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2023 NFL Draft: Could Lindsey Scott Jr. be the Tyler Huntley for Bears?

WCG’s lead draft analyst looks at a sleeper quarterback prospect who should be of interest to the Bears.

NCAA Football: Nicholls State at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

He may not be the best backup quarterback in the NFL, but Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley might provide the most value of any second-stringer in the league.

Though he and starter Lamar Jackson are different passers — Jackson possessing more arm talent and proving to be more willing to take the deep shot — they do have one thing in common: their mobility. Jackson’s athleticism speaks for itself in the form of his holding the single-season QB rushing record, but Huntley is also among the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL.

Huntley wasn’t invited to the 2020 Scouting Combine, and though many official Pro Days were cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19, he put on his own Pro Day and ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and had a 43.5-inch vertical jump, along with a 6.84 three-cone drill that places in the 95th percentile among all-time quarterbacks. All this to say, he’s a very good athlete.

This similarity is huge for the Ravens in providing their offense some stability should Huntley ever need to start games, which he has had to do 8 times in the last two seasons. It’s obviously tough to replicate the pure talent level of a starter with a backup, but Huntley’s skill set allows Baltimore to run its offense as close to as how it would with Jackson.

The same applies to the Patriots with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, and to an extent, the 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy. Stability is huge in an NFL offense, and while you can never predict when a quarterback goes down, it’s always best to be prepared.

As of now, the Bears’ second-string quarterback is Trevor Siemian. Well, technically it’s Nathan Peterman after Siemian suffered an oblique injury. When Fields got hurt and missed Week 18, the second-string after Peterman was Tim Boyle. Take a look at that group of backup quarterbacks. Other than not being great this year, what do all of them have in common?

They all play nothing like Justin Fields.

When your backup quarterback plays nothing like your starter, you have to change your whole gameplan. It makes things tougher for your offensive players, as they have to adjust to an almost entirely different way of playing football. It’s tougher for your coaches, as that instability after having your starter in for a long time can make it difficult to get into a play-calling rhythm.

If the Bears want a quarterback who could allow them to execute similar concepts to what they run with Fields, I suggest Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. as an option in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Scott has had quite the journey to get to where he is now. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, he signed with LSU but redshirted the 2016 season. He transferred after the Tigers fired head coach Les Miles, upon which he spent 2017 at East Mississippi Community College. After leading the Lions to a NJCAA national championship, he headed to join Missouri’s roster but got hurt, forcing him to take a medical redshirt.

He then transferred to Nicholls and had to sit out the 2019 season due to transfer rules, and then his 2020 season got cut short and moved to the spring of 2021. After playing two football seasons in that calendar year, Scott transferred yet again, this time to Incarnate Word, where he led the Cardinals to an upset win over Nevada and an FCS semifinal appearance.

Needless to say, Scott’s football career has been a rollercoaster ride.

That rollercoaster saw plenty of highs in 2022, though. He was winner of the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the best offensive player in the FCS. It’s hard to say he wasn’t a deserving winner, either: he placed second in the FCS with 4,657 passing yards, first with 60 passing touchdowns, just 8 interceptions and a 70.9% completion percentage. He also contributed 712 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, which is made even more impressive considering college football counts sacks against a quarterback’s rushing yards.

That’s Scott’s story, but let’s take a look at what on film makes him a small-school quarterback worth drafting.

For one, Scott has an elastic arm that allows him to deliver passes at arm angles that the average collegiate quarterback is incapable of doing. This is far from his best throw from a decision-making perspective, but watch this throw from the second round of the FCS postseason. He threw the ball over 30 yards on his way down to the ground with no help from his lower half — if anything, the momentum from the tackle is working against him here.

Those aren’t the kind of plays that will get Scott drafted, but rather, it’s throws like these. When watching him on tape, I identified a player with a loose arm and the flashes of deep-ball accuracy that allow him to make big-time throws that the average college quarterback — not just at the FCS level — could only dream of.

Scott finished the 2022 season as the third-highest graded quarterback at the FCS level by PFF, tallying an impressive grade of 91.8. Success isn’t a new thing to him, as he also finished the 2021 spring season with the highest PFF grade among FCS passers at 91.5. That ability to hit the deep ball should be enticing to the Bears, whose starting quarterback has a penchant for hitting receivers vertically when given enough time in the pocket to let the play develop.

Like Justin Fields, and much like Tyler Huntley sitting behind Lamar Jackson for the Ravens, Scott is an impressive athlete at the quarterback position. His official athletic testing numbers have yet to be timed, but for what it’s worth, his dad tested him as having a 4.49 40-yard dash after conditioning work back in 2017. The validity of that time is unknown, but Scott certainly looks like an elite athlete when you watch him run the ball.

He has a dense frame that allows him to bounce off of would-be tacklers, and he’s also super explosive once he gets some running room. His agility is impressive for a quarterback, which combined with his creativity past the second level makes him a threat to turn big runs into even bigger runs. Athleticism is a calling card of Scott’s game, and if he gets invited to the 2023 Scouting Combine, I’d bet good money on him running the fastest 40-yard dash in the class.

When scouting a small-school prospect, it’s very helpful to analyze how a player did if they ever had the chance to take on an uptick in competition. Scott had the chance to play against an FBS school in Nevada, in which he led Incarnate Word to a 55-41 upset on Nevada’s home turf. He threw for 406 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception, going 18-for-25 for a 72% completion rate in the process.

Among FCS quarterbacks to start at least one game against FBS competition, SIS DataHub gave Scott the highest Points Earned per play at 0.588, the highest Points Above Average per play at 0.482 the highest EPA at 27.04, and the highest boom rate at 46.4%. Not only did he do well against an FBS program, but he dominated.

A lot of the drawbacks in Scott’s profile as a prospect are out of his control. He’ll turn 25 years old in his rookie year, making him older than the typical draft prospect. He’s a small-school quarterback who, despite being rostered on two SEC teams, hasn’t thrown a pass at a level higher than the FCS. Plus, he’s a short quarterback at just 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds.

On the field, Scott doesn’t have a super polished mental trigger yet. He can be a split second too late to sense pressure in the pocket, and he doesn’t have significant experience making full-field reads. There are some instances on tape where he has an open receiver on the other side of the field but doesn’t see him because of either an inability or not being asked to look past his first target.

Because of his shortcomings, I have Scott as a borderline draftable prospect. However, I still believe he has been severely underrated in the 2023 pre-draft cycle to this point. In the 61 big boards and the 259 team-based mock drafts collected at NFL Mock Draft Database as of this writing, not one of them contains Scott. The current board is 629 prospects deep, and none of them are the Incarnate Word quarterback. The only notable member of football media to have publicly discussed him to this point is Robert Griffin III, who admittedly has done a great job spreading the word through various TikToks throughout the collegiate season.

Is Scott a perfect quarterback prospect? No, but that’s not what you’re expecting out of any young quarterback, much less one outside of the FBS level. There are obvious differences between him and Fields. Among them: Fields is bigger, has more consistent touch behind his passes to this point and makes fewer questionable decisions throwing the football.

That said, the similarities between the two make Scott the closest thing you could get to the Bears’ quarterback in a prospect targeted on Day 3 or later. If Chicago wants some stability in their offense for if/when Fields goes down again in the future, Scott could be a deep sleeper worth targeting in the 2023 draft.