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Brett Hundley: The best option at Quarterback for the Chargers?

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Kyle Posey breaks down Brett Hundley as an option for the San Diego Chargers in the NFL Draft.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The rumors are flying  everywhere. Will the Chargers trade for Marcus Mariota? Time will tell. Let's say they don't. Let's say the price is too steep or Tampa Bay takes him. Recently the team worked out UCLA Senior QB Brett Hundley privately. So, if San Diego were to stay put or even trade up in the 2nd round for Hundley, what kind of player will they be getting?

Getting Greedy

Something I've noticed with the top quarterbacks this year is that they are all greedy. None of them as much as Hundley. This caused him to take sacks he had no business taking or pass up "free yards" on an underneath route for in attempt to make a bigger play that just wasn't there. Let's take a look at an example from the USC game. Below is an example where Hundley has a wide open curl for a 1st down and doesn't take advantage.

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This is play is a staple from the west coast offense, a "hi-lo" read for Hundley that is designed to put the circled linebacker in a bind and open up the slot receiver for an easy pitch and catch. The play goes as planned.

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The problem is, Hundley doesn't pull the trigger. The receiver is well out of his break and is open by a good 2 yards. Hundley's 1st read was the curl to the top of the screen, and he did a good job of working to his 2nd progression. He chose to pass up this potential 1st down throw, and the result was him leaving this clean pocket and scrambling right for a throw off target.

This is a constant for Hundley. Turning down what looks to be easy throws for more contested ones. Rewind back to the 1st game of the season. A critical 3rd and 3 to keep the drive alive. With this look, Hundley knows that if the circled defender is blitzing, he has a gimme throw to the tight end for a 1st down.

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The edge defender ends up rushing, yet, Hundley doesn't dump it off to the tight end.

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The result was him coming off of that read for the crosser at the top of the screen. It was a contested throw and incomplete pass.

Hundley will have some throws where he forces it into coverage that will scratch your head. However, these are the throws that baffle me when I watch him. You cannot miss open receivers like this in the NFL. Take what's there and stay ahead of the chains.

Rhythm, Dimes, and Accuracy

More specifically, accuracy outside of the numbers. From a ball placement standpoint, Hundley excelled in this area. The effortless arm strength and the velocity in which it gets there is very impressive. Below is a chart that tells you exactly where Hundley threw the pass and where it was placed on the receiver in 5 combined games. I've omitted all throws behind the line of scrimmage. They are color coded based on the result of the pass. Triangles are completions, and X's are incompletions.

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  • Blue-Behind
  • Yellow-Low Pass
  • Orange-Overthrow
  • Green-On Target
  • Dark-Green-Drop
  • Teal-Throw Away
  • Red-Interception
Here is a look at a table broken down into how many steps, where the pass was thrown, including air yards, sacks, touchdowns, and interceptions.

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Again, I understand this is a lot of information to digest. But when you break it down from a ball placement standpoint, there is some very valuable information here. Going back to my very 1st point on Hundley about being greedy, you can see that in 97 attempts he only threw the ball away twice. Much like Oregon's QB, most of Hundley's work came off of a quick, 3 step passing game or passes with pre-determined reads off of some sort of run(play) action. Unlike Mariota, Hundley was much more accurate in the 5-10 yard area, where the throws are more contested. Hundley was on target on 29 of his 40 attempts, with one interception worthy pass. When he is in rhythm, Hundley is great. That back foot hits, and he's letting the ball go on time and in the structure of the play. It's night and day when Hundley has sufficient time in the pocket or his initial read is open, and we will touch on that in a little bit.

I've had enough experience and exposures to the quarterback position to know that you don't have to use "jargon" to look smarter or to come off as you know what you're talking about. Most of the "locks out his front leg and doesn't get enough torque" statements are nonsense, anyways. You can keep it simple. With Hundley and his deep ball accuracy, that's what it is, simple. Hundley throws with great touch and trajectory that seemingly always landed in the receivers hands. Whether they caught it or not, 11 drops, is another story. Hundley was accurate on 11 of his 17 throws beyond 20 yards. That's an impressive feat. The number barely dips when you move it back 5 yards. On throws, 15 yards or greater Hundley was 18-29. Let's look at some of his dimes.

This 1st throw is 40 yards on the money. You see the touch and trajectory. You also see Hundley hanging in the pocket knowing he's going to take a shot, as well as fitting the pass perfectly in between 2 defenders.

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That's a big boy throw.

Hundley made several throws, whether it was a curl to the other side of the field or a deep out route on a line. However, it's these deep throws that should leave any evaluator salivating. This next throw is a frozen rope that the receiver can't haul in.

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That's about 45 yards on as close to a line as it gets. Not many quarterbacks can put the ball in that spot. Period.

The final example, I promise. I'm showing you these because deep ball accuracy is a trait that not many at the next level possess.
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Another drop.

The last throw that Hundley has all but perfected is one of the most "gimme" throws in the NFL. The back shoulder. It takes good ball placement, but the timing has to be just right and the quarterback has to anticipate the throw as well. I'd question whoever is coaching Hundley a year from now if they did not incorporate at least five back shoulder throws into the game plan. In a differently structured offense, I expect Hundley to excel.

Pocket Prehhhhsence and Molasses

As you saw from the chart above, Hundley took an outrageous 16 sacks on 3 step drops. Sixteen. There are three reasons for this. The first reason I fault the structure of the plays. Let's say UCLA has two receivers to one side, the slot receiver would run a vertical route, and the outside receiver would run a slant. The object being to run off the underneath coverage and open a throwing lane for the slant. The slant gets covered; the deep receiver isn't open, Hundley is left without a check down and takes a sack. Should he have thrown it away? Sure. He's not without fault by any means. However, there were numerous occasions where if Hundley would've had a simple check down option out of the backfield he's not taking these unnecessary sacks. I couldn't stand to watch their offense for this reason.

The second option is his offensive line. It might take you 2 series before you realize just how bad they were. Dead last in adjusted sack rate. Hundley was sacked 4 or 5 times before he finished his drop, and avoided at least double digit sacks with his athleticism.

Like I said, Hundley isn't without blame. He's the final issue. He took sacks that you just cannot take. I've seen people question Hundley's ability to "feel pressure." I didn't have an issue with that. I think he climbs and maneuvers in the pocket just fine. Hundley's issue, for me, was waiting too long to come off of a receiver or to realize when nothing is there, just throw the damn ball away. Give your team a chance on 2nd and 10 rather than it be 2nd and 19. Part of me wants to believe this is because he didn't have a check down but other times he was like molasses when it came to going from one side of the field to the other. For a Senior, you would like Hundley to have a better grasp on the offense. The lack of his anticipation, whether it's throwing the ball or anticipating a route being covered and moving ot his next read, he's just not consistent enough.

Is he ready to play?

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable 4.0

Trait Weight Grade
Pocket Presence 4 3.4
Accuracy 4 3.5
Velocity 2.5 2.2
Decision Making 2.5 1.9
Anticipation 2 1.4
Arm Strength 2 1.9
Footwork 2 1.7
Ball Security 2 1.5
Release 2 1.8
Athleticism 2 2

Hundley grades out as a 7.67. I don't think he gets the type of credit he deserves for playing behind that bad of an offensive line and with below average receivers. I also don't think his offensive coordinator did him any favors. Hundley rarely had a bailout option out of the backfield, and wasn't asked to work the entire field. Only 16% of his throws were between the hashes. Irony is that's where his highest adjusted accuracy percentage was. Next year with more pro style concepts, like throwing to, I don't know, Antonio Gates on a curl route, I believe we'll see what Hundley can really bring to the table.

Hundley improved as the season went on when it came to standing tall and making throws in the pocket, as well as being able to reset once he was moved off of his initial spot. He still has work to do when he comes to keeping his eyes downfield when scrambling, throwing with anticipation, liviing to see another down, and taking what the defense gives him.

Hundley is one of the more fascinating prospects because the tools are obvious, the athleticism is there, but can an offensive coordinator mold his offense to help Hundley? I don't believe it would be as difficult as many make it out to be. Hundley has enough positive exposures that lead me to believe he can excel in a west coast offense or a play-action, timing based offense. He has the arm to work the entire field, it's up to the play caller to put him in a position to succeed. He's the best runner at the position and his elusiveness in the pocket rivals anyones. I would feel more comfortable trading up for Hundley in the 2nd than the other alternative in the 1st. Specfically from a value standpoint.