Assumptions are always dangerous when it comes to the NFL draft. Especially when quarterbacks are involved. People remain convinced the Chicago Bears are going to grab a QB early. Even in the 1st round. Evidence continues to suggest though that this is far from a guarantee. The same goes for taking one in the 2nd or 3rd rounds too. There is a real chance the board doesn’t fall their way. So what do they do? How do they get somebody behind Andy Dalton they can develop?
In such situations, the common approach is taking a risk in the later rounds on a player of high physical talent but clearly needs developmental time. A good example? Washington selected Mark Rypien in 6th round in 1988, knowing starter Doug Williams was 33 and had a history of injury problems. Sure enough, Williams got hurt that season and Rypien soon supplanted him as a starter. He would go on to win them a Super Bowl three years later.
Could the Bears pull off something similar?
Hard to say. There is a prospect out there with the necessary checklist teams look for in a later round project. His name is Feleipe Franks. This kid is an interesting story. A football and baseball star in high school, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox to play professional baseball but chose to focus on football instead. He earned a scholarship at Florida and appeared to be on the rise as a prospect. That is until he got hurt in 2019, allowing Kyle Trask to step in and steal his starting job.
Franks transferred to Arkansas and ended up putting together a solid senior year, earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl. His performance in the game wasn’t too bad either, going 9-for-16 for 122 yards and a touchdown. So what makes him such an interesting prospect?
He’s a physical specimen.
Feleipe Franks could learn so much from Andy Dalton
Testing numbers are always something to tread carefully with when it comes to quarterbacks. Yet it’s hard to deny how much Franks stands out. Keep in mind he is 6’6, 234 lbs. At his pro day, he reportedly ran an official 4.61 in the 40-yard dash. That is third-best among all 2021 draft QBs and the two ahead of him are both shorter and lighter. His 32.5-inch vertical jump was also the second-best in this class. A quarterback of that size who with that kind of athleticism is hard to ignore.
He’s also not too bad as a passer. His arm strength is NFL-caliber and he has one of the better deep balls of the group. Accuracy stood out as well. He showed a good knack for protecting the football, throwing just 13 interceptions in his final 26 college starts. Coaches lauded him for his work ethic and leadership. The primary issues with him were typical of a young quarterback. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com explained.
“Benefited from screens, quick game and RPOs. Average operation time and release quickness. Bouts of indecision lead to unnecessary pressure. Inconsistent pocket poise when internal clock starts ringing. Will take a sack rather than get rid of the football. Needs to work with better anticipation and throw receivers open. Stares down targets, bringing additional coverage into play.”
Franks can go through progressions. He just doesn’t do it fast enough.
He has a bad tendency to linger on his first reads. On top of that, when defenses are able to confuse him he becomes indecisive. That leads to bad sacks or potential turnovers. Can he get over these problems? Some team is going to find out. Chicago should give it serious consideration. His talent is worth the risk and Andy Dalton has all of the traits he is missing in terms of operating at a professional speed. It could be a mutually beneficial relationship.