Notre Dame has had just one quarterback drafted during the Brian Kelly era, but Ian Book hopes to double that number in the 2021 NFL Draft. Book completed a three-year starting career for the Irish, and now he is looking to continue his playing career.
Below is my analysis of Book from a scouting standpoint.
IAN BOOK PRO DAY MEASURABLES
Arm: 31 3/8"
Wingspan: 75 7/8%
Hands: 9 7/8"
Pro Shuttle: 4.13
Vertical: 32 1/2"
NOTRE DAME STATS
2020: 353 att., 228 com., 64.6%, 2,830 yards, 15 TD, 3 INT - 144.25 rating
2019: 399 att., 240 com., 60.2%, 3,034 yards, 34 TD, 6 INT - 149.13 rating
2018: 314 att., 214 com., 68.2%, 2,628 yards, 19 TD, 7 INT - 153.96 rating
2017: 75 att., 46 com., 61.3%, 456 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT - 119.33 rating
2020: 485 rush yards, 4.2 YPC, 9 TD
2019: 546 rush yards, 4.9 YPC, 4 TD
2018: 280 rush yards, 3.0 YPC, 4 TD
2017: 207 rush yards, 5.6 YPC, 0 TD
Career Pass: 1,141 att., 728 com., 63.8%, 8,948 yards, 72 TD, 20 INT - 147.0 rating
Career Rush: 1,517 rush yards, 4.2 YPC, 17 TD
PRO DAY RECAP
Book's Pro Day performance was up and down. The best part was his testing performance, which was outstanding. Book showed off impressive speed numbers (4.59) and top-notch athletic traits (pro shuttle, 3-cone). That confirmed the athleticism that we see on film.
His throwing performance wasn't nearly as good, as book finished 53-61 (two drops) on non warmup throws. Book was solid on short to intermediate throws (combined 38-41), but even then he was off target more than he should when throwing on air.
Book went just 7-12 on deep throws (20+ yards), and his misses weren't even close. Two of his deep completions were on throws where his wideout had to slow down to catch the ball. The former Irish signal caller certainly didn't answer the questions about his deep ball skills.
Book finished well with a solid red zone/goal session.
EXPERIENCE: Book started 35 games during his Notre Dame career, and the Irish were 30-5 in those starts. The California native played in many big games as well, starting two playoff games, an ACC title game, and big regular season games against opponents like Georgia and Clemson. Book knows how to handle the spotlight, and his emotions always seemed steady, calm and his poise was impressive. He always seemed to be a steadying presence on offense and was a two-time captain.
The knock on his resume is that Notre Dame went just 5-5 with Book at the helm against opponents that finished ranked, and the Irish were 0-3 in playoff/conference title games.
MENTAL/PHYSICAL TOUGHNESS: One thing that you have to love about Book is that even when he wasn't playing well it never seemed to snowball. He was the type of quarterback that if he was struggling for three quarters, if given a chance to make a play late he was ready to handle it. Other than the 2019 Georgia game, Book made clutch plays late in games when the outcome was in doubt. We saw that in the Clemson game during the regular season in 2020. The best example was the 2019 Virginia Tech game. Book was pretty bad the first three quarters, throwing a pair of red zone interceptions, but with the game on the line in the fourth quarter he made multiple clutch plays to lead the Irish to a comeback victory.
Book is an undersized quarterback but he never played like it. He was able to take punishment, he was willing to deliver it if needed and his style of play seemed to be infectious for his teammates. Outside of a rib injury in his first season (2018) that cost him one game (Northwestern), Book was able to stay healthy despite carrying the ball a lot and taking a lot of hits.
PLAYMAKING ABILITY (LEGS)/ATHLETICISM: Book's athleticism wasn't just reserved for the Pro Day, you saw it on film throughout his career. He made many plays with his legs throughout his career. Book has the kind of speed to split gaps and get up field, he can outrun bigger defenders to the corner and when he tucks the ball Book is a natural runner that knows how to hit holes and make defenders miss. Book was more productive during his career when it came to making plays with his legs when pass plays broke down, but he's capable of making plays on designed runs as well.
RELEASE: Book has a quick, compact release, which helps him overcome the lack of elite arm talent you see from other quarterbacks. Book showed the ability to throw off-platform, but he wasn't asked to do it as much due to Notre Dame's more pro-style attack that asked him to play more on-platform as a passer. Book keeps that quick release when he's moving around the pocket and he throws well on the run.
You can see Book's athleticism (quickly flips his hips) and quick release in this touchdown throw to Cole Kmet. Book's quick release helped him avoid getting many balls batted, which is one way he negated his lack of size.
ARM STRENGTH: Book doesn't have the cannon that the top quarterbacks in this draft class possess, but I believe it's stronger than he's often given credit for. He gets good zip on short to intermediate throws, and when he's actually been willing to throw confidently down the field he displayed the ability to stretch the field with the vertical passing game.
In this throw you see Book's quick, compact release. He doesn't have to muscle up this ball and it still goes over 50 yards and hits a 4.4 receiver in stride. This was also against the only ranked opponent Notre Dame beat in 2019, so this wasn't against a bad opponent. I'm someone who believes that if you can do it once you're capable of doing it often, at least physically, and I've always felt Book was capable of being a more effective deep ball passer.
His deep ball numbers in 2019 reflected that, as Book completed 33-63 deep throws (20+ yards past the line of scrimmage) for 994 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was far more comfortable attacking deep later in the season due to the presence of high NFL Draft picks Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet on the roster, plus Braden Lenzy.
AREAS OF CONCERN
POCKET FEEL: Book made a lot of plays with his legs, but far too often he put himself in bad positions because he rushed his footwork in the pocket. When he got pressured Book had a tendency to focus on the pass rush, and when he moved around he would often take his eyes off the downfield reads. There were many instances during his career when he would spin outside into pressure instead of stepping into the pocket, and his unwillingness to climb and throw kept him from making a lot of downfield throws that were there to be had.
DEEP BALL ACCURACY/WILLINGNESS: While I believe Book has the arm strength to be a better deep ball throw, his unwillingness to aggressively attack down the field for much of his career kept him from being more productive in this area. When Book was willing to go vertically he was effective, and we saw that again in 2020 against Clemson. The issue, however, is the instances of him being that aggressive on downfield routes were too few and far between.
For Book it was more about an unwillingness to attack downfield than it was a lack of ability. This throw in the Cotton Bowl against Clemson is a perfect example of Book's unwillingness to attack down the field, and how it limited the offense on far too many occasions. He made this exact same throw for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Pitt that same season (another game he struggled early but was clutch when it mattered), but on this snap against Clemson he was unwilling to climb the pocket and let the ball loose, despite the fact Miles Boykin had a step on Trayvon Mullen.
That unwillingness often resulted in him being less accurate down the field, but there were also a few too many instances in which Book willingly attacked down the field but was simply off target.
TIMING/ANTICIPATION: The clip above also shows an example of Book's struggles to throw with the necessary timing and anticipation you need to be a dominant quarterback, especially in the NFL. You cannot wait for receivers to get open, you have to throw them open. In the clip above the read should have been simple for Book. Boykin had the inside and he had a step on the corner, and the safety to that side was flat-footing and reading the drag, which should have immediately sent Book to the one-on-one post route.
Far too frequently Book waited on receivers to get out of their breaks, or for them to get a step on a receiver, before he lets loose of the ball. With his quick release and arm talent he could have been a much more deadly thrower, and we saw it early in the 2018 season. When Book was first inserted into the starting lineup you saw him just let it loose, and he was much more aggressive throwing the ball with good timing.
If you want to see Book at a high level go back and watch the Stanford game in 2018. The problem, however, is that as Book gained more experience he seemed far less willing to be that aggressive attacking down the field, and he was far less effective to throw receivers open.
PROGRESSIONS: Part of the issue for Book is he just never developed the comfort or speed working through progressions that you'd expect from someone with his experience. In fact, the deeper Book got into his Notre Dame career the less effective he was going through progressions, especially when it came to finding secondary downfield reads. You'd expect a player with 35 starts under his belt to be a whiz when it comes to reading the defense, getting the ball out on time and picking defenses apart, but Book was better at that in his first eight starts than he was in his last eight starts.
Here you see an example from the ACC title game. Notre Dame is running a simple curl-flat concept on a 3rd-and-11, and you can see Book rushing through his read. There was just no rhythm here, and we saw that a lot throughout his career, and it caused him to miss a lot of opportunities like this.
Book has a lot of intangible traits that you want in a backup quarterback. He's a leader, he's mentally tough, he's experienced, he's smart, he's gritty and he has enough arm talent to be a more effective thrower than we've seen. When you combine that with his mobility and playmaking ability out of the pocket and it would be easy to see a team or two falling in love with him in the later rounds.
NFL PLAYER COMP: Easton Stick, North Dakota State (5th Round - 2019)
NFL DRAFT RANGE: Round 5-7 to undrafted
To comment below be sure to sign up for a FREE Disqus account, which you can get HERE.
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content, our premium message board and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook