Seasoned NFL Scout Would Push Back on ESPN’s Lowly View of Taylen Green

Taylen Green, Arkansas football, ESPN
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

Quarterback, like it or not, is still the most important position on the football field.

The Arkansas football program has had experience there for nearly the entirety of the Sam Pittman era, with Feleipe Franks stepping in as a graduate transfer from Florida in 2020 and then KJ Jefferson armed with his two years of experience and learning under his belt for each of the last three seasons.

The Razorbacks will have experience there this year as well, with Boise State transfer Taylen Green taking control of the reins. This time, he’ll be running former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino’s offense.

ESPN’s Take on Taylen Green

It’s no surprise that Arkansas is predicted to win fewer than the six games this season, as you can see in the latest college football lines. Individual prognostications, it turns out, aren’t too much better. ESPN released its “Quarterback Tier” rankings for 2024 earlier this month and Arkansas was all the way down in Tier 11a of 14. With that, it doesn’t look like ESPN is particularly high on Green.

In that tier are other quarterbacks such as his teammate, Malachi Singleton, Baylor’s Dequann Finn, Sawyer Robertson and RJ Martinez, Cal’s Chandler Rogers and Fernando Mendoza, Indiana’s Kurtis Rourke and Tayven Jackson, Vanderbilt’s Diego Pavia and Nate Johnson and Wake Forest’s Hank Bachmeier, Michael Kern and Jeremy Hecklinski.

That tier, according to writer David Hale, essentially deems these quarterbacks as serviceable, but nothing more than that. At Boise State a year ago, Green threw for 1,755 yards on 121 of 212 attempts, for a 57.1 completion percentage. He had 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, after throwing 14 TDs and only 6 interceptions the year prior.

Compared to the rest of the tier, some of the others threw the ball a lot more, but weren’t asked to do nearly what Green did in the run game, as he had 78 carries for 436 yards and nine touchdowns.

One thing that the Worldwide Leader did at least acknowledge about Green was that no Group of 5 quarterback had rushed for more touchdowns than Green in the previous two seasons (19).

Not Everyone is a Hater

That’s a stark contrast to an assessment shared by Eric Galko – a respected voice in the NFL scouting world who also serves as the Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel for the Shrine Bowl.

Galko recently spoke glowingly on Twitter/X about Green, saying that physically and athletically, he is as impressive as any quarterback in the country.

His emerging ability as a passer, however, is where Galko thinks he could really shine this season, especially because he will have a lot more than last season’s 212 pass attempts.

Last week, Galko went on ‘Out of Bounds’ with Wess Moore and Joe Franklin on the Buzz in Little Rock and was grilled about Green. He spoke on things he could improve and why he thinks Bobby Petrino will help him unlock his full potential.

Moore led into the interview by describing Razorback fans as being “cautiously optimistic” about what they have in Green.

“I’m not even sure Taylen Green knows what he has in himself,” said Galko, who earned a J.D. from Villanova.

Moore’s co-host, Joe Franklin, asked Galko to compare Green to Jefferson, and Galko said that Green could do some things that even Jefferson couldn’t in his heyday.

“He could be pretty special,” Galko said. “You look at the numbers at Boise State and you think there’s no way this guy could be an NFL quarterback, and then you turn on the film. One thing he can do really well is scan the field, especially once he gets outside the pocket.

“He’ll find that second and third progression. Plus his ability to improvise with both his legs and his arm, again, outside of the pocket. Those 11-15 attempts he had at Boise State are going to turn into 25-30 attempts at Arkansas. He’ll have the opportunity to turn a 5-yard slant into a 25 or 30-yard throw downfield.”

Going through progressions was something Jefferson struggled with, albeit some of that was due to the quick-strike RPO scheme that Kendal Briles was running the first three years he was there. Once Dan Enos came in, it really became glaring.

Moore then brought up with Galko that Green had 264 yards rushing after contact last season despite his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame. While it was in the Mountain West, that’s still noteworthy.

“He’s a confident runner,” Galko said. “He will lower his shoulder and make guys miss. It’s honestly pretty impressive. He’s not Cam Newton-level, but there are times he might show some of those types of flashes, especially early in the season.”

Petrino’s Return a Huge Plus for Arkansas Football

Both hosts brought up Bobby Petrino and how Taylen Green will fit in running his scheme.

“Schematically, he’s going to create big plays,” Galko said. “If he throws 30 passes in a game, 20 of them are going to be easy for him, with plays built on each other, play-action, half-field reads. That way, the quarterback is going to be way less stressed.” In a later interview with Hit That Line’s Tye Richardson, Galko upped his estimate of the schemed “easy” passes that Green will get to 80% of the total he’ll attempt per game.

Even if Green ends up in the 70% range, that will be a whole lot better than what KJ Jefferson experienced in 2023.

The offensive line was abysmal, and led to the offense totally torpedoing and Dan Enos’ demise after eight games. Petrino is likely banking on that department being much better this fall, but it’s not like Eric Mateos’ group at Baylor last year was a stone wall.

“(Petrino) does a great job of setting his quarterbacks up for success,” Galko said. “Taylen is not going to have to worry about where this ball has to go, what is the receiver going to do? The offense is going to be humming on 75 percent of those plays, and when they ask Taylen to step up, he’ll be ready for it.”

Jefferson was ready to step up each of the last three seasons as well, and definitely did at times. The offensive line turning into a sieve certainly didn’t help matters, along with losing the continuity when changes were made at the coordinator spot.

Fair or not, that plays just as big of a role in a quarterback’s national reputation.

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Hear the entire interview with Galko here, starting at the 25:00 mark:

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