The 2023 quarterback class is already projected to be much stronger than the 2022 class. Who emerges as the top quarterback in the class will be one of the major storylines to follow this year. But even beyond the top spot, there’s plenty of room for intrigue on the quarterback depth chart. There are a number of passers who boast intriguing traits but have little tape to evaluate.
And then there’s Spencer Rattler.
South Carolina (former Oklahoma) quarterback Spencer Rattler was widely considered a Heisman frontrunner this time last year, and he got off to a strong start. But then he stumbled badly during the 2021 season, losing his starting job and ultimately transferred to South Carolina. There’s a fair amount of tape on Rattler, and he has shown some excellent qualities as a starting quarterback, but he’s also had some fairly terrible moments.
The New York Giants could be in the market for a starting QB and more options can only help them.
The way his time in Oklahoma ended has certainly left a stain on Rattler’s resume. Can a good season in the SEC do enough to vault him back into the conversation as a potential top quarterback prospect and onto the Giants’ radar?
Spencer Rattler (7)
QB, South Carolina
Weight: 200 pounds
Completions: 140 (74.9 percent)
Yards: 1,483 (7.9 per attempt)
Yards: 77 (1.8 per carry)
Total Touchdowns: 14 (11 passing, 3 rushing)
- Quick, compact release.
- Able to throw with good touch, timing, anticipation, and precision.
- Tight spiral and good placement makes for a very catchable ball.
- Arm strength to challenge tight windows.
- Works through progressions well.
- Convincing ball handler and committed to play-fakes.
- Tough runner with good short-area quickness.
- Can be overly aggressive challenging coverages.
- Can trust his arm and receivers too much.
- Can lack pocket presence and hold the ball too long.
- Doesn’t appear to have great speed as a runner.
- Size could be an issue for some evaluators.
Why is he a top prospect?
It wasn’t all that long ago that Rattler was considered to be a peer of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. Scouts and fans alike viewed him as the “Next Mahomes” following his breakout red-shirt freshman campaign in 2020. Rattler was one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football that year. Few defenses had answers for him, and even when they did, he was able to turn any game into backyard football and find ways to win.
Rattler has since transferred to South Carolina and the biggest thing he can do to show that he’s a top quarterback prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft is to return to his 2020 form. If he can do so without Lincoln Riley and against an SEC schedule, that could vault him into the upper tier of quarterback prospects.
And Rattler certainly has the talent to get it done. He has a quick, compact release and he can throw accurately from a variety of arm angles. Rattler has impressive arm strength and can even generate the torque to threaten defenses deep on the move. Unlike a lot of strong-armed QBs, Rattler also knows to take some “umph” off the ball and throw with touch and timing on short and intermediate passes. He generally throws a very catchable ball with a tight spiral and he places his passes well to limit the opportunities defenders have to make plays on the ball.
Rattler has great competitive toughness and is willing to challenge tight receiving windows or take on contact as a runner. He’s quick with the ball in his hands and is a viable threat on read-option or designed quarterback runs.
What to improve for 2022?
Rattler needs to be more judicious in his decision making in 2022. He has a tendency to trust his arm and receivers more than he probably should, leading to him attempting throws that should probably just go out of bounds. He’s kept his interception totals low, but there are still passes that just shouldn’t be attempted.
Rattler also has a tendency to hold onto the ball as his protection breaks down. His athleticism and arm talent let him create outside of the structure of the play. However, he can lose track of rushers and hold the ball too long, leading to some ugly sacks. Rattler has good quickness as a ball carrier, but he doesn’t appear to have a great top speed and doesn’t run away from many defenders.
There isn’t much Rattler can do about his size at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, but he’ll need to show that it doesn’t limit him against big SEC defenses. And even if he does play well, his stature could still be a concern for some teams.
One game to watch
It’s natural to circle South Carolina’s rivalry game against Clemson at the end of the 2022 season. However, we pretty much have to focus on the Gamecocks’ Week 3 game against the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia’s defense looks to retain its dominant form despite all the players going to the NFL in the 2022 NFL Draft. That should give Rattler an incredible chance to show that he’s an NFL caliber quarterback. Even if South Carolina loses the game, Rattler will face one of the best pass rushes and secondaries in college football. This is sure to be a “go-to” game for scouts, and a strong performance could put him back in the conversation as a top passer.