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Can Jaren Hall be Another Brock Purdy?

Every team and fanbase has high hopes for a backup QB, but there are similarities between Purdy and Hall

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have decided to give rookie QB Jaren Hall another start on Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers, a critical border battle with the loser being eliminated from playoff contention.

For the Vikings, similar to the 49ers a year ago, they’re hoping Hall can come in and produce well enough to win and keep their postseason hopes alive. And every fanbase hopes an obscure Day 3 pick turns out to be elite player ala Tom Brady. The truth of course is that a Day 3 pick at any position, let alone quarterback, is lucky to get a single start in an NFL game, and performing at an elite level is extremely rare. There has only been one Tom Brady after all- a Day 3 quarterback pick that became elite.

But Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, has certainly exceeded all expectations. After an incredible rookie season, called upon to start after multiple 49ers injuries at quarterback, Purdy leads the league this year in passer rating and ESPN’s QBR. I’m not sure most pundits are ready to call Purdy an elite quarterback at this point, but he certainly has been effective. The main detraction for Purdy is that he benefits by being surrounded by top players on the 49ers offense that make most of the plays and a head coach and play caller in Kyle Shanahan who employs probably the most quarterback friendly scheme in the NFL.

But the reality is that every elite quarterback has great players around him on offense, and usually a good head coach too. Had Patrick Mahomes been drafted by the dysfunctional Bears in 2017 rather than the Chiefs and Andy Reid, would he be the same quarterback he is today? The dearth in wide receiver talent in Kansas City has certainly had an impact on Mahomes’ performance this season- which has been his worst since becoming a starter.

In that regard, Jaren Hall gains his second start with a pretty good supporting cast- even with the loss of TJ Hockenson. He has a solid pass blocking offensive line- Brian O’Neill is on track to return as well- the best wide receiver in the league in Justin Jefferson, and an explosive WR2 in Jordan Addison if he’s able to go. Head coach Kevin O’Connell is as QB-friendly a head coach as any quarterback could ask for. So Hall has a good offense around him, which is key to any quarterback’s success.

The Value of a Competent- if not Elite- Quarterback in Good Surroundings

The one thing that’s been readily apparent over the years is that there is no formula for successfully drafting a top quarterback in the first round, let alone later in the draft. Bryce Young was supposed to be good as the top pick this year- he hasn’t been- while Brock Purdy as the last pick in last year’s draft was supposed to be irrelevant- he’s been anything but. The big QB draft of 2021 featuring Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones was a disaster.

Not many are saying Purdy is an elite quarterback at this stage, but he’s allowed the 49ers to maintain the top seed in the NFC and be a leading contender for a championship this season. He’s not a Mahomes-type playmaker, nor a Lamar Jackson-type runner, but he is accurate with his throws, if not the biggest arm talent, and mid-tier in terms of turnover-worthy plays. He’s a game manager who makes good decisions, doesn’t force much, and largely takes what the defense gives him- and his skill position players can deliver for him.

That’s what the Vikings are looking for from Jaren Hall at this point. Be a good game manager, don’t turn the ball over, take what the defense gives him- and what his skill position players can deliver for him. The Vikings are 16-0 when they tie or win the turnover battle under Kevin O’Connell. The 49ers are 26-0 doing the same thing the past two seasons, and 0-8 when they lose it. So having a quarterback (and others) who take care of the ball is imperative for both teams and a key determinant of victory.

Comparing Jaren Hall with Brock Purdy

As Day 3 picks, both Jaren Hall and Brock Purdy were largely off the scouting radar for most teams. The main digs on both of them was that they were shorter than desired, with average arm strength, and could play well in rhythm but not so well when that breaks down. They were both game manager type quarterbacks that could stick with the script but not much else. Both have strong character and were very productive in college, were more accurate in short-to-intermediate range than deep-ball passing, with good compact releases, good mobility in the pocket, some issues with fumbles in college, and played in balanced schemes. Here is Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s draft profile of each quarterback, with similarities in bold:

Brock Purdy 2022

STRENGTHS: Quick setup and compact arm-action releaseathletic pocket mover with footwork that is tied to his mind … slides to buy time and efficiently regain balance … works through things quickly with the field sense to understand where his outlets are … very accurate in the short-to-intermediate game, driving the ball on outs or crossers … coaches say he developed resiliency over the past four years … high-intangibles player with hard-working and humble attitude (head coach Matt Campbell: “There’s no greater competitor that I’ve been around …”) … durable four-year starter, starting 46 consecutive games … the most productive quarterback in school history, holding almost every Iowa State passing record.

WEAKNESSES: Undersized, and the pocket can eat him up … arm strength is mediocre, especially when he doesn’t incorporate his base or hips … consistently late and off-the-mark as a deep-ball passer, giving defenders time to adjust and make a play … caught bird-dogging his targets … process is too easily disrupted by the pass rush, allowing his mechanics and reads to break down … doesn’t take care of the football (fumbled in six different games in 2021, including three against Oklahoma) … was benched during the 2021 Cy-Hawk rivalry game against Iowa … total touchdown production declined from 35 as a sophomore to 24 as a junior and 20 as a senior.

SUMMARY: A four-year starter at Iowa State, Purdy operated out of the shotgun in offensive coordinator Tom Manning’s balanced scheme. He finished his prolific career as the all-time winningest quarterback in Cyclones history (30-17) and owns 32 school records, including total offense (13,347) and total touchdowns (100). Purdy is a cerebral passer who controls his ball speeds well to layer throws and deliver with placement away from defenders. His average arm strength and inconsistent responses to pressure led to mistakes on film and will be further exposed vs. NFL speed. Overall, Purdy is sharp and athletic with a productive resume, but he is undersized with unremarkable physical tools, forcing him to be perfect with his accuracy and timing. He projects as a potential NFL backup with a Colt McCoy-like ceiling.

Jaren Hall 2023

STRENGTHS: Athletic and quick-footed … very efficient in the RPO game and on play-action-boots … spins the ball well on the move and his arm strength looked better on his 2022 tape … controlled mechanics in the pocket or in motion, with a clean, compact release … displays workable ball placement on pitch-and-catch and bucket throws … cunning as a scrambler and when buying time (sacked just 12 times in 2022) … fully functioning internal clock and not afraid to throw the ball away (7.6 percent of his attempts in 2022 were throwaways, which ranked No. 2 among qualifying FBS quarterbacks) … well-built and strong for his shorter stature … mature and married with a family (Blake Freeland: “He’s very selfless and a great leader.”) … competitive, multi-year team captain and was raised to be a leader.

WEAKNESSES: Shorter than ideal with a history of injuries … inconsistent deep-ball accuracy and his receivers are often waiting for the football … accuracy suffers when forced to reset his feet/eyes on the move … when he misses, it is usually high … it will be tougher for him to make defenders miss in the NFL than it was in college … needs to take better care of the football, having accounted for more fumbles (13) at BYU than interceptions (11) … his durability is a question mark: missed five games in 2019 because of multiple concussions; redshirted in 2020 because of a hip injury; missed two games as a junior with a rib/core injury (September 2021); missed time as a senior because of a right ankle injury (November 2022) … turns 25 before draft weekend.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at BYU, Hall was a multi-sport athlete for the Cougars and played in offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick’s balanced scheme. The first African-American starting quarterback in school history, he replaced Zach Wilson and posted an outstanding 51-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio the past two seasons. A compactly-built athlete with strong character, Hall is poised in the pocket and a smooth operator on the move to make plays with his arm or legs. He won’t benefit from as many scheme-winners at the next level and will need to improve his passing anticipation to push the ball versus NFL defenses. Overall, Hall is a cerebral, dual-threat passer with above average control and efficiency in his process, but his average arm talent, short stature and injury history are potential road blocks. He has NFL backup potential in an RPO-based, play-action offense.

In terms of Relative Athletic Score (RAS), Hall is the better athlete although Purdy has proven able to make some plays with his feet on occasion as well.

Overall, fairly similar physical measures, with Hall having better long speed and agility.

Additionally, both Hall and Purdy took what is known as the S2 Cognition test, which measures a quarterback’s ability to process information quickly, among other things. The creators of the test say that while a good score doesn’t translate 100% into a good quarterback in the NFL, a bad score usually results in a below average quarterback in the NFL. Purdy was said by the head of the S2 Cognition test to have scored in the “mid-90s” while Jaren Hall, based on leaked data, was said to have scored 93% on the test. Both scores are considered elite. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow all scored in the 90s as well.

Overall college PFF stats are not tremendously different either:

Brock Purdy:

Jaren Hall:

Overall Comparison Between Purdy and Hall

It goes without saying that no two quarterbacks are exactly alike, and two similar quarterbacks can have two different careers in the NFL for a variety of reasons. But in comparing Brock Purdy and Jaren Hall, you cannot help but notice a great deal of similarities between the two, and also that the two have similar surroundings in terms of their offensive personnel and QB-friendly coaching staff.

Whether all that translates into a similar performance by Hall as Purdy has had with the 49ers remains to be seen, but Hall has had similar metrics as Purdy so far (albeit on just 22 snaps) and there is no denying the similarities between the two far outweigh their differences in traits and circumstances, which are few.

The biggest difference of course is that Purdy has proven to be a good performer over a season and a half so far while Hall has done so only on a quarter’s worth of snaps. Should Hall perform as well as Purdy over a larger sample size of playing time, however, the two quarterbacks could influence how scouts and GMs evaluate quarterbacks in the lead up to the draft, and also perhaps change some attitudes on roster construction. Is it the supporting cast that makes the quarterback good, or is it the quarterback that makes the supporting cast good?

Stay tuned.

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