Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Will Grier, The Truth

Taking an in-depth look into the allegations, accusations and agenda surrounding 2019 NFL Prospect Will Grier. This feature piece uncovers the truth behind the West Virginia Star’s upbringing, high school years and ability on the field as well as the media’s agenda to derail the North Carolina natives career.

Will Grier divides opinion among many scouts and analysts in the football world. Typically those who will be making the decisions on Grier will do so based on the assessments of 3 key themes.

The mainstream public opinion, as with most things is incredibly negative, deciding to focus on the flaws to his game rather than the things he does incredibly well.

The other two area of importance scouts will be heavily assessing is;

  1. Is Will grier a product of the system he plays in?
  2. As a person, who is Will Grier?

Will Grier’s life has been incredibly alluring for many different reasons. As a Quarterback in High School, he was considered as complete as a player can be at that age. Predominantly coached by his Father, Chad Grier.

Chad Grier is a prominent figure in the coaching community for his knowledge and extensive experience as a quarterback coach. Currently involved with the U.S Army Bowl, Chad Grier spent his college days playing for the University of Richmond and then later at East Carolina.

Coming out of High School Will could have opted for almost any school in the country, finally settling on Florida in 2014.

Whilst Will was slinging rocks, his two younger brothers had found instant success in the online comedy video platform, ‘vine’, which lead to them being some of the famous young men on the planet. It’s not unusual for a high school prospect to be raised in fame, many generations of NFL stars have walked similar shoes.

Unlike most families, A top-5 Quarterback prospect in the nation, would be, as you’d expect, the most famous member of the family. For Will though, his brothers were on a completely different level of fame.

Throughout his freshman year in 2014, Grier was redshirted and was not the expected starter the following year in 2015. It only took two regular season games for Grier to become the full-time starter for the Gators and things were going incredibly well. As his inaugural college season as a starter, Will picked up the pace going 6-0 with 10TDs and 3INTs.

Unfortunately, things took a dire turn and in mid 2015, Grier was suspended after testing positive for a substance known as ‘LGD-4033’ or ‘Ligandrol’. Typically used for increasing rates of recovery and in treatments for Osteoporosis. Memphis Grizzlies Center, Joakim Noah was suspended by the NBA for 20 games in 2017 for the same reason.

Will Grier, along with the backing of the Florida Gators appealed the ban, however this appeal was unsuccessful and he was controversially served with a 1-year ban, meaning a return wouldn’t be possible until mid-way through the 2016 season.

The ban came at the worst possible time, without it Grier would almost certainly be living life as a future 1st overall selection.

As 2015 came to a close both the Gators and Grier were in an incredibly tough situation. For the Gators, would it be right to name a new starter only to make him step aside when Grier returns? And for Grier, would he have even managed to force his way back in? Potentially removing starter football for him until 2017?

Ultimately, Grier decided to transfer to West Virginia but of course, as has been the way with the Grier story it caused nothing but controversy among fans and allegedly teammates as he was labelled a spoilt, entitled, prima donna character for choosing to play elsewhere and resurrect his career.

Things didn’t go smoothly for the Quarterback. Transferring meant, as per NCAA rules that he would miss the 2016 season entirely and it didn’t take long for it to come to light that both the ban and transferring rules couldn’t run simultaneously and instead had to be served consecutively.

Luckily for Grier he got a bit of a break and the NCAA granted him eligibility to play in 2017 on the understanding that if had not done so it would have likely cost him any possibility of a professional football career.

From this point on things started to look a lot better for Grier, going on to have two solid seasons starting out at WV.

Football fans, coaches and scouts are just like the rest of society in many ways. Focusing on the headlines and not the story behind them. Along with having two incredibly famous brothers and coming from a wealthy background prompted a campaign of hate towards Grier irrespective of having any knowledge about him.

A low key individual with a very calm presence should be everything you would want in a quarterback but for many, it simply meant that Grier was arrogant, selfish and cold-hearted.

Aside from Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass in the hit movie Remember The Titans, Long haired quarterbacks don’t seem very well liked either.

When you factor in his so-called attitude, affluent background and his NCAA violation past, along with his ‘stick it to the man’ haircut you can see the logic, albeit poorly thought out, as to why so many seem to have a feeling of abhorrence towards him.

Grier’s negative media profile completely trumps his on-field accomplishments for the majority. Throughout his time at WVU he nothing short of brilliant topping 300+ yards in all but 3 of his games whilst finding the endzone on 71 occasions (20INTs). His performances throughout High School and his short spell in Florida show you that Grier the quarterback can play.

The term ‘system QB’ is manded around a lot these days, it’s been used to describe everyone from Tom Brady at Michigan to Geno Smith (formally of WVU) and has even been used heavily with 2018 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield and the 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Many use the term System QB as a term of inability but in reality, being the product of a particular team is not a bad trait and even if it were, I often find the truth behind the statement tend to really say “I’ve never seen him play more than 3 games”.

All of the issues outlined here, whether it be his background, success of his siblings or accusations of being underqualified to lead an offence out of the WVU programme have all created a 2 word rhetoric – Red Flags.

Being genuinely honest on first glance I made the exact same comparisons as everyone else and without reading past the headlines my conclusion was “high-end player but too many distractions”. It wasn’t until I spent hours up hours, days upon days scouting 100s of players for LazyFanSports that I finally understood who Will Grier really is. The further down the Grier QB rabbit hole you go, the more you realise that the WVU rock slinger couldn’t any more different from his given persona.

The question at this stage shouldn’t be is Will Grier going to turn out like Johnny Manziel or Chad Kelly, it should be does Will Grier possess the skill set required to be an NFL Franchise quarterback?

Even as I’m writing this piece I’m finding out more and more about Will Grier the person and with every new discovery, I find myself rooting for him more than ever before.

Reports from former and current teammates, former coaches and high-school friends all provide a similar verdict. Will Grier is a young man with phenomenal maturity, is well grounded and is completely dedicated to the sport at the level you need to be in the pros.

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that many felt Will Grier is a spoilt, entitled, prima donna. Without a shadow of a doubt, I can tell you that Will Grier is not any of those things.

Will Grier is man built on respectable principles, he’s a man who’s spent his entire life being raised by a no-nonsense, authoritarian coach in his father. His long hair is not indicative of a rebellious hippie from the 1960s.

Will isn’t a normal, 23-year old American raised in the 21st century. Unlike his brothers, Will has no desire for living the social media life, He’s married and has a child of his own. If anything Will Grier is the father and man we all wish we were.

But what about on the field? Is he good enough?

Working from both the eye test and the Pro Football Focus database I feel confident in saying Will Grier is not an elite, generational level prospect. In no way shape or form is he the next Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck coming out.

Will Grier is an incredibly consistent, very good but not elite prospect.

His deep ball, coincidentally like many in the 2019 class is very strong but there is nothing that makes you stop what you doing and go ‘wow’.

With that said, Grier doesn’t have a bad aspect to his game and at this point he certainly has the highest floor in this class and possible next years also.

Miles above average, Grier is a little like Jared Goff in that he never has you on the edge of your seat. Contrary to previous scouting reports I’ve written this year I now see Grier as the best quarterback in this years draft but he does not rank on the spectrum of most exciting.

As fans of the sport, we’re currently working our way through the most exciting period in football history from the quarterbacking position. The likes of Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and potentially Kyler Murray are bringing skills to the table that we never knew existing in a quarterback letalone skills we desired.

Will Grier doesn’t offer the excitement that any of the aforementioned quarterbacks have, with Kyler aside the majority wouldn’t take Grier over any of them. Will doesn’t possess the charismatic on field charm that Mayfield and Mahomes do, he’s not as unpredictable and he doesn’t have a ridiculously high-end aspect to his game.

He cannot find windows like Mayfield, He can’t perform accurate no-look across body throws like Mahomes and he can’t throw the ball 77 yards downfield like Josh Allen but he can perform each of their weakest skills at a much high level.

Is he going to win the MVP? Probably not but he is the most well-rounded, evenly keeled prospect in the 2019 class and possibly 2020 also.

I watched Will Grier put up an 88.2% pass completion in his first ever game as a Gator. I watched him put up nearly 1,400 yards in his opening 4 games as a
Mountaineer. I’ve watched all 28 collegiate games Grier has played in and many of them several times over.

When I watch Will Grier play I see a mechanically sound quarterback with consistent, clean play. There have been few times I’ve had to rewind the tape for ‘wow’ moments but I cannot recall hold my head in my hands or becoming frustrated with his play either.

At the level he’s been playing at you’d expect Grier to be able to make all the throws, weirdly a lot of QBs in the collegiate game can’t and there’s a fair amount of NFL pros who can’t either. The good news is Grier can throw to every route with a combination of different techniques depending on the situation.

He holds the ball well in the pocket, reads pressure at a good level and has the athleticism to use his legs when nothing is open downfield. He’s thrown against and succeeded against every level of opponent from whether it’s the 500+ yard, 4TD-0INT performance against Oklahoma on November 23rd or the 343 yard, 3TD-1INT performance he provided 2 weeks prior on November 10th against a formidable TCU defense.

Some will argue he’s thrown to many INTs with a career percentage of 2.5%. However, that only puts him slightly behind the 2% INT rate of former Sooner Baker Mayfield and the 2.1% of Patrick Mahomes. If Anything Grier is slightly more interception prone than the latest ‘system’ QBs to come out of the Big 12.

There is absolutely no reason to believe there are significant red flags regarding his performance on the field. Reports suggesting that he has mechanical and accuracy issues from the likes of The Draft Network are pure fabrication. His throwing style, like Drew Lock, is unusual but it doesn’t impact his game. ironically most of these so-called ‘scout reports’ abide by a one way to throw the ball mantra which is consistently proven wrong, just ask Phillip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes how their ‘poor throwing mechanics’ has held them back with accuracy at the NFL level (spoiler alert: it hasn’t).

In Will Grier, you get an incredibly genuine person who isn’t out to cause controversy and drama like some of his fellow counterparts. He’s not going to jump off the screen with his ridiculous, super-human levels of play.

Eye-popping, jump off the chart data and athletic ability rarely makes a great NFL QB. The ability to do everything with some degree of consistency is what makes a great, exactly that.

Whether Grier will be great remains to be seen, but everything I’ve seen of him suggests he has more to his game than anyone else. His current negative media-fuelled profile has already been built and for many executives, the headlines will have made the decisions for them.

What do the stats say?

In 21 full WVU games played Will Grier has racked up the following:

  • Thrown for 2 touchdowns on 20/21 occasions.
  • Thrown for 3 touchdowns on 16/21 occasions.
  • Thrown for 4+ touchdowns on 9/21 occasions.
  • Thrown for more than 300 yards on 19/21 occasions.
  • Never thrown for less than 100 yards in games with 16 or fewer attempts.
  • Grier’s record as a starter at the collegiate level is 21-6. (Including Florida)

As an athlete, he possesses all the intangibles desired, measuring in at 6’2 and 225lbs. From a mobility perspective, Grier often ran with the ball at high school but has since matured into a pocket passer who only runs when his options are covered.

Typically clocked with a 40-speed of 4.7s I imagine he will exit the combine with an early 4.6s time.

I’ve seen no reasons to be concerned with his hand size and the arm strength is all there. Typically I see Grier as someone who can do everything to a professional level but he’s not going to lead the pack, rather be somewhere in the top 7-12.

NFL Comparison

I have a hard time putting my finger on the pulse in many regards with this one. Whilst he has many similarities to Jared Goff and in some aspects Sam Bradford I can also see aspects that remind me of Kevin Hogan, in a good way. Overall I tend to lean more towards somebody like Andy Dalton in skill balance but closer to Matt Ryan in the level of ability.

Perhaps with the exception of Matt Ryan, all of the guys I’ve listed above have had their characters slandered by the media. The lack of explosive personality and charisma invited a succession of ignorance to their abilities on the field.

Out of the 4 quarterbacks mentioned, only one of them landed in a well-run coaching environment (Matt Ryan). Jared Goff and Sam Bradford both had spells of pure mismanagement under Jeff Fisher and Andy Dalton played adequately despite the dead weight of Marvin Lewis trying to sabotage the team.

Best Fit

If Grier lands in the right set of circumstances we could see a level of play that resembles Ryan instead of Dalton. The New York Giants instantly come to mind as a strong destination for stability. The Denver Broncos also, despite the acquisition of Joe Flacco and the complicated ownership situation the Broncos have built a reputation over the decades as one of the most consistent NFL teams of all time. Working with Rich Scangarello (the man who lead the charge in signing and developing Nick Mullens and Denver’s new offensive coordinator) could also be incredibly advantageous.

I also think he’d be a tremendous fit in New England, backing up Brady for the next 1-2 seasons before taking over.

The success of most players depends on the fit with the franchise and it will be no different here. Whether we see Bradford or Brady from Grier in the NFL depends on if he can land in a stable environment.

Looking Towards The Draft

I think I can say with certainty that Grier isn’t going in the top 20 through no fault of his own. In a quarterback class lacking in depth, Will Grier deserves to be a first round mention no doubt.

Realistically, with the impression already made on many via the media, I believe Grier will go between rounds 2 and 4.

It’s difficult to value Grier in many ways and I suspect that’s something NFL teams will agree with. That difficulty will more than likely lead to teams opting to pass on him as they continue to look for the next big thing.

A team without a quarterback at present would be more likely to pass on him in my opinion. Simply because I don’t believe Grier is any teams saviour. The best way I can express it is to say I wouldn’t trust Grier to lead my team on a late 4th quarter comeback, that said I wouldn’t expect to need a great escape with someone as consistent as Grier.

Those teams with ageing quarterbacks should take Grier under real consideration. The chances of nailing a superstar quarterback in this year, 2020 or 2021 are slim but if a team takes a chance on Grier they can count on stability.

Will Grier deserves to be more than settle upon option but I have a feeling that’s exactly how it will be.

My Biggest Concern 

I struggle to lend any credibility for the statement I’m about to make. It is not a measure of Grier’s worth but more of my lack of resources in getting to know every aspect of Will Grier’s life.

When I compare Jared Goff and Will Grier one thought often goes through my mind, do they have a burning desire for football? It could be he’s a silent assassin but there is concern over the fact I’ve never seen him drag his team to victory in gritty, terrier like fashion.

Some players will make a decision and run with it whatever the outcome, they react to the fire within them with no desire to disguise it. I feel that Grier could be passive in his decision making as a leader. I stress the word could because I have never seen it, but that doesn’t mean it does not exist.

The great Tom Brady didn’t show off his burning passion until he started to win championship and that argument could be made of Grier potentially.

I love the underdog nature portrayed with Grier but I don’t love his ability like I do with someone like Kyler Murray or Patrick Mahomes and unfortunately whether we like it or not Mahomes is the standard to which every collegiate QB has to be measured.

Comparing collegiate prospects to future HOF players is in itself a hard thing to do but the fact remains that if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. A 2nd place finish is just a 1st place loser after all.

Making an NFL prediction

I hope that Grier ends up as a late first, early 2nd prospect. As previously mentioned falling to a team with an established yet ageing starter will be a strong foundation for Grier.

If he falls then it provides teams like the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons or the New York Jets an opportunity to upgrade their backup options to a reliable, consistent and young upside with a high floor.

I’ll split the ‘best team’ scenario into two, a first-second round option and an option if he falls beyond.

Going High: New York Giants

Falling: New England Patriot

Wherever he ends up I’ve discovered a lot about a quarterback who has the talent to win championships in the right team. The media portrayal of him is defamation of character in many ways and it’s a shame many will only read the headlines.

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