New Saints QB Spencer Rattler is the real QB sleeper in the 2024 NFL Draft

We’ve talked ad nauseam about the top four QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft. As the draft rolls through Day 3, it’s time to focus on some of the other guys at the position outside of the biggest names.

Oregon’s Bo Nix (drafted by the Broncos) and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. (selected by the Falcons at No. 8 in a stunning move) have been considered in the next tier after Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy. Don’t end the group there. There’s another player who can crash the party, and that’s South Carolina’s (and now the New Orleans Saints’) Spencer Rattler.

Rattler has been through a whirlwind of a college career, starting as the next great Oklahoma QB, before getting usurped by Williams and transferring to South Carolina. Despite not having the best play calling or protection around him, Rattler still showed growth over his two seasons in Columbia, and it’s surprising he slipped all the way to the Saints in the fifth round.

Here’s what makes him intriguing at the next level.

Spencer Rattler has pro playmaking ability

The first thing that stands out about Rattler is his quick, whip-like release. He’s got enough arm strength packed into a compact, 6’0 frame that allows him to test opponents downfield. Because of South Carolina’s lackluster offensive line, the Gamecocks used Rattler on a lot of rollouts, sprint-outs and getting him out of the pocket, and his release really makes its’ presence known on these rollout concepts.

I really like this rep of Rattler’s from the Missouri game which resulted in a 29 yard completion. Watch him get out of the pocket, but still gain ground to the line of scrimmage, then put this ball on the dot to the receiver running the over route. He can do this at an NFL level, and the talent is evident.

When he has his feet set in the pocket, Rattler is capable of delivering some strikes downfield, showcasing NFL-caliber arm talent and velocity. This rep against Georgia on 3rd and 15 is a good example of that, especially under pressure. South Carolina is running a dagger concept, and Rattler is able to move into a throwing window at the top of his drop. However, this window is quickly closing because of a defender, but Rattler is unfazed, and fires this into the receiver breaking open over the middle to move the chains on third and long.

You can talk me into this!

Now let’s talk about some of those pressure responses because … they were varied at South Carolina.

Spencer Rattler still tries to do too much, and it’s all over the tape

In his two years playing for the Gamecocks, Rattler was pressured on 36.5 percent of his dropbacks. When pressured, his On-Target Rate actually jumped from 60.9 percent in 2022 to 74.2 percent in 2023, but his sack rate when pressured in 2023 was a horrendous 23.2%. That means when he was pressured in 2023, about 23 percent of the time he was getting sacked. Rattler’s pressure responses varied over the course of his career, and the results were also a mixed bag.

One reason I think his sack rate was so much higher in 2023 than in 2022 was because he was more willing to stand in and deliver passes with guys in his face. This rep is from 2023, and Rattler gets cracked, yet stands in and fires this pass for a first down.

Now, let’s compare to 2022 against Texas A&M. While this pass gets completed, it’s the process that I don’t really like. At the top of his drop this route comes open, and he can throw this pass in there if he wants to. Yet, he turns it down to roll out the pocket and complete the pass. That’s more unsustainable at the NFL level, as we’ve seen with recent draft prospects (cough cough Zach Wilson). Being able to win from the pocket under pressure is what separates the good from the great, and Rattler is still trying to find his groove with that.

I think my biggest gripe with Rattler’s game is how much meat he leaves on the bone with inconsistent ball placement, especially in short yardage areas. Too often, he’s leaving his receivers out to dry with passes that are behind them or too far in front of them. This is a fourth and two from 2023 against Tennessee, and Rattler’s receiver has the leverage to the outside. However, Rattler puts this ball too far on the inside and instead of a first down, it’s a turnover on downs.

Here’s another one, on a similar concept, and Rattler completes the pass, but instead of a touchdown, his receiver has to turn inside and the result is being stopped short.

Wherever Rattler ends up in the draft, he has to be told to make the job easier on himself. He doesn’t have to try and stand in the pocket on every single pressure look, he doesn’t have to try and be the superhero every single play. If he can iron those ball placement and pressure inconsistencies out, a franchise could get a fun young QB.

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