Sam Howell NFL Draft
After a high school career that saw Sam Howell set the North Carolina record for total yards with 17,036, the highly-touted recruit took his talents to Chapel Hill, flipping from his original commitment to Florida State. Not only was Howell an outstanding high school quarterback, but he was also an all-state baseball player. Howell immediately became the Tar Heels’ starting quarterback as a true freshman and started all but one game since he stepped foot on campus.
Howell is an incredibly accomplished quarterback that quickly became one of the ACC’s top passers. Howell is an accurate quarterback with good arm strength and has developed into an outstanding runner where his vision and contact balance shine. He has mostly good mechanics and excels with touch throws between zones.
Despite playing in a spread offense, Howell has shown plenty of anticipatory throws, second-window throws, and the ability to work full-field progressions. He adjusted well to a completely new supporting cast around him in 2021, which included an increased emphasis on weaponizing his legs which, in my opinion, makes him even more appealing as a prospect. Considering the structure of the North Carolina offense that features static alignments, binary reads, and plenty of manufactured throws, there is an acclimation period ahead for Howell as he adjusts to the next level which should temper any thought that he will be a day-one NFL starter.
With a sound infrastructure around him, I believe Howell has a chance to be a productive starting quarterback in the NFL, although I have little conviction that he actually profiles as a difference-maker at the position. Outside of the schematic adjustment ahead for Howell, my concerns for him when projecting him to the next level stem from instances where he can unravel on tape, his average pocket manipulation skills, and an overall modest package of physical traits.
A commitment to Howell as a franchise quarterback must come with an understanding that a strong remainder of the team with a trusted veteran in the room is likely to be required for success.