Riley Ferguson 2018 NFL Draft Profile

Riley Ferguson
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19: Memphis Tigers quarterback Riley Ferguson (4) looks to pass downfield during the football game between the Memphis Tigers and the Houston Cougars on October 19, 2017 at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Overview
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 210 pounds
School: Memphis Tigers

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.98 seconds
Vertical jump: 29 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 2 inches
Three-cone drill: 6.96 seconds (tied for fifth among quarterbacks)
20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds

Riley Ferguson 2018 NFL Draft Profile

Riley Ferguson has had a circuitous journey to the 2018 NFL Draft. He started at Tennessee but broke his tibia in 2013 and had to redshirt. Ferguson returned in the spring of 2014 expecting to battle for the job in the next season. He unexpectedly bailed on Knoxville before fall camp. Ferguson spent the next year working jobs back home in North Carolina before landing at Coffeyville Community College with a chance to play quarterback again. He was a junior college All-American with 35 touchdown passes and a 67.8 percent completion rate.

That led him to Memphis for his final two years of eligibility. He performed very well, even if it was not against an elite level of competition on a weekly basis. In 2016, he threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He stepped that up in his senior season. In 2017 he threw for 4,257 yards to go with 38 touchdowns against only nine interceptions. The 38 touchdowns set an American Athletic Conference record. In both his junior and senior seasons, he had a 63 percent completion rate.

Could he have had those number if he had stayed at Tennessee? We will never know. The numbers may have been against “lesser” competition, but the skills may be enough for the NFL.

Strengths

  • Good decision making on the run or rolling out;
  • Performed very well versus Power Five schools as a senior (UCLA and Iowa State);
  • Technique is solid. Squares shoulders on throws;
  • Good accuracy on timing routes;
  • Great touchdown to interception ratio;
  • Can throw on the run in either direction.

Weaknesses

  • Has a tendency to lock on to primary receivers when in the pocket;
  • Needs to add weight. He has a slight build for the NFL;
  • Needs to improve his progressions in his reads;
  • Does not run the ball well;
  • Did not play against big-time competition. Only two Power Five opponents were in 2017.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Doughty

Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins

Projection: Fifth round

Bottom Line

Ferguson has the physical tools to play in the NFL. His game needs refinement and he needs to add strength. He had good coaching at Memphis, but he also did not play against elite competition during his college career. There were many games where he got by on his physical advantages over the opponent. He needs to be schooled in the finer points of reading defenses. Since he is not particularly fleet of foot, his pocket passing skills will need to improve. None of those are deal killers for him. There are plenty of successful quarterbacks in the NFL who are primarily pocket passers.

This has been said numerous times, but it is an exceptionally deep draft for quarterbacks. In another year, Ferguson might be a third or fourth round pick based on physical skills and potential. Now, he will do well to go to a team that can spend a year or two developing him behind a seasoned veteran before needing him.

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