Measurables and Stats
- Height: 6-1
- Weight: 225lbs
- Class: JR
- Career Starts: 25
Sam Howell was born to parents Duke and Amy Howell on September 16th, 2000. Sam is an avid Film junkie that, by most accounts, skipped most of the high school parties that most kids enjoy to spend time studying tape with QB Coach (Former Duke QB) Anthony Boone.
Best Trait: Play in Clutch situations
This could have easily been his deep ball as Howell has been one of the most effective deep passers in the FBS over the last two seasons. That however could be, at least in part, a function of the offense (I’ll get more into that later) . What’s not, is his play in clutch situations. Over the last two seasons, Howell has a 20-0 passing touchdown to interception ratio in 4th quarter and overtime situations. He also has a blistering 38-9 touchdown to interception ratio when the game is within 7 points (13-1 in tie games). You can see it as soon as you turn on the tape, Howell often is the best player on the field in these situations.
Worst Trait: Play vs Pressure
During his standout freshman season, the one hole in Howell’s game was his play when pressured, Pro Football Focus graded Howell a putrid 38.2 passing grade under pressure as a freshman. Although that grade improved to 74.7 last season, if you turn on the tape it doesn’t take long to see Howell struggle vs Pressure. He has a tendency to take unnecessary sacks rather than throw the ball away, his accuracy also sharply drops in these situations, oftentimes missing easy throws. Howell takes a lot of pressure due to the structure of the offense at UNC (I promise I’ll get to it later in the article, keep reading)
What I need to see this season
The offense at UNC made evaluating Howell a bit of a struggle, if you watch the tape, a huge portion of plays were either play action or RPO’s (run-pass option), this is likely due to the offense having two prolific running backs as well as Howell’s own adequate mobility. The problem for evaluators is that they often left Howell with wide-open deep routes if the defense bit or left him with pressure in his face if they didn’t bite (see the bowl game vs Texas A&M). This season Howell will be without both of the running backs, how will that affect the offense? Will we see more dropbacks or shotgun passes as opposed to RPO’s? I’m not sure Howell is fast enough to be a consistent running threat in the NFL so I want to see Howell run something that translates a bit better at the next level.
Final (Summer) Grade and Outlook
- Final (Summer) Grade: 8.1/10
- Way too early draft projection: Top 15 Pick
- Pro Comp(s): Colt McCoy with a stronger arm / Baker Mayfield without the police tape
Outlook: Howell is a film rat with a proven deep ball and a record of showing up big in clutch situations, those are winning traits for a young QB. I suspect that Howell will measure out to be a bit shorter than he is currently listed, and will likely run a slow 40-yard dash for a guy at his height, still the tape will show he’s athletic enough to be productive at the next level (This isn’t a Mac Jones situation). He’s not the most talented passer in this class but if he continues to improve his play under pressure, he could end up as the best of this group and maybe the first taken. I’ve listed his full scouting report below