This season, the buzz about quarterbacks eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft has been thus:
- Washington's Jake Locker has been disappointing but full of upside.
- Florida State's Christian Ponder is steady but may not have a top-10 ceiling.
- Arkansas' Ryan Mallett is loaded with talent but lacks some technique.
- Stanford's Andrew Luck has a lot of intrigue and technical prowess, but has been spotty.
Then, there's Arizona junior quarterback Nick Foles. Leading up to the Wildcats' Saturday night matchup with Iowa, the buzz on Foles this season was minimal after playing lowly Toledo and the Citadel.
After dismantling Iowa with 303 yards passing and two touchdowns, the buzz on Foles is that of an angry swarm of bees.
Foles' career wasn't always this hot. He was a three-star recruit in high school before verbally committing to Arizona State. Eventually ending up at Michigan State, Foles transferred to Arizona following his freshman season and redshirted in 2008.
He started the final 10 games of the 2009 season for Arizona, leading the team to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Holiday Bowl. On the year, he had 2,486 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
This season, Foles is second in the nation in completion percentage at 78.5. In regard to player analysis, though, stats can be wildly deceiving.
As a prospect, the first thing you notice about Foles is his size. It's an impressive 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. Then there's his arm strength. He showed last season – and against Iowa – that he can fit the ball into tight windows and complete passes outside the hash. His throwing motion is a quick, over-the-ear snap.
One big issue on Foles is that he comes from a spread offense. It may take him some extra coaching to learn his drops while reading a defense. Foles' footwork is also still developing. He needs to do better transitioning his weight as he throws the ball.
He also has to consistently get his feet pointing to where he's throwing the ball. It's improved this year, but not as good as it needs to be. The footwork issues also lead to balance issues in the past. Balance issues ultimately lead to accuracy issues and interceptions – of which Foles has three this season.
The biggest drawback on Foles remains the footwork. It looked markedly improved in the Iowa game. Should it continue to be sound, there's no reason not to include Foles' name when talking about the top quarterbacks eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.