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NFL scouting combine: Iowa QB Nate Stanley selling his pro-style experience, reformed mechanics

Henry McKenna
USA TODAY Sports Network

INDIANAPOLIS — It didn’t take long for Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley to face questions about his accuracy — or lack thereof — during his meeting with the media at the 2020 NFL combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. And reporters weren’t the only people interested in the topic.

Stanley said he faced questions about consistency during informal interviews with 25 NFL teams this week.

He completed 59.4% of his passes in 2019, and while his arm has always been powerful (he threw for 8,297 yards in three seasons as the Iowa starter), Stanley didn’t show the accuracy he will need if he wants to make an NFL team. So that was what he emphasized while speaking with the media. He is working with a quarterback coach, Tony Racioppi in New Jersey, and drilling away at the mechanics of his lower body to make sure he is using his hips to generate power instead of bending at the waist and overusing his elbow.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis.

It’s the first time he’s ever addressed his mechanical problems, he said, particularly the issues which have led him to sail the ball on deep passes. 

“I never really worked with anybody (on mechanics),” Stanley said. “I was just throwing a football like I would throw a baseball when I was a kid.”

Stanley added that the focus at Iowa was primarily on strategy and less about mechanics. 

“They worked on a lot of footwork. It wasn’t really the width of your base — it was more so just timing things up with your feet. And the explanation of why you missed throws wasn’t always there,” Stanley said. 

Stanley’s biggest selling point to NFL teams has been his experience in a pro style offense, which was mentally demanding before and after the snap. Unlike most spread quarterback prospects, Stanley has spent over 50% of his college snaps under center, and he has called plays in the huddle. More and more, other college programs signal play-calls to players from the sideline. Cutting out the huddle can create developmental issues as prospects acclimate to the NFL.

Take it from Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.

“They look over at the sideline and they have their own individual coach telling them what route to run. (Raiders coach) Jon Gruden’s head would explode, right? You better get in there and get into the huddle and you better learn three positions, not one,” Mayock said here Tuesday.

That’s how Stanley can spin his inconsistent film from a negative into a positive. Maybe he’s not hitting his receivers with the proper degree of consistency. But maybe his intellect in breaking down a failed play can help him sell himself to NFL teams.

“Definitely, I feel confident about the offense that we ran, and I feel that I can explain everything in great detail, which helps me show the coaches that I know what I’m talking about. I know football,” Stanley said. “I feel that I can explain things really well, and I feel that that helps me a lot with those teams.”

Stanley has formal meetings with NFL teams in the coming days, though he won’t know which teams are interviewing him until he’s in the room. Prospects get a list of appointments with no indication of whom they are meeting.

After turning down invitations to two college all-star events to focus on his studies at Iowa, Stanley intends to put his new mechanics on full display during the combine.

He’ll get to show the reformed throwing motion he spoke so much about. Quarterbacks go through their drills on Thursday evening.