Luke Falk is one of the tough decisions in the NFL draft where you have to separate scheme from player. At Washington State, Falk ran a quick passing offense. His job was to get the ball out into his skill players hands fast, and let them operate in space with one-on-one matchups. The style of offense can be shown in Falk averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. In comparison, Baker Mayfield averaged 11.8 yards per attempt and Lamar Jackson averaged 8.7. Still, it takes away a lot of what Falk has to do to prove that he can function in an NFL offense.
It was a good fit for Falk though because he has the accuracy and anticipation to lead receivers into yards. With that, results followed and the Cougars went from nine wins in the two years combined pre-Falk to seasons of nine, eight and nine wins with Falk.
While Falks main job was to be that game manger to win games, there were flashes where he took his precise arm talent down the field, which is where NFL evaluators likely see someone worth a selection.
The play below shows Falk throwing with anticipation. It has enough touch to get right over the defenders diving arms. It also hits his receiver in stride, down the field, as he runs away from everyone for an easy touchdown.
Below, Falk knows the matchup he wants. It is his first read and even despite solid coverage, he is going for it. That is because he is on the same page as his wide receiver and is throwing the back shoulder fade that puts the defender in a bad spot.
Below, there are two examples of not only throwing with anticipation, but doing it from a crowded pocket. Being in that quick strike offense, Falk was not exposed to pressure as much as some. Showing that he has the awareness of where defenders are around him while keeping his eyes down the field and making strong throws is vital to proving that he can make the transition and play in a tougher offense.
This play is impressive because he is moving left, but still leads his receiver to the right. Notice how he is able to set his feet, even despite having to jump left, and still feel pressure from that side.
While it is nice to see that Falk has the arm talent and the presence in the pocket to adjust to a tougher offense, the big question with him will be processing the game. Since a lot of his completions come closer to the line, it does not give him the chances to read defenses and go through progressions often. Falk can stand in the pocket and move with pressure to allow his first read to get open. When his first read is not there, we usually see the struggles for Falk.
Take the below for example. Falk is staring down his first look. This is not surprising. However, watch the linebacker and the safety. They are reading the quarterback. Falk needs to be understanding that both of these two players are quickly breaking on the player he is intending this pass for.
When the safety breaks, watch around the 40-yard line how much space his receiver has on the outside. Had he been paying attention to the safety, he could have manipulated the defense into a huge play. Instead, a pick six.
Again, Falk is failing to get off of his first read. Watch the two linebackers in the middle of the field. They are shifting with Falks eyes. Meanwhile, everyone shifting to the left of Falk is freeing up some space to the right of Falk. Kyle Sweet, 17, is running a curl route and if Falk were looking left to right, it would be his second read. If he quickly got off of his first read he could have hit his receiver as he turned around for a first down. Instead, he waits too long and lets the pressure envelop him.
On the play below, his indecisiveness and inability to pull the trigger created a sack. He has three choices here, all coming over the middle. He has the arm talent. We know he throws with anticipation and can make a pass to any of these three. However, he hesitates, wants to pull it and decides not to, eventually stalling enough to let the pressure get to him. This play is scarily similar to what Mike Glennon would do for the Chicago Bears in 2017.
Another trait he has in common with Glennon is the desire to check the ball down. This is likely another detriment associated to the style of offense he was taught to run. Falk has that timer instilled in his head to get rid of the ball. However, he has been shown to be a slow processor. Put that together and we have a player who is quick to throw the safe check down.
Take the play below for example. Falk has checked the ball down to his running back for a two-yard gain. However, he misses two open receivers in the end zone. Both finish the play with their hands in the air questioning how they were missed. This is clearly something they are used to.
What is the most frustrating aspect is that as he releasing the ball to his check down for this short gain, he is operating from a clean pocket. There is that timer telling him to release combined with the inability to make reads down the field.
Luke Falk has more accuracy, anticipation and arm talent than Mike Glennon. Still, that is about the level of speed and decision making he is operating on. It is going to intrigue a lot of talent evaluators, but if he cannot adopt to the speed of the game and zip through progressions quicker, it is going to turn those evaluators into media members rather quickly.