DEVELOPMENTAL DEEP DIVE PART 2: QUARTERBACKS
DEVELOPMENTAL DEEP DIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cut Line: 1 player
2014: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B/B+
2015: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B
2016: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B/B-
2017: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B-
Yes, the cut line for quarterbacks is one player. Which, yes, means that the A/A- you see for all 4 time windows is Clayton Thorson. We explored the possibility of a 2-quarterback cutline, but honestly, high profile injuries tend to mask the fact that most teams go coast-to-coast with one guy under center. Ask Matt Alviti.
Speaking of Alviti: How do you account for a quarterback like Alviti? A 4-star prospect who basically never plays over the course of his college career? Our answer was: Very favorably.
First of all, it wasn’t Alviti’s fault that a future NFL player came in the year after him. That’s not misspent potential; it’s great recruiting. (As an aside, the same situation at Clemson has led to us getting Hunter Johnson, so don’t bite the hand that feeds you!) Secondly, Alviti DID get a chance to play: The 2017 Music City Bowl. You might remember that game. How did YOU feel when you realized Matt Alviti would be finishing the game? Pretty great, right? Exactly. Alviti earned a B/B+ from us. There’s no reason to assume he wouldn’t have done a fine job under center if given the chance.
In case you’re wondering, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian were each given a B/B+. If you want to argue that the tandem should have received an A, we’re listening. If you want to argue they each should have received a B, we’re listening. Climb on board the Mick McCall rollercoaster, everyone! (One other important thing to remember about both players: They were both big recruits. Expectations were high from the get-go. Those expectations–at times–were met in spades.)
More recently, depth has become a bit of an issue for the position. TJ Green deserves kudos for earning the #2 spot as a walk-on, but it’s a bit concerning relative to the rest of our quarterbacks (at least one of whom was a major recruit) that a scholarship player wasn’t able to win the backup role. There are couple of quarterbacks on our roster who didn’t project to see the field while at Northwestern even in a Hunter Johnson-less scenario.
Circling back to Thorson: Yes, that’s an A-/A. We think that accurately sums up Thorson’s career. Massive recruit, all-time winningest Northwestern quarterback (by far), pro potential from the moment he stepped on campus. And yet…we can all agree he didn’t reach his ceiling while at Northwestern. We were sometimes left wanting more.
In this sense, we could call Clayton…WAIT FOR IT…Ifeadi Odenigthrow. Thank you, thank you, we’ll be here all week! Try the veal!
BOTTOM LINE: Quarterback hasn’t been quite as good as it could be, but it’s been more than fine. We have almost always had the top quarterback we needed under center, and often had a top player in reserve. Hunter Johnson may be bailing us out next year, but this is the program of Persa, Siemian, Thorson, and Alviti…and that’s just recent history. A position of strength.