Cal quarterback Davis Webb has the look and the arm strength of a franchise quarterback but he will NOT be the quarterback for the New York Giants to replace Eli Manning when he decides to call it a career. The California product became every draft analyst’s quarterback darling leading up to this past year’s draft. Honestly, who can blame them? This year’s class was as weak of a quarterback class as there’s been in recent years, maybe only being outdone by 2013’s disappointing class. This weak class left the door wide open for a player like Webb to become a sought after prospect.
Davis Webb is Not the Future of the New York Giants
Let’s start at the beginning. Davis Webb, originally playing at Texas Tech before losing his job to this year’s 12th overall pick, Patrick Mahomes, transfers to Cal to replace 2016 first overall pick, Jared Goff. At this point, only a few draft analysts are mentioning his name, mainly ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr who put him in the second round of one of his preseason mock drafts. As the year goes on, he maintains a day two grade on many mock draft boards, but is slowly losing position as names like UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and his old teammate Mahomes start to climb up analysts’ big boards. By the end of the year he has become a borderline day two/day three player. Luckily for him though, none of those names mentioned above were able to cement themselves as this years can’t miss quarterback prospect. So NFL Draft analysts started looking elsewhere. That’s when we start to get to his gradual rise, the Senior Bowl.
Going into Senior Bowl week, I had heard of Davis Webb and I had scouted his 2015 tape prior to the season but there wasn’t a whole lot to go off of. I was excited to finally get a chance to watch film on Webb and get a chance to see him practice while I was there. The hype around Webb was already starting to rise as I got to Mobile and it only blew up from there. As mentioned, this year’s quarterback class was weak and it really showed during Senior Bowl practices. Of the six quarterback prospects that were able to practice and play, Webb was the only one drafted before day three and the reason why was on full display that week. He looked the most like a franchise quarterback on the practice field. He was able to show off his high powered arm and his deep ball accuracy was a thing of beauty. I couldn’t wait to go back and watch film on this prospect that just lit up the practice field.
After practice had concluded for the day, I threw on Webb’s film and was shocked in what I saw. It was clear. This kid is not a NFL caliber quarterback. The first thing that popped off the screen was his mechanics. They were all over the place, both top and bottom mechanics. However, this is to be expected from a quarterback playing in the air raid style offense that Cal played. Like his mechanics, his accuracy, especially short to intermediate, was also all over the place. He did end up completing over 60% of his passes but that’s not a major accomplishment for an NFL quarterback prospect. According to ESPN, 58 FBS quarterbacks last year completed 60% or more of their passes. So we can’t base how accurate he is using that number alone. From watching film, his short and intermediate accuracy was terribly inconsistent, with him usually missing high on his intermediate passes when throwing them inaccurately. This was then confirmed by ProFootballFocus and their Draft Pass. According to PFF, his adjusted accuracy between six to ten yards and 11 to 20 yards ranked him 39th and 32nd of just the quarterback prospects coming out for the 2017 draft. PFF only gave write ups on 16 quarterbacks and only ten quarterbacks were drafted in April.
Everything just mentioned can be fixed to some degree with good coaching, which he’ll have playing for the New York Giants. However, there are a few things they can’t coach, and those are the reasons why he won’t be the successor to Eli Manning. He crumbles under pressure. On film, whenever he started to feel pressure he began getting noticeably uncomfortable. His footwork would start getting sloppy and his decision making went out the window. He would force passes and make terrible decisions with the ball. If he had to make his own play and improvise he would look lost and rattled. According to PFF, he ranked 25th in adjusted accuracy against pressure and 18th against the blitz. If he was that bad against pressure in college, how is he going to do against NFL pressure? He didn’t fare well against Pac-12 defensemen, running a college defense against his basic college offense. Are we to expect him to do better against NFL defenders running complex blitz and coverage schemes against his NFL caliber offense? A look at the film and certain statistics would hint at no.
Still, there will be believers in this myth that quarterbacks sitting behind veterans will magically turn them from mid-round prospects to franchise quarterbacks. There is very little evidence to support this theory. Of the 22 Pro Bowl and All-Pro quarterbacks from 2014-2016, only seven didn’t play a considerable number of games their rookie year.
Pro Bowl, All-Pro QBs 2014-2016
|Brady, Tom||New England||Michigan||6||199|
|Brees, Drew||New Orleans||Purdue||2||32|
|Carr, Derek||Oakland||Fresno State||2||36|
|Cousins, Kirk||Washington||Michigan State||4||102|
|Manning, Eli||Giants||Ole Miss||1||1|
|Prescott, Dak||Dallas||Mississippi State||4||135|
|Rivers, Philip||San Diego||NC State||1||4|
|Rodgers, Aaron||Green Bay||California||1||24|
|Romo, Tony||Dallas||Eastern Illinois||–||–|
|Ryan, Matt||Atlanta||Boston College||1||3|
|Smith, Alex||Kansas City||Utah||1||1|
|Taylor, Tyrod||Buffalo||Virginia Tech||6||180|
|Winston, Jameis||Tampa Bay||Florida State||1||1|
Of those seven, which are in bold above, five are anomalies. Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins, Tony Romo and Tyrod Taylor were never meant to be the quality quarterbacks that they are right now. For any front office personnel to say otherwise would be lying. If they did think that they wouldn’t have lasted as long as they did in each of their drafts. Aaron Rodgers, who most people point to as the poster child of sitting behind a veteran to start their career, is also an anomaly. Aaron Rodgers was in talks to be the first pick in the 2005 draft. Once San Francisco picked Utah’s Alex Smith instead of Rodgers, he started his now infamous slide down to the 24th spot where Green Bay picked him up. Rodgers is an elite talent and although he wasn’t a perfect prospect, many considered him to be a top five worthy prospect. The fact that a talent like Rodgers fell that far to Green Bay was pure luck. Did Rodgers benefit from sometime to learn? Yeah, he probably did. But Rodgers did not go from a mid-round prospect to the elite quarterback we know today. He was already an elite talent he just had more time to fine tune his abilities. Davis Webb may have gone to the same school as him, but he is no Aaron Rodgers.
When Eli Manning does decide to hang up his cleats, the quarterback that will lead the Giants after him is most likely not on this current day roster. My colleague Tom McGowan is a little more optimistic on Davis Webb than I am. Check out his article on why Davis Webb WILL BE the future on the New York Giants.