The spread and “gets you ready for the NFL”

This many years in to the spread era in college ball, and we’re still hearing stuff like this on the recruiting trail:

Coaches who run so-called pro-style offenses can use this to their advantage, telling quarterbacks that, by playing in a system with elements similar to the NFL standard, they can enhance their chances of becoming (and succeeding as) a pro. At Nebraska, for example, Langsdorf oversees a pro-style system, and earlier this year he helped the Huskers secure a commitment from one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the class of 2017, Calabasas (Calif.) High’s Tristan Gebbia. “I think the kids look at what they’re going to be doing, what they’re going to be asked to do in an offense, and so I think there’s an advantage to having some similarities to what they would do in college and in the NFL, and I think that is a selling point for us for sure,” Langsdorf says.

By contrast, coaches who run spread offenses often must combat the perception that their systems, no matter how successful against college defenses, will be an impediment to quarterbacks with dreams of playing in the NFL. Multiple spread practitioners spoke to Campus Rush about system classification being used as a means of negative recruiting. The idea—reinforced seemingly every year by NFL analysts, scouts and coaches—is that quarterbacks who come from spread offenses face a greater burden of proof in the pre-draft process than signal-callers with track records of operating pro-style systems.

Says Arizona co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, “We’ve heard that: You don’t run a pro-style system. You don’t run a pro-style system, you’re more of a spread, you’re more this. How is that going to get you ready for the pros?” While conceding that it was “more three to four years ago than it was right now,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, who helped lead the Tigers to the national title game last season, says he has heard a similar line trotted out. “Just guys that say, ‘You don’t want to go play in that offense because it’s a spread, gimmick offense, and it’s not going to prepare you for the NFL.'”

You recruit negatively because it works, I suppose.  The problem is that more and more these days the NFL is holding its nose and taking quarterbacks coming out of spread offenses – from Cam Newton to Jared Goff to (likely) Deshaun Watson – as high first round draft picks.  At some point in time, it’s going to dawn on NFL scouts and high school quarterbacks that the distinction has lost its meaning.  Unless, of course, you really believe the NFL is prepared to spend its money on a developmental league.  Yeah, right.


Filed under Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

15 responses to “The spread and “gets you ready for the NFL”

  1. James Stephenson

    The NFL will always take the big strong armed QB, regardless of the type of offense ran. However, if they have a choice between a big strong armed pro-style QB and Spread Style, they are gonna take the pro-style first. The thing is, with the way the spread is run, the QB only has one real read and the throw is pre-determined pre-snap, that is not gonna happen in the pros, ever.

  2. Joe Teasley

    What is amusing about this is that the current former spread QBs all become successful when they settle into a pro style system. You don’t last long in the NFL as a QB when you take hits from NFL LBs and DL who in thier first 10 yards are as quick as you. Also if they miss tackles etc…they don’t last long and find themselves out of work.

    • You don’t last long in the NFL as a QB when you take hits from NFL LBs and DL who in thier first 10 yards are as quick as you.

      Well… yes and no. Depends on what version of the spread we’re talking about. Quarterbacks aren’t running the ball in the Air Raid, but they are in Malzahn’s version of the spread.

      • One has and he’s a physical freak of nature. Newton doesn’t run as much anymore, and Denver showed in the Super Bowl if you keep him in the pocket when his receivers can’t get open, you can frustrate him.

  3. Deshaun Watson could have been successful in a pro-style offense. He’s just as comfortable in the pocket as he is on the move. I still don’t understand why we didn’t lock down his commitment as quickly as possible instead of giving him a chance to look elsewhere. In this case, I really do blame Bobo.

    For his prospects in the NFL, he will learn very quickly to become a pure pocket passer that runs when necessary. It took $Cam a few years to learn that, but I think Watson is going to be a dynamic NFL QB.

    • JCDAWG83

      Bobo and Richt were in love with Ramsey, who ran a wing T in high school. Bobo did recruit Watson some, but it was too little too late. Watson is very good in the pocket and gives the run threat if the pass isn’t there or if there is a lot of open field. I don’t think Richt/Bobo wanted any part of that type qb. Look at Murray’s first season compared to the rest of them. In his first season, Murray ran a good bit when the pass wasn’t there. After that, Richt/Bobo coached that out of him and he became much more of a pure pocket passer.

      • Nick Saban was in love with Ramsey as well. He tried like crazy to flip Ramsey’s commitment. Remember Ramsey, JJ Green and Derrick Henry all committed to UGA together at Dawg Night as juniors.

        Richt and Bobo recruited DJ Shockley. Richt had a Heisman winner in Charlie Ward. Therefore, I don’t think Richt didn’t want a dual threat. Clemson offered Watson in the 9th grade. Georgia offered as a junior or senior (I don’t remember). I think with Murray they wanted him to run less. I think that was a mistake.

        • Richt and Bobo didn’t whiff on Watson because he was dual threat. They whiffed because Richt was averse to chasing ninth-graders and Clemson wasn’t.

          • That’s exactly right. I think Watson’s recruitment opened Richt’s eyes. Another thing of being reactive than proactive – Kirby is clearly doing something different with younger kids.

          • If Charlie Ward had been 3-4 inches taller, he would have been a wildly successful NFL QB. The guy was unbelievably good in high school and was a cool customer at F$U.

        • JCDAWG83

          No doubt Ramsey has been a disappointment, I wonder how he would have done at Bama? I didn’t blame them for going after Ramsey.

          I think Georgia offered Watson either during or after his junior season. Another case of too late that was all too common. I remember several top recruits who commented that Georgia was their dream school but they never heard anything until it was too late. That used to drive me crazy.

          • No doubt about it. For a while, we were too late with offer to in-state guys while our rivals were handing out offers like candy to a bunch of 4 year olds. Watson grew up as a Georgia fan in our backyard. Very frustrating …

  4. Macallanlover

    Remember the WR last year whose father, stupidly, said that Auburn and TN’s pffense would better prepare him for the NFL than UGA’s. I mean if you just don’t like UGA, man up and say that; don’t make a fool out of your self publicly and embarrass the kid about his genetic shortcomings. Run until you get open is fine on playgrounds as a child but a college offense should be a little more complex than that, and receivers should get to the NFL with a little better background. He could have at least learned some cheerleading moves if he had gone to KnoxVegas, at Auburn I am not sure what he has gained. Dad should have gotten out of his way.

  5. Bigshotdawg

    I blame on the supposed recruiting coordinator who is now at AU. He backed up to the pay window at UGA

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Seems to me there’s some spread programs that have considerably more effective passing attacks than our pro-style offense. CMB was doing a great job in his last 2 or 3 seasons at UGA. But for the 10 years before that and the year after Bobo left, our passing attack wasn’t much to write home about.

    I really don’t care about the nfl’s QB preferences. Shaw, Sims, Marshall, Dobbs, Newton, Watson, etc., etc. all proved their effectiveness as QBs. I don’t know, maybe we’ve been living in the stone age when it comes to our thinking about QB skills. I think Kirby was right when he said he’d take a hard look at QBs who have a different skill set than the statuesque QBs we’ve mandated in the past.