Dorian Thompson-Robinson Draft Profile
One of the beautiful things about college football in comparison to other collegiate sports is that the viewers get to see growth and progression from when top recruits get to their school as a true-freshman all the way up to when it is time to declare for the draft. For UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR), it was rewarding to watch him improve year-after-year. Before his time at UCLA, DTR was a highly-touted 4-star coming out of the high school football powerhouse, Bishop Gorman. Once he got to UCLA, he was asked to start eight games as a true freshman in 2018. He continued to grow as a passer and leader and started for five seasons as quarterback for the Bruins (he was granted an extra year of eligibility due to the shortened COVID season). DTR was one of the first and most successful collegiate athletes to use the new NIL rules to build a brand and generate wealth. When looking at his career from a bird’s eye view, it is easy to see that DTR made the most of his time at UCLA. He cemented his PAC-12 legacy, and is a big reason that UCLA is back in college football relevance.
When watching a high school football game, it isn’t rare for the coach to put the best athlete at quarterback. A lot of the time they just want the best player with the ball in his hands on every play. However, it is rare for a power-five college football team to have their quarterback be the best athlete on the field. Whether it is hurdling multiple defenders in one game, breaking two different ankles on one play, or heaving a 50-yard dime on the run; DTR does things that quarterbacks shouldn’t be able to do. At times, his highlights look like an “And-One” mixtape. While his legs will grab the viewer’s attention, his ability to throw the ball is what keeps the attention. The ability to change his arm angles into different slots and make difficult throws on the run makes things tough on a defense. He is capable of fitting the ball into tight windows and the ball comes out hot. From an intelligence standpoint, he doesn’t stare down his reads and uses his eyes to freeze up safety’s. When looking at his mental makeup, he has a little bit of asshole to him; it is easy to tell that his opponents do not like him. He will talk shit, throw a block, and put his body on the line. For a quarterback who has been developed at a collegiate level, it is encouraging to think about how much better DTR can get as a professional. If he can learn behind a veteran quarterback early on in his career, he has the potential to be the best quarterback in this draft.
While DTR’s improvement is extremely encouraging, there is still some bone-headedness to his game. Quarterbacks should be taking chances against one-on-one coverage, but there are times where DTR throws it into triple coverage. I don’t get too concerned about quarterback height, but at 6’1 DTR will sometimes miss a RAT defender who drops into coverage. From a movement standpoint, it is hard to find a quarterback better than DTR, but he doesn’t reset his base outside of the pocket which causes inaccuracy on the move. It is good that he has some athletic arrogance to his game, but too often he tries to throw passes with neither feet on the ground and it ends up hurting his team. There are some wildly athletic things that DTR is capable of, including throwing from different arm angles, but his generic throwing mechanics aren’t tight or controlled. He doesn’t “throw from a phone-booth”; instead he uses all of his body and arm to let it rip. Because of that he is able to throw the ball with great velocity, but struggles with touch. I love watching DTR run 50+ yards downfield to throw a block for his teammates, but the love doesn’t always seem to be reciprocated. DTR is tough and takes a lot of hits, but it is rare to see one of his linemen get in the defender’s face to defend him. That is something that should get looked into in the pre-draft process to see if that has to do with him, his coaches, or if there is any meaning behind it. Excitement can either set up success or disappointment, and that is something teams will have to live with if they choose to draft DTR.
There have been few things more exciting than watching Dorian Thompson-Robinson play quarterback in college football the past few years. While he is going to bring a level of ecstasy to which ever team he gets drafted to, I don’t think he is a guy that’s ready to come in and play right away. I would consider DTR to be a boom or bust prospect; while he has the potential to be the next Kyler Murray, he could also land in the wrong system that limits his capabilities. For a team with a veteran quarterback and a strong run game, I believe DTR is worth a third round pick. Landing spot is EVERYTHING, while this is the case for every player, it’s especially relevant given DTR’s abilities. The Broncos, Ravens, and Seahawks are three teams with solidified veteran quarterbacks, experienced coaches, and a really good run game. If you want excitement, you want DTR.
Natural Leadership: 7.75/10
Decision Making + Eyes + Anticipation: 7.75/10
Pocket Presence: 6.5/8
Athleticism + Mobility: 8/8
Deep Ball: 4.5/6
Feet + Base: 4.75/6
Throwing Motion: 4.25/6
Toughness + Fearlessness: 5/6
Final Rating: 80
Pro Comparison: Kyler Murray with not as strong of an arm
Draft Projection: Day 3
Draft Grade: Round 3
Team Fits: Broncos, Ravens, Seahawks