By: Nick Trist
Strengths: Tajh Boyd is unquestionably the best quarterback in Clemson history in terms of production and NFL potential. He owns or shares 33 ACC/Clemson records including most 300 yard passing games, and the most passing touchdowns in Clemson history, two records in which I believe are his most noteworthy. He is Clemson’s all-time leader in wins and leas the Tigers to their 1st ACC Title in 20 years, to the first back-to-back ten win seasons in 30 years, and he was also the first QB in Clemon history to win 10 games, 3 years in a row. All of those accomplishments translate to plenty of experience for Boyd’s future employer.
Boyd is a good runner when the play breaks down, yet, he does a good job of keeping his eyes down field when scrambling and has often hit open receivers for big plays after the play had appeared doomed. Even at 6’1 he was very effective at running between the tackles during his time at Clemson. When considering he has a 225 pound frame, it’s easy to see why he had such success in doing so. Though he wasn’t recruited by Clemson for his mobility, the Tigers certainly incorporated that into his game as Dabo Swinney became fond of Boyd’s athleticism. This was an especially important part of Clemson’s offense in the red-zone. Boyd is familiar running out of the pistol formation as Boyd scored 26 rushing TD’s in his career at Clemson.
The part of Boyd’s game that I feel is being overlooked/under-rated by many NFL draft evaluators is Boyd’s overall arm-talent. Though his consistency could improve somewhat Tajh has terrific touch when throwing the deep-ball. I also like his abilities outside the tackle box at times as Boyd has flourished while making accurate throws while on the run (bootlegs included). The key for him is to find his groove, once he does his confidence and timing seem to improve significantly. That’s said, after watching Boyd over the years, there aren’t any throws he will be asked to make at the next level that he is incapable of making. Furthermore, Boyd has a quick release and a solid overall throwing motion/mechanics.
Boyd’s most desirable qualities might be the type that cannot be quantified. To me personally, he simply has the “it” factor. After watching every snap Tajh Boyd took for the Clemson Tigers, however, it’s still tough to define exactly what “it” is that makes me believe Boyd can be a success in the National Football League (though a lot of that may depends on who drafts him), but I’m a definitely believer. My opinion/evaluation of Tajh Boyd had a very definite turning point; December 31, 2012. That night Clemson met LSU in the Chick Fil-A Bowl and Boyd put on one of the toughest, gutsiest, efficient performances that I’ve ever seen out of a quarterback. Tajh went 36 of 50 for 346 yds and 2tds through the air and also added 29 carries for 22yds, and 1td on the ground. Despite that however, he face a lot of adversity in the process as he was also sacked 5 times, and hit 34 times out of the 89 he handled the ball. To make matters worse, he also lost Sammy Watkins on the first offensive possession of the game, yet STILL, Boyd managed to pull off a victory with zero turnovers, and beat the #7 ranked team in the country. He was especially money in the 4th quarter making multiple clutch throws against a defense that feature 5 NFL draft picks at the time. That said, I’m well aware it was just one game, but it was one in which I felt defined what Boyd could be in the right situation in the NFL as he willed his team to one of the biggest wins in Clemson history.
His toughness will only be part of what makes Tajh Boyd an ideal leader in the locker room, and face of the franchise for any prospective NFL employer. The other significant factors will be his overall likeability, his humbleness, and the fact he seems to just be an all-around genuinely good-guy. In the 5 years he has spent at Clemson University, there has not been a single negative word said about the guy’s character or work ethic. I’d most certainly say he is a great representation of what the face of a collegiate program, and a great representation of what a student athlete should be. I’ve seen Boyd handle himself in different environments and situations over the years, and every time I walked away with more of an appreciation for his engaging personality. From what I can tell, and from what I have read, Tajh Boyd is definitely the type of guy that a room full of professional athletes can rally around.
Weaknesses: Boyd’s most glaring area in need of improvement is his ability to throw receivers open when they fail to create separation from defenders. To me he also struggles with his ball location on short routes such as screens, slants, and routes in which he has to throw wide to the numbers. Lastly, I think he relies on his check-down routes a little too much at times as far as passing is concerned. As for decision-making when evaluating Boyd, there are too many instances where you’re left scratching your head over a decision he made. The problem seems to be at times that Tajh is simply trying to do too much, or that he tries too hard to salvage a bad play and turns it into a terrible one, which leads me to believe his poor decisions making doesn’t come from the inability to comprehend a system or the playbook. Though he struggled early in his career at progressing in his reads, he overcame that in time and showed definite improvement throughout his career. When it comes to arm strength Boyd is more Nick Foles than he is Jay Cutler. His ability to drive the ball down the field will be an area of concern for certain teams that play in certain environments. For example, he probably wouldn’t succeed for a team like the Jets who play outdoors in a pretty harsh climate. But in the right system Boyd could be more than an adequate deep-thrower. Technique-wise he’ll need to tighten up his footwork as far as your standard NFL 3-7 step drops go. In Chad Morris’ offense Boyd didn’t really have to focus too much on his footwork which is a big deal in the NFL. Furthermore, his presence in the pocket was good at times while at Clemson but could use some refining as well.
Summary & NFL Player Comparison: Boyd has all the skills and intangibles that it takes to be a capable starter in this league. Like all the other quarterbacks in this year’s class, his success will hinge on the team and situation he lands in. All that into consideration, one thing is for sure, Boyd offers a wealth of experience and maturity that may come in very handy, if he finds himself in a situation where he is needed to play immediately. As for a comparison, one that has been floating around the NFL Draft community for Boyd is to Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Wilson is mechanically head and shoulders above Boyd at this point, but Boyd might have a higher ceiling in terms of athleticism. That said, I feel as if Tajh reminds me more of Donavan McNabb, minus the issues some thought that McNabb had between the ears.
Where Could He Land? There could be as many as 9 teams (Texans, Rams, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders, Vikings, Titans, Cardinals, and Jets) who could conceivably be looking for a starting QB in the 2014 NFL Draft. Boyd has what I would consider border-line round 1 talent, somewhere between the 25-40 range on my big board. I’d expect most teams will have some variation of Bridgewater, Brotles, and Manziel as their top 3 available QBs. In theory the first 3 picks of the draft could all be used on a QB, if that happens Tajh will be in the next tier of QBs on most teams boards along with; Fales, Carr, Mettenburger, and McCarron. Personally, I think he leads that tier, and don’t be surprised come May if he’s the first QB taken in that group. So in this imaginary scenario Boyd would be in the discussion for picks 4, 5, 8, 11, 18 and 20. Tajh could be a surprise at the bottom of top ten (like Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert were) or could slide to the back end of round 2.
My Most Ideal Landing Spot: If I’m the Houston Texans I’m doing one of these two things come May: drafting Johnny Manziel first overall, or taking Clowney at 1 and drafting Boyd with the first pick in the second round. If the Texans decided to do just that, the biggest winner would be Tajh Boyd. If he landed in Houston, he would find himself in a very advantageous spot. Bill O’Brian understands how to score points in the NFL, and seems to be the type of coach who maximizes his players (especially his QBs) abilities. Tajh could lean on Arian Foster and Ben Tate to get him into manageable situations throughout his rookie season. Not to mention he would have a WR corps that has one of the greatest WR’s of our time in Andre Johnson, and a promising young talent whom Boyd is very familiar with former Clemson teammate DeAndre Hopkins. The addition of Clowney would give the Texans the best D-line in pro football when he is paired alongside J.J. Watt, and once again there would be plenty to cheer about in H-Town.
Players Scouted in Part II:
DE- Vic Beasley
WR- Martavis Bryant
CB- Breshaud Breeland
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