Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page (nflspinzone.com/author/riship) for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 24.
#24. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles makes this list because I am projecting him to start Week 1 against Washington. I believe he has what it takes to beat out Michael Vick for the starting job – Foles did play better, smarter, and produced more than Vick in 2012.
Foles is a smart player who had a few issues with his mechanics, especially his footwork, coming out of college, which dropped his draft stock. Over the course of his six starts last year, Foles was solid and effective, and it seemed that he had fixed those issues.
Foles can evolve into a solid starter this season along with his NFC East counterparts Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and Robert Griffin III. He’s listed at number 24 on this list partly because of a small sample size (only six starts), but he should be able to improve upon this ranking this season.
He was missing many key components of Philadelphia’s offense last season, including LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson – he did the best he could with targets such as Riley Cooper and Clay Harbor. We’ll see what Foles can do with key players on his team returning.
Physical traits and athleticism
Foles has tremendous size for a quarterback, listed at 6-6, 243 pounds. This height helps him see over the line of scrimmage well. However, his mobility is limited and isn’t a quarterback who can scramble for first downs consistently. This could be an issue with the system Chip Kelly wants to run, but with the skillset Foles has, Kelly should be able to succeed regardless of what Foles can’t do. Grade: 6.5/10
With Foles’s size comes a strong arm. He can make all the throws needed: quick and short, intermediate, deep, and touch passes. When his mechanics are sound, his arm steals the spotlight. Many times over the course of his six-game duration of starts, I saw Foles put the ball right on a dime – passes that traveled at least 25 yards in the air – and only his receiver could catch it. He gets inaccurate at times due to faulty mechanics, but most of the time, that’s just due to mental errors. Grade: 7/10
Faulty mechanics, especially footwork, lowered Foles’s draft stock – he often failed to set his feet in college or had an imprecise drop-back inside the pocket. His footwork did improve over the course of his six starts, though, and the quarterback rating, as well as accuracy, went up for the Eagles’ starter. At times his release looks to be relatively slow and the ball comes out from a sidearm type of motion, but that comes with the size in the pocket Foles plays at. Grade: 6/10
Mentally, Foles struggled at times in 2012 – he often failed to recognize blitzes, which resulted in a number of sacks and turnovers. Some quarterbacks in the league can improvise when they make a mental mistake, but Foles doesn’t necessarily possess the athletic ability to make that happen. That internal clock needs to go off for Foles inside the pocket, and he needs to know when to get rid of the ball. Grade: 6/10
Foles has the leadership qualities coaches like to see in their quarterback. His toughness can’t be questioned after he stayed in the game against Washington in Week 16 after he broke his finger before halftime. He is unfazed by the pressure and stays poised, as he demonstrated on the last-second, game-winning touchdown pass against Tampa Bay. Foles will need to work this offseason to earn the starting job, though, and I believe he will do so. Grade: 7/10
Nick Foles is a smart quarterback who is capable of being a solid starter in the league. First, he needs to beat out Michael Vick, and there are minor errors that can be fixed in order to do so. He has all the physical tools to be successful, and played well in his six starts last season. We’ll see if he can keep it up through training camp and the preseason. Overall Grade: 32.5/50