North Carolina Senior
Has a good arm with the ability to make all of the throws. Has good zip on his shorter throws, and shows some touch on his deep throws. Able to make the quick read and decision, showing a quick release. Shows nice pocket mobility, stepping up and moving around to find throwing lanes. Does a nice job resetting his feet at times. Shows some ability to pick up yards when the pass breaks down. Shows some ability to hit on his throws outside the pocket, able to hit open receivers when on the naked bootleg. Generally makes good decisions with the ball, managing the game well, and knowing when to throw it away.
Needs to improve his touch on the vertical routes, as he'll overthrow or underthrow targets at times. Not great when you force him to go to his second read and can get happy feet when pressured. Isn't always able to set his feet when he's pressured, leading to some bad throws. Tends to stare down his initial read and wait for them to get open. Is a bit too quick to give up on the play, showing some tentativeness, and a bit too willing to throw it away. Accuracy can be off at times. Not as good when you get him outside the pocket, as his decision making is not as sharp as it is within it.
Yates showed very good maturity, leadership, and improvement this past year, as he stepped into the mantle for leadership despite all of the off-field issues that UNC faced this past year. Prior to this year, he was a pretty bad QB and the fans let him know about it. But he took it in stride, which is what you like to see. He was asked to manage the game, and not lose it, which he did quite a bit as an underclassman, and he was able to do that. But in the process, he might have lost a bit of his confidence and a willingness to take that chance. Ran a ton of 3-step drops, designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly for easy completions, but he flashes the tools and potential to be a lot more than that. Had his best year as a senior, going 8-5 as a starter with a 66.8 completion rate on 422 attempts for 3418 yards, 19 TDs, and 9 INTs. Three previous years, he combined for 15-16 record, completing 60% of 855 attempts for 5959 yards, 39 TDs, and 37 INTs. Missed 5 games as a sophomore with a broken ankle. Hails from Marietta, GA.
Yates can have a nice long career as a No. 2 at the next level, and if he can be developed and get comfortable in a system, can be a decent stopgap starter. He understands how to manage the game, comes from a pro-style offense, and has the arm strength, mobility, and decision making to come in right away and compete for a reserve role. In that way, he reminds me of Matt Flynn. He's not quite the gambler that Flynn was coming out, which probably has a lot to do with added experience that he has as a four-year starter versus Flynn's lone year as a starter. The thing I worry about Yates is whether or not he's going to be too tentative at the next level. Sort of in the way that Joey Harrington was. Put Yates on a team with a good running game, weapons on the outside, and a capable defense, and you can win games. But if you thrust the onus on him, I don't think he has the confidence to carry you to victory, just like Harrington. I think that confidence was shattered through all the adversity he faced at UNC from the fan base. And he deserved quite a bit of it, because I remember seeing him as a junior, and he was really bad in many of those games. I think he can be a good No. 2, and I would be comfortable with him as a starter if there was talent around him for a few games. But an extended period of time, and he would probably struggle. And I think that the less playing time he gets early on, the better for him. The more time he gets to grow and get comfortable in a system, the better a pro player he'll become. Ultimately I think he'll be a Chris Redman or A.J. Feeley-esque No. 2 QB that can hold the fort down on a playoff-caliber team, and is good enough to probably start on a bad team, but wouldn't make them good.
Yates has the ability to come in right away and push Wilson for his No. 3 role. I don't think he'd win it, but he would probably push him to a degree where Yates would be kept on as a practice squad player with the hope and expectation that in Year Two he can replace Redman and fill in as the No. 3. And then probably by his third year he'll be ready to push Wilson for the No. 2 job or replace him there, and then be a capable No. 2 for a few years behind Ryan. He's probably not good enough to merit the Falcons being able to flip him for draft picks down the road, at least nothing more than maybe a late round pick. But he's a nice option that can potentially be the Jim Sorgi to Matt Ryan's Peyton Manning for a number of years.
Yates is worth a late round pick, and some team should take him off the board in the late fifth or sixth round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Arm Strength: 3.5
Decision Making: 3.5
Pocket Awareness: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.