2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Malik Cunningham

  • Malik Cunningham, 6-1/190

  • Quarterback

  • Louisville

  • Malik Cunningham Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Mobility
  • Dangerous runner
  • Elusive to dodge defenders
  • Fast runner in the open field
  • Difficult to sack
  • Threat to hurt defenses on the ground
  • Quality arm
  • Can make every throw
  • Can push the ball vertically
  • Can fire fastballs into tight windows
  • Able to loft in touch passes
  • Flashes impressive deep ball accuracy
  • Quick release
  • Can make off-script plays
  • Competitor; wants to be great

  • Weaknesses:
  • Can struggle as a pocket passer
  • Poor field vision
  • Can get blinded in the pocket
  • Shorter; can have a hard time seeing through the line
  • Must get better at reading defenses
  • Must improve at working through progressions
  • Too often stares down primary read
  • Too often predetermines his passes – could be scheme related
  • Footwork needs to improve
  • Could stand to add some weight to his frame
  • Durability

  • Summary: After losing Lamar Jackson to the NFL, Louisville pretty found quickly found Cunningham, another dual-threat quarterback who would set the ACC on fire. In 2021, Cunningham completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 1,031 yards and 20 touchdowns that season. Cunningham dealt with injuries as a senior, which kept him out of some game action. For his year, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,568 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. On the ground in 2022, he picked up for 565 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Cunningham has adequate arm talent as a quarterback. On top of quality arm strength, he shows a nice ability to loft in touch passes downfield. Cunningham can put air under the ball and drop it in. Some big-armed quarterbacks become so dependent on their sheer strength that they throw flat passes, but Cunningham has avoided the trap, showing touch-passing ability to go along with being able to fire fastballs that have serious velocity. Cunningham also possesses a quick release and can make plays off script.

    Cunningham has a number of raw elements to his game as a passer and needs development. The biggest point of improvement is field vision. He has to get better at reading defenses, working through his progressions, and throwing the ball to the right receiver. Cunningham too often locks onto his primary read, and if they don’t come open, he takes off to run instead of proceeding through progressions. Along with the tendency to stare down his primary read, Cunningham has issues with predetermining where he is going with the ball.

    Due to his lack of height, Cunningham can get blinded by the line and does not see the field well consistently. He can struggle to operate exclusively as a pocket passer, and NFL defenses could give him problems by containing him on the edges and forcing him to beat them from the pocket.

    Cunningham is a true dual-threat quarterback, possessing phenomenal running ability To go along pair his big arm. He is fast and slippery at darting upfield and displays serious speed for a signal-caller, as he can accelerate away from some defenders. With his athletic scrambling ability and quality arm, Cunningham can dangerously ad lib and make big plays on rollouts. As a runner, Cunningham is aggressive, speedy and evasive. He is going to need to cut down on taking off as pro, however, in order to avoid injury.

    In the 2023 NFL Draft, Cunningham looks like a mid-rounder. He could be backup who has upside to develop.

    Player Comparison: Tyler Huntley/Lamar Jackson. Cunningham’s style of play looks like that of a shorter Jackson. However, I do not think Cunningham will be anywhere close to Jackson in the NFL. That being said, Cunningham could turn into a Tyler Huntley-caliber backup as a pro.


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