Mike Glennon throws a ball into the air. Where it goes, he knows not where. (USAT Sports Images)
With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to continue this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and pro day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
41. Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
We continue this year's series with North Carolina State's Mike Glennon, one member of a quarterback class that has been perhaps unfairly maligned, standing in the shadows of a 2012 class that gave us Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. At least the 6-foot-7 Glennon is used to standing in the 5-foot-11 shadow of Wilson; he had to wait until Wilson transferred from N.C. State to Wisconsin in 2011 before he could be a starter in college. Glennon showed flashes of the ability that made him one of the most prized high school recruits in the country in 2007.
In his first year as a starter, Glennon completed 283 passes in 453 attempts for 3,054 yards, 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, the burden of production shifted far more to Glennon's shoulders in 2012, and that wasn't always a good thing. He led the ACC in interceptions with 17, while attempting over 100 more passes and throwing for over 1,000 more yards. Estimable production and frustrating mistakes? That was the snapshot view of Glennon's time in Raleigh.
At the Senior Bowl, Glennon looked great in practices, when he didn't have pass rushers bearing down on him, and he could show off his amazing throwing arm. But in the game itself, that old bugaboo of his -- severe inconsistency under pressure -- reared its ugly head. Glennon completed eight of 16 passes in the game for 82 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. Teams in love with pure physical attributes will surely value Glennon highly, but when you watch the game tape, there's a lot to worry about. The version of Mike Glennon we see in the NFL will depend a great deal on coaching, scheme and personnel.
Pros: Glennon displays a smooth and consistent dropback form on long passes that require five-and seven-stop drops. His footwork isn't choppy, and he times the rock from his back foot to the throw on his plant foot well. More mobile than he looks; will bail out of pressure, especially to his right, and make throws (though accuracy is something we'll talk about later). When moving in and around the pocket, tends to reset pretty quickly and keeps his eyes downfield. Can roll right off of boot action and make tough throws downfield. Has an easy, quick, relatively compact delivery (a little hitch when he's bringing the ball back to the side of his head), and the ball just zings off his hand.
Can make deep and stick throws with relatively little effort. Good touch on those deeper throws -- he doesn't hang everything on a rope, and he has a decent (if spotty) sense of timing up his receivers on vertical routes. When he's in a rhythm, can make every throw on the route tree. Experience in a West Coast-style offense; will be more comfortable with NFL verbiage and concepts than some other quarterbacks in this draft class.
More a "see it and throw it" player than the kind of quarterback who will re-cock and adjust on the fly. That works pretty well for quarterbacks in offenses with a lot of shorter timing throws (Brandon Weeden was a prime example at Oklahoma State), but I think it explains a lot of Glennon's really questionable throws in NC State's deeper passing offense. Tends to be wildly inaccurate when throwing under pressure -- that's a debit which shows up on tape and also was very obvious during Senior Bowl week.
Doesn't throw his receivers open -- there's not a lot of tape in which he's throwing with anticipation on or before a breaking route. Has a tendency to step back in the pocket on pressure throws, which throws off his footwork and leads to still more inaccuracy.
Conclusion: I started my study of Glennon with the tape of his 2012 game against Florida State because he had to deal with Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine as pass rushers. I had serious questions about Glennon's ability to deal with pressure. Safe to say, my concerns were not minimized as that was by far the worst game I watched in which he was the primary subject. Against teams exhibiting less pressure on a snap-to-snap basis, however, Glennon is a very good ball distributor, capable of carrying and extending drives in an offense that places serious volume demands on the passer. Glennon attempted more than 40 passes in 10 of his 13 games in 2012, and more than 50 in four of those.
The Wolfpack were 18th in passing yards and 111th in rushing yards last season, which gives you a good example of their priorities. That didn't serve Glennon very well. When you have a tall, gangly quarterback who is a completely different player under pressure, you want to establish a running game to switch the focus and allow him to use play action. That's what the Baltimore Ravens did with Joe Flacco, the man to whom Glennon is most often compared. I don't yet see that level of proficiency, but had Flacco gone to a team with a less-interesting running game, he might look a lot more like Mike Glennon. I like Glennon's arm, delivery, relative mobility and toughness. But the stuff that happens when the ball leaves his hand -- well, that gives me pause.
I believe that in time and in the right system, Glennon could be a franchise-level NFL quarterback, but that characterization requires a lot of projection at this point. He is far from the scheme-transcendent quarterbacks we saw in last year's draft. Like every other signal-caller in his class, Mike Glennon needs a little more help around him to make it all go. For now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he reminds me of a very average NFL quarterback in his best season. We'll see if Glennon grows as a player, and whether there will be more in line to help him succeed. Put him in a three-digit vertical system with extra blockers, and you might have something.
NFL Comparison: Derek Anderson, 2007 Cleveland Browns
More Shutdown 50:
#50: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | #49: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia | #48: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State | #47: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State | #46: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse | #45: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State | #44: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU | #43: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | #42: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon
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