So You've Drafted Nate Stanley: A New Owner’s Guide

By RossWB on April 25, 2020 at 10:52 pm
go nate go
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Nate Stanley! Like most new Nate Stanley owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

HELLO MINNESOTA VIKINGS!

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT NATE STANLEY? 

Statistically, Nate Stanley was the best quarterback of the Kirk Ferentz Era (which stretches 21 years now) and second only to Iowa legend Chuck Long in several statistical categories. Stanley became the backup to former Iowa starter C.J. Beathard almost immediately upon arriving as a true freshman in 2016. After seeing action in mop-up action that year, he took over as the starter in 2017, a role he would not relinquish for the next three seasons. Stanley was a model of durability over that span of time, never missing a start and rarely missing any snaps at all. He was also a model of consistency in his production over those years -- for better or worse.

Stanley got a touch more accurate as a passer over his career and his yards per attempt improved a bit, but Stanley's numbers as a sophomore weren't hugely different than his numbers as a senior (aside from the touchdown total, though his diminished touchdown numbers in 2019 has more to do with the Iowa offense having to settle for a lot of field goals). That's not an indictment of Stanley, though; he was a smart, strong-armed passer with a good ability to avoid mistakes as a young quarterback and he didn't lose any of those strengths as he became an older, more experienced passer. Stanley was a steady presence for Iowa's offense for three years and he succeeded far more often than he failed. 

WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT?

Stanley's greatest strength is his powerful arm; he can make every throw and hit every spot on the field. He also has solid footwork and a smooth throwing motion. He showed improved touch and deep-ball accuracy in 2019 after struggling in those departments earlier in his career. He has ideal NFL size for the position (6'4", 235 lbs) and a solid frame that can absorb punishment without breaking down (he started 39 straight games at Iowa and rarely missed a snap). And while he's a prototypical pocket passer and seems like a guy who ought to be saddled with "lumbering" as an adjective, he's a bit more mobile than he looks -- his 40 time was 8th best among QBs at the combine and he was able to gain positive yardage on broken play scrambles several times in his college career. He's also excellent at QB sneaks, using his size and leverage to keep moving forward and gain critical yards. 

Stanley is also a highly-intelligent player with a strong ability to command an offense. He's also very experienced in running a pro-style offense, working from under center, and making adjustments before the snap. And while his accuracy is a concern (see below), he avoids crippling mistakes; Stanley rarely turned the ball over during his three years as a starter and he almost never cost his team sure points by turning the ball over in the red zone.  

STATS

YEAR COMP ATT YARDS COMP YPA TD INT YPG
2016 5 9 62 56% 6.9 0 0 8.9
2017 196 351 2437 56% 6.9 26 6 187.5
2018 235 396 2852 59% 7.2 26 10 219.4
2019 237 399 2951 59% 7.4 16 7 227.0
TOTAL 673 1155 8302 58% 7.2 68 23 180.5

HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?

40 YD DASH VERT JUMP BROAD JUMP 3 CONE DRILL 20 YD SHUTTLE
4.81 sec 28.5 in 108.0 in 7.26 sec 4.48 sec

As noted, physically Stanley checks almost every box for a QB in the NFL. He's big, durable, just a little faster than he looks, and the owner of a very strong and capable arm. There aren't really any issues with him from a physical standpoint. 

HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?

Remember how we said how Stanley was the same QB as a senior that he was as a sophomore in a lot of ways? Well, a big part of that was his accuracy, which remained an issue for him throughout his Iowa career. He completed 56% of his passes as a first-year starter... and only managed to raise that number to 59% as a third-year starter. His shortcomings there stemmed from his touch; he tended to throw rockets on short passes and often struggled to find a rhythm in short and intermediate throws. His vision can be inconsistent as well, as he sometimes fails to move past his initial read or find open players on sub routes. And he particularly struggles under pressure; his accuracy and playmaking ability go way down when he's not able to get set before throwing the ball. 

SO WAS THIS A GOOD PICK? 

As a seventh round flyer? Absolutely. Stanley ticks a lot of boxes for a potential NFL QB -- size, arm strength, decision-making ability, turnover avoidance. There's a lot of good things to work with there. Obviously, the accuracy issues and the breakdowns under pressure are very real concerns and things that could limit his upside in the NFL. But there are certainly enough positives to his game that there's value in seeing if he can improve those deficiencies with NFL coaching. The Vikings have Kirk Cousins entrenched as their starting QB for the next few seasons, but developing Stanley to serve as a back-up QB seems like a very viable plan. We wish Nate the best of luck in the NFL. 

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