Chief Concerns: Desmond Bailey (@CCWriterDez)
That’s all I go on when watching NFL prospects perform at the collegiate level. There’s isn’t a particular set of skills or intangible makeup that sparks my intuition. It’s just a gut feeling.
Granted, I’m fully aware that my thoughts on college football players matter about as much to Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid as a human, underwater fart matters to a Blue Whale. Nonetheless, I once again feel compelled to share my flatulent bubbles of armchair scouting wisdom with you. Lucky you.
My latest source of gastrointestinal inspiration? Matt Scott, QB Arizona.
Nobody’s talking about him. That’s fine. That’s how it usually is with my guys. He’s taken a rather unconventional path to the NFL and it started with a benching.
In 2009, after getting the Arizona Wildcats off to a 2-0 start, Scott was benched in the third contest vs. Iowa after struggling for three quarters and compiling a paltry 44 yards, 1 interception, and completing just 4 out of 14 passes. The man who replaced him? Nick Foles. Foles never again relinquished the starting job that season thus allowing Scott to see the field only in garbage time.
The following 2010 season, when Foles suffered a dislocated knee early in the 2nd quarter against Washington State in week 6, Scott finished out the game for the then 15th-ranked Wildcats – enhancing their season mark to 5-1. With the pressure of an ascending, nationally ranked Pac-10 team on his shoulders, Scott rose to the occasion.
Against Jake Locker‘s Washington Huskies in week 8, Scott was stellar – going 18 of 22 for 233 yards, 2 td’s and rushing for 69 yards on 9 carries – in a 44 to 14 victory. Scott then rode that wave of momentum and confidence into Pasadena, California for a 29-21 win over the UCLA Bruins. In that battle, Scott completed 24 of 36 throws for 312 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also rushed 12 times for 71 yards.
At 7-1 and in contention for a Pac-10 title, then Arizona head coach Mike Stoops made an ultimately career-damning decision. Despite Scott’s play, Stoops re-installed Foles – questionably recovered from his injured knee - as the starter to close out the season.
Under Foles, the Wildcats finished with a 5-game losing streak that culminated with a 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl for an overall record of 7-6. Tragic…tragic indeed.
Matt Scott had seen enough. Knowing Foles would be the incumbent starter going into 2011, Scott decided to redshirt… not wanting to waste his final year of eligibility languishing behind Foles as a backup.
It was a smart move. In 2011, after a 1-5 start, Stoops was fired midway through the season. In 2012, Arizona hired former Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez. For Scott, with Foles gone to the NFL and Rodriguez implementing an offense that catered to Scott’s strengths, it was a breath of fresh air.
2012 belonged to Scott and Scott alone at the helm of Rodriquez’ Spread/Read-Option attack. The wildcats finished 8-5 with Scott completing 60% of his passes for 3,620 yards and 27 td’s against 14 interceptions. A closer inspection of Scott’s final season, however, unveils a couple of real gems that, in my opinion, truly sum up what he brings to the table.
For starters, there’s the 39-36 upset of USC in which Scott out-dueled Trojan QB Matt Barkley for four touchdowns and 469 yards of total offense (369 yards and 3 td’s passing/ 15 carries, 100 yards and 1 td rushing). On a pair touchdowns through the air and 1 on the ground, Scott rallied the Wildcats back after USC took a 28-13 lead with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
Then there’s the Gildan New Mexico Bowl that was won in the final two minutes by two Scott touchdown passes for a 49-48 win over Nevada. On the day, Scott threw for 382 yards, 3 touchdowns vs 2 interceptions.
I’m convinced this kid has somethin’. His game isn’t perfect but he finds ways to win. He’s tough…gritty. Both are qualities you look for in a QB. When things breakdown, he improvises. With Scott, the play is never over.
He’s got impressive arm talent, can make all the throws, and is very accurate on the move. He still needs polish and coaching to hone his footwork. However, he throws with enough velocity to fit the ball in tight windows and exhibits outstanding ball placement.
At 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, Scott is slight. You immediately question his ability to take an NFL beating. Thankfully, he’s not a statuesque pocket passer and has more than enough athleticism (4.69 40-yard dash, 3.99 short shuttle) to escape the pocket and be elusive in the open field. He knows when to fight for extra yards and when to slide to protect himself.
I can’t help thinking that if Andy Reid gets a hold of Scott and takes him under wing, the Chiefs might have themselves a future star. It’s certainly not difficult to imagine Reid going back to the well after drafting Foles out of AZ in 2012.
While the pre-draft spotlight is being absorbed by more experienced and popular signal-callers, Scott lurks in the shadows where I’m sure some NFL scouting departments – the Chiefs included – are hoping he stays. That way they can rest assured Scott will be available on day-3 of the draft.
When the dust settles, don’t be surprised if Matt Scott is part of the Chiefs 2013 draft class.
Talk to ya later.