Five-star Shea Patterson was the story of the US Army All-American Bowl last Saturday, outplaying the best quarterback prospects in the country while picking up a shiny MVP trophy. Shea, an early enrollee who expects to be on campus at Ole Miss before National Signing Day, made a strong case to be the top-rated QB croot in the country with a 6-of-9, 90-yard, two-score outing.
To help analyze Patterson's performance, we got on the phone with Bud Elliott, SB Nation's national recruiting analyst. Bud, who lives just 90 minutes from where Shea played his senior season at IMG Academy, has spent a lot of time scouting the future Rebel QB and really likes what he's seen.
I think that Shea is probably the most polished kid, in terms of quarterbacks in the 2016 class. I really think that showed in the Army game. Looking at him, I think he's the only guy who's out there consistently throwing in rhythm and doing so accurately. And that was really the main difference. Everyone else was kind of in "see it, throw it" mode, whereas Shea was throwing with considerably more anticipation and I think that's something that's hard to learn at his age and something that's gonna serve him well early in his college career.
While Shea was tearing it up, the rest of the QBs were struggling. With the loaded D-lines dominating, no other signal caller went over 76 yards passing and only one other guy had a completion percentage higher than 60. Jacob Eason, a Georgia commit who is Shea's biggest competition for the No. 1 overall quarterback ranking, threw a pick and never found the end zone.
|Shea Patterson||Ole Miss||6-9||90-2-0|
But Bud points out that those numbers might just mean Shea's skill set is better suited for the all-star game format.
I hate these all-star games. They're great for the kids, but watching them, I think they're terrible. And the reason is you only get three days of practice with your offensive line mates. So the chances you're actually gonna be able to block these defensive lineman are really slim to none.
See: Jeffery Simmons, the top prospect in Mississippi, destroying Brandon Peters.
A lot of these guys that are highly-rated quarterbacks, a lot of that is based on arm strength. And Shea's arm is fine, but I wouldn't say arm strength is a strength of his. But these other guys that are big arm-type guys don't really get a chance to throw it downfield a whole lot in the Army game because the rush is on them pretty much immediately. Shea with the mobility and his accuracy on the underneath stuff, having the ball come out quickly, I think his game was much more suited for that than some of those other guys.
You know what else Shea's accuracy and athleticism make him well-suited for? Hugh Freeze's spread offense. And while Shea doesn't have the big arm that Swag does, Bud thinks Shea has the mental quickness to make up for it.
I think Hugh Freeze has done a great job of simplifying stuff for Chad Kelly and Bo Wallace but with Shea, you may have a kid with a higher football IQ than those guys. Maybe he's not able to fit the ball into super tight spaces down the field, but instead capitalize on making quicker decisions and throwing the ball earlier, which perhaps gives him a bigger window in which to throw the ball. If you're late to recognize, the throwing window shrinks and it's nice to have that laser. But if you're quicker on your reads and you're quicker in understanding what defenses are gonna do, you have a little more leeway.
Not that Shea has some puny arm, mind you. Example A:
Speaking of Chad, his decision to stick around for his senior season shouldn't bother Shea. Patterson told us last month that Kelly's decision wouldn't have any effect on his commitment and Bud doesn't think anything's changed between then and now.
Not at all. I know Bama was trying to get him, but as far as I can tell he's solid with Ole Miss.
I think if you're Shea, you're gonna think, "Am I gonna beat out Chad Kelly? Probably not. But I'll get No. 2 reps and then I can start for somewhere between two and four years if I redshirt or two to three if I don't." I'm not sure there's some huge benefit to starting immediately.
I personally love the idea of Shea sitting behind Swag for a season, getting a hold of the offense and hitting the ground running in 2017 with what's going to be a loaded receiving corps. And Shea doesn't seem opposed to the idea either: "All of the best quarterbacks have that redshirt year," he told the Cup. "I mean you look at Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, those guys all redshirted because they had a guy in front of them."
A special thanks to Bud for taking the time to talk with us. He also spent a good bit of time discussing some of the other big-name Ole Miss croots, so we'll have plenty more from him next week as we gear up for Signing Day.