Even though the 2021 college football season is behind us, there’s still plenty to be seen from a football perspective ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft with both the Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl on the horizon. While several prospects have made their cases, they have a chance to expand upon them and continue increasing their draft stock in January and February.
Here’s a look into one thing we’d like to see from each Shrine Bowl quarterback ahead of the showcase.
Jack Coan, Notre Dame: Big Play Ability
Jack Coan is one of the positive stories to come of the transfer portal, making strides as a passer and helping boost the Notre Dame offense in his single year with the Fighting Irish. One of the stigmas Coan is up against is that he’s a “game manager.” That’s something he recently told us he doesn’t necessarily view as a negative—and it is true that if you watch the tape, there are some well-placed deep balls by Coan from this season. But with this being something he’s been knocked for by some scouts and analysts, the Shrine Bowl gives him the perfect opportunity to prove he’s got the ability to do more on the field with some aggressive play-calling.
D’Eriq King, Miami (FL): Rebound From Injury/Taking Care of the Football
D’Eriq King was a quarterback who was highly touted at the beginning of the season and then seemed to fade into the abyss—that’s for a few reasons. The primary one is that he suffered a shoulder injury just three games into the season, but the other concern was with the level of play—something that may have been at least partially affected by the shortcomings of those around him. While King is a versatile quarterback who brings a lot to the table for a team, he’s also had turnover issues at times and had six interceptions to three touchdowns in the action he did see in 2021. Proving that he’s well on his way back from injury and that he can take care of the football are two important things he can show in the Shrine Bowl.
Skylar Thompson, Kansas State: Consistency/Arm Strength
Skylar Thompson is another quarterback hitting the field in Las Vegas who dealt with injury this past season. He appeared in nine regular-season games in 2021, capping things off in his return in the LSU game with a standout showing—21-of-28 passing for 259 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In that game, he showed good accuracy at all levels of the field and did more than enough to help the Wildcats take care of business on a day in which the ground game was also dominant.
One of the questions some scouts and analysts have had about Thompson was in regard to his arm strength—though Thompson did deliver some solid strikes down the field this year in the action he did see. We’ll get a closer look at how well he functions in the deep passing game and in regards to where his arm strength stands. Plus, we’ll see how well he can be the same guy he was against LSU in a much different environment as he continues to bounce back.
EJ Perry, Brown: A Little Bit of Everything
EJ Perry is the least-known quarterback attending either the Shrine Bowl or the Senior Bowl, and it’s good on Eric Galko and Co. for taking notice of the signal-caller who the people at Brown describe as “simply a different cat” who is unlike anything they have ever seen. Brown has the opportunity to perform in front of several people who have never seen him in action before and brings athleticism and solid passing ability to the table. His touchdown-to-interception ratio does stand out though at 23:14, so he’ll want to showcase good decision-making in what will be a debut in a sense at the Shrine Bowl.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State: Work Under Pressure and Deep Accuracy
There’s a very real argument for Brock Purdy’s level of improvement, considering just how much better he looked in 2021 from the 2020 season and the ever-convincing “Brocktober” show he put on en route to finishing the season with a completion percentage of 71.7% with 3,188 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Even with the growth he’s shown, Purdy still seems to show some issues with accuracy beyond most short and intermediate throws and often seems to leave the pocket too early under pressure as opposed to stepping up to make the throw. These two aspects of his game will particularly be under the microscope in the Shrine Bowl.
Dustin Crum, Kent State: Footwork/Lower Body Mechanics
Dustin Crum made an impression this season even if Kent State as a whole didn’t finish out the year the way they wanted to. He was named MAC Player of the Year for his efforts through the air and on the ground for the Golden Flashes, finishing the season with more than 3,200 passing yards and 20 touchdowns to go with more than 700 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. One thing that some have taken notice of as far as areas of improvement for Crum is footwork and lower-body mechanics in general—something that can affect different elements of a quarterback’s game, like accuracy. Crum has been training with Tony Racioppi this offseason, so it will be interesting to see how much he’s polished that area in Las Vegas.