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More Commits, More Evaluations

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NCAA Football: Stephen F. Austin at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I recapped Baylor Football’s recent commitments, now they have added three more since. I think the pandemic is actually creating some pressure for kids to commit earlier to ensure they have a spot. I’m sure many would prefer to wait to commit somewhere until they can visit, but the pressure of other kids committing has resulted in a sort of feedback loop. Schools can use this pressure to their advantage. Back when USC was hit with sanctions which reduced their total scholarships they were able to take advantage of that by making each of their available recruiting slots more prestigious.

Since last week, Baylor has received three commitments: grad transfer defensive lineman William Bradley-King, quarterback Kyron Drones, and offensive lineman Connor Heffernan. I’ll evaluate each in turn.

William Bradley-King. Defensive Line. 6-4, 248 lbs. Grad Transfer.

Bradley-King will be coming to Baylor as a grad transfer with one year to play. He’s an interesting player; like most G5 guys, his recruiting ranking was negligible and he developed a lot at Arkansas State. His high school recruiting page shows an offer from perennial FCS champs North Dakota State, which is a great sign.

First things first, as demonstrated by these stats, Bradley-King knows how to rush the quarterback:

Bradley-King doesn’t have a highlight tape, but he does have actual college game tape. I watched most every snap of him vs Georgia, who had about as good of an OL as you’re going to face in college. He’s an interesting player. He’s not a super athlete, he just has really good pass rushing acumen. All those things you hear about when coaches talk—uses his hands well, mixes up his moves, etc. I think he is particularly good on stunts and twists where he gets to be matched up against interior OL.

I actually don’t think it is a given that Bradley-King will be played at that JACK outside linebacker position. I think there is serious potential for him to be used as more of a true DE to the field or for him to be used as the boundary LB/DE when Aranda goes with only 2 DL. In a defensive alignment like this, what Aranda calls Peso, Bradley-King can be used as the bench-backer, here labeled B.

https://www.andthevalleyshook.com/2018/3/21/17134160/lsu-football-2018-film-room-dave-aranda-defense

Anyway, Bradley-King is a big get for Baylor because they lost their starting DL from 2019 and really need guys who can get after the QB. He isn’t going to be a transcendent player, and I think projections for him to be drafted are premature, but he’s a really good pass rusher and will be valuable in Big 12 play.

Kyron Drones. Quarterback. 6-2, 195 lbs. Pearland, TX.

Every class needs a QB and Drones is a really good one. For QBs, the best way to evaluate them is to watch full games—they’re not going to include interceptions or other errant throws on their highlight tapes. I couldn’t find any for Drones, but there is this extended highlight video from the state championship game that also includes his mishaps:

Jones displays all the necessary traits for being a good QB. He has requisite arm strength, accuracy, stature in the pocket, etc. Like most high level Texas QBs, he is well schooled in the modern spread-RPO game. He’s already 6-3 and will likely be built like a tank in college, a guy who will be really difficult to take down in the pocket. His arm strength is nothing special, but good enough—when looking at QBs I look for examples where he throws 50+ yards without too much effort, and Drones can do that. As shown in the highlights vs Denton Ryan, he’s really special on the move but also made some critical mistakes throwing into traffic.

As I’ve written about several times in the past, projecting QBs is really tough. Almost every QB on Baylor’s campus will have similar if not better athletic traits than Drones—what separates guys is their ability to lead to and master the offense. For that we’ll have to wait and see.

Connor Heffernan. Offensive Line. 6-4, 260 lbs. Georgetown, TX.

If i could create my dream OL prospect he’d look a lot like Heffernan. Raw, athletic, wrestler, and a mean streak on tape. Give me 6’4 250 athletes all day over 6’4 300 lb guys who are athletically limited. Wrestlers are so good on the DL because of the proprioceptional acumen they develop—they know how to use their body, weight, and strength to overcome similarly sized opponents. Heffernan just puts guys on the ground. He’s light on his feet. He has the size to play OT. Yes please.

Recruiting services are profoundly stupid when ranking these types of raw OL recruits. There are very few guys available every year who are both physically ready to play OL and supremely athletic. Everyone else has to find supremely athletic guys that they can hope to develop. It seems to me patently obvious that a big, raw athlete is a better prospect than a big OL who might be physically ready to play OL but has limited athletic upside. Anyway, huge win for Baylor here.

Thanks for reading and hit me up with any questions or comments below!