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Film breakdown of Buccaneers QB Kyle Trask

We’re going to be breaking down some tape of one of the most polarizing picks from the Buccaneers’ 2021 draft.

Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask (11) throws during the first half against the Oklahoma Sooners at AT&T Stadium.
| Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t been paying attention over the past few days, the Buccaneers took quarterback Kyle Trask with the 64th pick in the NFL Draft.

The former Florida Gator is entering the league after a fantastic 2020 season that saw him lead the NCAA in touchdowns and finish in fourth place for the ever prestigious Heisman Trophy.

While the Buccaneers front office and coaching staff believe they have the next great quarterback prospect in the building, many fans seem to have their own opinions about Trask that have really clouded the overall response to the second-round pick.

Gator fans everywhere are cracking open their finest bottles of champagne while Seminole fans are bringing out the paper bags, ultimately preparing for their belief that the Bucs inevitable decline is coming when Trask steps on the field.

The truth about the pick is yet to be seen, but the future most likely lies somewhere in the middle of these expectations. From breaking down the tape, the biggest thing that stood out to me was that Trask isn’t a world-class athlete or an immediate plug-n-play option, but that with the right coaching, he could end up an above-average starter at the NFL level.

That’s why we’ll be taking a look at a few things that he is very good at, and three areas that might limit his success if they aren’t improved over the next few years. But that’s the beauty about the Bucs current position, he will have a few years to sit and learn from the QB whisperer and the GOAT.

His biggest strengths at this point seem to be his anticipation, ball placement, and touch; whereas his greatest weaknesses come from pocket presence, deep throw consistency, and some issues in reading coverages which we’ll be getting into now.

Strengths

Anticipation

Let’s take a look at this beauty of a throw from Florida’s 2020 game against the Tennessee Volunteers. On this play, Trask is pressured pretty quickly (as he was often at UF) but he is able to read from right to left and find Kyle Pitts on a 15 yard out.

What we’re looking at here is the high level anticipation he has, not only in throwing as Pitts comes out of his break, but also in anticipating the flat defender getting underneath this pass if it goes where the route is designed to go.

Notice how the flat defender looks to trail underneath the route as he sees the ball being released. If Trask doesn’t get this ball to the 50 yard line, there’s a good chance that this pass gets intercepted.

Touch

Now touch is something that a lot of quarterbacks coming out of college don’t have which makes the Trask pick more exciting than it might look on paper. Touch can be looked at as the ability for a quarterback to put enough air under the ball to get it over defenders, something we saw on the above play as well.

On this play, Trask puts enough loft on this ball that the corner (who is in pretty good position) can’t break-up the pass even with his arms fully extended, but not so much that his receiver can’t get to it.

Honestly there’s not much more to say about it, the guy just has the talent to drop the ball into a bucket with accuracy.

Ball placement

Despite the finesse that Trask has shown on countless throws, it’s not always necessary and can sometimes lead to interceptions. On this play, Pitts is running what looks to be a corner route to the front pylon as the lone receiver on the wide side of the field.

With a tight end like Pitts, there’s probably a good chance that if he’s alone on one side of the field, he’s going to warrant some safety help over the top. For Trask, that doesn’t seem to be a problem here.

He throws this ball low and to the outside, meaning that the cover corner can’t reach it and neither can the safety. If he throws it high and to the outside, there would still be a chance that the safety could just jump over Pitts to knock this pass away even if he beats the corner.

Areas to improve

Deep ball consistency

Ok so please don’t come at me right away to tell me that he was one of the most accurate deep ball throwers in the NCAA. I’ve seen the statistic and I’ve seen the throws. Sure, Trask has definitely shown that he can hit receivers in stride downfield.

However, he’s also shown the opposite, which is why I’m specifying that it just needs to be more consistent. In all fairness, he doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world, and he really hasn’t needed it.

But on this play, he could’ve used a bit more. On the surface, this might not look like anything more than a jump ball throw, but when you look at the second angle on this clip, you can see how the receiver had to stop his route to go up and get it.

Even with good footwork and follow through, this ball just doesn’t have enough on it to reach his receiver with separation. If he were able to get this to the five yard line, there’s a good chance this ends up being a touchdown (if his receiver doesn’t drop it like they did all season).

Reading coverage consistently

So this might be more of a nitpick and something that can definitely improve with watching more film and having a better understanding of coverages. However, interceptions against coverages like this happened more often than I would like to see.

On this play, Florida runs a pretty typical route combination for them out of bunch trips where the two inside receivers run clear-out routes while the far-side receiver runs a slant. What Trask doesn’t realize however, is that the defense is running what looks to be a box coverage against this bunch look.

A box coverage typically has four defenders picking up receivers that come into their area, with the two underneath cover guys taking anything low, and the two deeper guys taking anything over the top.

It seems like Trask reads this as man to man, which makes sense from the standpoint of the throw. He initially sees his receiver pop wide open with a corner trailing, but doesn’t expect the second underneath defender to be in the area despite that defender’s responsibility being anything low and inside.

Pocket presence

I will start off by saying that Trask was given no favors in pass protection. The Gators offensive line was quite bad to say the least, which led to a boatload of sacks. However, in some instances, Trask looked panicked and unprepared to handle the pressure that was coming towards him.

On this particular play, Trask steps up and looks to find an open receiver when there just isn’t one. Instead of moving to the left and throwing the ball away, his feet stop and he just gets ready to embrace the sack.

At the NFL level, this is something that’ll get the poor man killed even if he is playing behind a good offensive line. A quarterback’s feet should always be moving when there is space to maneuver and if there’s no one open, you have to just throw it away.

Conclusion

I wasn’t too thrilled with the pick when the name was called, but then again I am CynicalBucsFan for a reason. However, after watching a good amount of his tape from this year, I’m left feeling more excited that I initially was.

His high level anticipation, accuracy, ball placement, and touch were all areas that a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL struggle with to this day. I also have to believe that there’s a reason that Bruce Arians and Jason Licht picked him, and as people who aren’t in the front office, there are many factors that we just aren’t aware of.

The areas where he lacks consistency are definitely concerning, but the Buccaneers won’t be asking him to step onto the field on day one. As it pertains to pocket presence and reading coverages, these are two areas that are definitely coachable.

If he were inaccurate or made terrible decisions, I would be much more concerned as some of the greatest coaches in NFL history have tried coaching these out of prospects for generations with limited success (looking at you Jameis).

Trask is a work in progress, there’s no doubt about it. But he does bring a lot of things to be excited about. I can’t say whether or not this was a great pick, but then again no one can. Only time will tell how he does and all we can do is hope that he ends up developing into the quarterback of the future.

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