The quarterback position is in constant demand in the NFL.
Top prospects always garner the most attention throughout the draft process. They’re usually recognizable names and easily generate excitement in the run-up to the draft. But we have also seen starting quarterbacks come out of the mid-rounds. They’re obviously harder to find, but finding starting caliber quarterback outside of the first round can be an incredible boon for a team.
TCU’s Max Duggan is not expected to be drafted in the first round. However, he is coming off of the best year of his college career that saw him play a major role in TCU’s unexpected trip to the College Football Playoffs National Championship. Does he have the potential to be a winning lottery ticket for the right team?
Prospect: Max Duggan (13)
Games Watched: vs. Texas (2020), vs. Baylor (2022), vs. Kansas State (2022), vs. Michigan (2022)
Games Played: 47
Completions: 739 (60.3 percent)
Yards: 9,618 (7.9 per attempt)
Yards: 1,856 (3.8 per attempt)
Touchdowns: 28 touchdowns
Games Played: 15
Completions: 267 (63.7 percent)
Yards: 3,698 (8.8 per attempt)
Yards: 423 (3.1 per carry)
Best: Arm strength, athleticism, placement, competitive toughness
Worst: Size, awareness, mechanics consistency
Projection: A developmental quarterback with upside in a West Coast or Spread-based offense.
TCU’s Max Duggan is an undersized but experienced and athletic quarterback prospect.
Duggan has a less-than ideal physique for the quarterback position at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds. However, he makes up for his relative lack of size with very good athleticism and a flexible arm. Duggan is a fluid mover in the pocket, with plenty of athleticism to execute roll-outs, read-option plays, or extend the play by flowing in the pocket or scrambling.
Duggan has a strong arm that allows him to drive the ball to most areas of the field. He lacks truly elite arm strength, but has plenty of arm strength to execute almost any throw he would be asked to make at the NFL level. He can deliver passes to the intermediate area of the field with enough zip to challenge coverage, or drive the ball on deep fades.
Unlike many strong-armed prospects, Duggan shows an understanding of when to take heat off the ball. He has big hands, which allow him to throw the ball with touch in the intermediate and underneath area of the field, and he can also layer the ball between defenders. Duggan also flashes impressive precision and placement in his throws. When he is able to sync up his upper and lower body, he is capable of consistently delivering the ball only where his receiver can make a play on it. Likewise, he is capable of setting his receiver up for good run-after-catch opportunities.
Read-option and designed quarterback run plays make up a decent portion of TCU’s offense, so Duggan is a relatively experienced runner. He is a good ball-handler and is able to consistently deceive defenders before taking off. Duggan has good burst and long speed as a runner. He’s able to force bad angles and pick up crucial first downs as a runner, as well as turn broken plays into positive yards. He also shows solid judgment as a runner and knows when to get down or get out of bounds to avoid a big hit. He’s absolutely willing to take on contact when necessary to make the play, but doesn’t put himself at risk unnecessarily.
Duggan has shown an improved command of the TCU offense over the years. His process has sped up and he has generally improved in his decision making. Duggan understands where his receivers are supposed to be on a given play and shows the ability to throw with timing and anticipation. He has also shown an improved understanding of how to manipulate defenders with his body language and eye discipline.
Duggan’s size does occasionally work against him on tape. He can be prone to tipped or deflected passes at the line of scrimmage, leading to turnover opportunities. He can also lose track of defenders in space when they drop unexpectedly. Duggan can also be a very aggressive passer, and get burned trying to challenge coverages he shouldn’t. Likewise, he can hold the ball too long when scanning the field, waiting for plays that aren’t there to open up. Duggan has enough athleticism to flow within the pocket, but his pocket awareness can be hit-or-miss. He can be prone to missing rushers or lacking the internal clock to throw the ball away and avoid a negative play.
Duggan’s mechanics are also somewhat inconsistent. He is capable of legitimately impressive passes when he’s in rhythm and syncs his upper and lower body. However, his accuracy and placement suffer when he doesn’t align his feet with his target.
Overall Grade: 6.7
TCU quarterback Max Duggan projects as a developmental quarterback in an offense that’s based in West Coast or Spread principles.
Duggan will be best in an offense that lets him play with timing and rhythm, and also allows him to use his athleticism to compensate for his relative lack of size. He has plenty of mobility to execute bootleg rollouts and has plenty of arm strength to throw on the move. He also has the arm strength to reach almost all areas of the field and attack the defense vertically, but is at his best in the intermediate area. Duggan typically has good mechanics when he’s in a good rhythm, and he flashes impressive precision and placement when his mechanics stay clean. He does a good job of protecting the ball from defenders as well as setting up his teammates for big plays.
That said, Duggan is definitely a developmental quarterback who may never win a starting job. His lack of size and inconsistent awareness can both be problems. Defenders will be bigger and more athletic in the NFL, and defensive schemes more exotic than what he saw in the Big-12. Like many prospects, Duggan faces a learning curve upon entering the NFL.
Duggan has intriguing traits and has the potential to be a prospect worth investing in for a team with an aging quarterback and the ability to develop a young mid-rounder.