Whether you love him or hate him, the most polarizing player in college football is Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. Oklahoma has been a quarterback factory as of late, but Rattler was the first to start as a freshman under Lincoln Riley. It wasn’t a great start for him, losing two of his first three games, but Rattler bounced back and enters 2021 as the Heisman favorite. While the race for the number one overall pick is wide open, I think it’s Rattler’s to lose.
It’ll be tough to find a quarterback at any level that’s as talented as Spencer Rattler. His natural ability to make plays is one of the main reasons he’s been so successful in his career. He possesses a strong arm and a lightning-quick release that negates his slightly below-average height for the position. While he’s not an elite runner, he can make plays with his legs. With the proper coaching, which Rattler has at Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley, he will learn the mental aspect to match his physical tools. Once that happens, Rattler will become the undisputed best quarterback in this draft.
Throwing on the Run
So many quarterbacks in today’s NFL are able to make plays when things around them break down. What sets the best apart from the rest is their ability to keep their eyes down the field and make throws. One of the reasons why the Jets took Zach Wilson with second overall in the 2021 draft was for this reason. Rattler has this similar skill in his game. He can scramble to either side and make a good throw down the field. Rattler’s running ability and arm strength are the two catalysts for his success and no matter how structured your offense tries to be, this off-script playmaking is unteachable.
I remember watching the first few Oklahoma games in 2020 and I had doubts that this Spencer Rattler guy was going to be as good as everyone said he would be. He was forcing throws, turning the ball over, and overall looked unfit to be a quarterback for a major college program. However, he quickly turned doubters like me into believers. After the first four games where he threw for 13 touchdowns (4 against 1-AA Missouri State) and 5 interceptions, he went for 10 touchdowns and just 1 interception in the last four games with three of those coming against nationally-ranked teams. It’s great when you’re the most talented guy on the field, but you still have to learn how to play the game. Rattler began understanding defenses and reading the field better, showing that his intelligence is also a key part of his game.
Rattler, like other young and talented prospects, has a hero mentality in his game. Sure, it’s great when they can make an improbable throw, but it’s a killer when that mentality costs them with interceptions. Too often, Rattler would force throws or take a riskier pass when an easier one was available. This problem is corrected with more playing time, but is still concerning. You don’t want a quarterback that is just going to check the ball down every time, but you also don’t want one who’ll go rogue and turn the ball over. There were too many times where Rattler threw the ball unnecessarily hard from a close distance which resulted in his receiver dropping it. With more experience, he will learn how to correct these mental mistakes.
Deep Ball Accuracy
Rattler throws with phenomenal touch on his passes, but too often he didn’t complete passes that he should have. Usually, he was overthrowing them, but there were times where he underthrew an open guy and he was either intercepted or the ball was easily deflected. It could be a chemistry issue with his receivers or maybe he’s just not an accurate deep ball passer.
Footwork in the Pocket
While he does a great job of moving around, Rattler needs to fix his footwork in the pocket. He has a tendency to get sloppy and not set his feet to drive the ball. Too often he was relying on his arm strength to make throws, but when you don’t set your feet, the ball can sail. This is where Rattler’s “I’m the best player on the field” mentality hurts him. He’s gotten away with poor footwork in the past because of talent, but that won’t fly in college or the NFL.
No matter your feelings, Spencer Rattler is a special talent. He has all the makings of a franchise quarterback in the NFL, but still has a ways to go. Many people don’t like him based on what we saw from him on the Netflix show “QB1”. His actions on this show were, to be honest, not great. However, he was a high school kid who was a dominant athlete. Of course he’s going to be cocky! I don’t think we should judge him based on that. Only in sports can we hold young people to such high standards when us, the common person, would probably act like a fool in their situations. Once you get past that bias, you can see that Rattler should be a top pick and the heavy favorite to go first overall.