James Franklin, QB, Missouri

UDFA. Signed as a UDFA by the Lions in May but was released in August. He certainly has the talent to play in the NFL, at least as a backup. I think a lot of his problems will be fixed with a good quarterback coach and some consistent teaching. It would also help if he doesn’t get hurt again. He has the athleticism to thrive in a lot of offenses. Mostly, he reminds me of Dennis Dixon, the former quarterback at Oregon.

All-Star Games: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and South Carolina All-Star Bowl.

Positives: Above-average bulk. Above-average hand size. Above-average arm strength and adequate velocity. He moves very well inside the pocket, and will step up or slide laterally to find passing lanes. Nice touch and accuracy on crossing routes and deep passes. Generally adequate accuracy on intermediate routes. Is a better passer on the run and outside of the pocket. Nice high release point. Keeps shoulders squared and eyes downfield when flushed from the pocket. Doesn’t seem to panic under pressure and can get the pass away at the last second. Knows when to throw the ball away. Is a very good running quarterback. Shows above-average vision for cutbacks and has the speed and quickness to take advantage of it. He knows when to slide as a runner to protect his body. Runs tough in short yardage and goal-line situations.

Negatives: Slightly below-average height. Comes out of a spread system, and may not be ready to run a pro-style NFL offense. He seemed to look lost at times in NFLPA game practices, which makes me question whether he has a long learning curve ahead of him in the pros. He shows inconsistent accuracy overall, including on touch passes, and throws it consistently high. His mechanics need a lot of work, partially because he has had to change his throwing motion so many times due to injury. Though he has a nice release point, it comes with the cost of a long delivery. That, combined with his bad habit of locking onto his receivers, gives defensive backs a jump on the ball. He often throws off his back foot under no pressure, losing a lot of velocity as a result. He also needs work on his footwork during his drawback. His accuracy and velocity seemed less at the end of 2013, which may be a result of his shoulder injury. Has a somewhat long list of injuries. Injured shoulder in Spring 2012 and injured knee in early October 2012, missing a month. Separated shoulder in October 2013 and missed a month.

Projection: No need to draft, but don’t forget about him – keep an eye on him to see where he lands.

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