An evaluation of Riley Skinner

By request of Collin and out of sheer boredom while I should be writing a paper, I’ve decided to write an evaluation of Riley Skinner. Don't take this as a sign I'm looking past the season to the draft, once again, I'm just extremely bored.

I've watched Skinner for his entire career at Wake so I thought I'd give you some info on a player you probably haven't seen a lot of unless you are a dedicated ACC person. He has progressed and matured as a four year starter and has taken a big step forward this year as Jim Grobe has finally let him lead the offense through the air.

He's most likely not getting too much attention because of his relatively small size (6'1" 210) and very small school. He could probably be picked up in a late round with minimal risk (if he decides to enter the draft of course).I've been very impressed with what he has accomplished over the years with not a lot of talent around him, but this year I think he is really starting to look like an NFL prospect.


Accuracy: What he's known for, his passing efficiency is currently about .673 which is pretty impressive. Currently he is the most accurate QB in ACC history. He puts the ball exactly where it needs to be almost all of the time. During his first couple of seasons he was limited mostly to short passes but has since shown his ability to the long ball.


Mechanics: I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more mechanically sound QB in the draft this year. He has a quick “NFL” type of release that looks pretty similar to Matt Ryan. He moves around in the pocket quite a bit, but sets his feet well when he throws. His passes are a thing of beauty, tight spirals with just the right amount of velocity. He doesn't have a cannon like Jamarcus Russell, but his arm strength is adequate for the NFL.

Mobility: Years behind a poor O-line have given him an excellent ability to feel and avoid pressure while always keeping his eyes downfield. He is not overly fast (about a 4.7 would be my guess) but has very good quickness when dodging defenders and is a gifted scrambler when the occasion calls for it. His accuracy does not suffer when rolling either direction, in fact I've heard many commentators say his accuracy is enhanced when he is on the move.


Toughness: He gets hit hard often, but is willing to take big hits in the pocket. He is not rattled after being sacked. He was sacked six times in the NC State game but threw for 3 touchdowns and career high yardage. Has started 33 consecutive games.


Intelligence/Intangibles: He is very diligent with his progressions and rarely locks on to one target. He doesn't make dangerous passes often and has very good instincts regarding when to use his check downs and when to throw it away.  He knows his limitations well and rarely “forces” passes.

Skinner can run the two minute drill better than just about any QB I have ever seen. If you have 360, watch the replay of his last drive to tie the BC game to see what I mean. He has 7 career game winning drives in the 4th quarter and a whole lot more game tying 4th Q drives. He's also a very smart guy graduating from the business school this semester which is one of the toughest in the country.



Size: Obviously, at 6'1" 210 he is smaller than most NFL QB's (But about the same as Drew Brees). This means he needs to step up in the pocket more often and might be more susceptible to deflections at the line of scrimmage (although this hasn't been an issue at Wake). His agility allows him to escape pass rushers often, but if a d-lineman gets two hands on him, he goes down pretty easily so no Big Ben type antics.


Footwork: His feet move around a lot and sometimes he can be a bit jumpy. It’s an odd looking habit but does not seem to affect his ability to get his feet set and make good throws.


When it rains it pours: Though he seems to have broken himself of this habit this season, in the past couple of years early mistakes seemed to get to him mentally and affect him throughout the game. So once he made one crucial error he had a hard time shaking it off and getting back into a good rhythm. This typically only happened once per season but it was pretty bad particularly in the Navy game last year. But I reiterate, haven't seen any signs of this this season.

Sometimes he has a tendency to hold the ball for too long not unlike Garrard, which has resulted in some nasty hits and fumbles.

He takes about 2/3rds of his snaps out of the shotgun so an NFL offense would be a bit of a transition but that’s the case with many college QB’s.

I can't find many good clips on him, but here are a few.

Nice pass on the run

A beauty to Chris Givens

A nice fade

Stepping up in the pocket

These are highlights of Skinner throwing to DJ Boldin who was a yac type of guy so they are mostly dink and dunk. Best plays at 0:33, 3:10, and 5:45

Skinner would be a nice pickup in the 4th round or later or even an FA signing. I think he has the potential to be an NFL starter, but at the very least his intelligence and experience would make him an excellent backup or PS QB. Here’s what Gene Frennette thinks of him.

Now that I’ve wasted a good 45 minutes and given more information than anyone wanted, it’s time to get back to studyin’

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