Scouting Notes: Luke Falk, Washington State QB

01/18/2018
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Over the last of couple weeks the team at Cover 1 has been feverishly watching film on the prospects taking part in the Reese’s Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Alabama. The event is a great opportunity for players to showcase their talent while being coached up by NFL coaches. This will be our first year down in Mobile, and we are extremely excited to be able to see some of these players live. Quarterback Luke Falk is one of the quarterbacks I am particularly looking forward to seeing.

Nov 4, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) throws a pass against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

QB Luke Falk

Air-Raid quarterbacks are always a tough group to scout. The system is QB friendly, and a lot of average quarterbacks have produced in this system. Falk completed a very productive college career in Pullman throwing for 14,481 yards, 119 touchdowns, and only 39 interceptions. But a lot of those completions were behind the line of scrimmage or into the short area. Those types of throws helped boost his completion percentage to a lofty 68.3, but everyone knows that stats can lie, and I think a lot of his stats are inflated. The Air-Raid system asks its QB to scan the field pre-snap, determine the coverage, and decide where to start his reads.

“Some routes are dismissed pre-snap. It starts based on leverage pre-snap and it progresses from there.”-Mike Leach

 

Falk excels at this, and that is why he is able to complete a high percentage of first-read throws, such as this four man route concept.

 

Falk is reading the field linebacker. As soon as the linebacker fast flows with the swing route by the running back, Falk knows that he has the short curl in the vacated area. It is an easy read and one that he completes. These kinds of schemed routes play to his strength as an on-schedule passer.

https://streamable.com/sj6o3

 

The Utah native is the prototypical pocket passer who prefers to throw from the ‘spot’. He loves to make throws from the pocket in rhythm. One of my favorite traits of his is the ability to manipulate the pocket and find a platform from which to throw.

 

When asked to throw over the 2nd level to ‘green’ he is able to do so as long as there is a decent sized window. Falk reads the defense well and waits for the dig to open up. The trajectory on this ball is perfect, and it is a very good gain for the offense.

 

Beyond first-read throws or when the defense changed the coverage post-snap, Falk struggled to read the defense. On the prior plays you saw him work the first route combinations, but when those combinations weren’t open it created issues for the QB.

These kinds of plays are common in his film because the onus is on Falk to process the coverage on the fly. On this play versus the Washington Huskies, Falk sees a two-high safety look pre-snap, but post-snap they drop into Cover 3 Cloud. The corner to the top of the screen squats and the defensive backs rotate with the safety to the top of the screen rotating to the deep third.

 

Falk should recognize this coverage, as the Huskies ran it quite frequently in this game. Falk should hold the safety and throw it to the wide receiver down the seam to the top of the screen. Instead, he demonstrates bad eye discipline and tracks the bender route across the field, and then throws the ball into traffic. It’s no surprise it was intercepted.

https://streamable.com/4stkz

 

Falk leaves a lot to be desired with less than ideal NFL arm strength and placement. When he needs to make a throw with some velocity AND accuracy, he is just unable to do consistently.

https://streamable.com/n82o5

 

Those are traits that your statistics won’t show. State ran this ‘Mesh’ paired with this ‘drive’ concept very often and had Falk read high-to-low. If man coverage, then Falk should throw short; if zone, then throw the dig. Falk was slow to process the coverage post-snap and late on the throw to the dig, but worst of all was the high placement. If Falk starts his delivery as soon as the linebacker drives on the crossing route and throws it to a spot out in front of the receiver, then this play had the chance to be a lot bigger.

https://streamable.com/hqzuz

 

His accuracy suffers even more when he is pressured. He is good at recognizing the blitz and getting rid of the ball into the short area, but again his placement costs the Cougars a touchdown on this play.

https://streamable.com/yswu6

 

Air-Raid quarterbacks are asked to assess the coverage and find the best available routes to attack space. They need to find the offense’s best leverage and get the ball into that area. Falk is a master at that in the short area, but he has trouble throwing to space in the intermediate and deep areas accurately. On this play, Falk does a great job of recognizing the coverage but fails to throw the receiver open.

The Cougars are attacking deep and they get the look they want. The safety to the top of the screen has to take the deep dig, as the route carried the receiver past the linebacker level. This gives the #2 receiver, the post route in this ‘Pin’ or ‘Mills’ concept, the inside leverage needed to get deep.

 

Falk reads it perfectly, but he is unable to drive the ball deep to open space. The ball hangs and the defender is able to make a play on the ball.

https://streamable.com/i4tix

 

Falk had a very productive college career; no one can argue that. But when you take his traits and project them to the NFL, it is hard to picture him as a starter on Sundays. While he can manipulate the pocket versus four man rushes and make throws to the short and intermediate areas with some consistency, the lack of arm strength, and more importantly accuracy, on all of his throws doesn’t project well.

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Possible Bills Fit

Falk didn’t grade out very well in my scouting report. While new OC Brian Daboll has worked with several types of quarterbacks, Falk’s traits just fall below too many of the thresholds I think the team is comfortable with. Falk doesn’t project as a starter in the NFL, and I think the Bills want to draft a QB high and groom him into a starter. I don’t think Falk will be that player.

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