By Justis Mosqueda
2009: Redshirted his first year at Clemson.
2010: Lost out the starting QB battle to Kyle Parker, also a redshirt freshman, who broke several freshman records for Clemson. Clemson's staff still really like Boyd and had him pretty active for a #2 QB.
2011: Kyle Parker was drafted #26 overall in the MLB Draft after his freshman season, so he left. Boyd took over as the starter for the first time and earned 1st team ACC honors.
2012: In his second year as a starter for Clemson he earned his second 1st team ACC honor.
2013: Projected to start for his third year.
The biggest thing that stands out to me based on his metrics is how much he gets sacks. While he is a thicker quarterback, he shouldn't be taking so many hits. When you watch Clemson you will see them using him in another unconventional way: running right up the middle. They run the inline zone read in a way that will have him take the ball, instead of handing off to the slot receiver that's "jetting", and ram it up the middle of the line. We have seen what quarterbacks like Russell Wilson can do at the next level, but he's not taking that many hits. Actually, no one really is. To put it in perspective I counted rush attempts and sacks over the careers of each of the quarterbacks drafted in the 2013 Draft. While not every attempt is a hit (could be a kneel down or slide) and there are hits that don't register on the stat sheet (hits when a quarterback got the ball away), it's the easiest way to get everyone on an even-ish field.
Tajh Boyd already has more rushing attempts than nine of the eleven quarterbacks who got drafted in 2013. If Boyd continues to run the ball like he has the past two years he will pass Zac Dysert (Broncos 7th round pick), leaving B.J. Daniels (49ers 7th round pick) the only "quarterback" who rushed more than he did in college. I use the term "quarterback" loosely, because Daniels is a quarterback/running back hybrid that will most likely not be spending his NFL tenure throwing the football.
Boyd's sack numbers are middle of the pack compared to the 2013 class, but he's still got a year to go. If he gets sacks 31 times (like he has the past two years), then he should be at 98. That would leave him tied with Brad Sorensen (Chargers 7th round pick) and behind Zac Dysert.
Part of Boyd's sack problem is that he holds the ball too long. Take this play for example:
He's Boyd before the play, only four players looked like they are blitzing.
The left end gets loose, but he's got time to make the pass. Boyd is staring at the linebacker, who is forced to freeze, while his tight end gets open to the left.
He looks quickly at his tight end, but his eyes drop to the pass rush. His tight end is still free in the open, but he's too focused on the rush to do anything. He ends up taking a sack here, instead of throwing it to the open man.
Another good example of this comes near the end of the LSU game:
Boyd rolled right on a goal line down, with his tight and wide receiver in scoring position. LSU's linebacker messed up by turning his back, basically taking him out of position to make a play right away, if Boyd makes the pass before he catches up. That leaves a single defensive back to cover two potential touchdown scorers. With an unblocked defender rushing Boyd, he needed to make a decision quickly.
Instead of making a decision quickly, Boyd rolled out 7-8 more yards and one hopped the ball to the endzone as the rusher got to him.
I actually rarely saw a deep ball by Boyd that was not either 1) overthrown by a good amount or 2) held too long which forced the target to make it a "moment of truth" "50/50" ball.
Here's some of the overthrows in the LSU game:
He had a lot of skill position talent around that helped make up those poor deep balls by winning "50/50" jump balls.
One thing he does well, though, is get the ball out in medium/short range passes. He's got the velocity and accuracy to hit all those screens, bubbles, and slants that Clemson runs so much. Unfortunately for him, the NFL's lineman can't be down-field, even if a pass is behind the line of scrimmage, which means those throws are much rarer on the next level. His arm strength is on par with his accuracy, but his trigger on the deep ball is out-of-whack.
A lot of people are comparing Boyd to Wilson, but I just don't see it. Is Boyd a small, stocky quarterback that is elusive with the ball in his hands? Yes, but I'd have Wilson a notch better in that category and in almost every passing category coming out of college. If Russell Wilson got drafted in the third round, what makes us think Boyd will get drafted higher than him?
Boyd is an exciting passer that evades rushers by stepping up in the pocket or simply outrunning them. He throws hard, but doesn't always have the best timing, which leads his targets to make the play. He runs the zone read out of the pistol, which are quickly becoming the newest trends in the NFL. So did Matt Scott. Undrafted free agent, Matt Scott. I understand all of that will excite people when they watch Boyd, but he still holds the ball too long and isn't very good deep.
Overall he's not a bad quarterback prospect, but he's far from the first rounder some are projecting him as. I'd take him as a very late Day 2, most likely Day 3 project quarterback that needs time to refine his ability. Russell Wilson got picked 75th overall. I'm going to go on record saying Boyd gets drafted after #75 in the 2014 NFL Draft. Boyd losing his starting running back and a starting receiver won't help his stock.
Justis Mosqueda's current 2013 quarterback rankings:
1 David Fales San Jose State 1st Round grade
2 A.J. McCarron Alabama Late Day 2/Day 3 grade
3 Tajh Boyd Clemson Late Day 2/Day 3 grade
Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student that writes for DraftFalcons.com, Packers-Backer.blogspot.com, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for DraftBreakdown.com
You can follow Justis on Twitter: Twitter.com/justismosqueda