NFL Hot Press
Some Scouts Unimpressed With Howell, Slovis
Updated July 30, 2021
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell
A few weeks ago, WalterFootball.com reported in the Hot Press
that Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral had the highest preseason grade of any quarterback prospect on NFL teams' preseason watch list. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was not included that watch list, but it still was a surprise to see Corral because some other signal-callers had received more media hype for the still-distant 2022 NFL Draft. Two of those more-hyped quarterback prospects are North Carolina's Sam Howell and USC's Kedon Slovis. While those two have received steady media projections of being high first-rounders, some NFL advance scouts have them projected as future late-round or third-day picks.
There are a few reasons why the advance scouts could have those later projections for Howell and Slovis. One, the NFL is trending toward dual-threat quarterbacks. Both of Howell and Slovis have some functional mobility, but neither one is a dangerous runner like a Lamar Jackons or Deshaun Watson. Howell and Slovis also don't show the running ability of the quarterbacks who went in the top dozen of the 2021 NFL Draft: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields. Height is not being held against quarterbacks as much as it was in the past, but Howell is still on the shorter side at 6-foot, while weighing 220 pounds. Slovis is listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds by the advance scouts, so size is not a concern for him. The biggest issue to monitor that might be the driving reason for the projection is a lack of arm strength. That could be the key factor and the main issue to watch this year. Not having an elite cannon didn't prevent Joe Burrow from going No. 1 overall, however, so that is an issue that can be overcome. Howell and Slovis both have some natural passing ability with accuracy and are steady distributors of the ball.
It is important to keep in mind that the preseason watch list put together by advance scouts is just a starting point. After some preseason study this summer, NFL Network lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Howell to Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Jeremiah could easily be right about Howell, as Mayfield had a steady rise over his draft process and was not viewed as a high first-rounder at the start of it. Two years later, Burrow was viewed as a late-round pick in the preseason of 2019 before becoming the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The No. 1-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Arizona's Kyler Murray, wasn't even on NFL teams' preseason watch list because he was expected to be a pro baseball player after being a high first-round pick by the Oakland A's. Thus, Howell and Slovis could easily prove the skeptics wrong, but it was interesting to see their preseason projections from some advance scouts.