+Excellent decision maker
+Excellent football IQ
+Good throw power
+Plays well despite what might be the worst supporting cast in the NCAA
+Comfortable with second and third reads
+Not fast, but a smart scrambler
-Unspectacular numbers against weak competition
-Will take a sack
-Can be careless when trying to throw passes away
-Not a lot of escapability in the pocket
-Sometimes throws a wobbly spiral, and some passes tend to sail
-Not Tebow like by any means, but his release is kind of slow
Miami (OH) quarterback Zac Dysert is the most underrated quarterback I have ever seen. This may sound absolutely ridiculous, but I am close to saying that he is the best quarterback of this draft class. I definitely like him more than Matt Barkley (that article was written before the season started, and, needless to say, he hasn’t done anything this season to sway me), he’s about tied with Tyler Wilson, but he is just behind Geno Smith at the moment. But man is he a good player.
In 2011, I scouted Kellen Moore for the first time in their 35-21 win against Georgia. I was expecting to like Moore, thinking that a quarterback who was statistically the best in the NCAA against good and bad competition alike had to be worthy of more than a 7th round pick. After that game, I found myself completely unimpressed with Moore and everyone else on the Boise State offense, in spite of the fact that they scored 35 points against a defense that would end up being ranked fifth in the NCAA in yards allowed per game (in the SEC, no less). The more I watched the game, the more I realized that virtually every player on Boise State is terrible but Chris Peterson is a freakin’ genius. I call this the “Boise State effect,” where untalented players can statistically dominate simply by not making mistakes because they’re coach (or in some cases, supporting casts) is absolutely exceptional. Only 3 (3.5 if you count Urban Meyer and Tebow, but I’m on the fence) coaches in the NCAA have ever produced players that, in my mind, are a product of the Boise State affect: Peterson, Chip Kelly (Kenjon Barner has good vision and nothing else), and Bill Snyder (Collin Klein is not a good player). So what’s this have to do with Dysert?
Dysert suffers from the reverse effect; he can have terrible stats but look magnificent on film. He doesn’t have a bad coach (given his responsibility calling audibles, he basically is the coach), but he has the worst offensive supporting cast of any player I have ever scouted. The game against my hometown Cincinnati Bearcats was a classic example; he played brilliantly while going 25-49 for 303 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. I didn’t think it was possible for a quarterback to look good while throwing 3 interceptions, but he proved me wrong. The first interception? I’ve seen better routes (the running back has to make a sharp, 90 degree cut. And look for the ball at the end of the route). The second one? Should have been a completion, if anything. The third one? Dear #8; if you are running and crossing route and you run into somebody, you don’t start running the other direction. That route needs to be run underneath the linebacker (some of the blame here falls on Dysert, though). How about the Ohio State game? I counted 11 catchable balls hit the turf. In the first half. He doesn’t always throw a perfect spiral, but, c’mon. It’s not that bad. Although he threw two interceptions, the first one was forgivable (interception>sack on fourth down), while the second one was completely his own fault.
It gets worse. Miami (OH) has allowed 3.30 sacks per game this season, 111th in the NCAA. Still, that’s an improvement compared to last year, in which he was sacked 3.92 times per game (second worse in the NCAA). And even that is better than his freshman season, in which he was sacked 4.92 times per game, easily the worst in the NCAA. I’m surprised he has only had one injury (lacerated spleen). Oh, and it gets even worse. Dysert doesn’t exactly get a lot of help from his running backs. Miami gets 86.2 rushing yards per game, 120th in the NCAA, and the team has a 3.1 yards per carry. And it gets worse. Miami’s leading rusher has 399 rushing yards. And his name is Zac Dysert (when is this going to end?). That’s pretty sad, because Dysert is not by any means a mobile quarterback. 399 yards doesn’t include sacks, but it is still pitiful. Their best running back is Jamire Westbrook, who leads the team with 33.1 rushing yards per game (sigh) and has 298 rushing yards. Needless to say, Dysert doesn’t exactly get a ton of help from his running backs. Or his offensive line. Or his receivers. If Miami wins more than two games next year without him, it would be an absolute miracle. I’ve never seen a quarterback that carries his team on his back like Dysert does since Peyton Manning. It’s insane.
Now that I’ve got that rant out of my system, here comes the scouting report.
Dysert has average measurables. He has average height at 6’3, solid bulk at 228lbs, and average speed with a 4.83 40 yard dash. One thing that should be understood; the key to quarterback bulk is not being so skinny that you are injury prone (Sam Bradford before the NFL), but not being so bulky that flexibility, and therefore, throw power (much of that video is applicable to football), is compromised (E.J. Manuel and Logan Thomas). Dysert has found an ideal playing weight; he is fairly durable but also not stiff. He’s only a mediocre athlete, so it’s a miracle he has more positive rushing yards than anyone on the team.
Dysert has a phenomenal football IQ. I mentioned in the third paragraph that he basically is the coach of Miami, or at least it’s offense. In terms of making pre-snap reads and audibles, Miami’s coaches have as much faith in him as Indy’s coaches had in Peyton Manning for the first decade of the millennium. He’s constantly making audibles at the line of scrimmage, and he is a great decision maker that can deceive with his eyes and find open receivers. He makes very good pre-snap reads as well. There was one play against Cincinnati, in which he flexed his football IQ. 3rd and 7 on the first drive. Miami has 5 receivers, 3 to the strong side, 2 to the weak side. Cincinnati was showing blitz. The ball was snapped. He looked to the strong side. The strong safety was in a cover 2 deep zone. That meant the blitz wasn’t coming. He stared down the slot receiver, and the middle linebacker bit on the out route, since no receivers were running down the middle. Based on the alignment pre-play, he knew that, if UC was indeed running cover 2, considering the inside linebacker bit toward the strong side, UC had 2 defenders on the weakside covering 2 receivers, to go along with a 3 man rush, 2 safeties in deep halves of the field, 3 defenders in zone coverage on the strong side, and one middle linebacker who bit on the out route. The middle of the field was wide open. He didn’t even need to look forward. He turned upfield so quickly that, to the untrained eye, it looked like a quarterback draw. He got the first down. It was a great read.
On the downside, he occasionally locks onto receivers and may even force some passes to his first read. I really gave Matt Barkley a hard time about this earlier in the year. The difference between Dysert and Barkley is that Dysert doesn’t completely collapse if his first read isn’t open. Matt Barkley falls apart, even from a mechanics standpoint, if his primary read is covered, from forcing throws to tossing up jump balls (the Robert Woods touchdown against Oregon is case and point, felt like a Hail Mary crossing route). Dysert, however, makes very accurate throws and good decisions when his first read isn’t open. He is very comfortable. His foot quickness is average but still quick enough that he can adjust his feet to other receivers if his first target isn’t open. And he makes accurate throws when his first read isn’t open. It’s pretty fun to watch.
Dysert has good throw power. He definitely could afford to put zip on his passes on a more consistent basis, but he flashes a powerful arm here and there. The inconsistency with his throw power, combined with the fact that he often throws a wobbly spiral, is probably the result of one, minor, mechanical flaw; he grips his thumb a bit too low on the football. The grip that feels most natural to most quarterbacks is one with the thumb a bit too low. It can cause wobbly passes as well as underthrown balls (underthrown as in below the target, not behind). It’s very easy to fix and most quarterbacks with the problem don’t relapse back into their old mechanics once this is pointed out to them. Regardless, Dysert has solid throw power.
Dysert has really good accuracy and mechanics. When he is under center, he has a very nice front shoulder drop at the end of his dropback, which stabilizes the shoulders and keeps passes from sailing high (could do better from the shotgun). His footwork is basically perfect, and his release, although on the slow side (stiff hips), has no major mechanical flaw. His passes are generally very accurate, although he will occasionally throw behind receivers. He is remarkably accurate while throwing on the run, and he also can make some pretty impressive passes while being pressured or even tackled.
Dysert has average escapability in the pocket. He doesn’t have the foot quickness of a Ben Roethlisberger needed to dodge pass rushers (though he isn’t terrible in this area), and his hips are too tight for him to excel at spinning and changing directions to evade tackles, but he does have the core flexibility needed to duck under defenders and an above average, though far from perfect, sense of the blitz that helps him get the ball out of his hands quickly. He also has good balance and core strength, so, if he is hit, it takes a while to bring him down, and he flashes the ability to make throws under duress. He also isn’t at all afraid of the blitz. Not perfect, but solid in this area.
Ultimately, I really like Dysert. I think he has been tortured by a poor supporting cast for years but could really be successful in the NFL. He’s pretty close to the best quarterback of this draft class.
NFL Comparison: There is some Eli Manning here, but, at this point in his development, Dysert’s throw power is a bit less consistent.
Grade: 93 (worthy of a top 20 pick)
Projection: 84 (will be a mid second round pick)