Clayton Thorson | 1st Rounder or All Hype?

July 31, 2018

First it was Mel Kiper ranking Clayton Thorson as one of his top 5 underclassmen quarterbacks for the 2018 NFL and that continued to fester as Throson has shown up as a first round mock drafts both in 2017 and even early 2019 mocks. With this information we’ll take a look at what Thorson does well, what concerns there are and whether he’s got that first round potential or is this all hype.


What Clayton Thorson Does Well

In Northwestern’s offense Thorson throws a lot of quick strike passes getting the ball out fast to his weapons. This suits Thorson well as he can be very accurate on his short throws and shows the anticipation and timing to help lead his receivers to help pick up extra yardage. Thorson can make these throws from within the pocket and on the move either on designed roll outs and while extending the play. Another trait that Thorson has shown is the ability to manipulate the defenders with his eyes by staring down a receiver before going to his intended target.


Concerns about Clayton Thorson

With Thorson having success on his short throws his accuracy and success rate go significantly down the further the ball travels. A big reason for that is his lack of arm strength which causes the ball to flutter hanging up and allowing defenders to make a play on the ball. Thorson’s accuracy also dips when he tries to drive the balls on his throws leaving the ball of the mark high or to the side. Pressure also seems to really cause issues for Thorson who seems to panic and throw off his back foot. Against Wisconsin he threw two interceptions falling backwards and throwing the ball into traffic.



A lot of the hype and attention that Thorson has received can largely be tied to his sophomore season that saw him throw for 3,182 yards with 22 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Thorson failed to replicate those numbers this past year and then tore his ACL in the Music City Bowl basically forcing his hand to return for his senior season. Thorson has some traits that could allow him to develop into a low end starter but his lack of arm strength that causes issues with his accuracy and he doesn’t have anticipation skills needed to compensate. If Thorson can develop those anticipation skills it could help him out, but at this point he looks as if he’s destined to be a mid level backup in the league.

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