Seth Doege, QB- Doege is the next in a long line of extremely productive Texas Tech quarterbacks who managed to produce on the college level despite less than ideal measurables or arm strength. Doege is listed at 6’1”, 205 pounds and may only be 6’0” tall in reality. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he might have enough to play at the next level. His statistics are obviously inflated due to the offense he runs (he passed for 4,004 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68.5% of his passes, but threw the ball 581 times and completed 398 passes to do so). His yards per attempt was a relatively pedestrian 6.89 and that is largely due to the large number of quick passes the Red Raiders use. They run a lot of bubble and tunnel screens and the offense is predicated on getting the ball out of Doege’s hands quickly and accurately, which has enabled quarterbacks with relatively weak but accurate arms to put up gaudy numbers in this system that dwarfs the production of quarterbacks at other schools, even those with superior natural ability. This is the type of offense that turned me off from the spread because it covers up so many of the quarterback’s flaws. It’s a very smart coaching move that allows the staff to pluck smart, accurate passers up in their recruiting classes, some of which wouldn’t get offers from power schools in the same region, and develop them into 4,000+ yard passers. However, it makes it difficult to evaluate prospects in the system because it doesn’t translate well to the NFL (though some of the concepts translate more than they did a few years ago, particularly the love affair with spreading the defense out and throwing high percentage passes such as quick screens). The quarterback’s deficiencies are masked by the quick passing that doesn’t force him to make many NFL throws, go through difficult progressions and it makes it difficult to evaluate how the quarterback executes when throwing in a muddied pocket or with pressure bearing down on him. Running backs are often only getting carries out of the shotgun, offensive linemen don’t have to pass protect as long because of the sheer multitude of quick passes, and wide receivers rack up tons of yardage thanks to the quick-hitting offense that spreads out the defense.
I’m sure I’m coming off like an asshole right now, but this offense really does complicate things for talent evaluators and it’s one reason that quarterbacks that play in this specific kind of spread offense get drafted later than most think if they get drafted at all. I can’t tell you how many Houston fans were mad at me for saying Case Keenum wouldn’t get drafted two years ago, but when he got his chance, did he? Doege is fighting an uphill battle playing in this offense, and if he wants to get drafted he will have to show the arm strength to make NFL throws, particularly throws outside the hashes. He will need to show the ability to go through his progressions and not lock on to one receiver or one half of the field, and he will need to show that he knows how to manipulate the pocket, throw under duress and do so accurately and efficiently. That’s a lot to ask of him, but quarterback is the most demanding position in sports for a reason. But that’s just the issue with projecting quarterbacks from this offense into the NFL- they are often protected so much by the brilliance of this offensive scheme that by the end of their college career they aren’t prepared for the transition to the pros. Whether it is spending almost their entire college career in shotgun, making simple reads or throwing a multitude of short, high percentage passes and benefiting from yardage gained after the catch, these quarterbacks tend to struggle when forced to transition. Even Graham Harrell, one of the success stories of this Texas Tech program for making it to the NFL and competing to be Aaron Rodgers’ back-up in Green Bay, had to go to the CFL before he got his chance to really stick on a NFL roster. I’m not saying Doege will have to do the same thing, but I’m also not ready to say he will stick yet either. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in his second full season as a starter this year.
Eric Ward, WR*- Now that I got that spread offense rant out of the way, I can continue on down the list of prospects that Texas Tech has to offer. The top returning wide receiver is Eric Ward, who is listed at 6’0”, 203 pounds. He totaled 84 receptions, 800 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore this year and as Doege’s go-to guy he has a very realistic chance at 100 catches, 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns this season in my opinion. Ward isn’t going to run a 4.4 flat in my estimation, but he has enough speed and burst to be a NFL receiver and proved that his hands were reliable last season. When I’ve seen him I’ve seen him catch with his hands, and that is critical for any receiver attempting to get to the next level. I’m excited to see what Ward can do this season, because I still don’t have a great feel for his route running and his ability to create yardage after the catch.
Darrin Moore, WR- Moore is the big, physical target that projects as a nice red-zone target at the next level. He is listed at 6’4”, 220 pounds and caught 47 passes for 571 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior last year. I haven’t seen much of him at all, but if he is really 6’4” he may have the potential for a transition to tight end if he doesn’t stick as a receiver, though I’m sure he has very little experience as a blocker. Still, his size and red zone potential intrigued me enough to keep an eye on him this year.
LaAdrian Waddle, OT- Waddle is the only Texas Tech offensive lineman I was impressed with when I watched them, and he sticks out at 6’6”, 318 pounds. He’s got the measurables that evaluators will like, but as I mentioned earlier he is protected in this scheme by all of the quick passing. I’m not convinced that he can stick at left tackle in the NFL and I have yet to evaluate him much as a run blocker, but if he can generate any movement off the ball in that area he could be a solid fit at right tackle in the NFL.
Dartwan Bush, DE*- Bush is an undersized pass rusher listed at 6’1”, 255 pounds and managed 28 tackles, 3 TFL and 2 sacks in 7 starts as a sophomore. He was impressive in the spring game based on what I was able to read about it and he recorded 2 sacks in that game alone. Bush is likely to be the Red Raiders best pass rusher this season and while I haven’t evaluated him much because he was only a sophomore last season I am interested to see if he can provide a pass rush off the edge that Texas Tech could really use on defense.
Terrance Bullitt, OLB*- Bullitt is a former safety who transitioned to the linebacker spot in Texas Tech’s new 4-3 defense this year. He started all 12 games at safety last year and managed 56 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 4 pass break-ups. Now he will be a strong side linebacker in their 4-3 defense, and at 6’3”, 215 pounds he has the frame to add weight and potentially hold up there. He’s got a nose for the ball-carrier and I am excited to see how he transitions to this new linebacker position full time, since he played in the box quite a bit as a safety last season.
Cody Davis, FS- I didn’t know much about Davis but the 6’2”, 203 pound safety was the Red Raiders’ leading tackler last season with 93 tackles, 3 TFL and 5 pass break-ups. He has moved back to more traditional safety position after spending a lot of time in the box in the 4-2-5 defense Texas Tech employed previously. Davis is a reliable tackler, though I don’t know much about his coverage abilities. From what I’ve seen of him, he looks like a primarily in the box type of safety, and is likely a fringe draftable prospect who should get a shot to contribute as a special teamer if nothing else.