It’s been a while, but we are back with part 4 of finding the Steelers next franchise QB. Part 5 will also be dropping today, and tomorrow will be a final thoughts style piece on which (if any) any of these players could be the next Steelers QB. For now though, lets take a look at QB #4: USC QB Kedon Slovis.
Kedon Slovis, QB USC: 1,921 yards, 17 touchdowns in 6 games
Slovis has excellent velocity on throws between 0-20 yards consistently, and he has great ball placement in that area of the field as well. Where he gets in trouble is on deeper out-breaking routes, deep seem throws and general deep passes. The ball seems to sail on him on those types of throws occasionally, and it shows that his arm talent is good enough but not elite. Where he shines though despite having just slightly above average arm strength is his footwork and overall accuracy. When he can set his feet in the pocket and throw downfield, it may float a bit but normally is on time and accurate. He does a good job throwing his receivers open as well, especially on quick throws to help create yards after catch. His arm overall is nothing special, but I don’t think it really limits him much either.
Slovis was more athletic than I expected, showing more than enough speed and acceleration to run away from at least defensive lineman, and that ability is one of the reasons I think he can be even more of a playmaker in the NFL than in college. He showed a great feel for throwing on the move, and his accuracy didn’t drop off much at all aside from deeper passes. He put his mobility to good use in the pocket as well, displaying the ability to navigate the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. A good comparison for him athletically would be Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Neither of them are likely to be used in the run game but are able to extend plays.
Slovis had quite the introduction to college football. After not even being considered a top 25 pro-style passer in the 2019 class, he enrolled at USC and was expected to redshirt after 4 games. He was 2nd on the depth chart behind JT Daniels by the start of the season, but a season-ending injury to Daniels opened the door for Slovis and he never looked back. His 2019 Freshman was one of the best in NCAA history, and Slovis established himself as the unquestioned starter for 2020. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell likely wasn’t surprised, as he praised Slovis that spring and summer for his ability to learn the playbook. His 2020 season didn’t turn out quite as good as 2019, but he was apparently dealing with some injury despite himself saying otherwise during the season. I’m sure NFL coaches will be asking about it and will appreciate the toughness it displays. From everything I can find about him, Slovis appears to have the right intangibles to succeed in the NFL.
I am torn on how to feel about Slovis. On one hand, I like his processing ability, accuracy and ability to throw on the move. On the other, his deep ball and possible injury concerns make me question his long-term upside. I am really looking forward to seeing how he looks in 2021 to see how much his injury affected him last year. If he looks more like he did in 2019 but with more polish, he could end up being much higher on my list. For now though, I think he would be my 3rd choice, just ahead of Desmond Riddler.
Verdict: Unlikely (for now)