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QB Rankings: Getting to know the 2014 Draft Class: Tajh Boyd

The QB evaluation series continues with the Senior Clemson QB, Tajh Boyd.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Tajh Boyd, SR, Clemson

• 6' 1", 225 lbs.


Tajh Boyd is a highly ranked senior quarterback prospect entering the 2014 draft. He’s joined by  Fresno State QB Derek Carr, UGA QB Aaron Murray, LSU QB Zach Mettenburger, and Alabama QB A.J. McCarron as senior signal callers, and offers an intriguing skill set that may be attractive in the modern NFL where big bodied /mobile quarterbacks dot the landscape like no other time in NFLhistory.

Tajh Boyd is a running quarterback. He is a tough player who is elusive in the pocket and difficult to bring down on the run. When he tucks and runs, it's almost impossible to distinguish his style from a running back; he keeps his pad level down, legs churning, and weight forward. He is typically at his most dangerous when he is threatening to run but keeping his eyes downfield, a trait that he’s become adept at in his time at Clemson. His height can be viewed as a positive when it comes to his running ability; he has a short, broad built that is better suited to taking hits at the NFL level than smaller bodied NFL comparisons. (Such as RGIII or Michael Vick) He is mobile both in and out of the pocket. He’s shifty enough to shake defenders, but powerful enough to run them over at the end of runs. (This trait may be something he looks to avoid at the next level, given that he already has had some injury concerns in college) His film has some eye popping moments, with two of the biggest games he's played coming against top defenses in Georgia and LSU.

Tajh Boyd vs LSU (2013 Bowl) (via Adrian Ahufinger)

For some great examples of Boyd's ability to make NFL throws, look for the 00:58, 4:57, and 5:33ish marks. Also, look at the toughness on designed run plays at the 1:52 mark. Despite NUMEROUS drops from his wide receivers and playing most of the game without Sammy Watkins, Boyd absolutely eviscerates the LSU defense to the tune of 36/50 and 346 yards, 2 passing td's, and a rushing TD.....while engineering the final game-winning drive.

Tajh Boyd vs Georgia 2013 (via sm2635)

For some examples of his NFL capable arm, watch how Boyd adjusts his arm angle at 1:04 and 1:42, and how he puts nice touch on deep balls at 5:45 and 7:04. Another example of his tough running style is evident around 4:17.

I choose to use these film clips as a good analysis because he's not destroying weaker defenses like the Citadel, but working against some quality opponents with NFL caliber players. (At least one NFL player, anyway......I see you Barkevious Mingo)

Boyd’s arm strength is well above average, and he throws the ball with good zip on stick throws outside of the hashes and deep downfield. With the 4 TD’s he threw over Georgia Tech on November 15th, Boyd become the all-time record holder for touchdowns in the ACC. (Surpassing NC State/San Diego QB Phillip Rivers to do it)

Tajh Boyd came into 2013 as the highest rated  senior QB in the country. Many analysts have recently argued that distinction and argue that McCarron’s consistency, Mettenburgers cannon arm, and Derek Carr's gaudy numbers should be valued far more highly in the draft and on Sundays. in the NFL Tajh will have to prove to NFL teams that he can throw deeper routes with accuracy and consistency, which he has struggled with at times this season.

Below is the passing chart for Boyd through his first 6 games of the season. You can see from the numbers how many of his attempts come near the line of scrimmage


You can find his per-game passing charts here.

Boyd entered the 2013 season as a model of efficiency and control. His numbers are not as flashy as other prospects due to the large volume of designed run plays that Clemson calls for him, and when he does throw, his stock is hurt by having the best receiver in college getting open at will and reeling them in. (Sammy Watkins). Some numbers for Boyd, coming into his senior season:

1. 618-989 passing for 8,053 yards and 73 touchdowns against 28 interceptions in 2,095 snaps over 34 games (27 starts) in his career ...

2. Completed 62.5 percent of his passes and has a 149.6 pass efficiency rating

3. 765 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns ...

4. 8,818 total yards and is responsible for 89 touchdowns ...

5. Has nine of the top-11 single-game passing yardage totals in school history

Boyd is first in nearly every school record category, including passing touchdowns, passing efficiency, first in touchdown responsibility, passing yards, attempts, completions, completion percentage, total offense, third in passing yards per attempt (8.14), and fourth in interception avoidance (.0283) . Disclaimer: these #'s were accurate when the article was written, and may not be as it's read.

He became the full time starter in his redshirt Sophomore season and garnered a lot of attention. His numbers were fantastic, but the inconsistencies of his teams play and his own performances (which were incredibly up-and-down) left scouts talking about "potential" over "talent".

Tajh is considered a vocal team leader and is a mature player.  His media availability has shown off a young man with a an honest and humble approach to the game. Unlike some of the other younger quarterbacks,  there is a large body of work for NFL teams to consider and judge him with. Unfortunately, the QB's stock in his senior season has fluctuated. A loss to Florida State and  a debilitating slugfest with NC State showed Boyd struggling while appearing to play "outside of himself" and force plays. He showed problems with his throwing mechanics and accuracy on the big stages, and may scare off scouts with his decision making under pressure. (Coming into 2014, this was expected to be his strongest attribute)

Tajh Boyd has had small injury concerns coming out of high school, where he played at Phoebus High School (Hampton, VA) and fought through an ACL tear to finish out a very successful high school campaign.

We conducted a Q+A session with Dr. B at  Shakin’ the Southland, Clemson’s SBN partner.

1. How does Tajh Boyd react under pressure? Describe his "Intangibles."

In terms of game pressure, he does get excited and tries to press the issue on the field by trying a few dumb throws to make things happen. The dumb throws have markedly declined over the last two years and its rare to see more than 1 per game. Towards the end of last season I rarely saw any. This year the offense has come out of the gate sputtering due to various reasons, and Tajh has tried to make things happen himself rather than taking what the defense gives him. It has caused some issues in each game, but he hasn't thrown INTs.

The team and the offense follows him and they do generally react well to big pressure situations. If we need to score to win, you could count on him to focus them and they'll get the points. They usually respond when an opponent goes up. The team looks on him as the leader, as a QB should be.

In terms of pass rush, he does have some problems that I think he needs to work on. Tajh gets happy feet in the pocket, he doesn't always realize that if he simply steps up and delivers the throw that he can hit a man. Tajh does get rattled when he's harassed. He'll press more and his happy feet walk himself right into a sack, or he'll pull the ball down too quickly. He gets stressed out when it doesn't come easily, which is one mental aspect he really has to work on. If he has adequate time to throw he's great, and his deep ball is very accurate.

2. How often is he expected to make "NFL" throws?

I usually see 2 or 3 per game, back shoulder fades and the occasional threading of the needle. However we throw a ton of WR screens so many of his completions are of those. In technical terms I believe he still has footwork/weight transfer problems on some short throws, and he has a tendency to drop his elbow for the short stuff.

3. What kind of a year (prior to 2013) did you see him having?

I said before the season what my statistical expectations were, and I don't see them changing much here.I thought he needed to cut his INTs from 13 to 6, and he's doing well there. The completion percentage was around 67% last year and I think it'll be about the same. The big yardage and TDs might drop a little simply because we haven't had a consistent #2 receiver show up and catch balls that his hands, nor do we have the same easy pass catcher at TE for those quick checkdowns and dumpoffs. Those players are all young.

The question on what type of year he'll have is dependent on those things, and the Right Tackle situation (our RT sucks). If we find an answer there and one of the WRs steps up on the boundary side, I don't see why this offense wouldn't be roughly where it was last year in the Top 10 nationally.

4. How much does his coaching factor into his ceiling? (He's been compared frequently to Russel Wilson; Wilson's college coaching probably dragged his draft grade down a round or two)

Chad Morris is the best OC in Clemson history. He took Tajh, who would've been a middling player with some flashes, and made him consistently better over the years. Now he's in the Heisman talk at least. Chad has polished up his footwork considerably and taught him how to read zone coverage, which he was weak at beforehand. I just think Chad uses him to the best of his abilities and has taught him well. The mental stuff is now up to the senior QB to figure out.

NFL Comparison:

At the lower end Boyd can be compared to Tim Tebow. He is built like a running back and often finds himself running between the tackles and running into DB’s and LB’s. It should be noted that Tajh is a much more polished passer at this point than Tebow was in his time at Florida, but he is also counted on to run frequently and take big hits. On the high side, Tajh fits the mold of a Russell Wilson. This is not a lazy comparison; Boyd has the same build and playing style that Wilson deployed in college, but has a few extra inches (allegedly) and some extra bulk to protect him from the bigger hits. The combine and interviews will test his ability to throw accurately on the run and make quality, NFL decisions. Remember: Russell Wilson is a once-in-a-lifetime talent for a player of his stature. Expecting Boyd to measure up to that lofty standard may be looking to see if lightning can strike twice; expect him to be a day two pick at this juncture.

In the end, Tajh Boyd looks like a physically talented player who was in  an unusual college system that relied on his ability to use his legs extensively,and make simple reads to receivers. He’s a little short for the NFL, but players of similar stature have succeeded before. He was widely considered to be one of the top quarterbacks on the board before this last season,  which saw him plummet in most draft rankings.  Teams can probably wait until at least the second or third round to take a chance on this  talented QB and let him develop behind and an established starter and work on his passing routines and footwork.

How the Browns could acquire Tajh Boyd: Look for the Browns to take a long look at Boyd in his workouts and offseason games, and if he's available on the second day of the draft, potentially gamble on him. Head Coach Rob Chudzinski got the most out of Cam Newton and the read option in Carolina, and while Boyd doesn't possess Newton's physical gifts, he's proven capable of beating good defenses with his feet and arm.

Up next: Fresno State QB Derek Carr