Update: The Bengals took Woodside with the 31st pick of the seventh round. That’s a pretty good idea on their part. Here’s a story on Woodside from before the draft:
Most years, there’s at least one quarterback in the NFL Draft who put up massive passing numbers in college, won lots of games, and still garners almost no draft hype.
This year, that’s Toledo’s Logan Woodside.
There are other (bigger) mid-major quarterbacks in this draft who didn’t have Woodside’s college numbers but have tantalized the NFL world anyway. The most notable is Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who could be a top-five pick despite lame numbers. Woodside accomplished a lot with the Rockets, but he hasn’t gotten much public attention as a draft prospect.
“I think that’s a lot of the media, honestly. I think I met with a bunch of teams here, and they really like what they’ve seen out of me, and you know, I’m just gonna continue to do what I do,” Woodside told SB Nation at the NFL Combine in March. He’s talking like a guy just hoping to get picked late in the draft or signed afterward. “I know a team hopefully will take a shot on me, and when I get that opportunity, I’m just gonna make the most of it.”
Woodside is notable because he posted obscene numbers at Toledo.
He is the Rockets’ career record-holder for passing yards (10,514), touchdowns (93), and efficiency rating (162.9). He had a 29-9 record there and sits 12th on the FBS career efficiency list.
There’s a long list of mid-major quarterbacks who have lit up college defenses and not stuck in the NFL, but the list of QBs (minimum 700 attempts) who were more efficient than Woodside is short: Sam Bradford, Baker Mayfield, Marcus Mariota, Tim Tebow, Kellen Moore, Ryan Dinwiddie, Colt Brennan, Bryce Petty, Johnny Manziel, Danny Wuerffel, and Jameis Winston.
Those players are a mix of NFL stars, busts, and guys who just never made it. Six of them were or will shortly be first-round picks, and the rest at least managed brief spells as NFL backups. If Woodside doesn’t hang around the league for a few years, he’ll be an anomaly.
And, look: Woodside makes some nice throws.
He didn’t spend his college career just throwing a bunch of check-downs and screens. He can push the ball downfield with accuracy and hit receivers running any kind of route. Let’s watch him drop some dimes against more talented Miami and BYU teams over the last two seasons.
Here’s Woodside putting a ball into a tight window so his receiver has a great chance to catch it despite gaining almost no separation on a fly route:
(The guy dropped it, but that’s not Woodside’s fault.)
Here’s some improvisation to set up a throw into a narrow, closing window:
And here’s a lovely bit of pitch-and-catch on a corner route:
Woodside’s arm strength is nothing special. The ball sometimes flutters a bit out of his right hand. But his credentials as a Guy Who Can Make Some Throws are beyond question. If he gets some more mustard on those throws in the NFL, he’s easy to get excited about. At the least, he’s going to be a really fun preseason QB.
You haven’t heard more about him for a few reasons.
One root of the matter is that he’s small.
You’ve heard a lot about Allen, the consensus top mid-major QB in the 2018 class. Allen is a fascinating prospect and might be great, but he wasn’t great in college. His passer rating in 2017 was 35 points lower than Woodside’s. The Toledo quarterback averaged 9.4 yards per throw to 6.7 for Allen. Woodside threw for more yards per attempt (7.1) in his lone game against a Power 5 team, Miami, than Allen did in general. (In Allen’s two games against power competition, he averaged 3.7 yards per throw.)
But Allen is 6’5 and 237 pounds. He’s the biggest quarterback in the class, and the ball zips out of his hand in a way that makes scouts drool. Woodside is 6’1, 201. At the combine, he was the lightest QB and the fourth-shortest.
Another problem is that he played in the MAC.
“Ben Roethlisberger played in the MAC. Khalil Mack, Antonio Brown,” Woodside said. “I don’t think that’s a problem. I think the MAC is one of the best conferences in college.”
The MAC consistently rates near the bottom of mid-major leagues in S&P+, an opponent-adjusted advanced stat. But it’s not a wide-open conference that appears to juice passing stats, despite its reputation for wild weeknight games. In 2017, the average MAC team threw for 219 yards per conference game, slightly under the national average of 229. Woodside threw for 268, and he had better stats in non-conference games than he did in the MAC.
Still, if Woodside’s a good pro, he’ll buck a trend. The MAC has had 10 quarterbacks drafted this century, and only two have started in the NFL for any extended period. One is Roethlisberger — who was like Woodside in college, if Woodside were the size of an aircraft carrier — is the only one who stuck as a starter. The other was Byron Leftwich, another big QB whose time at Marshall came while the herd were in the MAC. Only two others, Toledo’s own Bruce Gradkowski and Akron’s Charlie Frye, have even recorded NFL stats.
Woodside is unlikely to get picked before the third day of the draft.
But Woodside doesn’t lack for confidence. Why should he?
He spent his last two seasons setting college defenses on fire. Woodside knows he’s small, but he’s spent years trying to build a game that can thrive in spite of that.
“First and foremost is knowledge of the game,” he said. “I know the game really well. I know our system really well at Toledo and how we wanted to attack on [offense]. And, you know, anticipation and accuracy, those are two of the things that I really tried to hone in on, and I feel like that’s what it takes to be a quarterback in the National Football League.”