Name: Kyle Lauketta
Lauletta’s accuracy is what set him apart from other FCS quarterbacks. Short, long, in the pocket, on the run, he can deliver the ball into tight windows regardless of the situation. While he is best when in rhythm, his ability to adjust in the pocket and make accurate throws is top notch. Lauletta’s throwing on the run is likely what will be most attractive to NFL teams, especially in today’s NFL where play action boots and run-pass options are gaining significant life.
While not a scrambler, per se, Lauletta is comfortable outside of the pocket. He has great accuracy when throwing on the run and can keep plays alive with his legs. He also had a handful of designed runs over his college career, carrying 68 times for four touchdowns, but just 90 yards in 2017. Lauletta’s mobility was effective at Richmond, but it did not necessarily wow against FCS competition. Though not at all a weakness, it is tough to say how much his mobility will translate against NFL speed.
The biggest question about Lauletta is whether his other attributes will compensate for his lack of arm strength. He has good mechanics, a quick, high release and reads the defense well. But he just does not have the prototypical NFL arm. There are quarterbacks who have found success without a cannon for an arm (Case Keenum, most recently). But those quarterbacks almost never turn into stars. Lauletta is not a checkdown artist at all; he is more than willing to push the ball down the field. But most of his interceptions came as the result of his eyes being bigger than his arm. If he can play to his strengths and understand his limitations, then arm strength should not be an automatic red flag. But that is an if.
Pass Rush and Coverage Reading
Lauletta has a general feel for the pocket, knowing most of the time when to step up and when to abandon. He does, however, get a little happy-footed when facing a consistent pass rush. As stated above, he is comfortable outside the pocket, so when things break down, that is his preferred destination. Within the pocket, like most quarterbacks, Lauletta’s preference is to hit the back of his drop and get the ball out. When the first option is not there, he is much more inclined to scramble. On the bright side, Lauletta does show patience on his drops. He rarely pulls the trigger too quickly, instead letting the route develop.
Which brings us to reading coverages. Lauletta does well at looking off safeties and finding holes in zones. But, like a lot of college quarterbacks, he thrived most on timing plays and getting the ball out quick to option one. He was not asked to check through progressions all that often. When the first option is not there, his first choice is to scramble and his second is to check down. That is a product of the spread offense as much as anything, but it will need ironing out at the next level.
Lauletta’s stock was likely boosted by a strong Senior Bowl performance. Before that, he was probably a mid-to-late day three pick. Now, it is looking more likely he will fall in the fourth, maybe even third round range.
Lauletta is a fit for the Vikings largely because of his similarities to Keenum. Both were highly productive college quarterbacks with good accuracy and mobility but limited arm strength. And Keenum fit perfectly into Minnesota’s offense in 2017. Lauletta does not have Keenum’s pocket mobility quite yet, but he is bigger and more accurate. Some have compared Lauletta favorably to Jeff Garcia, who made the postseason four times in 11 NFL seasons.
Admittedly, Lauletta is a project. His arm strength and FCS pedigree mean he will require a fair bit of seasoning before he would be ready for game action. But the Vikings are in a position where they are not drafting a quarterback for 2018. They are drafting someone to develop. If the Vikings are looking for a quarterback in the first or second, Lauletta would not be the guy. But in the middle rounds, late third, possibly trading into the fourth, the Vikings could get a diamond in the rough.
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