Arch Manning: First Impression
Edwin Weathersby II
While we've been focused on the 2021 recruiting cycle, SI All-American is keenly aware of keeping tabs on future potential All-American and SI99 candidates.
Potentially among the top 2023 prospects will be quarterback Arch Manning of New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman. Yes, the name should sound familiar, as the young passer is the nephew of former NFL QBs Peyton and Eli Manning, and the grandson of legendary Ole Miss QB Archie Manning. Arch is the son of Cooper Manning, whom many whisper was actually best athlete out of the Manning brothers.
Arch was featured in a nationally televised game on Thursday night, with his Greenies taking on New Orleans (La.) Booker T. Washington. I was excited to get my first full look at Manning, and here's what I saw:
Body language & Size
On the hoof, Manning looked fairly close to 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, his listed size. I was most impressed with his lower half, as his calves appeared to possess strength, yet were still fairly sleek, which tells me he likely will grow another inch or 2.
Among the core elements a scout looks for when watching a QB play is his body language and demeanor. What I saw from Manning was a sophomore with solid body language and calm poise. The moment and stage wasn't too big for him, which is an important component.
Mental Processing & Physical Tools
I tallied 10 "drives" Manning was on the field for. He came into the game completing 73% of his passes, which intrigued me. Newman kept Manning in the gun, with its personnel groupings being almost exclusively 11 and 12. They ran mostly 2x2 sets, while mixing in standard 3x1 trips and spicing that with a few bunch looks. There were also a few downs from an empty set by the Newman offense.
The young passer impressed most of the night with a quick release and a smooth setup with his lower half in his delivery. He worked with quick-but-not rushed tempo and a solid internal clock from shotgun alignments.
Manning completed his first 5 passes, including his first throw on a vertical rail-shot into the honey hole vs. Cover-2, from the boundary to outside the numbers to the field. He showed arm strength, touch and vertical accuracy on this throw.
His 5th throw was also impressive and showed his potential in the vertical passing game. Manning slightly eluded the rush, maintained his vision downfield to process the route distribution by his 3x1 set vs. the coverage and hit a deep post by his No. 3 receiver.
Newman's route concepts for Manning were half-field reads, with him mainly throwing stops, slants, comebacks, posts, verts, a back shoulder-fade, bubble screens and hitting his TEs in the flat off slam releases. It was apparent his arm strength is trusted, as he was allowed to throw from the boundary to the field multiple times.
Manning was only under center twice. The first time was on his 2nd drive and the other was on his 9th drive. Both were QB-sneaks at the goal line to wedge into the end zone. However, he did showcase athleticism and second reaction production by eluding a few rushers and getting to the edges when flushed. He also worked a few sprint concepts, including hitting a comeback to his right and hitting an out-breaking route in the tight-zone at the goal line. Manning also had a solid 25-plus yard run to further illustrate his mobility.
A Few Hiccups
Manning did throw 2 interceptions, with the first appearing to be a case of perhaps one of his receivers running the wrong route. His second interception was on a throw to a slant where the corner closed and contested the catch-point, causing a deflection that fell to the incoming safety.
Manning's downfield accuracy somewhat faded in the middle in the game, as he missed 2 vertical throws on deep shots on his fourth drive. His 5th drive saw a timeout needing to be called due to the play clock expiring, something that Manning will only become more aware of as he develops and acquires more experience.
Manning finished 21/27 for 241 yards, 2 TDs, 2 rushing TDs and 2 INTs. It wasn't a dominant night through the air, as the Greenies' run game got going in the second half and anchored the offense. However, he flashed a combination of size, poise, quick release, plus arm strength and mobility, all traits of a potential high-end QB prospect and SI All-American candidate.
At this point Manning holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas, Duke and North Carolina, among others. It's a given his offer sheet will grow and his recruitment will be one of the most covered in recent memory.
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