NFL Draft

2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: California QB Davis Webb

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

# Davis Webb / QB / University of California Berkeley: 6’5”, 225lbs

The Good:

– Prototypical Physical Size
– Excellent Deep Accuracy
– Efficient throwing mechanics: Compact motion, quick and over-the-top release
– Always throws from a relaxed and balanced body position
– Good arm-strength
– Consistent accuracy (occasionally threw low on short/intermediate routes, but these were outliers. He generally has good ball placement)
– Very accurate throwing on the run
– Great statistical production

The Bad:

– Pro-Readiness – played in a very simplistic Air-Raid Offense (lots of RPOs, Screens, and matchup-based Vertical routes)
– Never took snaps from under center
– Unconventional drop back style; “hops” away from the LOS
– Lacks experience throwing from a small pocket and sometimes failed to step into his throws on plays where he did not enjoy tons of open pocket space
– Stared down receivers on in-breaking routes
– Often threw based exclusively on pre-snap reads and failed to adjust to post-snap coverages
– Needs to improve ball security from the pocket or when scrambling; his off-hand often loses contact with the ball as he surveys the field, which increases the risk of strip sacks. (To be clear; he did not have any fumbling issues; however, this is could become a problem in the NFL)


– Career Passing Stats: Total – 36 games played, 61.5% completion rate, 9,825 yards, 83 TD 34 INT, 137.1 career passer rating. 9 career rushing TDs
– 3 Seasons at Texas Tech: 23 games played, 14 Starts, 61.4% completion rate, 5,557 yards, 46 TDs and 22 INTs
– 1 Season at Cal: 12 starts, 61.6% completion rate for 4,295 yards, 37 TDs and 12 INTs
– Senior Bowl MVP (11-16 for 165 yards and 1 TD)
– Semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection
– Named Cal’s Bear Backers Team MVP on offense and Team Captain

Film Breakdown:

Like many of the other quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Davis Webb has tons of natural ability and all the physical tools required to succeed in the NFL. He is big, strong, fundamentally sound, and had tremendous statistical production. However, also similar to many of this year’s QBs, his current pro-readiness is a major limitation on his draft value. Webb played in an extremely simplistic Air-Raid offense that rarely required him to make sophisticated pre-snap or post-snap reads. He seldom had to anticipate on his throws, pass into tight coverage windows, or function within a small pocket.  As a result, although he has great physical talent, there are still many unknowns about his game.

On the positive side, Webb is arguably the best deep-ball thrower in this year’s QB class. He was nearly automatic on verticals down the sideline and demonstrated the arm strength to hit his receivers anywhere on the field.  For example, in this first clip against San Diego State, Webb throws a perfect pass, from the opposite hash, on a ball that travels 50+ yards in the air. He does a great job of holding the safety with his eyes, as well as staying balanced throughout the play:

Against Washington State, Webb again showcases his great arm strength and deep accuracy. He does a good job of locating the safety and squaring his body towards the throw (especially after performing a play-fake in the opposite direction), and also prevents the defender from recovering by hitting his receiver perfectly in stride. Another excellent cross-field, 50+ yard dime:

One other positive attribute about Webb’s game was his accuracy when throwing on the run.  He was always calm and relaxed during scrambles/rollouts and regularly extended drives by making great passes from outside the pocket.  He is not a dual threat QB by any means; however, he exhibited enough mobility to be successful at the next level.  For example, in this clip against Washington State, Webb does an excellent job of keeping his eyes downfield while simultaneously sidestepping the inside-pressure.  Moreover, he makes an accurate throw, despite moving to his left and passing from an off-balanced body position, leading to a touchdown for the Golden Bears:

As previously mentioned, the biggest concern about Webb is his pro-readiness. It often appeared as if Cal’s offensive gameplay was to simply run RPOs and bubble screens until the defense played closer to the line of scrimmage, at which point Webb would then throw either a fake-screen or a deep vertical to his best receiver or most favorable match-up. For example, against Stanford, there was a 10 play stretch where Webb threw 8 consecutive RPOs/ screens, 1 fake bubble screen, and 1 short Stick-route, (this was a fairly common play-calling pattern). Rarely did he work through true full-field progressions or complete passes that were not simply match-up based. Consequently, he will likely encounter a steep learning curve when he reaches the NFL.

A few other negatives about Webb’s playing style were noticeable on film.  First, he often threw to his receivers based exclusively on pre-snap reads. Although this is partially a product of his Air-Raid offense (which specifically encourages QBs to trust and rely on pre-snap defensive alignments), it is nevertheless undesirable for a quarterback to be completely robotic within his system.  For example, in this next clip against San Diego State, before the snap, Webb sees a corner in off-man, indicating that his receiver’s out-route could be a decent option. However, he is baited into a game-ending interception because he fails to appropriately adjust to the post-snap coverage. Specifically, when Webb sees the Will-Linebacker blitz off the edge (thereby leaving his slot receiver uncovered), he should have adapted by throwing hot to the inside route:

Additionally, on many of his throws across the middle, Webb had a tendency to stare down his receivers. For example, in this clip against Washington State, Webb throws a bad end zone interception by telegraphing his pass on a slant route. Notice how nearly the entire defense tracks his eyes and drifts into the throwing lane:

Lastly, on this interception against Washington, Webb demonstrates both of the above-mentioned flaws by pre-selecting his receiver and telegraphing his pass.  To be fair, Cal is trailing by 30+ points and is facing a 4th and 12 (which is obviously not the ideal passing situation); however, he could still increase this play’s likelihood of success by attempting to move the linebackers with his eyes. Instead, he stares down the middle of the field for the entirety of the play; which guides the linebackers directly into his passing window:

In conclusion, although Davis Webb has great physical attributes and can easily make NFL-caliber throws, teams should be cautious when drafting him. Given the struggles that Jared Goff experienced in his rookie year, it seems likely that Webb will encounter at least some similar difficulties. He has a lot to learn in understanding both pro-style offensive schemes, as well as the nuances of complicated professional defenses, and will probably require a few years to develop.  Therefore, Webb is a high-variance prospect who could struggle without good coaching or supporting personnel.

Projection: Late Day 2, Early Day 3

Games Watched: at San Diego State, vs Utah, at Washington State, vs Washington, vs Stanford

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun Watson Haason Reddick Marshon Lattimore Corey Clement Tim Williams
Jourdan Lewis Takkarist McKinley Brad Kaaya Nathan Peterman O.J. Howard
Charles Harris Alvin Kamara Tyus Bowser David Njoku DeMarcus Walker
Chidobe Awuzie DeShone Kizer Marlon Mack Cameron Sutton Zach Cunningham
Corey Davis Carl Lawson Patrick Mahomes Kareem Hunt Evan Engram
Derek Rivers Ryan Anderson Joshua Dobbs Jordan Leggett Samaje Perine
Corn Elder Bucky Hodges James Conner Cooper Kupp Stanley Williams
Fred Ross Jamaal Williams George Kittle Ejuan Price Chris Wormley
Jeremy McNichols Joe Mathis Derek Barnett Amba Etta-Tawo Gareon Conley
Taco Charlton  Elijah McGuire Ryan Switzer Tanoh Kpassagnon Tre’Davious White
Brian Hill Matthew Dayes Donnel Pumphrey Josh Reynolds Nazair Jones
De’Veon Smith
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