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2020 NFL Draft Profile: Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke

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NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Michigan State vs Wake Forest Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Our next installment in our pre-draft profile series features Brian Lewerke, the starting quarterback for the Michigan State Spartans over the past three seasons.

Lewerke was once considered as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2020 class, however, a lot has changed, and he’s dealt with a lot of adversity since his breakout campaign in 2017. In any event, he should catch on with an NFL team, one way or another. Here is what Lewerke brings to a potential NFL franchise:

Profile:

Name: Brian Lewerke
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 213 pounds
Draft Projection: Late Day Three or Priority Undrafted Free Agent


NFL Scouting Combine Measurables:

40-yard dash: 4.95 seconds (11th among QBs)
Vertical jump: 31 inches (seventh among QBs)
Broad jump: 113 inches (eighth among QBs)
Three-cone drill: 7.14 seconds (fourth among QBs)
20-yard shuttle: 4.4 seconds (second among QBs)
*Did not participate in the bench press

It was surprising to see Lewerke run such a slow 40-yard dash time, as his sneaky speed was often on display during his time at Michigan State. He showed off much better short area quickness with the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuffle, but probably didn’t move the needle in terms of his draft stock. In throwing drills, however, Lewerke looked polished and crisp, which may have salvaged his day. Unfortunately, MSU’s Pro Day was canceled so Lewerke didn’t get an extra opportunity to show off his skill set.

Lewerke’s overall Combine performance placed him with a poor Relative Athletic Score (RAS), of 4.38. RAS quantifies a specific player’s measurements and metrics and then grades the on a 0 to 10 scale compared to the rest of their position group. That number puts Lewerke in about the 43.8 percentile range for quarterbacks.


Statistics and Accolades

Via MSUSpartans.com:

Games Played: 41 (38 starts)
Completions: 721 (second in school history)
Attempts: 1,249 (first in school history)
Completion Percentage: 57.7 percent
Yards: 8,293 (fourth in school history)
Yards Per Game: 202.3 (fifth in school history)
Touchdowns: 47 (fourth in school history)
Interceptions: 32
Rushing Attempts: 346
Rushing Yards: 1,255 (third most in school history for a quarterback)
Rushing touchdowns: 10
Yards Per Carry: 3.63

  • Michigan State’s all-time leader in total offense with 9,548 yards (8,293 passing, 1,255 rushing)
  • Only MSU player in history to record more than 8,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards
  • Only Spartan quarterback to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 500 yards in a single season (2017)
  • 2019 Pinstripe Bowl MVP
  • 2017 Holiday Bowl MVP
  • Honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition by both coaches and media in 2017
  • Two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree
  • Won MSU’s Outstanding Underclass Back Award on offense in 2017
  • Two-year captain
  • Three-time member of the team’s Eagles leadership council
  • Set Michigan State single-season record for total offense in 2019 (3,442 yards — 3079 yards passing and 363 yards rushing)
  • Top-five all-time in multiple passing categories
  • Finished career two completions shy of all-time MSU record held by Kirk Cousins
  • Owns MSU single-game records for total offense, passing yards and completions, all against Northwestern in 2017
  • Only Spartan quarterback to ever throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games

Overview:

Once looked at as one of the best future quarterback prospects after a promising 2017 campaign, Lewerke’s stock has fallen. This could be due to a variety of reasons: a significant injury to his throwing shoulder in 2018, poor coaching decisions, confidence issues, a lack of offensive talent around him and overall regression of his play all may play a factor into his eventual draft status. Still, Lewerke set Michigan State’s all-time record for career total offense (9,548 yards) and single season-season total offense (3,442 yards in 2019). He is also second all-time in program history in pass completions (721, just two shy of Kirk Cousins’ record) and first in passing attempts (1,249). He still has a shot at being drafted late, in the sixth or seventh rounds, and even if he’s not he will be immediately signed as an undrafted free agent — he’ll have his shot. However, it’s going to be a battle for him to initially make a roster and earn a role as backup or an eventual starter. I am certainly rooting for him to do so, as are the majority of Michigan State fans.

Lewerke has great physical tools, good size and good athleticism. He has shown on tape plenty of time his ability to run with the football — via designed runs or when a play breaks down — that certain NFL teams will covet. If he can prove to teams that his accuracy and decision-making have improved, then he could certainly be selected. Of course, just like everyone else, Lewerke does not get an opportunity to attend private workouts due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Lewerke ended his Spartans career on a high note, winning the Pinstripe Bowl MVP after leading MSU to victory over Wake Forest, and putting together a solid showing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Lewerke touches on his game, his time at MSU, his performance at the NFL Combine and a variety of other topics here in this interview from ThePostGame.


What scouts, analysts and coaches are saying about Lewerke:

“Scouts have gone from bullish to bearish on Lewerke after his dismal two-year run following a promising 2017 campaign. He looks the part from an operational standpoint with good size and mobility, but he’s been unable to inspire confidence in his ability as a field leader. If coaching improves his footwork and follow-through, he might see some improvement from an accuracy standpoint, but it’s hard to say if it will be enough. The traits and talent are absolutely worth a look, but the spotty confidence and issues with ball placement could be hard to overcome.” — NFL.com Draft Analyst, Lance Zierlein

“He got crushed because he played with a bad shoulder two years ago. I thought he played really good his freshman year” (Editor’s Note: I wonder if they meant his sophomore year). “And last year they had a terrible scheme and no talent. He had moments of greatness and moments of bad play, but there was nothing that helped him.” — Anonymous NFC coach

“Brian Lewerke does not project as an NFL quarterback. Despite promising flashes during his rSoph season in 2017, Lewerke has done nothing but regress under a poorly organized Michigan State offensive coaching staff. Lewerke has intriguing natural athleticism but his arm talent does not show with consistency and severe lapses in mechanics, poise and decision making all make him far too big of a developmental project to warrant draft consideration.” — Kyle Crabbs, Senior Draft Analyst at The Draft Network

“I don’t anticipate that (Lewerke) will get picked,” Jeremiah said — NFL Network Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah

Update: Jeremiah more recently had this to say on Lewerke:

“He’s a late-round player, he’s a seventh-round, free-agent type player for me. Although, I will say this, I’ve talked to some folks around the league, there’s some quarterback coaches that have fallen in love with this kid. I say that in terms of like fourth, fifth round. It would not shock me if he went a little bit higher than I think he would. He’s got nice velocity, I just had concern about his touch and decision making, I thought he held the ball a little bit too long. That was my concerns with him, but I would not be surprised if he ended up going a little bit higher than I have him.”


Highlights: