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Tajh Boyd 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

The Clemson senior quarterback is poised for a big year. But to be a lock as a first-round pick, he'll have to continue improving from the pocket and reading defenses.

Rob Carr
Tajh Boyd | 6'1, 225 pounds | Quarterback | Clemson
2012 stats: 287-427 (67.2 percent), 3,896 yards, 36 TDs, 13 interceptions

One of the thrilling things about following the NFL Draft is watching college players develop year over year. For Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, there was a marked improvement in 2012 over 2011. He went from being a toolsy project quarterback to a more polished player as a junior.

As a quarterback, Boyd is still much more potential than actuality. The assumption heading into his senior season is that he's going to be more refined in the pocket. If he does that, the first round is a possibility. If Jake Locker could be taken in the top 10, Boyd can be a first-round pick. But to do that, he'll have to start relying more on his eyes and arm than his legs.

Fortunately for Boyd, he plays in one of the more exciting college football offenses – one that is loaded with talent every year.

What he does well:

Purely as an athlete, Boyd has few peer at quarterback. Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Braxton Miller of Ohio State come to mind, but they're not quite as advanced as passers. Whereas Mariota and Miller are probably more comfortable running with the ball, Boyd has become a pass-first quarterback. That, however, is not to say he's become a stationary pocket passer. Boyd is at his best when he can break the pocket and make plays on the move. Boyd is still getting settled as a pocket technician, but he improved in that regard significantly last season.

If an NFL team is steadfast on running the read option, Boyd is arguably the best candidate to do so. When those type of plays are incorporated into Clemson's offense, Boyd is at his best. He knows when to hand off, pull the ball in and run or when to drop off a pass to one of his talented receivers.

As a passer, Boyd has a quick motion and likes to throw the ball from different arm slots. He has a good feel for when to put extra zip on throws, but knows when to take some off to make catches easier. His ball placement is sound and doesn't make his receivers vulnerable.

As a runner, Boyd is stellar. With the ball in his hand, he is elusive and strong. He's been utilized as a short-yardage runner, but has the speed to generate big runs. He can make defenders miss with quickness and is strong enough to shed arm tackles from single defenders.

Where he needs to improve:

Although Boyd is more than willing to launch the deep ball, and has the arm to do so, his accuracy goes in and out. Because of that, he's limited some on deeper passes and does a lot of his work on shorter throws. Boyd's accuracy issues are directly tied to his mobility. Because he likes to get out on the move so much, Boyd's feet are rarely set. Imagine how much better he'd be if he routinely stepped into his throws. On deeper passes in particular Boyd will throw tighter, more accurate passes. As it is, he tends to float deeper throws that more instinctual NFL defensive backs will easily break up.

This season it would be nice to see Boyd go through his progressions a little more. He doesn't often have to do that in the Clemson fast-break offense. It's by in large a one-read system, so there is going to be legitimate questions about Boyd's ability to read the field. A consequence of it being a one-read offense, Boyd also locks onto his primary target too much.

Bottom line:

It's easy to like Boyd. He has a considerable amount of natural ability, as a runner and a passer. Although his passing numbers from 2011 were similar to 2012, he was clearly a much better passer. For Boyd to reach his potential, and really secure himself as a first-round pick, he has to continue improving in the pocket.

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