It’s not too often that a semi productive junior quarterback comes into his senior season with a hype surrounding him like Stephen Morris did, but that happened to the signal caller from the University of Miami.
As a prospect there is no doubt that Morris will entice a team with his ability to sling the ball all over the field, possessing one of the strongest arms in the class, but there are numerous concerns going forward about the Hurricanes signal caller, and there are issues that need to be worked out, but the physical upside is… tantalizing.
Morris is another in the line of “undersized” by NFL standards standing at 6-2 and 215lbs, but looking smaller than that when you watch the film.
He has a slight frame, and looks like he may need to add a little bulk, if possible, to be able to hold up to the pounding he’ll take at the NFL level.
Morris has had some injury history as well, just nagging things, but it will be a concern with his body type moving forward.
As far as athleticism goes, he moves really well, but he is doesn’t use it enough.
Too often Morris gets caught flat footed in the pocket and then throws off his back foot instead of using that athleticism to move up or outside the pocket and extend plays.
Arm and Accuracy-
The biggest thing Morris has going for him going forward is the fact he may have the biggest arm in the draft, as there are few quarterbacks that can make the throws that Morris has made this season.
He’s comfortable putting the ball down field, as much of his game is predicated on attacking deep in the Miami level’s passing concept, but too often he trusts that arm too much.
Morris displays an excellent upper body when he’s throwing the ball, using different angles to get the ball out to receivers over his massive offensive line, as finding throwing lanes that allow him to show off his arm strength to all levels of the field.
His footwork in the pocket is extremely sporadic however, and leads to accuracy issues, despite having that “big arm”.
Morris as a starter has only posted eight games in his career where he has completed over 60% of his passes, and in six games that Justis Mosqueda charted in 2012 you can see most of that struggle came in the the 0-19 range, where a quarterback is supposed to make his money, Morris is completing an appalling 54% of his passes.
|Total (6 Games)|
|11 – 19||4||10||5||7||7||14|
|0 – 10||19||30||18||36||27||51|
2013 has not been much better for Morris, as through three games charted here is what Morris’ numbers look like.
|Total (3 Games)|
|11 – 19||2||7||0||1||3||5|
|0 – 10||10||20||2||4||6||8|
Again, Morris has been atrocious in the short and intermediate game completing a meager 51% of his passes against Florida Atlantic, Florida, and Florida State.
When there are obvious concerns about a quarterbacks accuracy, it becomes harder to look at the tools, because there are very few, if any cases of a quarterback struggling with accuracy at the collegiate level who turns that around in the NFL, but Morris could be a candidate for such a turnaround.
There’s definitely a disconnect amongst talent evaluators on Morris’ ability to read defenses, and I fall into the category that isn’t worried so much about what he’s seeing.
Morris has shown the ability to get through his reads and find the open man, but too often his accuracy issues creep up into the problem.
Morris has a tendency to see a small window and believe he has the fastball to fit a ball into that window, most times resulting in an incompletion or worse, a turnover.
As with any quarterback, it’s hard to say what falls into his fault and what falls on the wide receivers, but there’s little doubt that Morris is too often trying to force the ball into somewhere he shouldn’t, and it doesn’t appear to be because he can’t read defenses.
While Morris has the plus arm and athleticism to be the ideal quarterback, he lacks basics and needs work on fundamentals such as footwork in the pocket and getting better in his drop backs.
Too often you’ll see Morris unbalanced in his drops, leaving his base off, which causes much of his accuracy issues in my opinion.
His accuracy issues stem from his problems in the pocket, as his drop backs throw off the timing of routes and he’s constantly delivering the ball late, or worse, off balance in order to hit receivers when he is supposed too.
Physically speaking there is a lot to like about Stephen Morris the prospects.
He grades out with a plus arm and plus athleticism, but that’s where the good stops.
Morris is as erratic a passer as I have seen in college football, with a gunslinger mentality and accuracy, but without the big results to show for it.
He’ll need to come to a team with a stable quarterback room, but that may be lacking that quarterback of the future type, and have a stable coaching environment that can foster his learning, and give him time to work out those kinks in his footwork.
A team that takes a chance on Morris is getting a very talented, but flawed player that needs help to develop into the quarterback his physical talents could allow him to be.
Grade: 3rd Round
Best Case Scenario: More athletic Joe Flacco
Worst Case Scenario: More athletic John Skelton
Throws by direction videos courtesy of draftbreakdown.com