Rattled and Confused
At one time, Spencer Rattler was projected to be the number one overall pick in the 2022 draft. Not only did he not enter that year's draft, some boards now only rank him as a Day 3 to UDFA prospect for the 2024 draft. Rattler's career has had more ups and downs, twists and turns than an amusement park roller coaster ride. Is there one final exciting climb in 2023 that can propel him back to the very top of the draft?
My NFL comp for Spencer Rattler is Baker Mayfield. I currently have Rattler graded as a middle round prospect. Mayfield was drafted 1st overall, so maybe an NFL team will similarly fall in love with Rattler and take him early. On the other hand, it is debatable whether Mayfield is even a starting level QB in the NFL, even after playing 5 seasons in the pros. When Mayfield was drafted, multiple experts were predicting that he was going to be the next Drew Brees. Instead of playing like a HOFer, Mayfield lately has been indistinguishable from a Day 3 pick in his same draft class. Over the last 2 seasons, Mike White statistically has arguably been better than Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield (1st overall pick 2018), 2021 and 2022 (3 different teams): 8-16 record, 60.3% completions, 5,173 yards, 6.87 yards per attempt, 27 TDs, 21 INTs, 79 sacks, 9.50% sack rate, 15 fumbles, 81.28 passer rating, 50.6 PFF grade in 2022, 94 DYAR in 2021 and -221 DYAR in 2022 (32nd in NFL).
Mike White (compensatory 5th round pick 2018), 2-5 record (all with the Jets), 62.2% completions, 2,145 yards, 7.0 yards per attempt, 8 TDs, 12 INTs, 75.4 passer rating, 4.06% sack rate, 61.3 PFF grade in 2022, 161 DYAR 2021, 68 DYAR 2022.
So, if Rattler doesn't project to be any better than Mayfield, does he merit being taken any earlier than where Mike White was drafted? White was almost a 6th round pick.
Name: Spencer Rattler. Turns 23 years old in September of 2023. 5th year Redshirt Senior.
School: South Carolina. Transferred from Oklahoma. Majoring in interdisciplinary studies.
Size: Listed 6'1'' tall and 218 pounds. NFLDB 4.78 second 40 time. Sports Illustrated 6' 1/8'' tall, 4.70 second 40 time. A year ago, SI listed his height at 5'11 3/4'' tall.
4 and 5 star recruit from Phoenix, AZ. Has had a private QB coach since he was in elementary school. Was featured in Netflix documentary when he was in high school. Rattler did not like how he was portrayed in the show, which generally depicted Rattler as being brash and arrogant. South Carolina's head coach echoed Rattler's sentiment, saying that his QB's character was widely misunderstood by the public due to the popularity of that show.
In October of 2018, Rattler was ruled ineligible to play for the rest of his football season for violating school district's code of conduct policy. Rattler initially created a fabrication about why he wasn't playing, saying that he had a knee injury, but later said that the deception was made up by his parents and by the administration. Rattler said he "messed up" and made a childish mistake, but didn't specify the nature of his transgression. Losing Rattler was a critical blow costing his HS team the chance to win the state championship.
Redshirted in 2019, sitting behind Jalen Hurts. Beat out Tanner Mordecai (now at Wisconsin) for starting job in 2020. OU was upset by both KSU and ISU early that season and Rattler had early struggles. Rattler was briefly benched vs Texas for Mordecai. Injured his hip later in 2020.
One of 4 team captains for OU in 2021. Entering the 2021 season, Rattler was considered to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and projected to be the top pick in the 2022 NFL draft. He was benched in the 1st half of the Texas game, losing his spot to Caleb Williams. Transferred to South Carolina in December 2021.
Rattler was widely criticized on social media in 2021 for being selfish. There was a viral video clip that ridiculed him for how he reacted after Caleb Williams ran for a key TD in the Texas game. There had been questions about Rattler's football character even prior to the game where he got benched. Earlier in the season, OU's head coach, Lincoln Riley, made comments alluding to the fact that Rattler didn't prepare properly in 2020 and had improved, but still had moments where he drifted off and lost commitment and focus. One of Rattler's mentors said he had an edgy personality like Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield, and could rub people the wrong way and come across as arrogant, but had the requisite confidence to be successful. I don't know if I buy that theory, considering that neither Manziel nor Mayfield are on track to be NFL HOFers.
Rattler has a long list of NIL deals and has his own line of clothing and accessories. In a post-game press conference, he showed up in his South Carolina gear, but wearing a flashy, stylized "S R" chain around his neck, advertising his clothing brand.
Had only 8 TDs and 9 INTs in the first 10 games of 2022. Piled up stats in the final 3 games, including 438 yards, 6 TDs and zero INTs vs Tennessee, boosting 2022 season stats.
2020 (11 starts): 67.5% completions, 3,031 yards, 28 TDs, 7 INTs, 275.5 ypg. 81-160-6 rushing, 6 fumbles, 22 sacks
2021 (6 starts): 74.9% completions, 1,483 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs. 43-77-3 rushing, 2 fumbles, 12 sacks
2022 (8-5 record): 66.2% completions, 3,026 yards, 232.8 ypg, 18 TDs, 12 INTs. 73-46-3 rushing, 7 fumbles, 31 sacks
Capable of making several wow throws over the course of a game.
Plenty of arm strength. Fluid and over the top delivery. Can drive ball with velocity over the middle to beat tight coverage. Off platform, can throw to sideline with zip. Bootleg, throwing on move, juice on 20 yard pass to sideline. Flung pass nearly 60 yards on move to his left. Loaded up and launched deep bomb 60 yards from LOS, only barely missing the target. Gunned 25 yard throw over middle. Live arm for 30 yard pass off platform. RPMs and tight spiral on 40 yard bomb down sideline. Fit pass into coverage to back of end zone for TD on 4th down play. Gets ball out fast in quick game. Saw CB drive on bubble screen, quickly reloaded and flipped ball to the TE instead. Dropped 35 yard dime on money on deep post for a 60 yard TD.
Can control the ball to make precise ball placements. Pinpoint 15 yard backshoulder to sideline. Decent accuracy on 30 yard seam fade. Unbelievable 25 yard sideline strike from opposite hash, somehow beating S hunting for INT. Pinpoint 20 yard backshoulder to sideline. Hit WR in stride with 40 yard bomb, creating a 70 yard TD. Quick release and accurate placement on speed out to TE on medium 3rd down for 1st down conversion.
Throws with touch. Feathered beautiful 30 yard deep fade, dropping it in to WR over the CB. Nice 40 yard backshoulder from opposite hash. 25 yard backshoulder from opposite hash. Inside of congested pocket, fantastic 30 yard touch pass to TE on deep over route, dropping ball in over top of defender.
Quick feet. Energetic. Sufficient short area quickness to escape pressure and extend plays out side of pocket. In red zone, dodged unblocked LB to escape sack, pulled away from DE, then scrambled forward for TD. Decent forward acceleration to scramble forward off of bootlegs.
Can manipulate defenders with pump fakes.
Had some snaps under center.
I'm not aware of any serious injuries with him. Plays bigger than his listed size.
Experienced starter over several seasons.
Capable of making several wow plays over the course of a game. As in "Wow, that might be one of the worst plays I've ever seen a QB make." In addition to getting benched in 2021, Rattler was inconsistent and shaky in the early portions of both his 2020 and 2022 seasons, only bouncing back with strong games later in those seasons. So, in all 3 years that he's started in college, there have been stretches where Rattler has been considered to have played poorly.
Incomprehensibly bad decision making at times. Throws corner route directly to CB for INT. RB on wheel route is not open, defender is glued tightly. I have no idea why QB still tries to force pass, seemed like zero percent chance this was going to work, becomes lay up INT directly to the safety. Perhaps the QB was attempting backshoulder throw, but it looked like pass still would have been picked off even if RB had been on same page, because S had superior positioning to drive on the throw. What made this INT worse is if you look at the other routes on the field, QB had opportunity to manipulate the single high safety and potentially throw TD by targeting either the WR or the TE going deep, so there was no reason to even attempt such a risky throw to the RB. 1st down snap, feels pressure in pocket, just blindly flings ball deep into double coverage for INT. Forced 15 yard backshoulder and CB nearly jumps it for INT. On 2nd down from one yard line, forced pass into coverage for very costly INT in end zone.
Below average pocket awareness and presence. Surprised by CB blitz and fumbled. Odd decision to climb forward in pocket, directly into pressure, throwing off balance, when he could have just sat back due to solid pass protection. Moved too far to climb pocket when all he needed to do is take one slide step. Feet are not calm in pocket. Unnecessarily backs up and moves around, doesn't maintain solid base and platform from which to throw the ball. Had WR open on shallow crosser, but took unnecessary extra step forward prior to releasing pass, instead of buying more time in pocket, actually helped the DE get closer to him by allowing the DE to come underneath good pass block by the OT. Gets tight and tense when he sees pressure coming, resulting in wild throws that are off target, not standing in calmly to deliver and take the hit in the pocket, and vision narrows, so he doesn't see open receivers once he feels pressure. Layered blitz, WR ridiculously wide open, but QB's eyes drop to look at the blitzing S, never sees the WR, misses opportunity to burn the blitz, nearly throwing INT when he tried to throw ball away. Overload blitz, QB knows he's hot, but instead of standing in and throwing ball to hot route WR who is wide open, QB panics and runs out of pocket like his pants are on fire, then throws ball out of bounds.
By not being precise with ball placements on throws near LOS, he robs WRs of YAC, resulting in drives ending that should have been 1st down conversions and a fresh set of downs. 4th down play, two WRs run shallow crossing routes, play designed for WR who has 2 steps on his CB, then rub from the other WR forces the CB to dodge traffic, so if QB hits the WR in stride 100% guaranteed 1st down with YAC, because there is no other defender nearby to make the stop, QB has space in pocket but throws off his back foot, fading off to the side, pass is behind the WR, forcing the WR to slow down and spin around to make catch, and he gets tackled by the trailing CB immediately after catch for zero YAC, turnover on downs.
Inconsistent accuracy at all 3 levels. Critical 3rd down in 4th qtr, missed low on short comeback route. Bounced pass way short of wide open RB. Fade so underthrown and off target that it nearly hits the CB in the thigh.
Had WR open on deep post route, no safety in middle of field, but 50 yard pass hangs in air, underthrown, allowing the trailing CB to break up pass. WR wide open, past both the CB and S, sure TD if QB just touches ball over the top and lets WR run under it 50 yards downfield, but pass is way too long, WR no chance at attempting a catch.
He's a one read QB. Struggles when his primary read is taken away. 5 WR set, defense shows 2 deep zone pre-snap and there is no disguise, coverage post-snap is exactly what the alignment was prior to the snap. Against the coverage, QB should get to the slot WR running a whip route, but QB never even looks at this WR, his eyes get stuck on the primary read and when it isn't open, QB just aimlessly scrambles forward and gets tackled at LOS. RB wide open on wheel route, QB late to diagnose coverage and throw it. Drag route immediately open, but QB is tick late getting to this in progression, takes extra hitch, then throws behind, forcing WR to spin around 360 degrees to make catch, in the NFL this likely would have ruined the result and forced a punt, but play still works, because the CB collides with the ref, so WR is super wide open, all by himself and races downfield for huge gain. West Coast offense banana play from heavy formation, the HB in the flat is wide open, no defender is even looking at him, should be automatic throw, but QB eats it for a sack. Very simple half field read with 3 WRs, the slot WR on slant is open, but QB doesn't stand and deliver, just throws the ball out of bounds. TE is wide open on crossing route, all alone, no defender remotely close to him, QB never even looks at him in progression, throws ball out of bounds. Had WR on whip route, but comes off this read in the progression and tries to force it to safety outlet RB who is tightly covered. Single high safety, good route by WR gains leverage vs CB, but QB comes off read too early, tucks and scrambles, stuffed at LOS. 3rd down, man coverage, good job by TE to use physicality to separate, is open, clean pocket, QB's eyes so slow to read progression he's late getting to TE, doesn't throw, then throws ball out of bounds. Very simple coverage rotation post-snap by defense, the intermediate square in WR is wide open vs this coverage, somehow QB fails to understand this, throws hospital underneath, leading different WR into a huge hit vs zone defender. 3rd down, the WR on shallow crosser is wide open, very easy throw and 1st down like taking candy from baby, but QB never came off primary read, didn't even try to go down progression, forces difficult deep throw, trying to split CB and S, incomplete. Design of route combination has switch release by TE and WR, so when the middle of field safety jumps on the post route to the left side of the field, the WR running post from the opposite side will come wide open, but QB doesn't read the progression on schedule, tries to force the pass late and throws INT to the trailing CB behind the WR, a mistake so basic that it makes you wonder if the QB really grasps his own team's playbook. Coverage rotates post-snap, QB is 100% blind to it, throwing INT directly to LB for pick six. Could have layered throw to WR vs cover 2, but takes off scrambling instead.
On read option, DE immediately crashes down LOS, yet QB still hands ball off to RB, who gets tackled for TFL. Another read option, DE stays put, QB should hand ball off to RB, but pulls it and keeps and the DE tackles the QB at the LOS, the OL destroyed the DL, opening up huge hole, plus C climbs up to LB, so if QB had given it to the RB it would have been a huge gain running up the middle.
Not a sudden athlete. Gets tackled or tripped up before he can get going. Average forward acceleration, disappointing burst relative to his size, loses races, because the defender covers more ground than QB, preventing QB from gaining yardage even in situations where there appears to be space an an opportunity to get upfield. Underestimates speed of defenders who are elite athletes, outclassed by them in space. Average elusiveness. Lost balance trying to juke. Crazy play on 3rd down where he scrambles beyond marker, cuts sideways, then goes backwards and is ruled to be inches short of first down, not showing situational awareness of where he was in relation to the line to gain.
Yardage stats boosted by a few excellent YAC extra effort plays by his receivers.
Questionable maturity, leadership, focus and football character to embrace backup QB role if he fails to win the team's starting job. Also a risk that if he does find early success that he'll lose focus and get caught up in being a celebrity and building his brand instead of continuing to work on his game and improving.
There is a wide range of opinions about Rattler within the draft scouting community.
NFLMDD consensus big board 16th QB, 143rd overall (5th round)
PFN draft simulator 7th QB, 38th overall (2nd round)
Shane Hallam 19th QB, not in top 250 overall (UDFA)
PFF draft simulator 7th QB, 70th overall (3rd round)
Drafttek 11th QB, 138th overall (early 5th round)
Sports Illustrated 11th QB. In the summer of 2022, SI said: Great arm talent, extremely composed in pocket. Can make any throw. Zip and touch. Throws on move without losing any power, with pinpoint accuracy. Good decision maker who doesn't make questionable throws into coverage. Overthrows deep balls. Not a dynamic runner. 3rd round grade.
NFLDB 9th QB, 65th overall (2nd round projection): Natural athlete. Excellent arm strength. Accurate. Lacks size. Inconsistent mechanics, bad habit of throwing off back foot. Has yet to show football IQ and high level decision making. Struggles with read, locks onto primary receiver and doesn't see open targets.
TDN (Joe Marino): Impressive arm talent. Highly erratic field vision and decision making. Lacks poise, antsy when pressured. Drifts in pocket and doesn't step up. Not a skilled runner. Concerns with leadership.
BuffaloFAMBase big board 279th overall (UDFA). They list him at 6 feet tall.
South Carolina opens their season with a huge showdown against North Carolina and Drake Maye. The game will be played in Charlotte. That game is an excellent opportunity for Rattler to try to outperform the QB widely viewed as the 2nd best QB in the 2024 draft class. If SC were to win that game with Rattler playing well, his draft stock could build early momentum. Two weeks later, SC plays at Georgia.
SC has a new OC, Dowell Loggains, who was a longtime NFL assistant coach. He was the QB coach for the Browns when they drafted Johnny Manziel. Macrus Satterfield, the 2022 OC, left to join a different school. Working with Loggains could help Rattler prepare for the NFL, but changing OCs also could interfere with continuity and keep Rattler from being comfortable in the system, especially in the early season games.