By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
QB Tajh Boyd Clemson 6’1 225
Tajh Boyd has been terrific for the Tigers and has started and been very productive since his sophomore season. The comparison with Manuel is tenuous; he doesn’t have Manuel’s height (6’4 and change) and that is a major benchmark for scouts nowadays. But there are a lot of similarities.
Both are tested ACC quarterbacks with at least two years of experience. Manuel was a two year starter and Boyd is going on three. Both had very good overall records as Manuel finished 25-6 and Boyd will likely top him going into the 2013 season with a 21-6 record. They have strong arms and the beef, paired with good feet and athleticism for their frames, to be a true dual threat. Manuel’s throwing motion is more consistent, but also more robotic. I like the more natural approach of Boyd and his mechanical inconsistencies and tendency to side arm throws can be tweaked.
The two major differences (besides height) are leadership and performance under pressure. The prior goes to Manuel, who has been praised by Jimbo Fisher and NFL personnel as a top notch leader with admirable work ethic and measured confidence. Sure those qualities didn’t help guys like Brady Quinn (who had more physical limitations) but pair that with his physique, arm strength and mobility and his upside is through the roof. That said he was never really asked to make big time throws under pressure, at least not consistently. He mainly threw to wide open targets without having to worry about fitting the ball into a tight window. When he was asked to do so he looked relatively sharp, but those opportunities were few and far between.
There has been some speculation about Boy’s leadership and work ethic. Nothing too negative has ever surfaced, but the fact he wasn’t a caption his sophomore year playing quarterback, as the perceived leader of the team, along with carrying a few too many pounds at times at least makes scouts take notice. However, it’s hard to knock a guy for not being named a captain as a sophomore. The fact he started and played well is more important to me. On the positive side, he has delivered big time in the clutch. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl against an elite LSU defense (just count the number of LSU defenders taken in last months draft) was his coming out party. He went 36/50 (72%) with 346 yards passing and 3 TD (one rushing) and 0 INT. When Clemson was down to its last breathe he completed a beautifully thrown ball that was lofted down the middle of the field and just over the defense to set up the winning field goal.
Boyd’s decision to come back for his season year means while he may have passed up a top 50 selection, he will have the chance to work his way up to where the Bills took Manuel (#16 overall). Or better. Both are experienced senior quarterbacks with near identical records and dual threat ability. Boyd needs to work on his consistency, but will have a legitimate shot to be the first QB off the board in 2014 as well as contend for the Heisman. I get the same feeling evaluating both; they have all the talent in the world but are much riskier than other typical, pocket passing prospects. It obviously won’t be Buffalo but maybe someone takes a similar chance on a top flight talent who fits the in vogue read option offense perfectly.
Here is a scouting report from 2012 (done by the staff at MiamiDolphinsDraft): http://www.miamidolphinsdraft.com/2012/06/nfl-draft-scouting-report-tajh-boyd-qb-clemson/