29 Jun Preseason Scouting Notes: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Senior | 6’3” 230 lbs | Austin, TX
A THREE-YEAR STARTER WITH NATURAL LEADERSHIP QUALITIES AND DISCIPLINED EYES IN THE POCKET
With new Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich calling plays for the 2020 season, Sam Ehlinger is going to need to be open to some changes. Texas’ offensive scheme in 2019 was mostly a no-huddle spread offense with some occasional RPOs thrown into the mix. Yurcich’s plan is to increase the pace of the no-huddle, while slowly implementing a run-heavy playbook. Being as athletic as he is, Ehlinger should have no problem adjusting to and excelling in his new OC’s offensive game plan.
– Disciplined with his eyes. Keeps them downfield while climbing the pocket, reads through his progressions and moves the safeties with his eyes to open up throwing lanes
– Smooth footwork when climbing the pocket and escaping incoming pressure
– Not afraid to stand in the pocket until the very last moment and take a big hit while delivering a ball
– If his desired target is not open, he does not force the throw. He will tuck the ball and run with it, or take a sack rather than making a preventable mistake by forcing the ball into coverage
– Sufficient converting on third and fourth downs
– He is a threat in the run game. May not be the most explosive runner, but his athleticism and strength allows him to pick up first downs with his legs
– Protects the football by keeping it high and tight when on the run
– A leader for the Longhorns on and off the field. He can get his teammates to dial in and focus in close games and effectively communicates to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage pre-snap
Areas to improve:
– He lacks the accuracy to be a starting QB at the NFL level. Placement of passes are either over-thrown and out of reach of his receiver, or under-thrown/behind his receiver. Causes targets to lose the step they had on their defender.
– He struggles with intermediate and deep level throws, while being adequate with shorter routes
– Has the power to get the ball downfield, but lacks velocity in his throws to fit them into tight windows
– “Captain Check-Down.” Relies too much on his check-down and underneath routes. Won’t improve his deep accuracy if he doesn’t take more shots downfield
– Does not sense pressure until it is right in his face. By that time it is too late to escape the defense. Accuracy suffers on what should be easy, short completions when pressure is coming in his direction
– Does not recognize blitz packages pre-snap
– Needs to get down and slide when he takes off running. He may have the build to take hits, but he will wear himself down if he does not learn to protect himself
– AC sprain (shoulder) against Baylor (2018; had a bye week, missed no games)
– Rib cartilage injury suffered against LSU (2019; missed no games, but continues to be a lingering issue)
Ehlinger possesses the leadership qualities, football IQ, and discipline that any team wants in a QB. However, his struggles when completing deep throws is what will hold him back from being a late day one or early day two pick. In today’s NFL, it’s all about the deep ball. If Ehlinger cannot improve his accuracy when it comes to deep and intermediate level throws, he will find himself being taken middle to late on the third day of the draft, or even signed as an undrafted free agent.
What to watch in 2020:
Will Ehlinger be able to improve his overall accuracy? More importantly, can he do so on deep throws? Can he tighten up his spiral, thus increasing the velocity on his throws? Will he be able to stay healthy for an entire season? Without improving his accuracy, Ehlinger will be seen as nothing more than a project backup QB at the next level. With a new OC being added to the Longhorns’ staff, Ehlinger may benefit the most from the newly designed offense that will be implemented. Look for Yurcich to take full advantage of Ehlinger’s athleticism throughout this season.