2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: California QB Davis Webb

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

# Davis Webb / QB / University of California Berkeley: 6’5”, 225lbs

The Good:

– Prototypical Physical Size
– Excellent Deep Accuracy
– Efficient throwing mechanics: Compact motion, quick and over-the-top release
– Always throws from a relaxed and balanced body position
– Good arm-strength
– Consistent accuracy (occasionally threw low on short/intermediate routes, but these were outliers. He generally has good ball placement)
– Very accurate throwing on the run
– Great statistical production

The Bad:

– Pro-Readiness – played in a very simplistic Air-Raid Offense (lots of RPOs, Screens, and matchup-based Vertical routes)
– Never took snaps from under center
– Unconventional drop back style; “hops” away from the LOS
– Lacks experience throwing from a small pocket and sometimes failed to step into his throws on plays where he did not enjoy tons of open pocket space
– Stared down receivers on in-breaking routes
– Often threw based exclusively on pre-snap reads and failed to adjust to post-snap coverages
– Needs to improve ball security from the pocket or when scrambling; his off-hand often loses contact with the ball as he surveys the field, which increases the risk of strip sacks. (To be clear; he did not have any fumbling issues; however, this is could become a problem in the NFL)

Bio:

– Career Passing Stats: Total – 36 games played, 61.5% completion rate, 9,825 yards, 83 TD 34 INT, 137.1 career passer rating. 9 career rushing TDs
– 3 Seasons at Texas Tech: 23 games played, 14 Starts, 61.4% completion rate, 5,557 yards, 46 TDs and 22 INTs
– 1 Season at Cal: 12 starts, 61.6% completion rate for 4,295 yards, 37 TDs and 12 INTs
– Senior Bowl MVP (11-16 for 165 yards and 1 TD)
– Semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection
– Named Cal’s Bear Backers Team MVP on offense and Team Captain

Film Breakdown:

Like many of the other quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Davis Webb has tons of natural ability and all the physical tools required to succeed in the NFL. He is big, strong, fundamentally sound, and had tremendous statistical production. However, also similar to many of this year’s QBs, his current pro-readiness is a major limitation on his draft value. Webb played in an extremely simplistic Air-Raid offense that rarely required him to make sophisticated pre-snap or post-snap reads. He seldom had to anticipate on his throws, pass into tight coverage windows, or function within a small pocket.  As a result, although he has great physical talent, there are still many unknowns about his game.

On the positive side, Webb is arguably the best deep-ball thrower in this year’s QB class. He was nearly automatic on verticals down the sideline and demonstrated the arm strength to hit his receivers anywhere on the field.  For example, in this first clip against San Diego State, Webb throws a perfect pass, from the opposite hash, on a ball that travels 50+ yards in the air. He does a great job of holding the safety with his eyes, as well as staying balanced throughout the play:

Against Washington State, Webb again showcases his great arm strength and deep accuracy. He does a good job of locating the safety and squaring his body towards the throw (especially after performing a play-fake in the opposite direction), and also prevents the defender from recovering by hitting his receiver perfectly in stride. Another excellent cross-field, 50+ yard dime:

One other positive attribute about Webb’s game was his accuracy when throwing on the run.  He was always calm and relaxed during scrambles/rollouts and regularly extended drives by making great passes from outside the pocket.  He is not a dual threat QB by any means; however, he exhibited enough mobility to be successful at the next level.  For example, in this clip against Washington State, Webb does an excellent job of keeping his eyes downfield while simultaneously sidestepping the inside-pressure.  Moreover, he makes an accurate throw, despite moving to his left and passing from an off-balanced body position, leading to a touchdown for the Golden Bears:

As previously mentioned, the biggest concern about Webb is his pro-readiness. It often appeared as if Cal’s offensive gameplay was to simply run RPOs and bubble screens until the defense played closer to the line of scrimmage, at which point Webb would then throw either a fake-screen or a deep vertical to his best receiver or most favorable match-up. For example, against Stanford, there was a 10 play stretch where Webb threw 8 consecutive RPOs/ screens, 1 fake bubble screen, and 1 short Stick-route, (this was a fairly common play-calling pattern). Rarely did he work through true full-field progressions or complete passes that were not simply match-up based. Consequently, he will likely encounter a steep learning curve when he reaches the NFL.

A few other negatives about Webb’s playing style were noticeable on film.  First, he often threw to his receivers based exclusively on pre-snap reads. Although this is partially a product of his Air-Raid offense (which specifically encourages QBs to trust and rely on pre-snap defensive alignments), it is nevertheless undesirable for a quarterback to be completely robotic within his system.  For example, in this next clip against San Diego State, before the snap, Webb sees a corner in off-man, indicating that his receiver’s out-route could be a decent option. However, he is baited into a game-ending interception because he fails to appropriately adjust to the post-snap coverage. Specifically, when Webb sees the Will-Linebacker blitz off the edge (thereby leaving his slot receiver uncovered), he should have adapted by throwing hot to the inside route:

Additionally, on many of his throws across the middle, Webb had a tendency to stare down his receivers. For example, in this clip against Washington State, Webb throws a bad end zone interception by telegraphing his pass on a slant route. Notice how nearly the entire defense tracks his eyes and drifts into the throwing lane:

Lastly, on this interception against Washington, Webb demonstrates both of the above-mentioned flaws by pre-selecting his receiver and telegraphing his pass.  To be fair, Cal is trailing by 30+ points and is facing a 4th and 12 (which is obviously not the ideal passing situation); however, he could still increase this play’s likelihood of success by attempting to move the linebackers with his eyes. Instead, he stares down the middle of the field for the entirety of the play; which guides the linebackers directly into his passing window:


In conclusion, although Davis Webb has great physical attributes and can easily make NFL-caliber throws, teams should be cautious when drafting him. Given the struggles that Jared Goff experienced in his rookie year, it seems likely that Webb will encounter at least some similar difficulties. He has a lot to learn in understanding both pro-style offensive schemes, as well as the nuances of complicated professional defenses, and will probably require a few years to develop.  Therefore, Webb is a high-variance prospect who could struggle without good coaching or supporting personnel.

Projection: Late Day 2, Early Day 3

Games Watched: at San Diego State, vs Utah, at Washington State, vs Washington, vs Stanford

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon Smith

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • Ike Evans

    I like him

  • Steelers12

    if we draft him i would cry, he sucks

  • 20Stoney

    I always liked him too. He’ll need work, but if he’s here, he will hopefully not be needed for awhile.

  • NinjaMountie

    I like him, too. He’s the kind of project that is perfect if Ben is only going to play 2 or 3 more years. He’ll sit behind Ben, and if the past holds form, get a game or two a year.

  • Applebite

    I think his success was dependent on his use of Chad Hansen. I’d pass for now…

  • Michael Conrad

    I though he looked ok at the Senior bowl but not worth a pick before the fourth round.

  • T3xassteelers

    I like him for a mid round QB, another Tech QB.. So I kinda have to like him (with the exception of Mayfield…)

  • Steve

    Sean Good Breakdown of Webb. T3 – Why did Webb leave Tech his senior year?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    He is on my short list of draftable QB’s which isn’t saying much since I feel it is Mahomes or bust.

  • T3xassteelers

    Webb started his sophomore and junior years (forgot if he did freshman or not), but Mahomes and Webb had a QB competition and obviously Mahomes won haha

  • Craig M

    A QB I like a lot but seeing the analysis on him he would be a real work in progress, but oh the potential if he develops properly.

  • John Pennington

    The steelers will need to draft a qb at some point.They cant continue to put this off.Ben is going to be year to year so it would be smart to bring in a qb to upgrade over Zack and Jones and continue to move forward to find a qb.I hope Ben doesnt become another Favre but in the meantime you have to be ready Rodgers sat for 3years for the PACKERS until he got his shot thats the way to go groom the next qb and wait until Ben calls it quit and then you have a plsyer who knows the system and who would be ready.This team should not be held hostage by any player.