Former UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel, now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks and Sirius-XM’s College Football Playbook show, echoed the thoughts today of NFL Draft scouting guru Rob Rang: Former Arizona quarterback Matt Scott is this year’s Russell Wilson.
The NFL Draft commences Thursday with the first round. The second and third rounds will take place Friday. According to Neuheisel and Rang, don’t be surprised to see Scott taken Friday by the third round. Wilson is Seattle’s franchise quarterback who was selected last year in the third round as the 74th pick overall and five spots after a punter.
Scott, 6-3 and 200, flourished in his only season playing in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense, completing 301 of 499 pass attempts for 3,620 yards. He threw for 27 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He also ran for 506 yards on 113 attempts.
“You know, my Russell Wilson in this draft, the guy who is going to be a second- or third-round pick who will end up being a big time player, I’m going to tell you, is Arizona’s Matt Scott,” Neuheisel said on Sirius/XM. “And I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go to the 49ers, as they say goodbye to Alex Smith, to be Colin Kaepernick’s backup for a few years.
“He can run. He can throw. (He is) unheralded, did not get the credit he deserved in terms of learning RichRod’s system, flourishing in RichRod’s system in just one season.”
Rang, who talks to a network of NFL scouts to get his information for CBSSports.com, writes that Scott “is a dual-threat at the quarterback position and one who demonstrated touch, velocity and accuracy while throwing five times as many touchdowns as interceptions last season.”
“With only one full season as the starter after backing up Nick Foles, Scott is admittedly a work in progress but one I feel has the upside to warrant developing,” Rang continues.
Scott’s marquee game of last season was his effort Oct. 6 against a stout Stanford defense, which ranked 20th nationally at the end of the season.
He completed 45 of 60 passes for 491 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in the game at Palo Alto, Calif. Stanford managed to beat Arizona 54-48 in overtime and eventually represented the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.
“Remember against Stanford, but for a fourth-and-8 conversion by Stanford, he beats them at The Farm and throws for almost 500 yards,” said Neuheisel, who was also a quarterbacks coach with the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons. “And he’s a phenomenal player with his legs. He had over 100 yards rushing against the Trojans. I mean, he’s a gifted guy.”
Scott actually rushed for exactly 100 yards against USC on 15 carries. It was in that game Oct. 27 against the Trojans in which Scott suffered concussion-like symptoms. He was injured the following week against UCLA and sat out against Colorado.
He struggled in the last two regular season games against Utah and ASU, completing only 31 of 66 passes for 390 yards, but he bounced back strong in Arizona’s comeback victory over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15. He completed 28 of 47 passes for 382 yards in the 49-48 victory.
He threw two touchdown passes in the final 46 seconds including the game-winner to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds remaining.
Scott’s postseason workouts have elevated his draft status. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. indicated earlier this month that a team will probably take Scott in the middle rounds and develop him as a backup, which could be an ideal situation for San Francisco, Seattle or Philadelphia.
“He’s probably in that four-to-five, four-to-six round area,” Kiper said in a blog written by TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino.
“And he’s probably going to go to a team that doesn’t have as critical a need but wants to look at a young quarterback that maybe feels like, OK, let’s see if we can develop him, put him off the radar for a couple years and develop him old school way and see what happens there.”
If Scott is taken in the third round, it will be the second consecutive season a UA quarterback is drafted that high. Foles was selected by Philadelphia in the third round last year as the 88th player selected overall.
Arizona had a 27-year drought of having a quarterback drafted before Foles was selected last year.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner