What Are the Carolina Panthers Getting in Will Grier?
The Carolina Panthers have been nothing but positive this offseason about the recovery of franchise quarterback Cam Newton, with the 2015 NFL MVP reportedly "getting close to throwing" following his shoulder surgery early this year. When Newton is ready to return to active service, he will have a new face for company in the Panthers; quarterback room after the team used the 100th overall selection in 2019 NFL Draft to select Will Grier.
This is something of a dream landing spot for Grier, who grew up a Panthers fan (his favorite player is former receiver Steve Smith ), although it does nothing for his immediate prospects of actually getting on the field.
What are the Panthers getting in Grier? Let's take a look.
Big-Time College Numbers
The quarterbacks garnering the most attention in the 2019 NFL Draft class have been Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock. But people shouldn't necessarily be sleeping on Grier, the former West Virginia Mountaineer who had back to back seasons with at least 3,400 passing yards in the Big 12.
Grier posted a yards per attempt mark of 9.7 in 2018, a figure that puts him in the 92nd percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. Grier trails only Murray in this metric among the 2019 rookie class, with Murray posting 11.6 yards per attempt for the Oklahoma Sooners. Grier amassed 7,354 yards for the Mountaineers across 2017 and 2018, the fifth-most in college football during that span. In this class, only Lock threw more touchdown passes than Grier's 71, and of the 26 college quarterbacks to have attempted at least 700 passes, Grier's completion percentage of 65.7% was good for fifth-highest.
Grier first came to prominence in 2015, although that was as the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators. In a 38-10 victory over the Mississippi Rebels, Grier passed for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns. Just over a week later, however, he received a one-year suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He then transferred to WVU.
In his total time in college, for Florida and West Virginia, Grier completed 621 of his 945 pass attempts (65.7%) for 8,556 yards, 81 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
The Talent Is There
At the Combine, Grier set the field in terms of ball velocity, with his clip of 59 miles per hour being the fastest among the 16 quarterbacks clocked at the event. His throw velocity scored in PlayerProfiler's 90th percentile.
He's obviously got a lot of talent, and going off stats, Grier was the fourth-best passer in this class, per a study by our Jim Sannes, though the WVU star didn't face a super stiff schedule, with just three games last year against top-50 pass defenses.
Assuming Newton makes a full recovery, Grier's immediate role in the NFL will be that of a backup. Newton's backups have rarely been afforded the opportunity to do much on the field as he has missed only five games in his NFL career.
Speaking after selecting Grier, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said the selection was "about depth and bringing in young guys and developing young quarterbacks." Grier will need a Newton setback or new injury to see the field. Until this happens, he's nothing more than a dynasty stash in deep superflex leagues.