Justin Worley, QB, 6’4, 195, Rock Hill(Northwestern)SC
One would be hard pressed to find a quarterback in this class who has been more productive through the air than Rock Hill Northwestern standout Justin Worley. Over the past two seasons Worley has combined for an astounding 712 completions, 1128 attempts, 8007 passing yards (4366 as a junior), and a whopping 92 passing touchdowns. Those numbers are a big reason Northwestern has played in South Carolina’s state championship each of the past two seasons. Worley also saw his completion percentage increase from 56.9 percent to 68.9 percent as a junior. It is no wonder that some of the nation’s premier passing offenses have offered Worley a scholarship and are seeking to gain his signature come February. In a recent interview with Irish Sports Daily’s Steve Wiltfong, Worley narrowed his list down to a favorite five that consists of Tennessee, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida State, and North Carolina. Worley also had offers from Florida, Stanford, Kentucky, and Arizona State. One of those five schools is looking to get one of the most prolific and premier passing quarterbacks in this entire class.
The 6’4, 195 pound Worley has ideal height and length for a pocket quarterback. He stays tall in the pocket and uses every bit of his height to see and attack the entire field. The worry I have with Worley at this point is how thin he is. He reminds me quite a bit of a young Tom Brady concerning how he is put together. His frame appears to be such that he will not only continue to grow (get taller) but also should be able to fill out (long arms, big feet, big hands). In order to be able to hold up over a 12-13 game season Worley will need to gain significant size and strength, especially with his lower body. He will likely always be a bit on the thin side, but I’m confident he will be able to add the necessary weight gains. Those increases will also lead to continued improvements athletically as well as improving his arm strength.
ATHLETIC ABILITY/POCKET PRESENCE
In a year dominated by run-throw players Worley stands out as one of the better traditional style quarterbacks. He is not the threat to punish teams with his legs or to strike fear into opponents with his ability to run with the football. Despite this fact, the Northwestern High standout does have good overall athletic skills, especially in the pocket. If the pocket collapses he is agile enough to escape, if the pass rush gets wide he is fast enough to step into the pocket and get up field, and his vision is good enough for him to be able to get out of the pocket, find a hole, and move the chains with his legs. He shows good vision and feel for the rush but at times reacts to it just a bit late. This will continue to be improved with work and experience.
Worley also possesses good agility and quickness in the pocket. He is quick in his drops and once he reaches the top Worley does a nice job staying light on his feet and staying active as he works through his progressions. This allows him to always be in position to quickly get rid of the football whenever he is in the pocket. The 6’4 passer does a fine job getting quick depth out of the gun without having to open and commit a big reach step. This allows him to keep his shoulders relatively square and keeps the entire field in his line of sight. When he finishes his drop Worley does a great job of using his feet to take him through his reads. This allows him to see the open receiver and have his body in position to immediately throw the football. When moving in the pocket it is imperative that Worley do a better job of protecting the football. As he begins to move away from pressure he immediately drops the football and allows it to get too far away from his body. This will result in too many unnecessary fumbles by him either dropping the football or a defensive player knocking it out of his hands. Whenever he is moving in the pocket he must keep both hands on the football, keep it tighter to his body, and keep the ball in a position that will allow him to quickly begin his throwing motion if he finds an open receiver as he maneuvers away from the defense.
Worley is not going to blow opponents away with a big time arm, but he possesses enough arm strength to make all the throws he will need to make at the next level. One problem Worley has is that far too often he throws with too much arm. Since he lacks elite arm strength he needs to do what he can to get as much power as he is capable of on his throws. When Worley throws on rhythm he is able to get solid power behind the football, whether it is on quick routes, over the middle, or throwing the deeper out routes. The reason is when he throws on rhythm he allows the momentum of his drop to create more power on his throws. When he is sitting in the pocket and going through his reads he does not get the same power on his throws. This is due to the fact that Worley does not use enough of the rest of his body to create the necessary drive on his throws. There are two areas Worley can improve from a technical standpoint to increase the velocity and power on his throws. The first is to properly transfer his weight when he throws the football. He does not do a good enough job driving off his back foot. His base is a bit too narrow which prevents him from quickly planting and driving off his back foot; this also causes him to actually transfer his weight too quickly as he throws the ball off of his lead foot. All quarterbacks end up on their lead foot, but Worley gets there too quickly. This causes him to lose a lot of velocity on his throws. He does not do this when he throws on rhythm which is why there is a significant difference in velocity on the two types of throws. The second thing Worley can improve on is learning to use his core. When he is ready to throw Worley simply drops his lead arm and immediately goes into his throwing motion. He has to learn to use his lead arm to push the ball back, quickly create some torque with his core, and then drive through the throwing zone with his lead arm, bringing the rest of his upper body with him. This creates more power through the throwing zone and will cause the football to jump out of his hand with greater velocity.
When I watch Worley throw he reminds me of Tom Brady. This will be especially true as Worley learns to bring the ball up a bit on his drops. He has a tendency to carry the ball too low as he drops. This causes his initial arm angle to be a bit low. If he simply brings the ball closer to the top of his numbers he will naturally get the ball higher on the initial cock in his motion. This should also shore up the consistency of his arm angle when he releases the football. Worley also tends to drop the ball even lower as he works through his reads. He has to shore this up and keep the ball higher. Most quarterbacks who drop the ball as low as Worley have a tendency to be inconsistent with the trajectory of their throws. This does not seem to be so with Worley, who does a very good job getting his arm up and bringing it down through the throwing zone creating the proper trajectory on his release. Despite the low initial angle Worley possesses a very quick release. Worley also does a great job keeping his arm speed consistent. Most quarterbacks tend to slow down their release on short throws. Even on those throws Worley rips through the zone with the football and quickly gets it out to his receivers. I mentioned above the need for Worley to create more torque in his delivery and learn to drive off his back foot. If you combine more torque with his naturally quick release you will see the ball really begin to jump out of his hand. Worley is sound with his lead step on this throws, although he could use just a bit more consistency.
During his sophomore season Worley completed 309 of his 543 pass attempts. During his junior season he completed 403 of his 585 pass attempts. This was good for a 13 percent increase in his completion percentage from his sophomore to junior season which is a very good sign. Worley shored up his mechanics during his junior year and also continued to show he was developing a greater understanding of where to throw the football; as a junior Worley showed a knack for putting the football away from defenders. He even showed the ability to do this in “catch-and-throw” situations in the quick game which can be difficult for many quarterbacks. The Northwestern standout has tremendous touch, this is especially true when he throws the ball deep. He is able to drop the ball over any type of coverage and also does a great job keeping throws on the outside vertical routes to the outside shoulder of his receiver. Worley also shows excellent timing with his throws. He is able to make up for his lack of a big arm on the deep ball by making quick decisions, quickly getting rid of the football, getting good trajectory, and properly placing the football.
Worley seems to be the top target on the board for the Volunteers. There will be a bit of a learning curve as Worley learns to play more from under center, but this young man has all the tools to be an excellent SEC quarterback. Worley possesses great intelligence, vision, accuracy, a quick release, super production, and enough arm to beat any defense. He can beat teams with the quick throws, over the middle, with the deep ball, and is athletic enough to work the chains with his legs. Landing Worley would give Coach Dooley not only one of the premier passers in the country, but also a tremendous centerpiece which he can build his first full class around. Worley would be a huge pickup for the Volunteers.
Size: 85 (Thin, but has a solid overall frame – I love his height and length)
Strength: 75 (Really needs to make big improvements in this regards in order to hold up)
Arm Strength: 81 (Has room to improve in this regards but will never be a power thrower)
Mechanics/Throwing Motion: 90 (Needs to shore up how he carries the ball but overall is very sound – Has a very quick release)
Accuracy: 88 (Completed 69% of his 585 passes during his junior year – Good understanding of ball placement)
Pocket Presence/Mobility: 82 (Solid overall athlete in the pocket, good quickness in the pocket)
Running/Scrambling Ability: 72 (Not going to scare teams with his legs, but will be able to move the chains with his legs)
Intangibles: 90 (Winner, intelligent player, well coached – Comes from a pass happy offense)
Overall Grade: 4
90-100 – Elite/Exceptional: Skill set is rare and gives prospect ability to dominate
80-89 – Very Good/Outstanding: Skill set is a significant strength
70-79 – Average: Skill set is solid, not a significant weakness
60-69 – Below Average: Skill set is not a strength for this player and could become a liability
50-59 – Very Poor: Prospect does not possess this trait and it is a definite liability
5 – Elite: Player is one of the best players at his position nationally, potentially dominant
4 – Very Good/Outstanding: Player is a potential standout and starter, could also play early
3 – Solid: Player is a potential contributor, could eventually start down the road
2 – Below Average: Player does not possess the talent to be a significant contributor
1 – Poor: Let’s be honest, Tennessee is not going to bring in anyone with a one!!