Heading into 2021, it was thought that North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell had a chance to solidify himself as maybe the top QB prospect entering this year's NFL Draft.
Howell still remains among the biggest names among this year's crop of quarterbacks, but like this year's class in general, the optimism surrounding him has tempered a bit.
That came as, after the Tar Heels' top two running backs and top wide receiver all left for the NFL last year, Howell saw a regression in his passing numbers across the board.
Howell went from completing more than 68 percent of his passes for 3,586 yards, 30 touchdowns, and averaging 10.3 yards per attempt in 2020 to 62.5 percent, 3,056 yards, 24 touchdowns, and two fewer yards per attempt on his passes.
One area that saw a huge jump was his ability to create with his legs, as Howell forced 63 broken tackles on his way to rushing for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Howell was commended for the toughness he showed this season in fighting through the struggles of last year.
While his completion percentage saw a decline, he's considered to be an accurate thrower with good arm strength.
There are several holes to note in his game, starting with how he can unravel in the red zone with poor decision-making.
Howell needs to work on his awareness in the pocket, and there's the concern that coming from a spread offense that featured a lot of set alignments and manufactured throws could lead him to have a significant adjustment to NFL playbooks.
For any team that might be interested, they should understand that Howell will likely need at least a year behind a trusted veteran quarterback to develop, something the Las Vegas Raiders have with Derek Carr.
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