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JT Barrett must overcome inconsistencies to have a chance at NFL dream

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Another subpar year could doom his draft stock.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass against the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. 
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

J.T. Barrett is one of college football’s most athletic dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. His running ability and pocket awareness makes him one of the toughest players in the country to tackle, but he must improve his accuracy, timing and anticipation when throwing the football.

The Ohio State quarterback has completed 529/840 passes (63 percent) for 6,381 yards, 69 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Barrett had an inconsistent season, rarely putting together consecutive exceptional performances. At times, the Buckeyes handcuffed Barrett with simple, conservative play-calling — it’ll be interesting to see if they continue that trend this season. Barrett has a lot of tools that make a great dual-threat QB, but his mechanics and passing ability must improve. At 6’1” and 225 pounds, Barrett looks to lead his team to redemption after getting blown out by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) sprints upfield as Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) pursues during the third quarter at Ohio Stadium.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths: Barrett isn’t going to run every opportunity that presents itself; he stays disciplined in the pocket and makes contested throws. One problem many young quarterbacks have, is abandoning the pocket prematurely. Barrett has plenty of experience inside the pocket, and only scrambles when he feels it’s necessary. His great speed is used to outrun entire defenses, and his ability to change direction makes him an elusive threat in the open field. He is comfort in running designed scramble plays, as he rushed for 92 yards on 21 carries against Wisconsin. He has a natural ability to improvise with his legs, and is deadly to pick up back-breaking first down yardage on third down plays. Barrett is one of the best in the country at escaping pressure in the pocket and defenders struggle to arm-tackle him.

He displays excellent footwork in the pocket when regathering himself, and is able to make strong throws downfield. He also shows an impressive ability to make accurate passes when throwing on the run.

Weaknesses: Barrett’s strong arm throws missiles that often misfire on receivers running easy routes. While he struggles to hit easy targets consistently, he struggles even further to hit his targets on deep balls. His overzealous, high-velocity throws sail over his targets; lacking touch that allow them time to chase it down. Barrett’s accuracy inconsistencies plague him with tight-windowed throws, which is a detriment to his lack of touch and anticipation on intermediate throws. His throws under pressure took a significant dip in accuracy, often airmailing the ball over his targets on short routes.

His exaggerated, wind-up release will need to be polished at the next level — he’ll never get a throw off if he continues to throw this way. It seems like he’s tight with his throws, aiming the ball instead of just letting it rip naturally. Barrett needs to learn when to call a play dead. He gets greedy in trying to make something out of nothing, holding onto the ball way too long in broken plays. He also needs to gain experience with a more diverse playbook, as most of his play calling experience has been simplified.

Overall assessment: Barrett has dual-threat ability and is a very athletically gifted quarterback. While his legs are ready for the NFL, his arm is not. Too many accuracy issues, inconsistencies and touch issues. He needs proper NFL coaching, and a lot of polishing with his mechanics to stay balanced and squared. The best scenario for Barrett would be to sit for years behind a veteran quarterback, and polish his release and footwork on his throws inside the pocket. With proper NFL coaching, there’s always a chance for a quarterback to find himself, but Barrett has a long way to go.

Prediction: Sixth round