Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Can Heisman Contender Will Grier Be an NFL QB?

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterSeptember 7, 2018

West Virginia's Will Grier (7) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

If at first glance, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier looks like former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, that's OK with Grier. Especially if NFL teams see him like they did Mayfield: as a spread quarterback from the weak Big 12 who used his athleticism, accuracy and leadership to become the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

Grier, who is listed at 6'2" and 223 pounds, doesn't just look like Mayfield off the field with his dark hair and full beard. He plays like him, too. But with NFL scouts—who broke their code in drafting a spread quarterback under 6'2" last year—overlook the obvious with Grier and hand him the label of a franchise quarterback?

Following a breakout 2017 season that was cut short by a broken hand suffered against Texas, Grier was on fire in Week 1 against Tennessee. His 73.5 percent completion rate, five touchdowns and 429 yards passing were all Mayfield-esque. 

Like Mayfield, Grier has to answer questions about off-field events. He was suspended while at Florida for performance-enhancing drug use and then decided (again, like Mayfield) to transfer and seek a better opportunity. He found that at West Virginia with head coach Dana Holgorsen. 

The early word from NFL scouts is "wait and see" with Grier. Those scouts who last year called Mayfield a "Day 3 pick" at this time don't want to be caught again with premature judgements that have to be recanted once the player is studied.

Based on last year's tape and Grier's red-hot start against Tennessee, my Big Board (found below) has him among the top 32.

        

What else is happening this week?

  • NFL draft prospect stock watch
  • Rumors from around the NFL and NCAA
  • Top 32 2019 NFL draft Big Board
  • Parting shots

                 

The Scout's Report 

—Washington left tackle Trey Adams, a potential first-round prospect for the 2019 draft, will miss the 2018 season after undergoing back surgery, per Seattle Times reporter Adam Jude. Adams is no stranger to missing time, as an ACL injury caused him to sit for half the 2017 season. His draft stock is on hold until more is known about his back.

Justin Herbert, Oregon's starting quarterback, made some dazzling throws in the team's Week 1 win over Bowling Green, but NFL scouts weren't impressed. Multiple scouts contacted me this week to downplay Herbert. One area scout said the school isn't sold on his toughness (something I reported immediately after the 2018 draft ended), and another commented on his sub-50 percent completion rate against a mid-major. Herbert looks the part with a 6'6", 233-pound frame, but there are already concerns that might lead him to return to school for his senior season.

—How good was Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa in the opener against Oregon State? One high-level scouting executive with an NFC West team texted me that "[Bosa] should declare for the draft right now and never play another snap for free." As you'll see on the Big Board below, I'm a fan.

The hype around Nick Bosa is real... for a reason (see Big Board below).
The hype around Nick Bosa is real... for a reason (see Big Board below).Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

—There was a lot of hype this summer around the upcoming offensive tackle class, but little of it centered around Wisconsin's David Edwards. You'll see his ranking below on my board, but it's worth sharing who one area scout compared him to in a text this week: Mike McGlinchey. If the Notre Dame tackle can go in the top 10, then Edwards has the tools to do the same.

—As the Khalil Mack trade unfolded, I did some reporting on the talks and posted them on Twitter. The Los Angeles Rams confirmed they made an attempt for Mack, but I've heard the two most attractive offers outside what the Chicago Bears sent were from the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets. The Raiders didn't want to send Mack to the AFC, though, and felt the Packers' first-round pick would be too low.

                

Stock Watch

Stock Up: Alabama Safety Deionte Thompson

Alabama has another star in the secondary. Safety Deionte Thompson was all over the field in the season opener against Louisville and has the look of another Alabama first-rounder. The redshirt junior is very impressive.

             

Stock Down: Stanford Running Back Bryce Love

Facing San Diego State—a team not renowned for its defense—Love put up just 29 yards on 18 carries. If you're looking for a silver lining, Love did catch three passes after only pulling in six receptions in the entire 2017 season, but his running looked timid and lacked the vision needed to break open cutback lanes.

            

Stock Up: Virginia Tech Defensive End Trevon Hill

Get used to the name Trevon Hill.
Get used to the name Trevon Hill.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Sometimes the stage matters. On Monday night, with every football fan watching, Trevon Hill owned the Florida State Seminoles offensive line from his spot at right defensive end. The 6'3", 245-pound edge-rusher has the first step and motor to be effective in space. 

           

Stock Down: Clemson Defensive Tackles

There is a ton of hype surrounding Clemson defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, but that's college football hype and not NFL potential. Neither player is featured on my top-32 big board—which is based on my observations but is also vetted by NFL scouts. If enough scouts say you're wrong about a player, you're going to double-check it. Instead, the most common feedback was that both are ranked too high.

                   

The Big Board

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

3. Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan

4. Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama

5. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

6. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

7. Devin White, LB, LSU

8. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

9. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

10. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

11. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

12. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

13. Zach Allen, EDGE, Boston College

14. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

15. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

16. Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

17. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

18. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

19. Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State

20. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

21. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

22. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

23. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

24. Jamal Peters, CB, Mississippi State

25. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

26. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

27. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

28. Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

29. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

30. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

31. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

32. Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama

               

Parting Shots

5. What will the Oakland Raiders do with two first-round picks in the 2019 class?

The easy thought is they'll use one to draft Mack's replacement, but that's only a need if 2018 third-rounder Arden Key fails. If he's on the field—he missed time at LSU due to injuries and has notable off-field issues—he's a viable option as the team's primary pass-rusher.

The Raiders will be quietly loaded with young talent on the defensive line if Key and defensive tackle P.J. Hall hit. That would allow the team to package both picks to move up and secure a blue-chip prospect (Bosa or Oliver).

More likely: The Raiders keep both firsts and look to plug holes in the secondary and at wide receiver.

4. Game balls for Week 1 of college football:

QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: 22-of-30, 313 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT

QB Will Grier, West Virginia: 25-of-34, 429 yards, 5 TDs

RB Artavis Pierce, Oregon State: 11 carries, 168 yards, 2 TDs

RB Mike Weber, Ohio State: 20 carries, 186 yards, 3 TDs

WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford: 6 catches, 226 yards, 3 TDs

  

3. Does Le'Veon Bell deserve to be paid? Yes. Should his Steelers teammates knock him and discuss his pay in public? No. 

Le'Veon Bell's situation with the Steelers has hit a new level that nobody wanted.
Le'Veon Bell's situation with the Steelers has hit a new level that nobody wanted.Winslow Townson/Associated Press

That violates an unspoken rule in sports: Never talk about another man's money. When Bell gets paid, it will benefit the entire NFL Players Association. It benefits every NFL running back now and any back who comes into the league later.

I get that the Steelers want to win, and losing their star running back won't help, but Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey should say "no comment" and move on.

        

2. Here are the college games I'll scout this weekend:

—Mississippi State at Kansas State: The return of Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback after a suspension for violating team rules, plus the supertalented Bulldog defense against the K-State attack makes this one intriguing.

—Colorado at Nebraska: As a college football fan, I'm just ready to see Scott Frost coach a game for the Huskers.

—UCLA at Oklahoma: Can Kyler Murray and the OU offense stay red hot? Will Chip Kelly have some tricks up his sleeve to turn this into a shootout? It should be a fun, high-scoring affair.

—Georgia at South Carolina: Conference games are always tough, and South Carolina has talent on both sides of the ball. After beating up Austin Peay last week, Jake Fromm and Co. face a real test.

—Iowa State at Iowa: David Montgomery vs. the Iowa defense and Nate Stanley against the Cyclones' defense. This will be a fun one.

—Michigan State at Arizona State: ASU receiver N'Keal Harry might be the best at his position in the country. Michigan State always has a stingy defense, so that's a matchup to watch. Also, Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke is very talented and may get into the 2019 draft conversation.

—USC at Stanford: The pro prospects in this game are ranked are lower than in recent years, but I'll be watching to see if Love has a bounce-back effort against a USC front seven that has Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin locking things down.

1. Stick to Football has changed a lot since the last Scouting Notebook. We're now primarily a college football podcast that also covers the NFL draft (and will do so more as that season heats up). You also now get three episodes per week! Check it out and subscribe if you haven't already.

                

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.  

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