Bio: Speight passed for 68 touchdowns his final two years in high school while also playing lacrosse. He was the team’s backup to Jake Rudock as a sophomore, appearing in six games as a reserve and engineering a game-winning drive against Minnesota. Took over as starter in 2016 and started in every game he was healthy, though a shoulder injury was supposed to end his season halfway through, but he was able to recover enough to play in the Wolverines’ final few games. Passed for 2,538 yards and 17 touchdowns with 8 interceptions as a “game manager” for the defensive-lead Wolverines. Comes into his senior season in competition with Brandon Peters and John O’Korn for the starting job and hopes to gain another year of experience before the Dylan McCaffrey campaign hits Ann Arbor.
Class: Redshirt Junior
Please note that this ranking of Speight is subject to change and that if he is injured or under-performs in 2017, he will be ranked lower than this for me. I do like to take note of the developmental process; thus 2017 tape holds more value than 2016 tape from me because it shows how the player is most currently. With that being said, enjoy the report.
Games Watched: 2016 vs Colorado, Illinois, Penn State, UCF, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Florida State
Arm Strength: Speight does a good job of “dropping it in the bucket” as a passer. Amara Darboh, now with the Seahawks, found ways to get open on post routes and Speight often just let Darboh do the work and tossed it up there. His deep accuracy improved as the season moved along, probably large in part due to his increasing confidence in his receivers and his own arm.
Trait Grade: 15/20
Wilton Speight wasn’t great last year, but he had his moments. Great pass into a tight window to Amara Darboh. pic.twitter.com/EJ4n74dMuW
— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) May 18, 2017
Arm Accuracy: Speight’s receivers and targets often caught passes on out and slant routes and were allowed to do the rest in terms of creating yards after the catch. However, he does a nice job of rolling out of the pocket and finding receivers and keeping his eyes downfield while on the move. There are some things to be desired as some of his tendencies will need to be fixed, but it should do him well at the next level.
Trait Grade: 12/20
Decision Making: Speight’s decision making under pressure where he has to be quick in making a decision is fairly bad. He doesn’t have the understanding that some other passers have to just take a sack and live to fight another down, and it cost him with several turnovers, paticularly in the Colorado game this past season. Overall has nice timing on his passes and his throwing on the run is surprisingly good, but he has some clear issues here.
Pocket Presence: Speight was put in situations in which he could work from a clean pocket and make gradual progressions, but offers a good bit of talent in terms of having clean footwork and an understanding of how he should manipulate defenders by stepping up or moving around the pocket. Despite his slow rate for making decisions that often gets him in trouble, he is quite good from a pocket standpoint.
Trait Grade: 10/15
Anticipation: His combination of anticipation and arm strength allow his receivers downfield to make catches and be right back on the ground with opportunities to keep running. For a stereotypical “game manager” does a very good job of looking off defenders with his eyes and timing his throws for when the receiver has the most separation possible.
Trait Grade: 11/15
Mechanics/Footwork: Speight does a good job of being consistent in his drop back and movement around the pocket, but struggles to maintain balance while throwing it downfield and doesn’t always maintain a level platform when throwing it overall. Speight will also need a good bit of work from a mechanical standpoint in order to have a semblance of an NFL shot.
Trait Grade: 9/15
Overall Grade: 65/100 (Late Sixth Round)
The Bottom Line
Although he improved throughout the season, Wilton Speight remained just an average player. There was talk that he perhaps could be in the Heisman conversation, but poor games against top competition in Ohio State and Florida State clearly dismissed all of that. He also reportedly thought about declaring, and although his grade here would have ranked him in the top ten at his position last year, he would have almost undoubtedly gone undrafted and missed. Entering this season I look forward to seeing if he can keep his job against Brandon Peters and John O’Korn and expand on his draft stock from there. All three of the quarterbacks are likely to be pushed aside after this year by the next prodigious McCaffrey son, Dylan, who has already been elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.