Spencer Rattler Scouting Report

In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well.

If you’d like to see more, below are all the completed scouting reports for this season:

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Michael Penix Jr.
Spencer Rattler

Today, we’re looking at Spencer Rattler. Some of you might know the name from Season 3 of the show QB1: Beyond the Lights, which also featured young NFL QBs, Jake Fromm (Season 1), Justin Fields (Season 2), Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson (Season 4). Rattler is once again returning to school, hoping one more year in South Carolina helps him mature.

Date: 4.09.2021 | Update: 2.16.2023
Details
: Spencer Rattler | QB | South Carolina #7
DOB: 09.28.2000 | 22 years old
H/W: 6’1” | 205 lbs

YearCompletionsAttemptsComp %YardsTDINTRush AttemptsRush YardsRush TD
201971163.681103230
202021431767.53820287811606
202114018774.9148311543773
202226439966.23026181273463
2023*9512874.212427232641

Projection

NFL Draft Projection (updated 2.16.2023):

5th Round Pick – Rattler spent some time as the QB1 on many draft boards to start the 2021 season, even projected to be the potential 1st overall pick. His arm talent may be worthy of a 1st round pick, but his potential for the NFL will be capped by repeated claims of immaturity, poor leadership, and poor quarterback traits. As I noted last year, if he doesn’t show progress in fixing his flaws, some teams could remove him from their draft board entirely. From watching him in 2022, those flaws haven’t gone away. Let’s hope one more year in South Carolina helps Rattler to clean up his game.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB (updated 2.16.2023):

4th Round Pick – Unless he’s drafted Day 2 of the NFL Draft, and has a clear line toward a starting gig, Rattler won’t warrant looks prior to the 4th round of your rookie draft.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB (updated 2.16.2023):

4th Round Pick – If he’s drafted on Day 2 with opportunities available to him, I wouldn’t knock someone for taking him with a 3rd round pick. More than likely, he’s a Day 3 pick with a rocky road to traverse, and in that case I wouldn’t spend more than a 4th for him.

Scouting Brief

Here’s the CliffsNotes. Rattler shows a big arm, one of the better pure arms of the upcoming draft class, and that says a lot. It’s not just a strong arm – though that’s certainly a big part of it. Rattler shows an outstanding ability to layer the ball beautifully with great touch. He’s fairly accurate as a passer too. He’s got decent athleticism, and some eye-popping off-platform moments. In an ideal His natural gifts could have him drafted in the 1st round.

It’s not all gravy though. Rattler shows a number of issues which need to get cleaned up to be in serious contention for a decent draft pick. Fundamentally, Rattler doesn’t drive through his throws, and often he finds himself throwing predominantly off his back foot. This typically happens as a response to incoming pressure.

He regularly misses opportunities to step into a clean pocket. His feet sometimes get heavy when he transitions through his reads. His worst issue is in actually getting through his reads, often staring down the first receiver and trying to force it. This causes him to miss other opportunities, or make dangerous throws, or both.

These aren’t easy things to clean-up, so the ’21 CFB season has the potential to make or break his draft stock.

Update 10.24.2022:

We saw how the ’21 CFB season went for Rattler, and it wasn’t pretty. After he transferred to South Carolina, many saw it as an opportunity for a fresh start.

Unfortunately, he appears to have carried many of his issues with him. Poor pocket navigation, poor decisions, staring down his first read, back-foot throws, etc. Even with a golden arm, it’s hard to trust a guy that doesn’t show improvement, especially when challenged to do so.

Detailed Breakdown

Now let’s do a deep dive. I want to first look at what makes Rattler such an exciting prospect. Rattler shows arm talent in spades. In our first GIF (click to play) we’ve got him going deep against Florida in the 2020 Cotton Bowl.

Rattler drops back, steps into the throw a little bit, then fires it deep. When he releases the ball, he’s at his own 35 yard line. When the ball comes down, it rattles loose from the receivers fingertips at the 3 yard line. That’s about 62 air yards with the flick of the wrist, and this throw is dropped into a bucket perfectly.

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That’s not an abnormality either. Let’s take a look at another. Here, in the 2020 Big12 Championship game against Iowa State, Rattler is able to really step up and into this throw.

Launching from the left hash of his own 33 yard line, the receiver goes up for it around the right hash of the opposite field 7 yard line. On the stat sheet that would be a 60 yard throw, but taking account of the the extra horizontal distance from left-to-right hash and we’re looking at another 62 air yards.

In this case, however, we can see the receiver has to slow down, turn around, and start drifting back at about the 12 yard line. That suggests the throw is pretty significantly underthrown. This is most likely an indication of Rattler taking too long to step up, rather than an indictment of his arm strength.

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It’s not just deep bombs over the top either. Rattler’s arm is so special, he can flick a 50 yard throw on a decently tight line too. Here’s a TD throw in the 2nd quarter of that same Iowa State game. The receiver gets behind the defense and – with just a small hitch – Rattler sends a nice, tight spiral on a rope 50 yards downfield, well over the defenders, perfectly placed for his receiver to catch it in-stride. This is special arm talent.

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Admittedly, a couple of those throws are only available due to the mostly clean pocket gifted to Rattler. I can’t argue that. Instead, I can show off a couple plays which highlight his ability to make great throws while off-platform and on the move.

Here’s another from the Iowa State game. While it’s not 60+ air yards – it’s about ~39 air yards to the sideline – but keep in mind Rattler is on the run escaping pressure when he releases. More than that, this ball is beautifully feathered over two layers of defenders and dropped into a perfect spot for the receiver to make the catch in-bounds.

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And another. This time, against Florida, he gives just a tiny little jump-throw. It only goes 16 yards downfield, or about ~27 air yards when taking into consideration the angle to the sideline. But consider the perfect ball placement and the fact that Rattler is literally in the air, he doesn’t even have a platform with which to be an off-platform throw! It’s the “little” throws like this are ridiculously good and severely underappreciated.

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This next one is just insane. It’s another where Rattler showcases his phenomenal touch as he gets it over two layers of defenders and places it perfectly to his receiver, just under the third layer of defenders. Should we knock him for throwing off his back foot? Yes, but any way you look at it, this is a Sunday throw and a really, really good one at that.

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In the above clips, we see very good accuracy on mostly vertical routes. Throwing an accurate pass to the sideline 10-15 yards down the field against tight coverage, well that’s a completely different type of accuracy.

Here, in our first (of many) clips from an early 2020 game against Texas, Rattler shows he can fire the ball into a lunchbox on an out route. Absolutely perfect placement with the fastball.

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Another tight-window throw against Texas, this time Rattler does well to step into the pocket and avoid the edge pressure. He puts some extra zip on the ball to squeeze it in-between the high/low defenders. This throw gets OU across mid-field, and moves the chains on a not-so-easy 3rd and 7.

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This next throw is great on its own, but consider the implications. Technically 3rd and 8, effectively 3rd and goal from the 11. Texas just scored in overtime to put them ahead. Rattler realistically has one, maybe two opportunities to score or else it’s game over. Texas has a defender tightly covering the TE, with another defender following the crosser in good position underneath. Again, Rattler zips the ball into the only place his guy can get it. Touchdown.

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Another good throw to close out the game against Texas. Here we see Rattler on a little roll-out right to hit the quick-out from the slot. Throwing on the run, he’s able to put some fire into this throw and still squeeze it into a miniscule window. This converts the 2pt attempt, putting OU up 8 and effectively sealing the game.

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I know what you’re thinking. How can we look at 10 beautiful throws and still say Rattler’s not the best QB in this class? Well, I want you to go through each of those plays and look for a few things:

  • How many plays did Rattler get hung-up staring-down one route/receiver?
  • How many times did he force the pass into coverage?
  • When he had space to step up in the pocket, how many times did he actually do it?
  • Worse than that, how many times did he drift backward or otherwise straight into a defender?

These are real issues that an NFL defensive coordinator, and an NFL quality defense will feast on. These issues can seriously negate even the best arm talent. The above aren’t the only examples.

On this next play, it’s 3rd and 1. Rattler just needs 1 yard to convert, and lucky for him the defender at the bottom of the screen is playing too far off and backpedals at the snap. The defender ends up too deep to effectively drive on the pivot route, which gets open immediately after the break.

Rattler doesn’t see it. He’s locked on the slant, seemingly incapable of looking off it. This is despite the pre-snap look suggestive of there being 2-3 defenders in that hook zone. Despite the post-snap read screaming “PIVOT” louder than your girlfriends’ mom watching Friends reruns.

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This next play, Rattler is probably lucky that the ball gets swatted. Again, he stares down his first read and tries to squeeze in an extremely difficult throw. The receiver is cutting short of the stick, has a defender directly on top of him, and another defender shooting hard to the route from inside. All-together, this shows an inability to read multiple routes, an extremely poor decision, and a lucky swat to save the possible interception.

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Here’s what it looks like when he’s not-so-lucky. This is a bad pre-snap read, made worse by a terrible post-snap read, resulting in an interception and nearly a pick6.

Pre-snap, he’s oblivious to how nobody moves as the RB flexes out wide. Already there were only three defenders to that side, with nobody matching the RB you now have a 4-on-3 zone to the left side. He can expect to see a blitz, and the design up-front disguises it well, but he should be looking to go hot where he has a numeric advantage. He doesn’t.

Post-snap, once again Rattler stares down his first read. I can only assume he misses the LB dropping into coverage, because he threw it right at him. If he had made a better pre-snap read, he would be looking left, where he’d see the blitzing nickel turned the 4-on-3 into a 4-on-2. He had a seam and a quick-out wide open with room to run.

It’s certainly worth mentioning at this point that Rattler was benched in this Texas game. Not injured. Not tired. Benched. But, hey…at least Rattler got the tackle on this interception.

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Here’s one where Rattler inexplicably forgets the play design. If I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure the H-back isn’t the intended second read on the play. But a better understanding of play design, or more-likely a better understanding of the defense, would immediately tell him that there’s no defender to guard the corner route.

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Being hopeful, we can chalk those issues up to immaturity. It takes time to learn how to read a defense. RGIII was drafted 2nd overall and is still in the league, and I’m still not convinced he can read a defense.

Also, some people love that gunslinger mentality, that confidence which comes from knowing he can put the ball anywhere on the field; defense be damned. Just look at NFL records which Brett Favre…umm…nevermind.

All jokes aside, I wish I could say these were my only issues with Rattler. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Many of his tough throws are made tougher by his poor pocket navigation. On this next play, he’s got a pocket he can cleanly step up into, but his initial thought is to step out of the pocket instead of into the pocket.

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And again, Rattler hits the top of his drop but avoids stepping into the pocket. This time, pressure comes screaming from the backside and causes a sack on 3rd and 7. For a coach, it’s got to be disappointing to take sacks on 3rd down. But I’m sure it’s infuriating when the sack is completely avoidable simply by climbing into a clean pocket.

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He even misses the simplest of checkdowns here because of poor pocket navigation. Rattler’s gut reaction is to step outside of his tackle, instead of climbing the pocket. This causes a brief stutter to avoid a defender, and a lazy throw to the flat which can’t be secured.

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It’s not like he’s incapable of stepping up. In one or two of the earlier throws we saw him do a great job to step up. It’s not like he can’t navigate through the mess either. Here in this next clip, we see Rattler is able to wade through the trash when he needs to. He’s not the fastest or most elusive, but he has enough to pick up the first down with his legs.

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That shows a little bit of Rattler’s athleticism. In fact, Rattler has plus athleticism to go along with that huge arm. He’s able to escape pressure, can keep pace running from a Linebacker or Safety, good-enough change of direction to squeeze out a couple extra yards, and he even shows a little wiggle to make defenders miss.

Let’s close this out with some clips of Rattler on the move. He’s not a dual-threat QB, that’s not his game and shouldn’t be, but let’s look at a bit of that extra athleticism he brings to the table for whichever team does take him.

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Additional details:

What’s your take on Spencer Rattler? Are you in the QB1 bandwagon, or do you think he falls? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!

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