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4/5 (2 TD)
3/3 (2 TD)
4/6 (1 TD)
3/6 (1 TD, 1 INT)
14/20 (6 TD, 1 INT)
2/3 (1 TD)
7/8 (1 TD)
3/4 (1 TD)
6/8 (1 TD, 2 INT)
16/28 (2 TD, 2 INT)
6/8 (1 TD, 1 INT)
15/24 (1 TD, 1 INT)
15/21 (3 TD)
29/34 (4 TD, 2 INT)
30/43 (2 TD, 1 INT)
22/30 (1 TD, 1 INT)
96/128 (10 TD, 4 INT)
Games Sampled: Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Iowa State (Big 12 Championship)
Blatant Drops: 3 (2.34%)
Forced Adjustments: 9 (7.03%)
Contested Drops: 11 (8.59%)
Passes Defended: 11 (8.59%)
Explosive (25+ yards or touchdown): 15 (11.36%)
Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler is the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board come next spring. This is no Andrew Luck or Trevor Lawrence situation, but the former five-star flashed all the physical talent to back up his high school star rating and propel himself to the front of the discussion in a seemingly iffy quarterback class.
Like all young quarterbacks still a year (or more) away from potentially entering the draft, there is still plenty of projection with Rattler. The book on Rattler after one year of play is how valuable his “unteachables” are versus how far he may still need to go as a legitimate quarterback and commander of an offense. The arm talent, mobility, natural upper body mechanics, and creativity are all there, but his play within structure, while far from abysmal, shows glimpses of immaturity. Granted, that exact formula was enough to get Zach Wilson drafted second-overall anyway, but ironing out that down-to-down consistency could take Rattler from “worthwhile gamble” to “legitimate franchise changer.”
Environment and Accuracy
Overall Adjusted Accuracy: 76.56%
Attempts Outside the Pocket: 28.03%
Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket: 81.89%
Attempts Under Pressure: 20.45%
Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure: 57.78%
Rattler’s accuracy profile is difficult to weigh. Overall, a 76.56% adjusted accuracy rating is pretty good and around where Trevor Lawrence finished at the end of his charting profile. How he arrived there is a bit messy, though, and perhaps prone to some regression once I chart his full 2021 season and get a fuller data set. These summer charting samples, while useful for anchoring the larger data set at the end of each player’s profile, can produce some wonky results on their own.
Anyway, Rattler arrived at his overall adjusted accuracy number thanks to his phenomenal deep passing. Rattler was accurate on 21-of-28 passes beyond 15 yards in this four-games sample. Again, these are very small samples, but his accuracy rates to both the 16-20 yard area and the 20-plus yard range would have been the best in the 2021 class by comfortable margins, even over some other productive deep passers such as Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson.
Rattler’s work in the intermediate range, on the other hand, was suspect. Scratch that, actually. It was abysmal. Rattler’s 62.50% accuracy to the 6-10 yard range would have been by far the worst mark in last year’s class, while his 57.14% accuracy in the 11-15 yard area would have been worse than all but Jamie Newman, who went undrafted.
To be fair to Rattler, a few things are probably at play here. For one, the slate of defenses Rattler faced in this sample were some of the better units in the Big 12, particularly Iowa State in the title game, who Oklahoma had already played earlier that season. Oklahoma’s skill players were also far worse in the short-to-intermediate range than what we are used to seeing from the program. They did Rattler few favors, even if he was still plenty responsible for these middling accuracy numbers himself.
Rattler himself certainly needs to be better to that range. Passes in the 6-15 yard range are generally going to be where in-rhythm passes on dropback concepts end up. Play-action and second-level RPO stuff hits in that range, too, but it is still where a bulk of dropback concepts are going to get thrown. Rattler’s issue there is the rhythm itself. The young quarterback has phenomenal upper body mechanics and can often divorce his feet from the rest of his body to keep his hips free, but when moving his feet to keep with the rhythm of a drop back pass concept, Rattler often gets jittery or finds ways to waste time.
This throw versus Kansas State is a good example. Rattler knows where he wants to go with the ball. Rattler feels the need to see the actual route break happen rather than anticipate it, which results in him taking a second hitch up in the pocket that he did not need to take. It seems minor, but that extra split-second of time is the difference between Rattler being able to fit this throw versus allowing the defender to catch up and contest the catch point. Rattler has to get more comfortable with trusting routes to be open when he knows he is going to throw them anyway. The good news is, that is surely something we can expect a young quarterback to improve on, but it’s worth putting up a small caution flag in the meantime.
As far as under pressure and outside the pocket stuff goes, Rattler is excellent. To be clear, some of Rattler’s high accuracy outside the pocket has to do with Oklahoma liking to roll out, but Rattler was near-perfect on those designed concepts and still highly effective outside the pocket when scrambling. Rattler has a natural sense of when and how to leave the pocket to buy himself space, as well as the fluid mechanics to make throws from any platform.
3rd/4th Down Adjusted Accuracy: 67.94%
3rd/4th Down Conversion Rate: 41.18%
Red Zone Adjusted Accuracy: 78.00%
4th Quarter Adjusted Accuracy: 65.28%
Rattler’s situational accuracy is mostly uninteresting. His fourth-quarter numbers are a bit low, but much of that has to do with the Kansas State loss early in the year, and Rattler pretty handily improved over the second half of the season. As far as third/fourth down and red zone accuracy goes, Rattler is in a good spot, especially with regards to red zone accuracy. He was lights out in the red zone, and oddly suffered two of his three blatant drops in the red zone.
If anything stands out here, it is Rattler’s poor third down conversion rate. Similar to some of the other context laid out in this piece, this probably has something to do with the quality of opponents Rattler faced over the sample as opposed to what his full season may have looked like. I did not chart some of his easier opposing defenses such as Montana State and Texas Tech.
Rattler’s profile is more good than bad, but he is far from perfect and certainly not a lock to be the first-overall pick. What’s comforting about Rattler’s profile is it squares perfectly with what the eyes see when watching him. There is not a whole lot of mystery. Rattler has a live arm and a real creative sense for how to make plays, but the finer areas of quarterback play escape him more often than one would like to see out of a top-five pick.
Thankfully, Rattler was just 20-years-old last season and has time to iron out his play within structure. The physical gifts and sense for how to create are already good enough to make Rattler an easy top-50 pick. Now it’s just a matter of convincing NFL teams and analysts that the steak can match the sizzle.