Has a slightly above-average arm when asked to go down the field, does a nice job stepping up in the pocket when the interior is clean, getting the ball out of his hands quickly with a quick release and can anticipate throws. However, isn't nearly as comfortable or impressive when he doesn't have a clean pocket to throw through. Tends to get fidgety with any kind of push, will short step and short arms throws underneath and the ball routinely comes out ugly. Isn't nearly as accurate and his ball placement is poor with any kind of pressure and he tends to take off prematurely at times. Is a very average athlete who struggles with his accuracy on the move, and the game really seems to speed up on him.
Has a tough time consistently going through his progressions and getting rid of the ball on time. Is smart enough to know not to force the ball into coverages but doesn't routinely find secondary receivers to get the ball to on time. Holds onto the ball far too long when asked to decipher information and despite the fact he locates the opposing safeties quickly, he doesn't seem to ever really have a great feel going through his progressions. Can spin a clean football down the field, but passes seem to hang on him a bit and will at times under throw open receivers vertically, consistently allowing defensive backs to make up ground and close on the football.
Impression: Improved as a senior and physically can make all the throws. However, he doesn't quickly decipher info and find secondary options, holds onto the ball too long and gets fidgety in the face of pressure. Will get himself into an NFL camp either as a late-round pick or free agent, but I don't like his chances of making a team out of camp."
His maturity and mental toughness throughout a season most Tar Heel fans would rather forget is sure to impress NFL teams. For Yates to earn a shot in the NFL, teams will have to be impressed with his intangibles, because his lack of ideal arm strength and accuracy makes him tough to grade as anything more than a late-round consideration.
Positives: Cerebral quarterback who does the little things well. Extends his arm and carries out the play-action fake well. Possesses enough mobility and pocket sense to feel the pressure coming, step up to avoid it and buy extra time for his receivers to separate. Understands the offense. Shows the confidence and recognition to move defenders with his eyes and make his progressive reads. Good accuracy in the short to intermediate zones. Consistently throws his receivers open on underneath routes. Not a legitimate scrambling threat, but will take what the defense gives him. Has made steady gains throughout his career. Emerged as the unquestioned leader of this team amid plenty of off-field turmoil.
Negatives: Might be maxed out. Doesn't possess the size, athleticism or arm strength most teams are looking for in a developmental prospect. Only average arm strength and accuracy outside of the hashes."
Arm Strength: In the best case scenario, Yates has an average NFL arm and will struggle to be effective in the intermediate passing game. He doesn't spin a clean football as the ball appears to flutter to its target. This flutter will come into play in poor weather games. While he doesn't get good zip on the ball he has good anticipation for the deep throw which allows him to push the football down-field.
Decision Making: This is another area where Yates has shown tremendous improvement. Throughout his career he was plagued by poor decisions and turnovers. However, during his Senior season he showed that he was capable of protecting the football even with more pressure on his shoulders. Due to several suspensions, Yates was forced to shoulder more of the responsibility and he responded by leading UNC to a respectable season.
Field Vision: Yates as gained a ton of experience while at UNC and that has helped his ability to read the field. During the pre-snap, he shows the ability to correctly identify the potential blitz and signal his hot reads. While in the pocket, Yates struggled with patience while going through his progressions. He appeared uncomfortable when searching for his secondary read. Yates does have some savvy as he was able to manipulate the secondary with his eyes and pump fake.
Mechanics: Taking a snap from under center is an area where Yates has a lot of experience. Unlike a lot of other quarterback prospects, Yates is comfortable with the center quarterback exchange. After receiving the snap, he works quickly to his hitch while keeping his eyes down-field. Yates needs to be more consistent and compact with his ball placement. There were several occasions where the ball dipped below his breast plate resulting in a longer release time. When he keeps the ball compact he has a real quick release which helps overcome some are strength issues. While going through his progressions, Yates failed to set and reset his feet towards his target which impacted his accuracy.
Pocket Awareness: Yates is a fluid and underrated athlete. He has the ability to escape the rush and balance to move up in the pocket. When faced with pressure, Yates kept his eyes focused down-field searching for an open target.
Games Viewed: Florida State, LSU, Virginia Tech
Final word: Overall, Yates is an underrated player with some skills to be an effective backup in the NFL. He has the leadership and drive to learn and improve. However, his limited arm strength and decision making issues hinder his overall potential. As I stated, I would feel good selecting Yates with the idea of developing him as a backup quarterback."
Positive: Smart collegiate quarterback who lacks the physical skills for the next level. Poised in the pocket, displays good awareness, and shows terrific field vision. Looks away from covered targets, does not force the ball into receivers, and makes proper decisions. Quickly locates the open wide out on the field and effectively sets up the screen pass.
Negative: Lacks a quick release, top arm strength, and the ability to get the ball downfield. Cannot power the ball through the tight spots.
Analysis: Yates is a terrific game manager who is always in control of the situation. He lacks the size and arm strength to be a starter at the next level yet may be effective backing up in a timing or West Coast offense."
Negatives: Average arm strength, can make most NFL throws, but won't impress you with his arm... Has a tendency to throw out of a three-quarter arm slot... Has some mental lapses, really struggled at times this year, notably against Virginia Tech and Miami (FL)... Inconsistent performer, will look great one game, and completely off the next... Just an average athlete, not a running threat... Will be a 24 year old rookie... Has had a few lingering injuries throughout his career... Low ceiling, will be a nice developmental backup in the late rounds.
Weaknesses: Not going to wow you athletically. May never have the physical package to be more than a solid backup. Lacks arm strength, overall strength, and has never really had a breakout year in college to prove he can get off the bench at the next level. Can get down on himself, and needs to lose the memory. Will float a ball.
Projection: 6-7th rounder at best, who could be a UDFA in this strong QB class."
Yates was back and fully healthy in 2009, but again he felt a lot of pressure and was consistently forced to throw the ball earlier than he wanted. The result was 15 interceptions and 24 sacks. While Yates' completion percentage continued to climb, the interceptions were a big problem. In 2010 Yates was again spending a lot of time picking himself up from the turf. However, he had grown a lot and emerged as a leader. Despite being sacked 34 times, Yates made smart passes and only threw eight interceptions. His 18 touchdowns and 3,184 yards through the regular season were among the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Perhaps the most impressive number from the 2010 season was Yates' 67.6 completion percentage. Even with all the pressure, Yates did a great job of making the smart pass and not forcing anything. His size, albeit slightly exaggerated, is a big plus. Listed at 6-4 and a product of a coaching staff with NFL experience, Yates can step into a backup role right away and that is not a bad deal for a team who can use a fifth or sixth round selection on a quarterback who can be a solid backup for many years."
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