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Former NFL scout puts 5-7 round grade on North Carolina QB Sam Howell

Sam Howell Draft
Is Sam Howell super overrated? Daniel Kelly the former NFL Scout is not a big fan, he feels he is not worthy of a 1st round pick.

I could not warm up to North Carolina quarterback (QB) Sam Howell off his junior film (click here to read scouting report), and I can not warm up to him off of his senior film. 

There is just nothing about this guy that excites me.

It absolutely baffles me when I hear national analysts say this guy reminds them of Drew Brees or Baker Mayfield. 
I am not remotely seeing those comparisons on game film. 

It is going to take a heck of a lot more than running quarterback draws for him to even begin sniffing success in the NFL. 

The play I want to really highlight is at the end of the Virginia Tech game (9/3), when North Carolina was down 17-10. Howell was getting sacked, and he just threw the ball up for grabs and it got intercepted. This was a horrible decision. 

#7 Sam Howell North Carolina 6’1″ 225 (5-7 round league grade) 

40-yard-dash-time: 5.07 per (this is significant)

Daniel Kelly’s draft board: He is not on my board. 

NFL comparable: Poor-man’s Sam Darnold or Zach Wilson 

Good fit: Cardinals  

2021 Film exposure: Virginia Tech, FSU and Wake Forest

Level of Competition: Moderate 

Chief Concerns: Lack of downfield focus, lack of playing speed and lack of accurate ball placement at the intermediate and deep route levels 

Character Concerns: None 

Probability of being a bust: 80%

Scouting Report 

Athletic RPO-type (run pass option) quarterback who lacks energy, playing speed, rhythm, arm strength and accurate ball placement. Operates exclusively out of shot-gun. Initial set-up in the pocket looks good. Decent ball handling and play-action fake. Looks robotic and mechanical. Does not look like a natural quarterback. Shows he can go through his progressions. Pats the ball pre-delivery. Good short game. These are his best attributes. Lacks pocket poise. Gets spooked easily. Looks to bail out and run at the first signs of pressure. He is more focused on the pass rush and hearing footsteps, rather than maintaining a downfield focus. Compact delivery, but he has a late release. It consistently looks like he is releasing the ball late. The ball labors to get there. He does not throw a very receiver friendly football in terms of ball placement at the intermediate and deep route levels. Tended to under-throw deep balls in these three games. Every now and again suddenly throws a very nice looking pass, but that is the exception – – not the norm. Tough guy. Runs hard. Just lacks the necessary playing speed. Too slow. There is no way he will be able to earn a successful living running the football at the next level. He is not even running away from college defenses. He is not at all elusive either. Tends to take sacks. He is not a true RPO QB prospect from that standpoint, because he lacks the necessary speed to be effective in that kind of offensive system. He seems to keep the ball out of defenders hands for the most part. Very non-emotional and even-tempered. Shows zero emotion. Shows zero passion. Sluggish body language. He is a classic big fish in a small pond. 

This is the classic work-out warrior quarterback, who will wow everyone at his pro-days and get grossly over-valued as a result. Howell will get everyone in the building fired if he has to start for an extended period of time. 

Howell has zero dominant traits. 

Howell’s energy level reminds me of QB Mitch Trubisky.

Howell is a solid college quarterback, who lacks the necessary skill set to succeed at the next level – – and this statement will age like an expensive bottle of fine wine. 

If Howell goes to a team with a losing record with offensive line deficiencies, it is going to be ugly. High injury risk in that scenario. 

Also, I am throwing the excuse out the window that he has lost talent around him this season. Howell looked pretty much identical last year in his junior film. This is who and what he is. 

I do not know much stronger I can get about this one. Sam Howell does not have what it takes to be successful in the NFL. 

There is absolutely nothing that excites me about this guy. There is absolutely nothing about him that resonates with me. There is also nothing about him that says he will succeed in the NFL when I compare him in my mind, to the 40-years worth of quarterbacks I have seen play the game. 

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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