The Cincinnati Bengals selected Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. What should fans expect of him?
The Cincinnati Bengals have made some shuffles during the offseason at the backup quarterback positions. With A.J. McCarron leaving via free agency for the Buffalo Bills, it left a hole behind veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. Cincinnati signed free agent Matt Barkley from a veteran standpoint and drafted Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside in the seventh-round of the draft.
Woodside had a very successful career at Toledo in his three years as a starter. Throwing for10,274 yards, 92 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions he has gotten fans excited about his possibilities at the next level. One thing to remember when looking at Woodside, however, is the level of competition he faced at Toledo in the MAC conference.
Not that playing in the MAC conference means a player can’t succeed in the NFL. Players like Ben Roethlisberger, Khalil Mack, and Antonio Brown all played in the MAC and are some of the best at their respected positions. However, only two quarterbacks out of the MAC conference have been starters at the NFL level for an extended period which include Roethlisberger and former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Bryon Leftwich.
While his arm strength is nothing special, probably average, he makes up for it with high football IQ and above average accuracy. He has some of the best accuracy and ball placement in short yardage throws but when he tries to push the ball down the field, that accuracy falls dramatically. Of course, there were some deep throws that looked beautiful but overall, his deep ball is something to worry about. Woodside’s footwork allows him to put his entire body into throws which can often make up for the lack of arm strength, but when he tries to put extra power behind his deep ball, his accuracy, and velocity fall.
Woodside will likely be a third-string quarterback or practice squad player for the Bengals in 2018. My guess, he pushes Jeff Driskel out and takes the third spot on the depth chart. It will take time for Woodside to learn the system and develop before he is ready to backup Dalton which is why Cincinnati brought in Barkley on a one-year deal.
At Toledo, Woodside benefited from a scheme that often had his first read drawn open. In fact, in the games that I watched of Woodside, almost all of his passes were to his first read. He will have to learn to go through his progressions on a more consistent basis at the NFL level. The Toledo prospect will also have to learn to manage under pressure of faster and stronger defensive linemen as he struggled to complete passes and maintain accuracy when forced to move outside of the pocket.
Working with Andy Dalton and the quarterback coaches can help with some of these flaws that Woodside possesses, but there are some that he might not be able to overcome. Given that Woodside already has three years of experience, it worries me that he won’t be able to fully develop into a starting caliber quarterback at the NFL level. On the contrary, playing at Toledo, the young quarterback hasn’t had high caliber coaching or players to sit behind either.
Arm strength can be worked on to some extent working with professional trainers, but the tunnel vision and lack of ability under pressure are what concern me. If Woodside cannot learn to consistently go through post-snap reads and make plays when his first read doesn’t come open, he will likely stay a backup at the next level. That’s not to say that backup-caliber quarterbacks can’t find themselves starting somewhere down the road for a quarterback-needy team and if they prove themselves when the opportunity comes.
Case Keenum is a prime example as he has moved around teams before getting a shot in Minnesota last season due to injuries. Keenum thrived in Minnesota mostly due to the weapons around him and a top-tier defense that helped carry the team. During the offseason, Keenum signed for a payday with the Denver Broncos finally making starter money. If Woodside ends up a starter in the league at some point, this would be the route it would likely take.
Woodside still can be a solid contributor at some point for Cincinnati. Having a quarterback that can step in right away and help his team not fall down the gutter as McCarron did with the Bengals in 2015 is extremely valuable. Just look at Nick Foles for the Philadelphia Eagles last season after their starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down. Like the Eagles, Cincinnati would have to make some significant adjustments if Woodside were to step in but he could be a valuable backup in the next year or two.