Career Recap: Under head coach Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma has been a factory for quarterback talent. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were back-to-back No. 1-overall picks in 2018 and 2019, and Jalen Hurts was a second-round pick in 2020. With Hurts off to the NFL, the highly rated recruit Rattler took over as the Sooners' starting quarterback. Rattler flashed his skill set and potential in 2020, completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions across 11 games. He also added six touchdowns on the ground.
After an early season losses to Kansas State and Iowa State over which he threw four interceptions, Rattler rebounded to lead Oklahoma to a quadruple-overtime win over rival Texas. He then ran the table over the rest of the regular season and beat Iowa State in their rematch during the conference championship before blowing out the Florida Gators backups in the Cotton Bowl.
2021 Season Outlook: The Sooners have an easy schedule in 2021. They are clearly the top team in the conference, and Rattler should produce some huge stats against the weak Big XII defenses. Early-season non-conference opponents Tulane, Western Carolina, and Nebraska are also overmatched against Oklahoma's point machine offense. Rattler should have a massive 2021 season.
Skill-Set Summary: Rattler showed a lot of improvement over the course of the 2020 season and has a good skill set along with plenty of upside to develop as he gains experience. Early last season, especially in the Sooners' two losses, Rattler had some issues with ball security and decision-making but he was vastly improved in the back half of the year, cutting down on some of the mistakes. As Rattler refines, he could become a special quarterback prospect.
As a passer, Rattler has a quick release and with loose natural arm action. He shows accuracy to all levels of the field and is able to push the ball vertically. Rattler's arm strength is not special, but it can get the job done and he is not below average. As he ages and builds his body, his arm strength could improve.
Even though he is an effective runner, Rattler does not panic when his first read is covered, and he shows patience with poise in the pocket. There are plays on which Rattler shows nice field vision to work through progressions and find receivers after his first read. However, he needs to get faster at reading the field and scanning through his options. Sometimes, he sees receivers late and does not anticipate as much as one would like. Speeding up his process should improve as he gains experience, and he did make progress over the 2020 season. One would expect that trend to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Rattler is a dual-threat quarterback with slippery athleticism to dodge pass rushers, and he can hurt defenses on the ground when he decides to run. Rattler has a nice burst and can get into flat quickly. When Rattler rolls out of the pocket, he is very dangerous to attack defenses downfield, and Rattler can ad lib to make plays off structure. With playmaking ability from his arm and legs, Rattler fits the NFL's current preferred style of quarterback.
Scouts were not watching Rattler closely last year or writing reports on him because he was not eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. He was still noticed by team sources, however, with one area scout saying of their his first impression of Rattler:
"I like him. He makes a lot of young mistakes, but is athletic with a good arm and is pretty exciting to watch. I can see people saying he's like a young Kyler [Murray], but Spencer is not as athletic or dynamic as a runner. Kyler is special in that category. Spencer's arm is not as good as Kyler's, but Spencer's arm is solid. Spencer is a better passer than Jalen Hurts. I'm excited to see how he develops with more practice and game experience."
2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, the gambling sites have Rattler as the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Rattler has a lot to prove to make that a reality, but he has a good skill set and looks completely capable of carrying on the Oklahoma tradition of special talent at the quarterback position.