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Luke Falk’s game isn’t sexy, but effective

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The senior quarterback enters a crucial year for his draft stock.

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Minnesota vs Washington State
Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) looks to pass against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Falk isn’t a quarterback who will beat a defense by throwing a deep ball, but that’s ok. The deep ball isn’t the only trait needed for a quarterback to succeed in the NFL. Falk has been the featured centerpiece of his offense the past two seasons, and knows how to put a team on his back to win games — and that is something that translates in the NFL.

The Washington State quarterback is a team captain who has lead the Cougars to two straight bowl games. Falk has completed 1,046/1,520 (68.8 percent) of his passes, for 10,888 yards, 89 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. While Falk isn’t surrounded with the talent level that most high-profile quarterbacks have, he has shown to make mature decisions by trusting his teammates to make a play on tight-window throws. At 6’4” and 215 pounds, he has the desirable body frame and arm strength to push the ball to any distance of the field.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State
Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths: Give Falk the ball and he’ll drive the offense downfield until they score. He makes mature decisions and shows great poise on third downs and in the red zone. He’s not going to get overwhelmed by putting the offense on his back. His conservative decision making is used to frequently hit targets on crossing patterns in the intermediate areas effectively, and he’s able to release the ball quickly and on time on short routes.

His mechanics and throwing motions are smooth and consistent, and he’s able to fling the ball quickly and accurately from over the top without using a wind-up throwing motion. He has decent arm strength to make most throws, but needs to make them accurately on a consistent basis. Showed some flashes of threading the needle on throws under pressure.

Weaknesses: As per usual, questions will arise about the ability to translate from the Air Raid offense to an NFL offense. Since the Air Raid produces a lot of short to intermediate throws, Falk isn’t used to executing tight-window throws required in the NFL.

Despite being a conservative decision maker, he often throws into double coverage on deep balls. His balls often stay in the air for too long, resulting in the safety coming across the field and undercutting the route. Falk struggled with downfield throws, completing less than 30% of targets over 20 yards down the field. He’s an average athlete who is heavy-footed and isn’t going to outrun anyone on defense.

He must avoid pre-determining throws based on match ups on deep targets. Just because it’s one-on-one coverage at the beginning of the play, doesn’t mean it will be by the time the throw is made.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State
Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Overall assessment: Luke Falk won’t be a franchise-changing quarterback, but he has the potential to be a solid one. He must sit his first year and learn behind a veteran, but I like him as a potential game-managing type quarterback in a simple offense. He returned to Washington State for a fifth year instead of declaring for the NFL last year, which was an appropriate decision based on his film.

Falk shows good touch and is very accurate with the ball on shorter throws, but he doesn’t have the arm and vertical passing ability that jaw-dropping statistics would suggest. While he needs to develop more of an accurate deep ball, he commands the offense by hitting targets between the hashes and toward the sidelines. He needs to avoid pre-determining his throws until reading the secondary movement after the snap is made.

Falk has tools to be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL, but he needs time to develop and is considered a project. He needs better vertical touch, secondary reads and decision making to ease concerns.

Prediction: Third round