By no means is this article a call for the Falcons to replace Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback. This is simply an acknowledgement that the new regime may eventually want to bring in "their guy" to groom as the future of the team. Jacoby Brissett from North Carolina State isn't ready to start day one, but he brings a lot of upside as a developmental prospect.
Brissett is an intriguing quarterback prospect. He initially committed to the University of Florida, but transferred after former head coach Will Muschamp named Jeff Driskel (currently at Louisiana Tech) the starter. From there he transferred to North Carolina State and after sitting out the 2013 season he led the Wolfpack to an 8-5 record in 2014, a major improvement from 3-9 the year before.
He's a prospect that Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan would fall in love with. Brissett is big, physical, brave, and has the arm strength to fire darts all over the field. Furthermore, he comes from a pro style offense featuring heavy amounts of three, five, and seven stops with a healthy amount of play action sprinkled in.
Brissett isn't the most polished passer, but he constantly displays traits that the top passers in the NFL possess. The most impressive aspect of Brissett's game is his willingness to take shots downfield when offensive coordinator Mike Canada loosens the reigns on the offense. NC State's passing game can drift into a lull with a decent amount of 5-7 yard passes, but Brissett has the arm strength and mindset to take chances down field.
In the bowl game last season against UCF, Brissett converted a huge 3rd & 21 while showing off his arm strength, manipulation of the secondary, and touch. UCF employed Cover 1 on this play, leaving everyone in man coverage except for the free safety playing deep. Notice as the tight end is running across the field near the line of scrimmage, he gets double teamed by the linebackers.
Brissett glances at the tight end just long enough to pull the strong safety away from the middle of the field and throws a strike past the first down marker about 30 yards down the field. Plays like these show the potential he has as an NFL passer, but the plays come inconsistently.
Brissett's size (6'3", 235) and strength allow him to make some breathtaking plays outside of the pocket. Derrik Klassen of Optimum Scouting refer's to this trait as "Superman Syndrome". He has such a hardcore willingness to create positive plays that he can produce some "what the hell are you doing" moments. However, when it all pieces together he'll produce some of the most incredible plays you'll see from anyone in the country.
Last year versus Florida State, Brissett completed a ridiculous touchdown pass in a near-upset of the undefeated Seminoles.
Plays like this obviously take a higher degree of athleticism and coordination paired with a knack for making plays in the open field. While Brissett isn't most impressive athlete playing quarterback, he's more than athletic enough to make big plays with his legs.
NC State will mix up their offense by running a few option plays per game to keep the defense on their toes. Whether it's speed or read option, Brissett has shown a proficiency to produce on designed run plays. He handles ball fakes very well, often holding onto the ball until he forces defenders to commit to the running back or the quarterback.
Kyle Shanahan loves to utilize play action in his offense after establishing the run; Brissett excels here. The combination of Matt Dayes ripping off large chunks on the ground and converting that threat into big gains through the air has been deadly for the Wolfpack. It's a skill Brissett has developed that he wouldn't need to add to his repertoire moving to the pros.
The play below also highlights Brissett's ability to function with defenders in his face and still make tight window throws. He's generally an accurate passer and he doesn't allow any degree of pressure to prevent him from getting passes off. His fearlessness and arm strength are constantly on display.
Brissett is one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, but he is by no means flawless. He can be stubborn in his attempt to make big plays; he takes a lot of unnecessary sacks when he should be throwing the ball away.
Also, while he is generally fairly accurate, his mechanics can be a bit sloppy sometimes. His passes naturally take a downward arc which will send a few each game into the dirt. Flaws with his mechanics and footwork are fixable over time, but he needs a chance to correct these issues without reinforcing them in live game action.
This is why Atlanta would be the perfect landing spot for Brissett. He fits into this offense seamlessly based on his play style and offense he runs in college, but he wouldn't be forced into the limelight because of Matt Ryan's presence. Allowing Brissett to sit for a few years (like the Packers are doing with Brett Hundley) would allow Atlanta to flip him for premium draft capital or start him in the future if Matt Ryan inexplicably falls off a cliff.