Upon reviewing the senior video of 2018 cycle quarterbacks, perhaps the most pleasant surprise came by way of Spencer Petras. The Greenbrae (Calif.) Marin Catholic passer flipped from Oregon State to Iowa in December following the staff turnover in Corvallis and was ranked as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite.
Marin Catholic may sound familiar- it's the alma mater of former no. 1 pick and Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Jared Goff.
The 6'5", 210-pound Petras is an advanced downfield passer with the ability to drop the ball in small windows despite his wide receivers offering little in terms of separation and catch radius. The ball pops out of Petras' hand and he makes 50-60 yard throws without straining. He can also step up and drive the ball down the middle of the field, as seen below. Note the ball location and how he gives the wide receiver room to run after the catch.
According to Marin Catholic head coach Mazi Moayed, Petras' arm compares favorably to Goff's at the same stage.
“It’s incredible. He is extremely powerful. Probably the strongest arm we’ve had at Marin Catholic, and [we] had the pleasure of coaching Jared Goff when Jared was here.”
Similar to Goff (and some credit certainly goes to the Marin Catholic staff), it's Petras' ability as a nuanced passer in addition to his stature and arm that separates him from many of his 2018 contemporaries. He has advanced eyes and pocket feel- increasingly rare skills as offenses and quarterback responsibilities across the sport continue to be simplified. He's outstanding at sticking in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield in spite of surrounding pressure. Many quarterbacks develop the habit of dropping their eyes and looking to run at the first hint of pressure- which typically translates less and less as they matriculate from high school to college to the NFL. Petras also makes things easy for his wideouts as he shows the ability to change speeds and present an easy, catchable ball.
Petras' skill is on display in the play below. Note how he goes through a full-field read of multiple progressions off of a play action fake before delivering a 50+ yard strike against tight coverage. This is high level stuff.
Petras is a decent, not great athlete as a pocket passer and isn't a serious run threat. That probably keeps him from being in the same class as some of the elite 2018 signal callers. Fortunately, he won't be asked to run the ball in Iowa's scheme (C.J. Beathard is considered a run threat in the NFL and had a negative rushing total in his final year for the Hawkeyes).
I've previously written about the importance of a quarterback prospect dominating the competition as a senior. Petras checks that box emphatically, as he completed 63.8% of his passes for 4,157 yards and 50 touchdowns while only throwing 2 interceptions. His per game averages for yards, touchdowns and interception rate are among the very best in the 2018 cycle. Petras displayed some grit under pressure as well, leading his team to a 12-1 record and a big come-from-behind playoff win.
Petras isn't an early enrollee but steps into a favorable quarterback situation in Iowa City. Returning starter Nathan Stanley will be a senior in 2018 and offseason transfers leave Petras and redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell as the remaining members of the quarterback room.
Development and scheme are always huge variables when projecting a quarterback's success, but it's safe to say Petras is the most advanced passer the Hawkeyes have signed in some time. Given that, he has a chance to thrive in the Iowa offense assuming he beats out Mansell, as his talent would have you believe. Kudos to the Iowa staff for identifying and landing an outstanding prospect- and for my money, the most underrated quarterback in the 2018 cycle- that late in the game.