While we often thing of quarterback gurus or coaches that have great track records developing quarterbacks, the name that doesn’t often get brought up is new Florida coach Dan Mullen. Throughout his career as a quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach he’s produced quarterbacks who have gone on to the NFL. Some have been drafted and not had success like Josh Harris and Tim Tebow while guys like Alex Smith and Dak Prescott are enjoying good seasons. Even a guy like Cam Newton spent two years with Mullen (Newton spent one year at Blinn and one at Auburn). With Nick Fitzgerald entering his senior we look at whether he can be the next Dan Mullen quarterback to go on to have success in the NFL.
Who is Nick Fitzgerald
As an option quarterback with a strong arm, Fitzgerald was a perfect fit for Dan Mullen’s spread offensive attack. After redshirting for a year and then serving as Dak Prescott’s backup, Fitzgerald finally took over the offense as a sophomore passing for over 2,000 yards and rushing for over 1,000. As a junior Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs had a down year failing to replicate the same success. Now he’ll be entering his third year as a starter and with offensive minded head coach Joe Morehead taking over it should be interesting to see how Fitzgerald continues to develop.
What Nick Fitzgerald Does Well
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 29, 2018
Equipped with a strong arm Fitzgerald is able to drive the ball at all three levels of the field which allows him to fit the ball into tight spots or get the ball on a line down the field. Fitzgerald also shows the ability to read the defense and use his eyes to manipulate the safeties. Against Georgia he stared down the right side freezing the safety before turning back and driving the ball to the post on the other side. Throughout a game Fitzgerald does this several times. At 6’5 230lbs Fitzgerald has a big frame that allows him to extend plays as both a thrower and as a runner to scramble for extra yards.
Concerns about Nick Fitzgerald
While Fitzgerald shows some next level recognition with looking off defenders, he can struggle at times to stare down receivers which can lead to free defenders jumping routes and getting interceptions. Instead of throwing with anticipation, Fitzgerald has to see the receiver come open before he makes his throw. Often times Fitzgerald’s ball placements tend to be off leaving the ball either too far inside on downfield routes or not out in front of in and out breaking routes. This leads to defenders being able to make a play on the ball and explains why his career completion percentage is 55.4%.
As Nick Fitzgerald enters his senior season I’m anxious to see how he progresses with his accuracy and anticipation. If he is able to improve on those aspects he has a shot to drafted in the third or fourth round to a team looking to groom him as their future quarterback. But as it stands now, his inability to throw with consistent accuracy and timing makes him look like a late round quarterback with upside. It will be interesting to see if Joe Morehead can fix some of his issues to take him to the next level.