|Left Outside||Left Middle||Right Middle||Right Outside||Total|
|16-20||1/1 (1 TD)||1/1||2/2 (1 TD)|
|6-10||1/1||1/2 (1 INT)||2/3 (1 INT)|
|1-5||1/1||2/4 (1 INT)||1/2||4/7 (1 INT)|
|Total||5/9 (1 TD)||4/6 (1 INT)||4/7 (1 INT)||3/6||16/28 (1 TD, 2 INT)|
Outside the Pocket: 0/2 (1 INT)
Under Pressure: 3/5 (1 TD)
Red Zone: 5/9 (1 TD)
3rd/4th Down: 2/7 (1 TD, 1 INT, 1 conversion)
Forced Adjustments: 0
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is on the outside looking in at the 2020 NFL Draft class. Nevermind the seniors who have to declare for this class, Mond is still a step behind many of his underclass peers. Washington’s Jacob Eason, Utah State’s Jordan Love, and Georgia’s Jake Fromm are all Day 2/early Day 3 options that have gained more traction in the national conversation than Mond has. The third-year starter has plenty left to prove before he will be talked about in the same breath as other underclassmen.
The 2019 season has not been favorable to Mond’s case as a future pro, either. Mond’s yards per attempt has taken a hit from 7.5 in 2018 to 7.0 in 2019. Granted, his completion percentage has jumped up a few percentage points and his passer rating is nearly identical to his 2018 campaign, but on the surface, there is not much of a case for Mond having improved over the offseason. That is not to say Mond can not make that leap, though.
Mond’s physical skill set alone will probably get him drafted, either in this class or the next. The San Antonio native rocks a tall, lean build at 6-foot-3 and 217-pounds. Mond also shows off arm strength well above the NFL benchmark, particularly with respect to velocity over the middle, and his mechanics are plenty clean enough to maximize that strength. Mix in Mond’s ability as a rusher, both designed and as an emergency scrambler, and every box in the “physical tools” category gets a bold checkmark.
These two throws are fairly simple examples of Mond’s velocity in the intermediate section. 12-yard outs/comebacks like these have been a staple for a slew of NFL offenses over the years, most memorably the Carson Palmer-era Arizona Cardinals under head coach Bruce Arians. Palmer constructed an MVP-worthy campaign with these exact routes as some of his most common throws. It’s a simple, effective strategy for a quarterback with ample arm strength and a receiver who can snap off route breaks well.
For the moment, however, Mond is holding himself back in some regard by playing with robotic play patterns. His skill set suggests he should be able to be a playmaker and a creative force, both in and out of the pocket, but Mond is almost exclusively a product of the offensive system. Mond follows the guidelines of a given play to a T, but does not do so with the ruthless efficiency required of a player who can only win in that specific way.
When Mond does put it together on a given play, however, it looks beautiful. Mond plays with decent timing and a striking arm that allows him to execute within the structure of a passing concept with ease.
While this throw also serves as a showcase for Mond’s arm strength and peak accuracy, it’s more of a testament to what he can be when he plays within the system correctly. Mond begins the play looking to his left for the isolated receiver running a square-in. Upon seeing a hook defender drop into the area, Mond promptly resets to his right and throws the corner route without hesitation. Mond’s two short hitches up in the pocket seamlessly mend the gap between progressing from one side of the field to the other and allow him to thread an accurate pass right on time. That is exactly how that play is intended to be executed when it gets installed in the spring. (P.S. — The corner route is always open.)
Though this is a different concept all together, here is an example of Mond actually being able to throw the square-in. Ole Miss are in a two-deep shell, which almost always allows for a route breaking underneath one of the safeties to be open so long as it’s thrown with proper timing and pace. Mond provides both requisites for the throw, firing just as the slot receiver clears past the slot defender and putting enough juice on it to beat the safety trying to close down on the route. Easy pitch and catch.
The issues with Mond’s linear play style start to creep in when the read is not 100% clear or if his throwing environment is impeded upon. Mond too often needs things to go exactly as the playbook has outlined. High-quality NFL quarterbacks find ways to make minor adjustments to keep plays on track despite crowded throwing environments or tight throwing windows. Mond has yet to prove he can make those adjustments or play in less-than-ideal conditions consistently.
Texas A&M are running a standard “glance” RPO on this play. “Glance” is a loose term used for the route by the receiver at the top of the screen that is deeper than a slant, but not quite the same depth as a true post/dig. Mond gets the read he wants with the play-side linebacker and safety both creeping up to respect the run. With the cornerback playing outside leverage, this should be a routine throw for Mond. Instead, the blitzer off the right side makes Mond uncomfortable and gets him to tuck the ball down to run. Mond should have made this throw and lived with taking the hit, but chose to minimize the hit and take a sack for a short loss. Just a baffling decision with avoidable consequences.
As far as passing goes, Mond is a binary force. He can play on script fairly well, but ask him to do something not outlined in the playbook or shown in the install clips at your own peril. Mond’s overall skill set is not so binary, thankfully. While Mond has no fallback pattern as a passer, Mond provides value in the run game and can be counted on to move the offense that way, if passing the ball is not going particularly well for him at a given time.
The Aggies have a number of designed runs in their playbook, but this particular concept gashed the Ole Miss defense a few times on Saturday. Mond may not be the nimblest mover, but when allowed to gallop in space and pick up speed like he was able to in this clip, he is a threat to fly past defenders. Mond’s straight line speed with middling quickness reminds of Mitchell Trubisky, a former North Carolina Tarheel who is now with the Chicago Bears. Trubisky is not going to juke many defenders out of their cleats, but give him a crease to take off down the field and he’ll make a defense pay for it.
At this point in his junior campaign, Mond would need to go on a monster tear over the next five or so games to consider entering this class. The second and third tier of quarterbacks in this class is already crowded, both with seniors and underclassmen, for an unfinished junior to leave for the NFL. And with a third year in head coach Jimbo Fisher’s system on the way next season, Mond will have every opportunity as a senior to improve his draft stock and potentially turn in a resume worthy of a Day 2 draft pick.
It’s not entirely out of the question for a long-time starter to take a major leap as a senior, either. Missouri’s Drew Lock, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson all saw varying levels of development in their final season that helped boost their respective draft stocks. Mond has the physical tools and a decent enough resume for a major senior-year leap to be in the cards.
That version of Mond is distant and just as likely to be a dream as it is a reality. It’s an encouraging hypothetical for the hopeful pro, but Mond still has to prove with certainty that those strides have been made in his senior season. Until then, Mond is just another an SEC quarterback who has stuck around with just enough of an arm to get the NFL’s attention.