The crop of quarterbacks from the Mountain West Conference was the best in all of college football last year. Although Derek Carr, David Fales and Brett Smith are gone, Chuckie Keeton is back for another season at Utah State and just might be the most exciting of the bunch. Unfortunately for Keeton, while he made a big impression in 2013 season, he was only able to play 6 games due to an ACL tear he suffered against BYU. That injury also caused him to miss Spring practice, so there will be questions about the knee this season, particularly for a playing style like Keeton’s. It is unfortunate because a healthy Keeton might be able to come into this season as the top senior quarterback.
Keeton is a pass-first quarterback that is a terrific athlete. He likes to use his legs to extend plays, but he prefers to throw the football when all is said and done. Keeton is a difficult player to defend and was able to lead the Aggies to push both Utah and USC to their limits last year. Keeton demonstrates great awareness when making his presnap reads and knows how plays need to be executed. He also has the same kind of small area quickness and agility that allowed Johnny Manziel to make so many opponents miss, though Keeton is taller but a little slimmer than Manziel.
Keeton is smart with the football, shows great poise as a passer and maneuvers the pocket effectively, but he is inconsistent when it comes to his accuracy and ball placement. He is more a zip code passer than he is a precise one; Keeton can put the ball in the right neighborhood but can have a difficult timing putting it on a spot, which can result in leaving plays and yards on the field..
The knee raises a concern and his recovery from that will be a key both for his senior season and going forward into the NFL. Keeton’s throwing motion has a hitch that needs to be eliminated when it comes to making short passes and some teams may simply deem it something they are going to have to live with or pass on with him. There is a great deal to like with Keeton and if he can be better with how he throws the football and where he is able to put it, he could make a big move up draft boards. If not, there are too many teams that will like the type of skill set Keeton has both physically and mentally that he is going to go ignored in the 2015 NFL Draft, especially with the trend of quarterbacks that have been selected in recent years.
Vitals & Build
- Date of Birth not listed
- 6’2″ 200lbs (Listed)
Keeton has a lean build, but he shows good functional strength. He needs to continue to add bulk and strength, but it has more to do with self preservation than anything else. Keeton’s athleticism and movement skills are impressive, but the times he does take a big hit, more mass would help him absorb them better.
His speed is excellent for the quarterback position and his agility is good for any position. Keeton is an electric athlete and he shows impressive flexibility and body control, able to contort himself to avoid hits from opponents and allow himself to be in a good position to operate.
Keeton is not going to be quite prototypical height most likely (6’2.5″), but he does not look like to shrink as much as some in the past. He appears like he should be close to his 6’2″ program listed height, which would help him as many of the quarterbacks that have played a similar style have been far shorter.
His lean frame suggests he should be able to continue to add bulk, but Keeton and Utah State seem to be conscious as to not add weight just for the sake of adding weight and seek to maintain his remarkable athleticism at its best. Keeton should be able to add strength, but it may take time to do it in a way that will make it noticeable.
Keeton has good enough arm strength to drive the ball down the field, where he should be limited by scheme. He does not quite have the arm to push it as far as some, but it is not something that has limited him or the Aggies in attacking deep down the field.
In terms of zip, Keeton is impressive and can definitely put a good amount of spin on the football. He has shown the capacity to make NFL throws in terms of fitting it into windows with the necessary speed to get the job done.
- Keeton shows off the zip he can put on the ball on this deep in route. This is a pass many teams expect a quarterback to be able to make in the NFL.
- Keeton throws a laser here on the vertical route up the seam.
Accuracy & Touch
Keeton’s accuracy is inconsistent. He can make every throw, but he has stretches where he would need a couple opportunities to make it the right way. Both in terms of raw accuracy, but especially when it comes to ball placement, Keeton can make a lot of plays but leave yards and opportunities on the field.
Keeton excels when it comes to short passes in the flat as well as in the middle of the field. He does a great job with screens and short, quick passes for the most part. In many of these situations, Keeton can make plays look like long handoffs as receivers can catch the ball without slowing themselves down. Every so often, he will have a misfire but at that range, he does a nice job.
When he gets further out to that 10-20 yard range, Keeton’s accuracy drops significantly. Part of this appears to be due to the fact that this is the area of the field where Keeton is not always clear which throwing motion he should use. When he goes with his shorter throwing motion, his accuracy on timing throws to the sideline and the middle of the field becomes far too hit and miss.
- Keeton has an open receiver and just misses an opportunity. The catch is made, but better ball placement and this is a first down
- Keeton is patient, takes his time, finds the open man and simply misses the throw badly. And if he puts a good throw on him, this is likely a touchdown as there is plenty of open real estate ahead of him.
- The very next play, Keeton has perfect ball placement and the runner goes in for the 23 yard touchdown.
At the collegiate level, Keeton is able to get away with some of these plays. He can miss a play and come back and make up for it on the next play. The NFL’s room for error is much more difficult and some of these missed opportunities will kill drives.
On deep throws, Keeton tends to keep the ball out of trouble, but will still have issues at times. To his credit, most of the issues Keeton sees on his accuracy down the field are on ball placement as opposed to hitting a receiver. Keeton does not miss many deep opportunities totally but passes going too short or relying too much on the receiver to settle under the pass to make the play.
Keeton can make some touch throws, but like with everything else on accuracy, it is inconsistent. There are some throws like one step fades where he has really practiced them to a point where he can make a great pass almost out of habit.
- Keeton with the one step fade that is in a great spot where only his receiver can get it.
In general, Keeton’s touch tends to vary. Like with his accuracy, he does a pretty good job on shorter throws such as when he needs to put the ball over a defender but get it to his receiver quickly. On medium to long throws, Keeton has shown he can do the job, but will miss as it feels like he tries to aim the ball too much. Lastly, he will occasionally throw up a punt that flutters too much and falls woefully short on deep passes. He can also make some really nice passes down the field where he puts the ball right where he needs to and does a great job.
Many of the issues Keeton has come down to mechanics. He can make some terrific passes, but he will make a frustrating amount of misfires or passes with poor placement, limiting or missing big opportunities for his team. With smaller passing windows at the next level, this problem could become far more apparent, but it is something he can continue to work to improve.
Mechanics & Footwork
From the waist down, Keeton does a good job. on short throws, he tends to keep his feet planted and simply lean into throws while still shifting his weight effectively, which allow him to work quickly and require little space. It also helps him when it comes to some of the screens they use where he will jump sideways or backwards to get it over the defender.
On longer throws, Keeton steps into his throws, shifts weight well and gets his legs and core into his throws. This is especially the case when it comes to passes where he wants to put zip on the ball. Keeton steps into these throws but it is not a step that covers much distance or take long to execute.
His throwing motion is another matter. When it comes to short throws, Keeton keeps the ball up near his shoulder, which is effective for getting it out quickly. The problem is he takes it down slightly and around to then get it out from there, which eliminates the benefit of holding it high. Keeton then pushes the ball from slightly behind his head and forward, which makes the ball come out awkwardly.
The platform in which he throws the ball from can vary and it does not look consistent from pass to pass. The ball tends to drift away from his body and can almost get to a three quarters throwing platform before Keeton throws the ball like a javelin. This can make the ball come out poorly and Keeton tends to have some trouble when it comes to managing line drive type throws, as he will overthrow some and short hop others.
- Here is a slow-motion look on Keeton’s delivery when it comes to short, quick throws.
On longer throws, Keeton has a far more natural throwing motion. The windup is not ideal as it goes a little long and puts the ball out there, but it is substantially more effective than the short throwing motion. It is also far more predictable in terms of its results. Keeton shifts his weight well and whether it is putting air under the ball or zipping it, he is far more accurate and consistent on these passes.
- Keeton demonstrating his throwing motion when it comes to a deeper throw.
There are potential ways to improve both sets of mechanics, but teams will have to make the decision if that is feasible. The long throwing motion could potentially be addressed, but it is livable. The short throwing motion, even if it is not replaced, should at least be tweaked to get more predictable and consistent results.
Keeton has a great sense in the pocket. He is extremely patient and will hold onto the ball a little longer because he is so trusting of his legs to be able to get him out of trouble. It does not always work, but the overwhelming amount of evidence suggests he is right to believe in himself.
Keeton can feel the rush pretty well, shifts well while being able to maintain or get back to being ready to throw the football. Whereas some athletic quarterbacks might feel the need to fully evacuate the pocket with their athleticism, Keeton is comfortable just sliding up in the pocket and making a throw on time.
- Keeton feels the pressure coming up the field, steps up in the pocket and makes the throw without missing a beat.
- Keeton is a little late in feeling the pressure, but slides out of the way, extends the play and makes a throw that hits his receiver in stride to pick up the first down.
When the situation arises, Keeton can evacuate the pocket, but is fantastic at maintaining his poise and looking for opportunities to throw the football. Keeton is fearless in the pocket and while there are some areas one could nitpick, he keeps his eyes down the field even when he is avoiding pressure at times. His feet are excellent and he is able to move extremely well when the situation calls for it.
Decision Making & Anticipation
Keeton is smart with the football. He rarely puts the ball at risk and in the six games he played last year, he had just two turnovers against 20 total touchdowns to show for it. Keeton’s legs are part of why he is able to maintain that level of efficiency because he can pull down the ball and run, but it is definitely not the only one and not really the primary one.
If the play is not there, Keeton will throw the ball away and live for the next play. He also is not reckless when he throws the ball and does a good job of recognizing what defenses are doing and what he needs to do with the ball. Despite some issues with ball placement and accuracy at times, Keeton still avoids risks for the most part and does not give the defense opportunities to create turnovers.
- Keeton knows where he wants to go with the football before the snap based on what the defense is giving him. He wastes no time getting the ball in the air making it impossible for the safety to come over and help. The play is successful, but a deeper throw might score on this play.
- Keeton and his receiver do a nice job of selling this play before they hook up for the touchdown.
Keeton also does a nice job when it comes to executing passes on time. He recognizes when receivers are ready to make their break and get the ball to them on time to avoid giving defenders time to adjust or make plays on the ball. Either Keeton will throw early or throw on time. He avoids throwing passes late. Better ball placement would only make him better in this respect, but even against the most talented defenses he has faced, he was poised and avoided reckless plays.
And while Keeton treats the ball like gold, he does know when to be aggressive and attack the defense down the field. He might be cautious, but he is not afraid to attack defenses and try to keep the defense off balance by making some big plays that can potentially score. Keeton just has good judgment in that respect.
Lastly, Keeton has the ability to attack defenses anywhere on the field, sees well and understands where he can attack opponents. He is not afraid to make throws down the middle, outside the hashes or fit passes into some tight spaces while still limiting risk.
Keeton’s mobility is a weapon as well as a defensive mechanism. His athleticism both help him when it comes to allowing him to hold the ball a little longer in the pocket, avoid potential rushers and then make plays as a ball carrier.
For the most part, Keeton is protective of his body. When he gets outside, he tends to get out of bounds when he senses contact coming. Occasionally, he will take an unnecessary risk, but tends to be smart about living to play the next down. Keeton is also not afraid to slide in the middle of the field.
Keeton tends to be his most aggressive when it comes to taking on contact and fighting through it when it comes to operating as a passer to avoid the sack. He is not afraid to throw it away when the play is dead, but he also is someone that can and will keep plays alive to find a receiver and throw the ball or so he can try to pick up yards himself. There are some hits that will make coaches nervous, but he is a good athlete and is able to protect his body well for the most part; except for the ACL.
- Keeton keeps the ball on the read and shows off his speed and his impressive quickness.
- Keeton hangs in the pocket before bailing out the back end and even though he throws a shoe, he picks up the first down on 3rd-and-13.
- Keeton keeps the ball on the read play and gets outside, showing off his feet and leaping ability to get in for the endzone.
- 3rd-and-6, Keeton just shows off his tremendous agility while keeping his poise and looking down the field and finding the receiver to keep the drive going.
- Coaches hate this but teammates love it. And to Keeton’s credit, nice block.
The bottom line is that Keeton can extend plays in the backfield, keep defenses honest and force them to account for him as a runner. While the Aggies have some read and designed runs for the quarterback, most of what they do just allows Keeton to extend passing plays. In that regard, Keeton is a passer that can pick up first downs and potentially a few touchdowns as a passer in the NFL while usually showing good judgment on protecting himself in the process. His legs, presuming the knee heals well, are a real weapon for him.
The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com