Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price is basically the first signal caller Steve Sarkisian had from start to finish. After getting some experience when Jake Locker was injured during his freshman year, Price has been the starter for the past three seasons. He started out with a bang as a sophomore before having a mediocre junior year, but has bounced back in a big way as a senior and helped lead a potent Husky offense.
His height is not ideal and it shows to be a problem when it relates to attacking the middle of the field, but Price has a solid set of tools combined with impressive athleticism. He also has a ton of experience and has shined in some big games. In addition to his height, Price can be a streaky passer and does not show a ton of touch but when he is on, he has shown the ability to put the ball on a spot. After getting a lot of press following his sophomore year, Price has become relatively anonymous and turned into a nice long term backup with developmental upside in the NFL. As a result, Price projects as a day three pick and it would not be a big surprise if he ends up going ahead of some bigger names because of what he offers in terms of versatility and upside.
Vitals & Build
Price is listed at 6’1” 202lbs with a lean build. He has shown impressive athleticism and agility in the pocket and while he looks thin, he is pretty strong and has shown remarkable toughness and gotten up from some vicious hits. Price has good feet and can accelerate and change direction quickly. It would not be a huge surprise if Price was able to put on a little more weight but he largely is what he is and while his height will be a question mark, his body is ready to go.
Price has the arm strength to push the ball down the field with ease as well as being able to throw with plenty of zip and being able to put passes into tight windows. Neither should hold him back from playing in any offensive system in the NFL.
Accuracy & Touch
Price’s accuracy is inconsistent and it seems to be a matter of his release point. When Price is on, he seems able to put the ball exactly where he wants to, both in terms of hitting a receiver in stride and ball placement. He will go on stretches where he is unstoppable as long as he has the time to throw.
There are stretches where Price just seems to lose his touch. The problem for Price is that he can miss both high and low, so it is probably not easy to fix quickly. He will occasionally ground throws he would normally make with ease or end up overthrowing passes.
The biggest issue when it comes to Price is not his accuracy in terms of what he is able to do, but where he is able to do it. In Washington’s offense, the running game does the work in the middle of the field and though there are examples where he does it, Price almost works exclusively outside the hashes. The times he does tend to work in the middle of the field are on dump off/check down type passes or occasionally going down the middle of the field vertically. Still, that appears to be less than a quarter of the passes he throws and that might be generous.
While vision might be part of it, it is far easier to throw near the sidelines because there are less defenders and the sideline does not move. Not only are there questions about how well he can see that part of the field, but whether or not he can adjust to having a lot of traffic in the form of defenders there. The natural question becomes how he will be able to operate in that part of the field and avoiding getting intercepted by defenders he may not see working underneath his throwing lanes.
When it comes to touch, Price does not show a ton of ability in how he throws touch passes. He is at his most comfortable when he throws bullets to his receivers with little air under them. The times he does decide to put air under it, he seems to have trouble knowing how much zip to take off and often ends up overshooting the target. This does not end up being a problem when he is throwing sideline passes as they just sail out of bounds. They can be more problematic if he sails a pass going deep over the middle or he is near the sideline and throwing straight down the field as he can end up overthrowing the target and finding a defender waiting.
Mechanics & Footwork
For the most part, Price has pretty good mechanics and his quick feet make it so he can set up and throw quickly. Some might quibble slightly with how long his stride is, but it does not seem to be problematic.
In terms of his throwing motion, Price throws with a strict overhand motion most of the time. He carries the ball slightly lower than would be ideal, in front of his chest rather than his throat, and at times, he will drop the ball down his hips before bringing it up to his shoulder and throwing it, but he is able to do it with so much speed, it never seems to be a problem for him. The motion is quick and the ball comes out quickly.
An area of inconsistency due to not feeling the pressure and trusting in his legs too much at times, Price will sometimes not feel pressure and get hit as a result. He will also trust in his legs too much and stay in a bad spot, thinking he can get out of it and end up getting himself nailed by the opponent when he is unable to escape as he thought. Price can also end up picking a bad spot to try to leave the pocket and end up getting himself sacked rather than avoiding it.
On the other hand, there are times when Price can plant his foot in the ground and escape in only a few steps, and find a space to where he can set up and throw or take off and run. Price is fearless in the pocket which is great, but at times seems numb. If he can get a better feel for what is going on around him while maintaining his focus and seeming like nothing impacts him, he could be pretty tough to sack.
Decision Making & Anticipation
When Price has time and throws on time, he can be extremely impressive when it comes to timing passes and throwing receivers open and fitting passes into tight windows. He has done a good job anticipating posts and slants as well as comeback type routes.
He does a pretty good job of avoiding throwing passes into traffic. Partly because of his legs and his ability to pull the ball down and run, he makes good decisions with the football and most interceptions are as a result of tipped passes rather than really bad decisions.
There is inconsistency with his decision making when it comes to knowing when to give up on a play and trying to make something out of nothing. Price can be maddening for a defense to stop. He does a great job of keeping the defense guessing when he pulls the ball and runs. At times, he will extend plays and keep his eyes downfield and look for receivers. Price will attack the line of scrimmage, draw defenders in and throw past them. He is also not afraid to pull it down and run with it.
There are times when he will try to keep a play alive that is dead. He can end up trusting his legs too much and be unwilling to get out of a bad play and get the next down. In some situations, the defenders will have him wrapped up and he will still try to throw the ball. He has avoided disaster for the most part, but he is definitely due and it is a habit he needs to get rid of so NFL coaches can trust him.
His mobility is extremely impressive as he is not only fast in terms of straight line speed but he has an explosive first step and agility that allows him to go from a stopped position to moving and escaping quickly as well as making opponents miss and having the straight line speed to pick up a lot of yards.
Price’s ability to extend plays and willingness to set up and throw the ball as well as being able to run with it makes him dangerous; what is worse is he does a great job of sliding or getting out of bounds to avoid big hits when he is running. The hits he takes, are when he is trying to pass the ball.
As a result, Price could run a read option type offense or some sort of offense that asks their quarterback to run while also wanting them to be smart with their body. In that sense, he can be infuriating because he can take off and run with the ball but either slide or run out of bounds so defenders cannot just put a big hit on him.
Price’s best fit is in a system that allows him to spread the football around the field, but does not ask him to vary the types of throws he makes too much with touch. This is something he can be coached up to do more effectively, but out of the box, he is best served throwing passes with a ton of zip and not much air under them.
This might best be accomplished with teams that run more of a spread concept both because it allows him to work the wide parts of the field, gives him space to operate and potentially creates running lanes. Philadelphia is a possibility because of his experience and his strengths as a passer.
Price is best served going somewhere he can be a backup and continue being groomed as a passer to smooth some of his rough edges and just get more varied as a passing threat. Height and his inability to work the middle of the field could ultimately limit how far he can go, but if he can improve in that area and just continue progressing as a passer, he could end up as a starter.
Price’s game is somewhat similar to that of Michael Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles. Price is right handed while Vick was a southpaw and both have shown the ability to make some impressive throws but also miss passes that become problematic. They both end up taking too many hits for their own good, though Price has been more resilient with his toughness. Price may not have quite the arm strength or the speed Vick has had, but he is far from average in both areas of his game.
Keith Price is going to leave college with a ton of experience operating under center. He has had some great times and had his fair share of struggles, especially as a junior, so he should be able to handle the ups and downs of the NFL. Price has tremendous tools to work with and has come from a solid foundation of learning the quarterback position from Steve Sarkisian, so a team might be extremely happy with what they get in Price.
There are some concerns with his tough, the height and questions about how well he can adjust to attacking the middle of the field and getting consistent with his release point. Price projects as a third day pick at this point, but he will likely have the opportunity to improve his stock in the postseason process and adjust when he goes on that day and might be a bit of a sleeper at this point. At this point, Price looks like a nice developmental project and long term back up, but he does seem like someone who will end up getting a shot to start at some point in his career.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com