After taking a month to review the 2013 NFL Draft, it is already time to look ahead to the 2014 class. In fairness, I will do my best to focus on senior prospects for the next few months and move to juniors/redshirt sophomores when the time is right. I am only taking pre-season evaluation notes for now, focusing on where prospects win and where improvements can be made. Therefore, treat these posts like rough drafts and not final opinions.
Notes for Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Notes for San Jose State QB David Fales
Notes for LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
Notes for Miami (FL) QB Stephen Morris
Notes for Georgia QB Aaron Murray
Notes for Fresno State QB Derek Carr
Larry Fedora immediately inserted his up-tempo, no huddle offense during his first season with the Tar Heels. Running back Gio Bernard certainly contributed in a variety of ways, as did the talented offensive line, but quarterback Bryn Renner deserves a lot of praise for managing the passing attack. He wasn’t asked to make calls in a huddle, since Fedora called it was waste of time for offensive linemen to travel the extra 10 yards per play, but Renner’s ability to diagnose defenses in motion is impressive.
For a quarterback in charge of a fast paced offense, Renner frequently gets to his second and third reads in progressions, a near rarity at the college level. The Tar Heel is at his best in the pocket, bouncing off his back foot and find a crossing route or hole in zone coverage under 15 yards. Renner is at least above average in every criteria concerning pocket poise and movement, sensing when he needs to buy extra time or when sticking to the pocket is the correct choice. I wouldn’t call Renner quick footed or fast, which causes issues when attempting to scramble to the edge, but his feel for the shape of the pocket is helps compensate. He does take off on occasion and picks up yards in undefended sections of the field, but Renner isn’t a threat.
As previously mentioned, Renner’s greatest strength is working through progressions. There are plenty of instances showing an understanding of coverages and timing, throwing at different points in his drop and flashing anticipation into certain windows on inside and outside breaking routes. That's not to say the anticipation is consistent, but the potential is there. The combination of active eyes, shuffling footwork and patience is a breath of fresh air when watching college quarterbacks.
Renner’s uncommon skill set continues with his arm. If evaluators are going to question David Fales’ velocity beyond 12-15 yards, they should do the same with Renner. He tested the vertical sections of the field far less often than other quarterbacks I have evaluated thus far, but it is difficult to separate that negative from the offense, meaning coaching or the gameplan could limit him in that area. Regardless, Renner’s velocity and placement could use plenty of work on outside breaking routes, tending to sail those targets despite balance and footwork.
The Tar Heel’s offensive system requires a good number of run/pass reads, focusing on the movement on a single defender or line of defense at the snap. Renner is very good in these situations, wasting little time in making his decision. However, I wouldn't say he has the quickest motion, specifically in catch and release situations. It is nitpicking a bit, but there were a few instances where Renner had to gain the proper grip before throwing screens. His top to bottom release does help with touch, and outside of his progression work that his Renner’s best attribute.
I was also pleased to see the Tar Heel test single coverage. Since his progressions can take some time, receivers were often draped by defenders in man coverage. Renner would wait until they gained proper position and put the ball in the best place for a completion. Sometimes this was high and outside on a corner fade, low and behind on a crossing route, or right between the numbers on a curl. His velocity seemed to shift in tune with balance and footwork, but Renner has enough timing to throw at the proper point with touch to lead receivers even when unbalanced.
Where He Wins
Renner can handle movement, in terms of defensive action, and react accordingly. This is something that many college passers struggle with. Add on his willingness to give his receiver a chance to win at the catch point when draped in single coverage, and Renner will intrigue offensive coaches.
Areas Of Improvement
Along with placement on outside breaking routes, I would like to see Renner stretch the field more often. His velocity and placement when compensating for that lack of ideal zip will prevent him from making plays in some situations. I know others have ranked him highly, but I’m not ready to call Renner an immediate starter.