2016 Shrine Game Feature: Quarterback Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky

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The 2016 Shrine Game features a slew of intriguing quarterback prospects. Blake Frohnapfel, Vernon Adams Jr. and Nate Sudfeld have all gotten some attention as legitimate UDFA signings, if not draftees, but Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty is the main attraction in St. Petersburg.

By: Derrik Klassen

A Florida native, Doughty took his talents to Western Kentucky after graduating high school. He sat during his first two seasons, but assumed the job the next year and started at quarterback for the Hilltoppers for three years. His first year as a starter was filled with trial and error. Though, he bettered himself exponentially the next season, and continued to improve for his final season. Doughty racked up 111 passing touchdowns in his three years as a starter, 97 of which came in the final two seasons. He also threw for nearly 10,000 yards through his last two seasons while averaging 9.05 yards per pass. That level of efficiency was among the best in the nation over that span. That said, it must be kept in mind that Doughty was playing in the C-USA.

Level of competition is not always telling of a prospect, but it can be for some. For example, Doughty’s worst game of the 2015 season came against a superior LSU team. Considering WKU’s offense was not nearly as talented as LSU’s defense, it would be understandable for Doughty to not have had his best game, but he struggled all game long, leaving a lot of bad plays to be solely his fault. Be it nerves or him being overwhelmed by the talent gap, Doughty did not have a good day vs quality competition, but in an All-Star game environment, he has an opportunity to redeem himself some.

It is going to be important for Doughty to not only prove he can function against a team chalked full of other talents equally as good as him, but to function well when a play breaks down and he is forced to improvise with a team he is unfamiliar with. Doughty is used to working within his system and winning in a designed, controlled manner. He took to his collegiate system very well, understanding the ins-and-outs of it very well. His understanding and confidence in the offense is what allowed him to throw for nearly 100 touchdowns in two seasons. Doughty is much less impressive when he is forced out of his comfort zone, though.

Most notably, Doughty is slow to move around the pocket because he is so accustomed to being able to get the ball out where he wants to. When his originally intended target is covered, Doughty can freeze a bit and fail to take advantage of the open areas of the pocket, leaving himself to be a sitting duck in the pocket. Doughty’s inability to create himself becomes even more problematic when considering he is not comfortable functioning with other bodies around him. In a cluttered pocket, Doughty gets antsy and tends to make rushed decisions, often leading to poor throws. Lucky for him, C-USA defenses seldom got the pleasure of disrupting his process. He gutted most of the defenses he faced because he was allowed to flow within the structure of the offense. Whether or not he will be able to do so at the Shrine Game will be interesting.

Another reason for intrigue is Doughty’s arm. Now, he does not have an outwardly bad arm, but seldom did his arm impress much on film. With Doughty being a much more accurate passer over the middle and his arm generally not looking to deliver passes with great velocity, there is reason to be concerned about his arm being NFL quality. This could be exposed during practices leading up to the event. Shrine Game practices are known for their brutal wind conditions. Quarterbacks are forced to cut the wind and fight through the wind, but some passers just can’t deliver accurate passes because the wind is stronger than their arm is. Doughty does not have a spectacular arm, but he should survive.

Aside from his acumen and ability to operate an offensive system to its highest efficiency, Doughty’s best trait is his flashes of brilliant ball placement. He is not always the deadliest pinpoint passer, but he is good for a few absolute dimes per game. With as good as he runs the core concepts of the offense that move the chains, completing the explosive throws down field is a strong trait to possess. Completing the throws that threaten the defense down the field then enable him to more easily complete the shorter throws that are the beef of the offense, sparking an endless cycle of offense creating offense.

Brandon Doughty is the typical ‘ long-term backup quarterback’ type prospect, and that is fine. With as well as he operates an offensive system and his moments of top notch accuracy, Doughty can make a quality insurance policy behind an established starter and keep the offense chugging along if the starter goes down. He is not a dynamic player, but he can provide the stability needed out of a backup quarterback. There are not enough quality backup quarterbacks around the league, and there is no shame in Doughty becoming one of those few backup quarterbacks that can be trusted.

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