Ht – 6’0”          Wt – 218lb      Class – SR        Age – 21

Career Statistics

37 games played, Win-Loss record 20-17 (2021 record 5-7)
Career Passing – 10283 Yards, 92/23 TD/INT ratio, 63.8% Completion
2021 Passing – 3056 Yards, 24/9 TD/INT, 62.5% Completion
Rushing – 368 attempts, 1008 yards, 18 TDs

Attribute Breakdown

AccuracySam Howell‘s accuracy was a bit spotty earlier in his career, but he showed great improvement. As a result, reached elite short and intermediate accuracy in his final season. It was rare to see a pass in those areas off the mark.

Arm Talent – Has great zip to his passes, he can really throw darts with great timing. At times he showed lightning release of the football. Very limited as a deep passer, his deep throws still came up short often. His arm strength and deep accuracy leave much to be desired.

Mobility – Escapability and mobility are surprisingly good for his size. He is an extremely tough runner, bounced off and ran through many tackles. That could be due to the poor tackling nature of CFB defenders, but at the high rate that it happened, I’d say it can’t be excused away. Lowered his shoulder a lot and took many hits as a result. He also got sacked countless times. Those might wear on his body.

Sep 13, 2019; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Vision & Progressions – Goes through progressions very well, and routinely read defenses perfectly, finding perfect pockets to throw into. He struggles to keep his eyes downfield as he scrambles, generally lowers his head once he tucks the ball, leading to missed opportunities and negative plays.

Mentality – Had to deal with an awful UNC team and played great. In 2021, the play calling, defense, and offensive line were atrocious. Any NFL environment he goes to should be better than that. He is an extreme competitor, rallied back from deficits many times against some of the better CFB teams. Tape vs Notre Dame was phenomenal. He played extremely well and looked like an NFL QB against the toughest competition.

Size – Not ideal height, but he has ridiculous bulk for his stature. He might even be likened to a shorter Big Ben, with how thick his frame is. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to affect his athletic ability.

Improvement – Sam Howell’s 2020 tape was alarmingly bad. His throwing motion was terrible, his accuracy was awful, and he had no zip to his passes. Luckily, he improved greatly in all those areas, but it’s still worth noting. His accuracy, mechanics, decision-making, and surprisingly even arm strength all improved drastically.

Combine – While Sam Howell didn’t test at the Combine, most measurements aren’t important for QBs. One measurement I do look at is Hand Size, and Howell measured on the smaller side. With 9 1/8″ hands, he is on the smaller side. That’s not very encouraging.

Pro Comparison

At best – Drew Brees (with mobility)
At worst – Baker Mayfield

The Baker Mayfield comp is one you will see many times leading up to the draft. They played with the same style in their final college season, and they even look strikingly similar. Both were accurate, stocky, tough runners, and great competitors. They also are both limited deep passers.
Despite all that, there are a few key differences between the two:
1. Sam Howell doesn’t have the character concerns of Mayfield.
2. Howell wasn’t gifted the phenomenal CFB program of Oklahoma.
3. Howell is much more accurate than Mayfield is (although Mayfield was much more accurate back in Oklahoma, he was still not as accurate as Howell).
This isn’t ruling out the possibility of the two having a similar NFL career, but Howell impressed me enough that I’d take the shot.

On the other hand, Drew Brees is arguably the most accurate QB in NFL history. He has a similar frame as Howell, and both are extremely accurate. Howell of course is much more mobile.
Brees benefitted from a pre-snap ability unlike anyone (other than Tom Brady), and this isn’t something rookies generally pick up, so I could see Howell struggle early (like Brees did early in his career). Brees also lacked elite deep ball accuracy or arm strength, much like Howell. I don’t see Howell ever quite reaching the ceiling of Brees, but the floor of Mayfield is unlikely as well. However, the play styles are eerily similar.

Sam Howell with a signature mobile throw versus Temple

Overall

After watching Sam Howell’s 2020 tape I was confused at his first-round ranking. Ironically, that year he had a much better OL and much better weapons than he had in 2021.
After managing to show unbelievable improvement in many aspects of his game, I have completely flipped the script on him, and I now see him as one of the top QBs in this class.
As mentioned in “Pro Comparisons” above, the Baker Mayfield comp is very concerning. Much of their game is similar, and Mayfield has been anything but a sure-fire franchise QB.
Additionally, the combination of limitations as a passer and lack of size is concerning. Many flaws are forgivable for a QB with elite size and arm strength since those traits can’t be taught. The combination of the 2 means defenses can’t load any specific zone, and can’t blitz too heavily either. Howell has neither of those qualities.
Sam Howell is definitely not special, but his accuracy and toughness are so intriguing, it would be hard to pass on him.

See Sam Howell’s overall ranking among other players on my Big Board.


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Uriel "Yuke" Klein

Die-hard Ravens + Lakers fan, wild sports fan to the core LeBron > MJ I will debate any topic with anyone, come at me

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