Watch out, Landry Jones. I have a feeling that the Steelers may finally look to add another QB in the 2017 NFL Draft. Let’s look at a possible option for Pittsburgh in Washington State signal-caller Luke Falk.
While I hope and pray that Ben Roethlisberger manages to find the same fountain of youth that allowed Brett Favre to play so late into his career, the Steelers will inevitably have to plan for the day Big Ben decides to call it quits. At age 34, Roethlisberger may be able to play for several more seasons; however, it would be wise for the Steelers to possibly begin to groom a replacement.
Even in a short-term view it would be smart for the Steelers to draft a more serviceable backup QB than Landry Jones. While Zach Mettenberger may eventually be able to overtake Landry for the backup role, I wouldn’t put too much faith in a 25 year-old QB who has bounced around 3 different NFL teams in less than a year, and I certainly wouldn’t depend upon him in any long-term plans as an eventual starter.
Therefore, the Steelers should possibly look to add a potential QB of the future. Maybe with a little bit of luck, Pittsburgh could stumble upon the next Aaron Rodgers, who sat behind Brett Favre for 3 seasons before he became the premier QB he is today.
With that being said, let’s take a look at a possible QB option for Pittsburgh who is eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. Steeler Nation, meet Washington State’s prolific quarterback Luke Falk.
QB Luke Falk, Washington State
Let’s delve into a QB prospect with starter qualities who, at worst, could definitely serve as a 10-year NFL backup QB: Washington State’s Luke Falk. Leading the attack of WSU head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, Luke Falk has put up some pretty gargantuan numbers in his first year as a starter. Falk’s 4,561 passing yards, 38-8 TD-INT ratio, and 69% completion percentage make him one of the biggest stat sheet stuffers in College Football.
While the statistics are surely impressive, Falk also has the tape and intangibles to validate his status as a legit NFL QB prospect. Falk’s best traits are his fantastic decision-making at the QB position and his ability to progress through multiple reads.
Falk does a sensational job of protecting the football. With the arm talent to attack all levels of the field, Falk spreads the ball around excellently in the Air-Raid offense. While most College QBs struggle to see the entire field, Falk does a superb job of scanning both sides of the field and finding the open man.
Additionally, Falk throws with extreme precision and is especially accurate on his throws to the short to intermediate levels of the field. With his quick release and ability to throw with anticipation, it is easy to project Falk’s success in a quick-hitting NFL offense that asks its quarterback to make rhythmic throws.
Falk will not blow you away with his arm strength but he does put some pretty nice zip on the ball. I would take an accurate QB who delivers his passes with strong velocity like Falk over a less accurate QB who could throw the ball 80 yards in the air any day.
Lastly, Falk is an extremely composed and even-keeled QB who is rarely rattled by pressure. While not the most mobile in terms of escaping pressure, Falk knows how to move around in the pocket and find passing lanes. What I like most about Falk’s ability to handle pressure is how he keeps his eyes downfield and works through his progressions while under duress.
In terms of arm talent, I have no issues with Falk as a quarterback. Falk has plenty of velocity on his passes, does a fantastic job of reading the field, and compliments his superior decision-making abilities with his excellent accuracy. However, I worry about Falk’s ability to take his game to the next level due to his inability to sense the pass rush and his poor pocket mobility.
While I love Falk’s willingness to stand in the pocket and take hard hits while making throws, I hate how he becomes a sitting duck in the pocket at times. Falk has a poor internal clock and doesn’t seem to sense the blitz coming until pressure is directly in his face. As a result, Falk is forced to take a lot of sacks and rarely is able to escape the pocket or throw the ball away.
The biggest part of Falk’s game where I will look for improvement in 2016 is his pocket mobility. I want to see Falk cleanly escape the pocket and extend more plays. In 2015, when Falk was actually able to extend plays, he flashed the ability to make accurate, hard strikes on the run and make plays downfield.
In total, Falk is an intriguing prospect for Steeler fans to keep an eye on. While I truly have no idea where Falk’s draft stock will end up, as QBs have perhaps the most unstable draft stock out of any position, I could possibly foresee the Steelers targeting Falk as a middle-round project. With his fantastic accuracy and decision-making, Falk would immediately be an upgrade over Landry Jones.
I have seen a plethora of reports from Washington State players, including glowing praise from star WR Gabe Marks, about Falk’s leadership skills. Marks refers to Falk as the “CEO of Washington State football” and raved about his ability to rally teammates together.
Many draft pundits may try to peg Falk as a career backup or game manager type of quarterback; I, however, view him in a far more favorable light and believe with a little development, Falk could be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL.
While Washington State was upset by Eastern Washington in their 2016 season opener, Falk performed admirably. He racked up 418 passing yards with an 80% completion percentage, while also tossing 4 touchdowns to his 1 interception.
Make sure to check out Falk and the high-powered WSU offense next against Boise State – Saturday September 10th at 10:15 ET.