The series of scouting reports on players the Lions have met with continues with Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Tony Pauline of Draft Insider noted the Lions attended Louisiana Tech’s pro day on March 22 and met with Driskel,
"Quarterback Jeff Driskel had a very successful pro day.Standing on his Combine testing numbers, Driskel threw about 60 passes and all but two (one short, one just out of the reach of the pass catcher) were on the mark. Many felt Drskel could really not have thrown the ball better.The quarterback met with the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions today and has a workout with the Arizona Cardinals scheduled for later this week."
Most fans know Driskel from his days at Florida. Once a highly-coveted recruit, the Florida native was the National High School Player of the Year. He played some as a true freshman but really seized the starting role as a sophomore, beating out Jacoby Brissett (who transferred to North Carolina State).
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His Gators career did not go as planned. Driskel always demonstrated athletic ability but struggled to push the ball down the field. His first season was his best; a broken leg forced a medical redshirt after just nine quarters of football in 2013, and a wild, ineffective 2014 led to him losing the starting role.
It appeared any hopes of Driskel making the NFL were as dead as Elvis. On the way to the grave of failed former top recruits, fate intervened. He transferred to Louisiana Tech as a grad student and breathed some life back into his NFL dreams.
The production for the Bulldogs is readily evident. In leading his new team to a strong season, culminating in an R+L Carriers Bowl win, Driskel completed 62.4% of his passes at 9 yards per attempt. He threw 27 TDs to 8 INTs, including that bowl win.
His consistency of performance stands out. Driskel had just one game that wasn’t between 56% and 68% completions (80% in their opener vs. FCS-level Southern). He was positive in TD/INT ratio in every game except Southern Miss, where he split the difference with three apiece.
That tells me the 6’4”, 234-pound dual threat consistently made good decisions, something he failed at miserably under the intense microscope at Florida. Be it maturity, or a better schematic fit, or better coaching, or just being away from being the “next Tim Tebow”, Driskel impressed with a lot of NFL characteristics in his year in Ruston.
He’s at his best on the move, such as this designed rollout against Mississippi State:
Notice his mechanics here. His footwork, his shoulder, and his release are all optimal for a QB on the roll. Those kind of designed rollouts are a good tonic to help a quarterback with a shaky offensive line.
The accuracy there wasn’t perfect, and that’s a fairly common refrain in watching Driskel play against Western Kentucky, Mississippi State, Kansas State, Southern Miss, Rice and Arkansas State, plus seeing him in person during the Senior Bowl week. Even though the completion percentage is consistent, he does make his receivers work a little to keep it there.
His accuracy is shakier under pressure. On this next throw, also against Mississippi State, he does a good job of standing tall and seeing the field. Unfortunately his throw here is off target and up for grabs a bit as he gets drilled during the delivery.
If you ever watched Driskel at Florida, this does not surprise you. Fortunately he saw the field better in 2015 and avoided the catastrophic errors. He also found better touch on the deep throws. On this downfield strike against Arkansas State, he nicely leads the receiver to the inside, putting the ball where his man can get it and away from the trailing outside defender. Driskel also held the coverage for a count with a play fake. The coverage here is decent, but Driskel beats it with a good throw for a chunk yardage play.
Louisiana Tech’s offense was better-suited to his talents as a passer, and he still got to show off his considerable athleticism. In fact, that athleticism tested best in class according to Three Sigma Athlete. He ran for 323 yards and five touchdowns, and keep in mind sacks (he had 19 last fall) count as negative rushing yardage in college.
Because of his physical skills, impressive size and major progress in his final year, Driskel offers a lot of upside. His growth as a passer, decision maker and leader during his one year as a Bulldog show that the once-hyped recruit still has legit NFL potential. For a team like Detroit, which has a well-established starter in Matthew Stafford, he represents a solid later-round investment as a developmental backup quarterback.