firm in the pocket regardless of the oncoming defender. What’s incredible is that he still maintains good accuracy and ball placement, allowing his receiver to stay within his route and catch the ball away from the defender.
This obviously wasn’t the smartest throw in the world, but we do get to witness a few things. First, Trubisky has very good footwork on his drop back and shows a quick set up. Second, he’s not fazed by the oncoming defender, preparing for the hit as he widens his base. Lastly, we are able to see just how strong of an arm he has. Even though he’s getting hit straight on, he’s able to put a lot of air under the ball with good velocity.
Unfortunately for Trubisky, his lack of experience plagued his gameplay in crunch time situations. As impressive as Trubisky’s competitive toughness is, his mental toughness is a different story. There are a few games that manifested some concerns about how Trubisky handles himself in pressure situations.
In games versus Georgia and Duke, Trubisky’s mechanics, mental processing, and decision-making, dwindled in the final moments of the game. With 49 seconds left in the game against one of North Carolina’s biggest rivals in Duke, Trubisky threw the game-sealing interception leading to 28 to 27 upset. The game that highlighted all of these concerns was against Virginia Tech.
This low pass for an interception is one of many plays that show how his mental processing and mechanics break down when North Carolina is behind on the scoreboard.
On this play, you can see how Trubisky’s throwing mechanics break down as he throws the ball low and away from his receiver. As he sets up his base and goes through his throwing motion, his lead toe is planted facing the sideline throughout his initial throwing motion.
Again, while behind versus NC State, his trigger toe is pointed toward the sideline and Trubisky looks as though he is throwing off balance. His throwing motion is compromised by his lack of follow through. He never finishes the throw per say. For some reason, Trubisky doesn’t allow his trail foot and hips to completely rotate. As a matter fact, his trail foot ends up behind his trigger foot at the end of this throw. This type of mechanical breakdown should not happen on a text book throw.
Lack of Experience:
Trubisky didn’t get his chance to showcase his ability as a starter until 2016. As impressive as he was with over 3,500 yards and a 30:6 touchdown/interception ratio, his inexperience was conspicuous throughout the season. How a player overcomes adversity is very important in regards to mental toughness and decision-making as previously discussed. Trubisky’s lack of starting experience hinders his ability to read defenses and identify deceptive defensive formations.
This play against Virginia Tech shows just how Trubisky’s decision-making can get compromised in pressure situations. He makes the decision to throw the ball, even though the defender won the inside. This was an unnecessary throw that lead to an unnecessary interception. This was also uncharacteristic as Trubisky usually goes through progressions and this time he stared down his receiver.
On this play versus Virginia Tech, Trubisky escapes the pocket, attempting to get away from defenders, while almost risking a safety. The level of a competition only gets harder in the NFL and he will need to learn to get rid of the ball when necessary.
There’s no denying that there’s a lot of talent and upside in Trubisky. He had an outstanding year in 2016 in turning many heads with his accuracy, competitiveness and athleticism. The good news is that all his flaws are coachable and NFL teams will know this.
In a draft that lacks top-tier quarterback talent, Trubisky could find his way into the first round. While I have Trubisky as a mid second round pick, there are many quarterback-needy teams that will want this guy on their team. He will be in intriguing prospect if he decides to declare for the 2017 NFL draft.