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NFL Draft Profile: Sam Howell, Quarterback, UNC Tar Heels

NFL draft profile scouting report for UNC quarterback, Sam Howell


Pos: QB
Ht: 6005
Wt: 218
Hand: 0918
Arm: 3068
Wing: 7548
DOB: 9/16/00
Eligible: 2022
Indian Trail, NC
Sun Valley High School

Sam Howell
UNC Tar Heels


Undersized, poised passer who is very accurate and can extend plays. Has an average arm and takes too many sacks. Should at least be a good backup who can be a solid starting quarterback.


Very accurate passer who throws to leverage and away from defenders. Howell makes easy throws look easy underneath and has a pretty deep ball with lots of air underneath it to drop it over the shoulder into the bucket. He is very poised in the pocket, hanging in there for a long time. Quickness in the pocket allows him to move laterally and avoid the rush. Howell steps up into the pocket and finds lanes to step up into to get deep balls out from a muddy pocket. Keeping his eyes downfield allows him to locate targets on the move. He finds an uncontained edge and escapes quickly, displaying his acceleration and scrambling ability which bails him out of tough spots. Howell knows when to attack certain routes such as outs and gets the ball there reliably.


Possessing just average arm strength and velocity, Howell does not wow when driving the football. His deep passes can travel for very long, letting safeties come over and make a play on them. He tends to get late to his targets over the middle, causing them to get hit. Howell gets passes batted at the line and deflected by underneath defenders as he is unable to get over them, lacking height. He takes too many sacks because he fails to identify blitzes pre-snap and does not have an internal clock. Has a narrow base and gets a lazy backfoot, not rotating his lower body around. Howell flips the ball in his hands to find the laces. He does not always slide as a runner.


Undersized passer who operates an RPO-heavy offense with many designed shots. Howell is extremely accurate to all three levels of the field and plays poised in the pocket. His arm strength and velocity are average and he takes too many sacks. Howell projects as a very good backup who can be a potential starter. If he can adapt to an NFL offense, Howell can distribute the ball accurately and run a system reliably. Outside of extending plays, he does not add an element that will consistently elevate an offense. 


Raised in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Born September 16, 2000. Four-star recruit according to 247Sports. Son of Amy and Duke Howell. Was named 2018 North Carolina Gatorade player of the year. Started at quarterback for four years in high school. Will be a three-year starter for the Tar Heels. Major is unknown. Academic standout. Has drawn comparisons to Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield due to his playing style and physical appearance. 



Current Player Value/Potential Player Value


Film Don’t Lie: Sam Howell is a Good Quarterback but a Limited One

Latest News

“One thing I’ve learned in my many years as a head coach is that nobody knows what’s going to happen in the draft. There’s so many models … but it takes just one team to pick you, and those teams aren’t going to show their cards now and tell you who they’re going to draft. I sure hope he’s in the first round.” -- Mack Brown on Sam Howell

2/6/22 - An under-the-radar winner of the week, Howell quietly had a strong showing in Mobile and answered some questions about his game. In-person, the velocity on his passes was better than expected and supported by the data of a 525.6 Spin rate that led all quarterbacks on day two of practice. (Zack Patraw, NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated) Howell also has good athleticism and the ability to move the pocket with his legs, as evident by his 2021 UNC tape and lone American team touchdown on his run into the endzone. When speaking with an NFL network reporter, he said: "Yea, I have liked what I have seen out of Sam. He looks to be a good projection." Look for Howell to continue to gain notoriety in this year's evaluation process. 

-Pro Football Focus has University of North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell ranked as their second-best quarterback. As we continue into the evaluation process, the big question will be who the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class will be. While the upcoming quarterback prospects aren't as talented as in recent drafts, there are still plenty of teams that will be looking to jump on one of them early. Howell currently sits behind Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler, who has been widely regarded as the top quarterback for the next draft. Howell currently sits third in our NFL Draft Bible summer rankings and will need to prove that he can grow and make strides in his game before being talked about as the top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class. He stands at 6012 225 pounds — decent size for an NFL quarterback. Howell completed 68.1% of his passes last year and threw for 30 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He won't be a quarterback that will generate yards with his legs as he has only rushed for 181 yards in his two seasons with the Tar Heels — just 35 of those yards coming last season. (07/14/21)

-There's a lot to like about Howell's game. He has very quick hands (which show up in the RPO plays the Tar Heels feature heavily) and a live arm. The ball jumps out of his hand and he throws a firm, catchable ball. His placement is outstanding on the deep ball. He also excels on the seam ball in the middle of the field, showing the ability to get the ball over linebackers and underneath safeties. He isn't a dynamic athlete, but he displays the agility to escape and extend plays. He takes the free yards the defense gives him in the run game, and he fights for extra yards after contact. He operates in a simple offensive system, but he does have quick eyes to work from one side of the field to the other. (Daniel Jeremiah, (06/19/21)

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