In Texas, football rules all. As quarterback of the Texas Longhorns, Sam Ehlinger must feel the pressure more than most. For nearly three seasons, Ehlinger has led the University of Texas under center. Ahead of the 2020 season, it’s now on Sam Ehlinger to have a breakout season and boost his stock in the 2021 NFL Draft.
This article will examine Sam Ehlinger’s backstory. We’ll take a look at how he got to the University of Texas, as well as how he’s performed during his stay. Next, we’ll watch some film together as we breakdown his strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we’ll examine his future as he likely prepares for a career in the NFL.
Sam Ehlinger attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas where he was an all-state and two-time all-district quarterback. Ehlinger was an Elite 11 finalist prior to his senior year of High School. In 2015, Ehlinger was named the Texas AP Player of the Year. He was a consensus four-star recruiting prospect and top five dual-threat quarterback in his recruiting class. Additionally, Sam Ehlinger was a top twenty overall prospect in the state of Texas. Ehlinger had offers from SMU, Houston, and Florida State. In June of 2015, Ehlinger committed to the University of Texas and enrolled in January of 2017.
During his freshman season of 2017, he started six out of nine games. He had multiple passing touchdown games against USC, Kansas State, and West Virginia. Sam Ehlinger finished the season with 1,915 passing yards, an 11-7 touchdown to interception ratio, and two rushing touchdowns for the Texas Longhorns.
The 2018 season was a full one for Sam Ehlinger as he started all 14 games for Texas. He finished with a 64.7 completion percentage and 3,292 passing yards. The increased starts also allowed Ehlinger to throw 25 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Last season, Ehlinger once again showed improvement as he threw for 3,663 yards. In addition, he finished with a 65.2 completion percentage and a 32-10 touchdown to completion percentage.
What I Like About Sam Ehlinger
As with all of our scouting reports, we like to include a few clips form select games to breakdown mechanics and abilities. For the first game, we had to Waco as the Baylor Bears host the Texas Longhorns.
Ability To Climb The Pocket Quickly
Below, the interior defensive lineman is able to penetrate the pocket quickly and force Ehlinger up the middle of the field. I’d like to point out that he keeps the ball protected as he climbs the pocket and escapes through the middle. Sam Ehlinger isn’t the most agile quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft class, but he does a solid job of picking up the yards here for Texas.
Contact Balance and Vision
As you’ll see below, this is a designed run to the outside for Ehlinger. As he breaks outside, the inside linebacker is able to penetrate the offensive line and dives as Ehlinger’s ankles. His contact balance to remain upright is key here. Additionally, he does a great job of cutting the run back inside to avoid the outside linebacker as he makes his final push into the endzone.
Accurate Throws Along The Sideline
Sam Ehlinger has a clean pocket to work out of, and delivers a great ball for the receiver. Ehlinger displays good passing mechanics as he places this ball on the receiver’s outside shoulder. These types of throws are ones that you’ll see from those playing on Sundays.
What I Dislike About Sam Ehlinger
If you’ve read our scouting reports before, then you know that we include game film that highlights weaknesses in a prospect’s game. Down below, I have a few clips that do just that. For the first game, we head back down to Waco.
Ability To Read The Field Quickly and Efficiently
Sam Ehlinger has a clean pocket to work from here. Additionally, he has plenty of time to make an accurate throw downfield. Unfortunately, he misses two open receivers on this play. At the top of your screen, he has a receiver running a post route. Additionally, he has another receiver running across the field. As Ehlinger escapes the pocket, he misses both of these reads.
Accuracy and Timing
Let me first say that this is a throw I’ve seen Sam Ehlinger make for the Texas Longhorns. He has the ability to do so. However, he’s just off with his timing. He’s facing zone coverage and has a window to throw into. As the receiver breaks outside, Ehlinger could place this ball on the outside shoulder, as he’s done before, and it’s a nice pickup. But as you’ll see below, he doesn’t pull the trigger quick enough and ends up throwing this ball short and into double coverage.
Unless he has a meteoric rise up draft boards due to a phenomenal season, a la Joe Burrow in 2019, then I believe that we’ll see Ehlinger somewhere in the 150 to 200 draft range. That will put him around the 5th to 7th round.
One quarterback that we could see with a similar draft stock is Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond. They’re both similar in that they are dual-threat quarterbacks, have above-average head coaches, and just haven’t been able to breakout as a top College Football player.
Another position battle we could find Sam Ehlinger in would be with a Big Ten or PAC-12 quarterback, such as Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan. If Morgan doesn’t end up playing in the Spring for Minnesota, after the conference postpones the Fall season due to coronavirus, his draft stock could take a hit.
Ultimately, I have Sam Ehlinger listed as a potential project quarterback. On film, his athleticism pops as he does a solid job of escaping pressure and picking up yards with his feet. When he’s not picking up yards on the ground, he does a good job of making accurate throws downfield.
However, I am concerned with his consistency. I’d like to see the Texas Longhorns and Sam Ehlinger play much better this season. If they can, specifically Ehlinger, that will go a long ways in improving his draft stock.