A good athlete for the position, Osweiler was originally signed on to play basketball at Gonzaga before opting to play football at ASU. He has the arm strength to be a first-day pick but hasn't shown the consistency that is characteristic of guys who deserve first-round money.
His shining asset is his arm strength; he can hit nearly any NFL-caliber throw at this point in his career. He is a good leader and looks in control in the huddle and on the field. He is above average from an accuracy standpoint, and he really has a good grasp on when to add touch to the ball or to zip it. He has the pocket presence of a first-day pick and doesn't go down easily. He is good to extend plays with his feet.
This severely hinders his play. When under control, early in the game, he is athletic, accurate, and a good game manager. He will need to learn to hone in some of the competitive traits that have helped lead him to success up to this point. He is likely a developmental prospect who could struggle if forced to play early on."
Possessing a unique combination of size, arm strength, accuracy and surprising athleticism, Osweiler is one of the more talented quarterback prospects available in the 2012 draft. He remains very much a work in progress, however, having only started 15 collegiate games.
Osweiler signed with Arizona State as a highly touted prep prospect. His size and athleticism intrigued coaches from all over the country (Alabama, Florida State, Tennessee, among them) including basketball coaches.
Once in Tempe, Osweiler worked his way up the depth chart to become the first ASU freshman quarterback to start a game since Jake Plummer (1993). Though he flashed talent in that start (Oregon), Osweiler only completed 43.6% of his passes overall for 249 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions for the year.
Osweiler lost out to former Georgia Tech and Michigan quarterback Steven Threet for the starting position in 2010 but saw action in six games, leading ASU to a comeback win over UCLA and a win over rival Arizona in his only start of the season. Osweiler completed 56.9% of his passes in 2010 for 797 yards and five touchdowns.
He did not throw an interception.
The lanky Arizona State quarterback had shown talent and grit in his first two seasons with the program but few expected him to emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the country in 2011.
Osweiler, however, showed an immediate comfort level with ASU's new spread offense re-writing the ASU record book by completing 63.2% of his passes for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns (against 13 interceptions). His play helped lead Arizona State to a berth against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, ASU's first bowl appearance since 2007. Though the Sun Devils lost, Osweiler completed 30 of 47 pass attempts for 395 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
NFL scouts will certainly have to be cautious when projecting Osweiler's rapid development into the NFL. With only one season as the starter and having played that season in a relatively simple offense, Osweiler is clearly a project.
He does, however, possess the athletic tools to work with and has been recognized throughout his career as a hard worker. Given time to acclimate, he could emerge as a legitimate starting caliber NFL quarterback and one who perhaps could be found at a palatable point in the draft.
Accuracy: Good accuracy overall, including excellent accuracy on short timing routes to backs and receivers, placing the ball slightly in front to lead receivers to potential yardage gained after the catch. Flashes good anticipation and is willing to release passes before the receiver has made his break. Good zip and ball placement on the quick slant. Good touch down the seam and on post-corner, flag routes to attack the defense vertically and horizontally. Good accuracy and zip on crossing routes over the middle. Not often asked to roll out and throw on the move in this offense but demonstrates the ability to do so, especially when rolling to his right.
Arm Strength: Possesses a strong right arm and is capable of making every NFL throw easily. Can drive the deep out to the sideline from the opposite hash and has no problem threading the needle between closing defenders. Easily zips to all areas of the field, demonstrating very good touch on underneath routes to running backs and receivers, as well as down the sideline on deep passes.
Setup/Release: Efficient set up and a quick release. Typically releases passes with a 3/4 delivery that almost shot-puts the ball and doesn't take advantage of his natural height advantage. Can drop down even lower with his delivery to complete passes around defenders. Also has a tendency to throw off his back foot when being pressured, leading to some passes drifting high and/or wide.
Reading Defenses: Excellent height to see over the defense. Wasn't asked to make many pre-snap reads in this offense. Too often stares down his primary target. Demonstrated improved ability to manipulate the defense with his eyes in 2011 though he remains under-developed in this area and does telegraph his throws.
On The Move: Surprisingly athletic considering his size. Committed to Gonzaga on a basketball scholarship as a sophomore in high school and only agreed to switch to Arizona State a year later when the Sun Devils agreed to let him play both sports. He briefly considered joining the ASU basketball team in 2010 but never played for the Sun Devils... Good balance and overall manueverability despite his height and can throw accurately on the move. Though significantly more athletic than his height would indicate, has only average straight-line speed and is easily caught from behind.
Intangibles: Has only 15 career starts and played in just 25 games, overall. Took the vast majority of snaps out of the shotgun in 2011 and will need to make the adjustment to dropping back from center -- not a unsubstantial requirement considering Osweiler's height. Courageous in the pocket. Willing to take the hit to complete the pass. Has been known as a hard worker throughout his career. Graduated high school early to join the team for spring practices in May of 2009... Earned the team's Hard Hat Award for his work in the off-season conditioning program in 2010... Named a team captain in 2011... Cited the loss of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (whom Osweiler credited with his development) as a primary reason why he elected to leave school after his junior season. Mazzone was among those fired along with head coach Dennis Erickson following the 2011 season... May be just scratching the surface of his potential... "
- Possesses a tall, long frame and doesn’t have any trouble seeing over the line of scrimmage.
- Exhibits a high release point and is never going to see many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
- Is a sneaky athlete when asked to create outside the pocket for his size. Even ran some read option earlier in the year.
- Can be a threat to find the first down marker with his legs. Can work his way around the pocket with some goofy athleticism and keep drives alive with his legs.
- Keeps a wide throwing base in the pocket and generates good torque from his lower half.
- Is a quarterback who can transfer his weight well off his back foot and because of his wide base isn’t a guy who needs to step up into throws consistently.
- When he sees the pocket open up, does a nice job keeping his knees bent and stepping up into the pocket in order to throw.
- Possesses big hands, can grip the football and cleanly spin it outside the numbers.
- Showcases good arm strength with the ability to make all the throws.
- Exhibits good velocity working the intermediate pass game and showcases the ability to throw in rhythm down the seam.
- Demonstrates natural touch down the field on bucket throws and when his feet are set he can put the football in a spot where only his receiver can make a play.
- Is at his best throwing to still targets underneath, receivers who find soft spots in coverage and sit down.
- Showcases a passion for the game with the natural leadership qualities that his teammates seem to respect.
- Is a former basketball recruit at Gonzaga who still has a lot of upside to his game long term.
What I don’t like…
- At 6-8, he’s an overly tall quarterback prospect who has a lot of addition length and moving parts to his game.
- Looks lethargic with his footwork when asked to move around in the pocket and re-set his feet.
- Has a tough time keeping his footwork in rhythm and his ball placement really suffers underneath when asked to find a secondary target.
- Because of his natural size/length has a longer release and the ball takes a bit to come out of his hands.
- His release point is inconsistent as well, has a tendency to drop his elbow at times when he needs to get the ball out quickly or look vertically down the field.
- Doesn’t have a great feel for the game, struggles pre-snap to recognize defenses.
- Doesn’t do a great job anticipating where the blitz is coming from and identifying his hot man.
- Isn’t overly natural vs. pressure, eye level has a tendency to go down quickly and he doesn’t give himself much of a chance to find secondary options.
- When he does get flushed outside the pocket the speed of the game starts to speed up. Isn’t real accurate when being chased and struggles with ball placement.
- Has a tough time with ball placement when trying to throw intermediate patterns on time to receivers in rhythm. There are a lot of moving parts to his release/footwork and struggles to be accurate.
- Tends to make his decisions on where he is going with the football pre-snap. Will force the football into tight windows and struggles to identify underneath coverages consistently.
- Gets happy feet and is very excitable when his initial target isn’t on and he’s forced to try to go through his progressions. Doesn’t have a great feel for the offense at this stage.
- Was a guy who needed another year of school in order to better understand the offense and improve his ability to decipher defenses, both pre-snap and through the play.
- Works predominately from the gun and has a tough time settling his feet and balancing himself before the release point. Looks content to simply just skip backward into his drop, set and throw.
- Has only 15 starts to his name during his three year career at Arizona State
- Is 7-8 as a starter and never won consistently in the Pac-12 as a starter.
Osweiler showcases leadership qualities.
Overall: Osweiler would have been much better served to stay for his senior year and develop his overall feel for the game. Because of as now he struggles to decipher defenses and honestly didn’t display a great feel for his own offense either.
The guy has some talent and can sling the football. However, much like Ryan Mallett last season, he’s going to need to play in an offense where he can throw the football down the field and isn’t going to be forced to make many quick throws underneath, where he struggles with timing, footwork and ball placement.
If everything falls into place for Osweiler, meaning he develops as a quarterback mentally, has time to work at his trade and falls into a perfect fit for him physically (Steelers, Patriots, Raiders) he does have the talent to eventually fight for a starting job in the NFL. However, he rates much closer to a developmental later round pick and reminds me some of Cardinals QB John Skelton."
Accuracy: He is a generally accurate passer but he has a tendency to rush throws causing his accuracy to plummet. He throws accurately deep and does a solid job throwing into windows in zone coverage. His feet are usually the culprit of an errant throw.
Athleticism: Usually tall quarterbacks struggle with footwork and setup but Osweiler has solid feet. His overall athleticism given his size may be the most impressive attribute of his game. While he’s not a guy teams will gameplan for as a scrambler he has the ability to escape the pocket if necessary.
Intangibles: Osweiler will need some time to develop in a complex NFL system. ASU ran mostly out of the shotgun so Osweiler will have to adjust to NFL drops. He has shown the mental aptitude to grasp defenses and was noticeably better in 2011 than 2010 in this area.
Bottom Line: Osweiler is a high upside guy that a team will be have to be willing to allow him to sit and learn for a couple years. He won’t be ready to play day one in the NFL but has the physical tools to be special at the next level. If he can adjust to the complexities of the NFL game he has a chance to be a special player in the league.
Draft Projection: I may get killed on this projection but I think Osweiler’s upside warrant a late round one selection and should definitely go in round two of the draft. He compares favorably to a Ryan Mallett but without the off-field-issues. Mallett was a third round pick and had a lot of maturing to do. Osweiler’s lack of game experience should be balanced by the high upside and I see his floor as a second rounder."
Arm Strength: Has an arm that is exceptionally strong, and maybe the strongest of any quarterback in the draft. He just didn't get to show it all the time in the Arizona State offense. Drives the ball well to the outside hash. Knows how to take some zip off his ball in the short passing game. Many quarterbacks with the same kind of big arm throw short passes too hard, making them hard to catch.
Decision Making: When the first read isn’t available, Osweiler tends to struggle finding the next option and will force throws. That’s the main reason why he needed more experience in college. He started just more than a year’s worth of games, and isn’t a very savvy player.
Field Vision: Has made improvements reading defenses pre-snap as the 2011 season progressed. Benefited from predominantly lining up in the shotgun. Will lock on his targets too much, especially in the short and middle passing areas. Will need to learn how to manipulate safeties with his eyes. Does a nice job of changing his release point to fire the ball through an open area.
Mechanics: Has worked a lot to shorten up and quicken his delivery. Coming out of high school, Osweiler had a long release over the top windup. Before his junior season with the Sun Devils, he worked diligently to shorten his release. The three-quarters, Philip Rivers-style release was more successful for Osweiler, though it has lowered his release point. Because of his height, it’s not a major concern. He'll on occasion revert to his old motion, especially when he has to drive the ball deep.
It's difficult to fully judge Osweiler's footwork since he took few snaps from under center. Many long-limbed quarterbacks get tangled up on five-step drops and have to take their time. This is the biggest area of Osweiler's game that remains a question mark. Accuracy drops because he too often throws off his back foot.
Pocket Awareness: Still learning line adjustments to better protect himself against blitzes. Clearly struggled in this area against Illinois. In that game, Osweiler was forced to forced to speed up his game, which led to some poor ball placement. Isn't a statue in the pocket. A former high school basketball player, Osweiler has nimble feet and is quick enough to elude pressure.
Final Word: Including Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, no quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft has as much potential and natural ability as Osweiler. He’s a tall, strong-armed athletic passer with a quick release and a lot of room to grow. What keeps Osweiler from being an elite-level quarterback prospect is a lack of experience and some accuracy issues.
It’s concerning that Osweiler didn’t take a hold of Arizona State’s quarterback job until the latter part of the 2010 season. Because of his lack of experience, he has some technical flaws and often works just the first read. With the right coaching and enough reps, though, Osweiler could develop into a very good NFL quarterback."
Negatives -- Tries to throw the ball as hard as he can for some throws that should be simple touch passes... Doesn't do a good job of throwing his receiver open, has some serious ball placement issues where he doesn't give his receiver a chance to even make a play... Struggles with his accuracy down the field, regularly over throws his receivers... Misses some of the easiest throws and then will complete one of the toughest... Ended 2011 by throwing five interceptions in his final three games... Will force throws into traffic, looks like he could be prone to interceptions in the NFL... Quarterbacks with his height have not performed well historically at the NFL level... Only has one season under his belt as a starter, so he's fairly inexperienced for a guy coming into the NFL... Played primarily out of the shotgun and will have to adjust to playing under center... Would have benefited by returning for his senior year, raw and still and unfinished product... Has all the physical tools but lacks refinement... Arizona State's offense is tailor made to help out quarterbacks, predicated on short passes which has helped pad his statistics."