Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi, WR Eddie McDoom, WR Nate Johnson, WR Kekoa Crawford, WR Chris Evans,
WR Brad Hawkins, WR Ahmir Mitchell, RB Kingston Davis, RB Kareem Walker.
|Avon, IN – 6'5", 210|
|Scout||4*, #77 overall
|Rivals||4*, #158 overall
#6 Pro QB , #3 IN
|ESPN||4*, #60 overall
#3 Pro QB, #1 IN
|24/7||4*, #34 overall
#3 Pro QB, #1 IN
|Other Suitors||LSU, Neb, UW, VT, Iowa, Indiana|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Scouting post from yesterday.|
Scouting video vs Ben Davis:
You may want to watch the above on Youtube itself for more clarity.
Scouting video against Brownsburg:
"[Harbaugh] compared me to Andrew Luck," Peters explained. "It's a similar situation to what he had at Stanford."
This is an opportune time to remind people that "You May Remember Me From Such Players As" is a playing style comparison, not a direct assertion that Brandon Peters is going to be the #1 pick in the NFL draft. I'm not saying that.
I'm not ruling it out either. Peters has a classic NFL frame, a beautiful deep ball, an advanced ability to vary speeds and trajectories, and no quarterback guru. When he's on, as he was in the game against Brownsburg above, he is really on, dropping dimes 50 yards downfield and nestling inch-perfect wheel routes into the hands of his tight end. The play by play guy kept wondering who the five quarterbacks ESPN ranked above him could possibly be, and turned out to be mostly right. By Signing Day Peters had passed all but two of them.
This was part of a universal upward swing in Peters's rep. When he committed to Michigan he was a four-star guy usually found in the 150-200 range. After a senior year spent bombing the Indianapolis era back into subsistence farming he leapt upwards. That year started with the 49-42 barnburner against Ben Davis that Michigan reporters swarmed to see not only Peters but Chris Evans; Ace was amongst the horde:
…money on Friday night, and his performance was made all the more impressive by the lack of Avon's run game and their inability to protect the passer. …pinpoint with almost everything in the short and intermediate range, save a rather strange difficulty getting screen passes on target. His throws had plenty of heat, they hit receivers in stride, and they went to the right guys. …stayed calm in the pocket when defenders were closing in, either stepping up to avoid pressure or bailing out at the last moment to buy time…. His accuracy and understanding of where to put the ball was impressive. …release could be a little more compact.
…has the size … has the athleticism …just a natural. His feel for the game is outstanding. Peters has the arm talent, he is comfortable making plays on the move and he seems to always know where to go with the football. …accurate and threw with the right amount of touch on two of his touchdowns.
I’m not sure I’ve covered a better high school quarterback than Avon senior Brandon Peters. …can make it look so easy sometimes… 26-for-44 for 381 yards for four touchdowns on Friday and – I think I can speak for most in attendance – those numbers probably don’t tell the whole story of how dominant he looked at times.
That kicked off a senior season featuring 3103 yards, a 60% completion percentage, 37 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. Three of those interceptions are in the two scouting videos above: a touchdown catch that a DB ripped away from the receiver just in time, a ball that clanked off a receiver's hands, and a blindside hit that deposited the ball directly in the hands of another defensive lineman. Peters threw somewhere between zero and two interceptions that were actually on him last year. That's absurd for anyone, let alone a high school QB.
[After THE JUMP: some dudes just have It.]
One of the main themes in his scouting reports is that Peters has The Proverbial It. This gets expressed in various ways. Josh Helmholdt calls him a "winner and gamer" with, yep, moxie; 247 says many quarterbacks look "mechanical or tight" when the Elite 11 staffers are asking them to adjust their throwing motions but with Peters "everything is fluid, smooth, and easy"; Scout's Rob Howe came back from a Peters game praising his calmness, saying he plays with "confidence and smoothness that makes what he's doing look easy"; his coach says he "feels pressure in the pocket, but doesn't panic." Harbaugh noticed that as well:
Harbaugh said he watched both [Peters and Luck] as juniors in high school, and he “saw a lot of similar things in Brandon. He said neither was overly coached or mechanical, “but naturally out there playing, hitting receivers, running, making first downs, leading his team.”
To me this boils down to information processing. ESPN is useful here because it shies away from hand-waving about a player's spirit and offers up mechanisms:
Can get locked on at times and hold onto the ball too long. At other moments he will quickly go from one target to the next and pull the trigger. Is a very calm and poised player within the pocket He's a rhythm and timing guy with the anticipation to throw guys open. …quick stroke and ability to be decisive gives his arm the appearance it is stronger than it actually is. He can make most, if not all of the necessary college throws especially when on time and he usually is.
Clint Brewster has another evaluation that focuses heavily on Peters's understanding of the game:
…doesn't rush things and keeps his mechanics under control and makes every throw look easy and fluid. …does a nice job throwing on time and anticipating his wide receiver and where he's going to be. He throws his wide receivers away from coverage. Very good ball placement and spin on the football.
And his high school offensive coordinator explicitly states it:
“(Peters) will figure it out and know where he needs to go with the football. A lot of times I’d tell him things in practice and he’d say, ‘I got it,’ and already know what to do. That makes it a lot easier for us to be aggressive.”
It looks easy because Peters knows where he should go with the ball a very high percentage of the time. He doesn't think much about his throwing motion. He moves around the pocket with a plan. He varies trajectory and speed based on the situation. My favorite throws in the Brownsburg game above are two high-arc, low speed passes to his tight end that are the exact right throws in those situations. That's the definition of a "catchable ball."
Michigan had several options on the table after KJ Costello picked Stanford; Harbaugh zeroed in on Peters because of a skill you can't teach.
Meanwhile the skills that you can are mostly high level. The most definitive word comes from 247, who flagged down an NFL scout and asked him to evaluate the top end QBs in the 2016 class. He had a favorite:
…can buy time and create. Compared to the other quarterbacks he watched, Peters was more purposeful and deliberate in the pocket. You can tell he has a good feel for the game …the best combination of athleticism and mechanics. …scout felt that Peters looked polished and looked like he's been coached up. There weren't a lot of negatives.
247 noted that Peters in fact had very little QB coaching compared to most of the other guys they asked the scout to check out. That take was from before his bonkers senior year and thus seems both prescient and credible.
Helmholdt didn't like his accuracy as a junior but came around after seeing his senior performance. He did like a "very efficient arm motion that produces a lot of velocity." That comes through on film, as Peters is able to flick the ball with his body under control and still hit dudes way downfield. Scout described it as a "smooth, effortless throwing motion."
I think there's some confusion about Peters's arm strength because he does take something off of it when that's appropriate. Sullivan's evaluation touches on that:
…doesn't have the strongest arm in the country, but Peters can make all the throws - hashmark to opposite sideline, deep, and over the middle. He shows nice touch and understanding of what type of pass needs to be thrown for a given situation, as well.
And at various camps he's always mentioned as one of the upper end guys in that department. He's got "plenty" per Scout and was "one of the strongest arms in attendance" at a "QB challenge" in Cincinnati. ESPN calls him "functional and efficient," though as noted above they think his brain makes his arm look bigger than it is. He's not Shane Morris, but he's probably in the next tier down.
Peters impressed in Army Bowl practices, if not the game itself. Scout thought his arm strength and accuracy was "impressive"; Rivals thought he had a "great day" on Tuesday but a "tough day" on Thursday. Peters looked a bit lost during the game itself, going 4/16 with a number of short misfires and one badass seam route. Our rule of thumb around here is that All Star games are mostly useful for evaluating physical wow factor; Peters's performance isn't a huge concern since the bigger sample size from practice was positive.
There was one criticism that might carry over to college. 247 thought he was "a tier below" Ole Miss commit Shea Patterson because he lacked "urgency" but thought he "delivered a beautiful football" all the same. They did clarify what they meant with that critique:
…needed to find some urgency within his drop. … When two quarterbacks would go through their drops side by side Peters was always a step or two slower than his counterpart. …From the top of his drop to the completion, Peters is as good as anyone here. He spins it consistently, he's got outstanding accuracy and his receiver always has a chance.
Since Peters was exclusively a shotgun QB and only got coaching from his high school team that's not unexpected. 247 had a similar take after the Elite 11, saying that he needs to "pick up the pace in his drops and delivery" but that the "ball is always on target with spin and velocity."
"…release is real compact and he's got a quick over-the-top wrist-snap. …Everything is tight in his mechanics…throwing motion looks even tighter and more compact than in his junior highlights."
I do think Peters could stand to get the ball out faster sometimes, but I'm not an expert.
Peters also brings a Harbaugh-style athletic package to the table. He hasn't ended a USC linebacker's world or channeled his inner De'Veon Smith yet, but he draws consistent praise for his mobility. Trent Dilfer described him as a "freak" at the Elite 11 finals and the "best overall athlete" in a competition featuring the top pro style guys in the country and a few borderline dual threat types. Helmholdt thinks Luck is a good comp in this category:
"He's not Michael Vick - 4.4 40-yard dash - but he's got enough speed to pick things up on the ground and make things happen. That's very similar to Luck. He's also tough - he'll take hits and deliver shots on defenders when he tucks and runs."
He played basketball throughout his high school career, and is clearly comfortable moving and re-setting in the pocket to buy time. 247 said he possessed "functional pocket athleticism"; Tom Lemming called him a "Harbaugh type of quarterback—a guy who can run himself out of trouble and can throw on the run." Multiple reports also note that Peters is excellent at play action, a "very good ball handler" who "thrives off play action and bootlegs."
Peters's spring was encouraging but not insane. Harbaugh has consistently maintained that John O'Korn and Wilton Speight are ahead of the pack and usually mentions Shane Morris third. A Chad Henne breakthrough appears unlikely.
On the other hand, Peters seemed to pass redshirt freshman Alex Malzone by the end of the spring. I liked him in limited time at Ford Field ("dropped in a couple really nice deep balls") and the spring game ("uncannily smooth for a gentleman just out of high school.") So did Harbaugh. Sam Webb reported that he was "raving" about Peters after the third day at IMG, praising Peters's accuracy "quite frequently." Steve Lorenz used that same word a bit later in spring, citing Peters's "poise and calm" at even this early stage. That was Nick Baumgardner's main takeaway after seeing him repeatedly this spring:
So when you see him on the field with Michigan, everything he's doing right now is natural. His mechanics are smooth. So much so that, at times, it doesn't even look like he's really trying. He is, of course, but that sort of speaks to how natural he looks in the pocket with the ball in his hands.
That said, I've seen a lot of freshmen quarterbacks enter a program over the years and just look absolutely lost or panicked. Their feet are all over the place. They're throwing the thing as hard as they can on every rep. They're overwhelmed, basically.
Peters is far from a finished product, but he's not overwhelmed. That much is clear.
Harbaugh was willing to go on the record with some of that praise:
"It's impressive what he did as young as he is, being out here for the first time," Harbaugh told reporters after Friday's open practice. "He's got some real coolness about him. He's a natural in a lot of ways. I was very excited about what he did for the first time."
While a redshirt and another year of apprenticeship is likely, Peters is hypothetically a gentleman who could play early and be okay. Per his coach he does need to fill out his upper body and get more "thickness across his shoulders." The lack of private QB coaching does mean he's got some things to tighten up, not least of which is operation from under center.
Turnover prevention is the number one issue young quarterbacks have and Peters appears way ahead of the curve here. His high school coach praised his preparation:
"He is handling things well. We run RPO, run-pass option, and it's basically his read on an inside or outside linebacker, and he is handling everything very well with that. He takes care of the ball. He's always been good at taking care of the ball and not being reckless, but he's been excellent with his game management."
I don't want to see a true freshman quarterback and I almost certainly won't this fall. If Peters is the backup in 2017 I'd be very comfortable with that.
Etc.: B+ wolverine drawing skills, with bonus points for going with the Wolverbear:
Why Andrew Luck? See above. 6'4" or 6'5" guy who needs to fill out a bit and polish up some; great mental grasp on the game and plus athleticism. Luck was rated in the same area coming out of high school. He did all right for himself in college.
There aren't many good Michigan comparables. Navarre was real slow and not a big recruit; Henne was a big-armed dude with iffy accuracy; Griese lacked Peters's physical upside. Drew Henson might be a good comparison but we never got to see a finished product there.
Guru Reliability: Very high. QBs are the most heavily scouted, Elite 11, Army game, relatively tight rankings spread.
Variance: Moderate-minus. Competition level is the main holdup; also QB is a position so heavily dependent on the mental side of the game that evaluations can be significantly off. Doesn't seem to be the case here.
Ceiling: Vast. Prototype NFL QB with bonus athleticism. Per 247 this could also be "crazy."
General Excitement Level: Very high. I don't know if Peters is going to be completely awesome but I have a good feeling that whoever's playing quarterback for Michigan will be.
Projection: Unless there's a plague of injuries or a massive fall camp upset, a redshirt beckons. Peters will then cool his heels behind a returning starter as a redshirt freshman. If O'Korn wins the job it'll be a free-for-all between a fifth-year senior Speight, a redshirt sophomore Peters, and a redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey for the starting job. I have no idea who wins that job. I have a suspicion they'll be good at football.