Former Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel isn't the first name that jumps off the page when examining the list of prospects entering the 2013 NFL draft at the position, but he's a developmental talent that should intrigue most NFL teams.
You'll have to travel for a while down a big board or mock before finding Tuel's name, but the Cougars gunslinger is the most accurate in school history, which places him in with names such as Drew Bledsoe.
Does Tuel have what it takes to make it in the NFL? Has he shown enough over the course of his career to be selected in this year's draft at all?
Read on to find out.
|+ Good size at 6'3" and 218 pounds ||- Didn't have to make many reads in college|
|+ Mobile in pocket to extend plays with his feet||- Serious injury history|
|+ Solid throwing motion/great touch on passes ||- Mediocre arm strength
|+ Smart, aware player with solid character|
Tuel is an underrated athlete who can extend plays with his feet. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds, and the tape shows his ability to pull the ball down and take off.
He has ideal size, and the mechanics of his throwing motion are hard to argue against. The pocket presence is there, but it's going to be a task actually teaching him to make his way through progressions outside of a spread offense.
Tuel isn't durable in any sense of the word. He's dislocated his knee cap, missed games because of the flu and broken his clavicle, only to rush back and injure it again.
Two things NFL teams won't have to worry about with Tuel are his leadership qualities and character.
Tuel sounds committed to his craft and is working hard to make it at the professional level.
An important thing to note is that Tuel chose not to fight the NCAA for a fifth year of eligibility despite being injured for most of a season.
He was unwilling to throw former coach Paul Wulff (who was fired) under the bus in a hearing (per The Seattle Times).
Tuel played in a spread offense under head coach Paul Wulff and was asked to do much of the same when Wulff was replaced by Mike Leach.
The offenses he ran when actually healthy were primarily out of the shotgun formation. He was asked to do little in the way of working through progressions or making reads, as where the ball was going was typically determined before the ball was snapped.
One of the biggest holes in Tuel's game is his inability to put zip on passes. Most of his passes look wobbly, whether he is on the run or setting his feet.
The same floating passes that he expertly places over defensive backs' heads also cost him dearly, as they hang up in the air for too long and often result in the defender being able to make a play on the ball.
Tuel looks good throwing the short passes, but anything intermediate to long gives him issues. Add in the fact that he never had to rifle passes into spots, and arm strength is an issue.
It's hard to have outstanding accuracy when arm strength is an issue, but Tuel did well enough in what was a vertical spread offense during his time at Washington State.
Tuel has no problems hitting a receiver between the numbers when his target is wide open, but he struggles to properly lead his targets and place the ball properly when defenders are in the area or draped on his man.
Anticipation and ball location are strengths for Tuel on deep passes, as he routinely drops balls into the cradle of his receivers' arms where only they can reach it.
Again, his vertical game is fine, but anything that requires some zip often floats and turns into a 50-50.
Tuel's throwing motion is fine. He has a quick release, especially under pressure, but his passes still look wobbly.
His footwork can get wonky at times, especially when under pressure. He can navigate a collapsing pocket just fine, but all too often he loses concentration on his footwork, which causes his passes to sail.
The good news is that Tuel has stellar pocket presence, which translates into his being able to extend plays with his feet, which he had to do often over the course of his career at WSU thanks to a shoddy offensive line.
Tuel isn't the fastest on the ground, but he does an outstanding job of keeping his eyes downfield and making the right throws once his receivers finally break free.
Part of what makes Tuel so hard to bring down in the pocket is not his size, but his unpredictability in his movements as he scrambles away. He's great at improvising and is not deliberate in his movements as he moves to escape.
A glaring flaw in this department is his mechanics. All too often Tuel throws with horrific footwork or improvises with strange throwing motions. It worked at WSU, but it'll cost him his job at the professional level, where defenders can cover for longer periods of time and are athletic enough to take advantage of passes suffering from bad mechanics.
Tuel has quick feet, which helped him at the collegiate level. In the pocket at the NFL level may be another story.
While he has some escapability in his game, his throws usually pay the price.
It's also worth mentioning that while Tuel's athleticism won't limit him schematically at the next level, it's unwise to throw him in an offense in which he would take a lot of hits, thanks to his horrible injury history.
How Does He Attack Defenses?
Unfortunately, Tuel is limited by a weak arm in the sense that he doesn't put the zip on the ball needed for quick passes into tight windows.
Tuel attacks defenses by finding matchups he likes before the snap and attacking them without further reads after the snap.
He hasn't displayed an ability to work his way through reads, look defenders off, pump fake or call plays at the line.
One area in which Tuel excels is in the vertical game, which is where he makes his money while attacking defenses. He's exceptional placing the ball where only his receiver can come down with it on big gains down the field.
Tuel also has a propensity to roll away from pressure and find open men, but it's not something he excels at enough to make use of at the next level.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
In the NFL, Tuel is a developmental quarterback at best who may find a home and a nice career as a backup. Unless he can improve his arm strength, Tuel would only truly fit in a vertical offense that leaves him with plenty of time to make his throws.
Draft Projection: Rounds 6-7 or Undrafted
Best Team Fits: Cardinals, Bills
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