East-West Shrine Game: Stephen Morris a Franchise QB?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The members of Music City Miracles have been looking for a late round quarterback to compete with Jake Locker. I think that Stephen Morris can fill that role and maybe even more.

Quarterback is one of the hardest things for any individual to predict. Me and the rest of the coaching staff at the Panthers organization spent months looking at Cam Newton, and we were still unsure of exactly what we had, but we took a risk and now Newton is the face of Carolina and on his way to a great NFL career.

My point is that no quarterback is easy to scout and no one truly knows how the individual player will react to the speed of the NFL. You, of course, have to look at things like arm strength, accuracy, pocket awareness, ability to read plays, footwork, leadership, ability to stretch the pocket, and throw on the run.

Every year analysts and fans try to find the next Tom Brady or Tony Romo in a draft. More years than not there is not a late round quarterback that comes out and becomes the face of a franchise. It is a very rare event, and even if there is a late round quarterback they are very hard to predict.

Well I would like to make a bold statement- Miami quarterback Stephen Morris could become the face of a franchise. I will start off with why Stephen Morris is being ranked so low on draft boards currently. Morris' numbers from his junior year to his senior year went down slightly. He threw for less yards and his completion percentage went from 58% to 57%. He threw for the same amount of touchdowns (21) but threw more interceptions, from 7 to 12.

The interceptions can be attributed to Morris taking more shots down the field than in his previous years in what seemed to be attempts to make big plays that were not there. While his numbers looked a bit worse, all of his passer ratings went up which is probably due to the fact that he had a lot less passing attempts then his junior year.

Regression is a major problem for a quarterback, but in the case of Morris, it can somewhat be explained. As I stated above he seemed to take more risks that were not needed, but he also lost his star running back Mike James to the NFL. That puts a lot more pressure on any quarterback and can make him start forcing passes.

Let me explain why the issues I listed above are nothing that concern me with Morris- Watching him play, I saw that his pocket awareness does clearly need work but his footwork is good. He can read plays very quickly and find open receivers at a fast rate. A quarterback can be taught to stop forcing the ball, but it is something that requires actual game time and more than just practice and telling him constantly; he needs a coach that will preach to him that he just needs to find the open receiver. His arm strength is above average and he throws the ball down field with ease. His accuracy, in my opinion, is actually stellar, even on the run.

He can make every throw whether it be short, medium, or deep. The problem is on deep balls he does not look the defender off and throws it deep too often, taking too many risks. The fact that he is not afraid to take risks in an advantage, but he must get better at understanding the best time to take risks.

All of Stephen Morris' problems are ones that are fixed overtime- with maturity, but what you cannot teach, strength, accuracy, quick read, and IQ are at an elite level in my opinion.

I went to Miami last year to scout some of their talent coming out, and I talked to some Miami staff members who said Morris is incredibly intelligent and easy to coach. So he is going to fall to the late rounds for his "regression", his decision making, and his size. All three of these issues do not worry me; regression can be caused by so many surrounding elements, the decision making can be taught because he is smarter than his play this year, and he is bigger than some other players at quarterback. He is also very good at avoiding big hits when he scrambles.

If Titans fans want to give Locker more time and draft a late round quarterback to simply compete, Morris is the best prospect in my opinion. Stephen Morris will not come in immediately and start for any team, but he is a guy that could possibly break out in his second or third year after his decision making improves. His abilities are on elite levels, and I think the outcome of his development can lead to a franchise quarterback. I hope you all watch Morris in the January 18th East-West Shrine game as I will.

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