Mike Bercovici waited his turn before assuming the starting quarterback job for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Once lodged in a starting role, he exhibited plenty of traits associated with NFL signal-callers -- in areas of strength and where he'll need to improve -- that can be spotted while casually viewing him:
- He's got a cannon arm
- He's an emotional leader
- Antsy, streaky
- Good mechanics
- Primarily makes half-field reads and two-man progressions
Upon making an attempt at further studying Bercovici's game, here's what I was able to make note of:
- Once a rapport is built/familiarity established, will show trust in No. 1 target and give them ample opportunity (i.e. Jaelen Strong, Devin Lucien)
- utilizes his mobility to extend plays and tucks-and-runs more often than you'd think, and sacrifices body for yardage
- makes a lot of quick checks/safe throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage
- accuracy is OK; trusts arm strength
- is a facilitator, but flashes ability to create
- makes a lot of great throws on the move
There's some potential here. We're not saying he'll walk right into an NFL camp and supplant a current starter (all power to him should he, though), but as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said, the former Sun Devils' arm and mobility are redeeming traits that could earn him a look.
Below, in order to show Bercovici's case for being drafted this week, we're going to take a page from Derrik Klassen of PlaymakerMentality.com's book (he was the first I've seen break down QB prospects in this manner) and break down the top-10 NFL-caliber throws of Bercovici's career.
No. 10: Completion to Tim White vs Arizona (2015)
This throw is impressive because Bercovici makes it from the opposite hash to the far side of the field, picking up a crucial third down late in the game. Notice his footwork, along with the follow through into the pass, finding White on the deep out without guiding him out of bounds, and giving him a chance to extend the play.
No. 9: Touchdown to D.J. Foster vs USC (2014)
Touch, accuracy and poise needed here to complete this one. Foster does get separation while running a seam crossing the middle of the field, but Bercovici plants it on him, leading him into the end zone. The call is four-verticals, and Bercovici places it away from the incoming safety, safely into the hands of Foster.
No. 8: On the Move to Jaelen Strong vs Stanford (2014)
Bercovici makes this throw on the run, in-between two defenders, nailing Strong on a corner route in front of the boundary. The rollout to the right side of the field took some effort, but the accuracy and velocity of the pass make it a pro-level throw on a playcall involving a spot-concept route combination.
No. 7: Rope to Gary Chambers vs Washington State (2015)
This is personally my favorite throw of the bunch. The ball arrives just ahead of the defender -- in front of two more -- and gives Chambers the chance to make something happen after the catch.
No. 6: Climbs Pocket, Fires to Foster vs Stanford (2014)
Bercovici steps up in the pocket, keeps his shoulders square towards his target, and rifles a pass on the move to Foster with a defender closing in on him. Mechanics, it appears, serving a key role in helping him maintain velocity while on the run.
No. 5: Sideline Dime to Devin Lucien vs West Virginia (2015-16)
Sure, Lucien was torching that poor defender all game and Bercovici didn't take his eyes off of him, but this is simply a display of chemistry coming together.
It can also be noted that good quarterbacks get the ball into their good targets' hands, and No. 2 did just that here, doing so with some fierce pace on the pass, between two defenders and the sideline, too.
No. 4: Rolls, Comes Back, Takes Hit, Finds Tim White vs West Virginia (2015-16)
Bercovici extends the play, keeps his head up, shows feel in the pocket, then shows off his arm strength by getting it to a wide-open White.
No. 3: Dime to Jalen Harvey vs Arizona (2015)
I might be underselling this throw here, but this is a beautiful pass. With a clean pocket and time to step into the pass, Bercovici gets it to Harvey very quickly, as it arrives in about two seconds.
No. 2: Squeezes TD to Foster vs UCLA (2015)
Timing, accuracy, velocity -- it all came together here in what was ultimately a short-lived play.
It's a gorgeous find, splitting two waves of defenders: one at the LOS, the other clamping down on his target.
No. 1: Rolls, Finds Cameron Smith vs USC (2014)
I know, the Jael Mary ended up being the story of the game, and deserves to be considered as Bercovici's greatest heave as a Sun Devil. However, this play is the one that's resonated with me the most while trying to think of the best throw I've seen him make.
It's an all-timer. He goes through at least two progressions, then makes the read on the run, directing Smith to the open space with two defenders breathing down his neck. Bercovici delivered a rope to his target, past the outstretched arm of the defender, allowing Smith to coast to six points.
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Personally, my impression is that Bercovici ends up at the very least earning a practice squad look. He has some work to do as far as displaying his ability to work progressions and show overall consistency, but his mechanical function, his athleticism and his huge arm are what I'd consider to be his redeemable qualities.
Time for honorable mentions:
1. Bomb to Lucien vs Arizona (2015)
2. Last-second, Manziel-esque designed flip to Raymond Epps vs Cal (2015)
3. Lob to Lucien vs Cal (2015)
4. Bomb to wide-open Lucien vs Arizona (2015)
5. Steps Through Pass Rusher, Connects on Timing Route w/Lucien vs West Virginia (2015-16)