Notre Dame landed a talented 2021 offensive class, and the headliner among the skill player was standout quarterback Tyler Buchner. A tremendously gifted quarterback, Buchner has all the physical tools to eventually develop into a start behind center.
The film tells an impressive story. Here's my breakdown of Buchner based on his junior film.
Tyler Buchner, QB, San Diego (Calif.) Helix
ESPN: No. 39
SI99: No. 59
247Sports: No. 88
Rivals: No. 111
Composite: No. 65
Irish Breakdown Grade: 4.5 (Top 50 caliber player)
Upside Grade: 5.0
Analysis: Buchner had a monster junior season, throwing for 4,474 yards, 53 touchdowns and getting picked off just six times. He’s an advanced passer that still has plenty of room to improve from both a physical and technical aspect.
The 6-2, 200-pound quarterback plays with a great deal of swagger and is clearly incredibly confident in his talent. Both are traits I desire in a quarterback. In the limited interactions I've had with Buchner he comes across as humble yet engaging off the field.
Buchner does not have a bazooka for an arm, but it still grades out well. What makes his arm talent elite on my grading scale is that he combines an extremely quick release with his natural arm strength. His throwing motion reminds me of a right-handed version of Tua Tagovailoa in that it’s a bit low and long, but extremely fast.
In the above clip you can see Buchner's quick release, and his ability to quickly set his feet when he's ready to throw. His base in the pocket is impressive, he's mobile, his footwork allows him to quickly get in throwing position and he shows poise and a good feel for how to handle pressure.
Not since Jimmy Clausen have I seen a Notre Dame quarterback prospect show the advanced feel for playing the position that Buchner did as a junior. He shows advanced anticipation and timing. There is snap after snap on film where Buchner is releasing the ball before his receiver is out of his break, and there are downfield throws where the receiver is just getting into his top end when Buchner lets the ball go. His ability to throw receivers open is on the level you’d expect from a college quarterback, not a high school junior.
This clip is just one example. The wide receiver is just getting into the top end of his curl route when Buchner starts throwing the football. Even if the defensive back read the route perfectly the timing of the throw would have made it incredibly hard to make a play on the ball.
One area where I’d like to see Buchner improve is that he has a tendency to come off his back foot too early and throws too much off his front foot. You can see it in the above clip. This can alter his release point, which leads to some bouts of inaccuracy. He’s not inaccurate from a completion-incompletion standpoint in high school, but his ball placement isn’t as good as it can be and needs to be at the next level. If he can clean this up his precision as a passer will take off.
Buchner is incredibly diverse. He can play a clean game from the pocket, he can be a gunslinger that changes arm angles and throws on the move, and he look like a run-throw quarterback, evidenced by his 1,610 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns. He is extremely quick getting downhill as a runner, he’s elusive and the native of California has the long speed needed to rip off long runs.
Buchner's combination of athleticism, arm talent, high football IQ and production is truly elite. I rarely grade out juniors as five stars, but there's literally not a weakness to his game right now from a physical or mental standpoint. He'll need more experience and he must continue to clean up his footwork, which could cause him a few more problems against better competition, but the raw tools that Buchner bring to the game are special.
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