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First Look

Scouting Quinn Ewers: Texas quarterback similar in quick twitch, upside to Baker Mayfield

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for 300-plus yards six times last season, tying a program single-season record, and ranked 12th in the FBS with 289.9 passing yards per game. (Eric Gay/AP)
Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for 300-plus yards six times last season, tying a program single-season record, and ranked 12th in the FBS with 289.9 passing yards per game. (Eric Gay/AP)

NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2024. This is the second entry in a series of scouting reports that will run in July.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers is no stranger to the glare of the national spotlight. He was widely regarded as one of the country's top recruits coming out of high school a few years ago, and last season gave us the best look yet at why he received so much hype before taking a college snap.

Ewers captured the football world's attention with his performance against Alabama early last September, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns in leading Texas to a 34-24 road win. The victory snapped the Crimson Tide's 21-game home winning streak and vaulted Ewers to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy conversation. A loss to Oklahoma in early October and shoulder injury that sidelined him for two games knocked Ewers off course a bit at midseason, but he did return to guide the Longhorns to four straight victories and the program's first College Football Playoff berth. After coming up short against Michael Penix Jr. and Washington in the national semifinal, Ewers announced he would return for a third season with UT.

There is plenty of intrigue around Ewers entering the 2024 campaign, which will be Texas' first in the SEC. Will he take another step in his development under head coach Steve Sarkisian despite losing his top five receivers from last year? How quickly will fans be calling for the team to start Arch Manning -- the most popular backup QB in the country -- if Ewers encounters any struggles? After getting a chance to study Ewers' game film from last season, I'm bullish on his potential this year. Here is my initial scouting report.

Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 205 pounds (school measurements).

2023 statistics (12 games): 272-of-394 (69.0%) for 3,479 yards (8.8 per attempt), 22 TDs and 6 INTs; 59 carries for 75 yards (1.3 average), 5 TDs.

Game tape watched: at Alabama (Sept. 9, 2023), vs. Kansas (Sept. 30, 2023), at TCU (Nov. 11, 2023).

What I liked: I love Ewers' urgency and tempo in the pocket. He has very quick feet as he sets up and he can slide laterally or climb vertically to avoid free rushers. He has a quick, three-quarters release point and the ball really pops out of his hand without much strain or effort. He throws with anticipation in the middle of the field (he loves throwing dig routes) and he can generate plenty of velocity to fit throws into tight windows. He excels on run-pass options (RPOs) because of his quick hands and decision making.

He threw some beautiful deep balls against Alabama last season, but there were times in the other games I studied when he put a little too much air under the ball, allowing defenders time to recover.

Where he needs to improve: I love how quickly Ewers sees the field, but there are times where his feet can be late to marry his eyes, which impacts his accuracy. For example, he'll start a read to the right, quickly get his eyes back to the middle of the field and deliver the ball before aligning his feet in that direction. He overcomes it occasionally (which is incredible) but it should be an area of focus as he embarks on the 2024 season.

He also has a bad habit of unnecessarily fading away and falling off some throws. Fortunately, he possesses the arm strength to get away with it at Texas, but that will be a risky proposition at the next level, where the speed drastically increases.

Biggest takeaway: I don't know why Ewers hasn't generated more early excitement and buzz in scouting circles. I was very impressed with his skill set. His performance against Alabama last fall should have answered any questions about his viability as a top NFL prospect. He isn't perfect, but I love his blend of suddenness, aggressiveness and raw talent.

When evaluating quarterbacks, I always ask this question: Does this player's toolbox expand the playbook or limit it? I believe Ewers allows creative play-designers/callers plenty to get excited about. He can make every throw from the pocket, he's accurate on the move and he can take the free yards that are offered in the run game.

He reminds me of: I couldn't come up with a perfect comp for Ewers after studying the three games. The first name that popped into my head was a throwback to my younger days as a scout: Kevin Kolb. Something about Ewers' delivery and play style evoked that old-school name. However, the more game tape I watched, the more I thought of Baker Mayfield. Both guys have a quick twitch in everything they do -- seeing the field, setting up in the pocket and delivering the ball.

There's a moxie and playmaking skill set to build around with both guys. Mayfield has really blossomed in Tampa Bay after bouncing around the league for the past few years. I don't think Ewers is quite as polished as Mayfield was at the same point in his college career, but I do see similar upside and potential.

I can't wait to watch him play: at Texas A&M on Nov. 30. I know there are plenty of fans upset about the changes in college football. I am not one of them. I love the realignment. I believe scouts will benefit from teams facing more challenging schedules and I cannot wait to see the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry renewed. The atmosphere is going to be off the charts! It's tough to top the Texas-Oklahoma game, but I do believe this matchup will eclipse it this fall. Let's GO!

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