Can Mitch Trubisky be the top quarterback of the 2017 NFL Draft?
Mitch Trubisky, a 2013 four-star recruit, started 13 of 34 career games at the University of North Carolina. After redshirting in 2013, he spent the next two seasons backing up starter Marquise Williams.
Trubisky was named the starter for the 2016 season, and proceeded to complete over 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions while leading the Tar Heels to a record of 8-5.
On January 9, Trubisky announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft. He possesses solid size on a sturdy frame with good athletic ability.
Weight: 220 lbs
Mitch Trubisky displays a good understanding of coverages pre-snap and how to attack based on how the defense lines up. After the snap, he goes through his progressions and does a very good job analyzing the entire field. When pressured up the middle, Trubisky showcases his good athletic ability by eluding the pressure and scrambling in order to keep the play alive.
When rolling out of the pocket, Trubisky keeps his head up and eyes downfield in search of an open receiver. Although he looks to pass first, Trubisky possesses solid mobility and has the size and frame to take a good deal of punishment and survive a full season.
In the play below, his ability to run the football forces a defender to collapse on him and allows Trubisky to flip the ball to his running back just before crossing the line of scrimmage. His awareness, both of where his check-down was and his position on the field, turns a broken play into a touchdown.
After reading the field, Trubisky makes very good decisions with the football. He displays a quick release with very good accuracy, both in the pocket and on the move, to place the ball where his receivers can maximize yards after the catch.
Trubisky has plenty of arm strength to succeed at the next level. Not only downfield, but across the field as well. On this play, Trubisky fires a strike from the left hash, 45 yards downfield to the opposite sideline.
Trubisky possesses solid situational awareness, making sure not to throw short of the sticks into tight coverage on third down. He converted a very good 46 percent of his third-down throws into first downs. In the red zone he’s just as effective; throwing 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his college career.
Mitch Trubisky displays marginal mental processing skills post-snap, as he struggles to recognize disguised coverages. The Sun Bowl provided a perfect example of this as Trubisky does not recognize the safety is lined up in man coverage against the running back. He doesn’t see the defender until it is too late, resulting in a Stanford interception returned for a touchdown.
If a defense isn’t disguising the coverage, Trubisky can pick it apart. However he does not currently possess the mental processing skills needed to quickly read defensive adjustments post-snap, especially from linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field. That’s a big reason why five of his six interceptions thrown in 2016 were picked off by either a safety or linebacker.
He exhibits marginal poise in the pocket, as he panics when unable to escape the pocket laterally. Trubisky has a tendency to continue backpedaling in the pocket, rather than step up. Pressure also heavily impacts Trubisky’s mechanics. As seen in the plays below, Trubisky leans away from the pressure, causing his footwork to become sloppy. When anticipating the pressure, his hips become stiff and his passes sail high as a result of not following through with his body.
As a runner, Trubisky must learn to slide feet first to avoid taking unnecessary hits. He currently slides head first to maximize yardage.
Trubisky displays poor mental toughness on the field. He’s a very streaky quarterback who struggles to bounce back from mistakes. In 2016, he turned the ball over nine times (six interceptions and three lost fumbles). On drives following those nine turnovers, he drove the Tar Heels downfield to score a grand total of three points. His 0.33 points per drive following a turnover is well below that of other potential early 2017 NFL Draft picks at QB, such as Deshaun Watson (3.46), Patrick Mahomes (2.87) and DeShone Kizer (2.55).
There are concerns regarding Trubisky and how much of his success was a result of the system he was in. Marquise Williams, who started at QB before Trubisky, was even more productive, averaging close to 50 more yards per game and 8.4 additional points per game a year ago. The 32.3 points per game scored with Trubisky as the starter was the lowest in head coach Larry Fedora’s five-year career with the school. Not only was the North Carolina offense less productive, but the team’s record also took a hit. After winning 11 games in 2015, the Tar Heels dropped to 8-5 overall in 2016 and 6-5 against FBS competition.
Overall, Mitch Trubisky is a future starter in the NFL who wins with accuracy and very good decision-making. He’s not a quarterback who has the poise or consistent mechanics to start immediately at the next level. In a class lacking elite signal callers, Trubisky is one of the few quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft who can be a future starter in the NFL.
As a result, he’ll be selected much earlier in the 2017 NFL Draft than his place on the big board would indicate. While he’s closer to a top 25-35 prospect in this class, Trubisky is likely going to be a top-10 pick with QB-needy teams reaching in hopes of striking gold.