Leaving high school at nearly 6-6 and 208 pounds with 102 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions, Eason was the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in 247 Sports' Composite Rankings in the class of 2016 and started as a true freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs that fall. Impressive.
OK, he only completed 55.1% of his throws that season but it did feature four multiple-touchdown outings and three 300-yard contests. I was accomplishing far less at 19 years old.
Then, Eason got Wally Pipped. He injured his knee in the season opener of his highly anticipated sophomore campaign. Jake Fromm took over and went on to start 42 consecutive games for the Bulldogs after that. Eason was out of the Georgia program by the end of 2017 and returned "home" to the University of Washington (Eason played high school ball 40 minutes northeast of the school). He replaced Huskies longtime starter Jake Browning. Lot of Jacobs in this story.
As a prospect
In Eason's lone season at Washington's quarterback, he completed 64.2% of his passes with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions at a respectable 8.0 yards-per-attempt average in what was a noticeably traditional offense featuring drop-backs from under center, play-action tosses, and pass plays with two or three receivers running a route.
Eason was my QB5 and No. 55 overall prospect in the 2020 class (remember, quarterbacks get the largest boost to their grade based on positional value in my grading system).
Here's what I wrote about Eason in my scouting notebook before the 2020 draft:
Prototypical, old-school QB look. Tall, pocket passer with an absolute howitzer for an arm. Wants to stand at the top of his drop, survey and distribute. For being such a powerful passer, his accuracy is good. Footwork needs improvement. Tries to throw off-balance and those throws typically end badly. Tends to see things a tick late and didn't routinely move through his progressions at Washington. However, he'll absolutely rip it to the first read. Has a bad tendency to spin out of the pocket against pressure. Pocket patience is pretty good. Pocket drifting isn't.
When the Colts picked Eason in the fourth round at No. 122 overall, I gave the selection a grade of "A" in real-team and wrote the following:
Perfect landing spot for the ultra-talented but raw Eason. Will have one of the strongest arms in the NFL instantly. Accurate too. Just absolutely crumbles under pressure and is a lower-level athlete for the position. Some progression-reading but needs to get better in that area. Awesome value here for Indianapolis.
Eason's intrigue is centered around phenomenal natural talent -- not just arm strength, he's accurate too -- and the massive potential his inherent skills create for him as a passer.
During his coaching career, Frank Reich has worked closely with these quarterbacks -- see if you notice a stylistic trend -- Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Nick Foles, and Wentz. He has a thing for big, strong-armed, aggressive, mostly pocket passers. All that encapsulates Eason's game.
Eason has a hose. A rocket launcher. A cannon, a bazooka, a howitzer, whatever you like to call a quarterback that truthfully can make any throw on the football field. Check this laser beam on a post against Hawaii early in the 2019 season.
That's one of the best illustrations of arm strength I've ever seen at the collegiate level. Seriously. And it came in Eason's third game in two years after sitting out the entire 2018 campaign due to transfer rules.
While Eason excels stretching the field -- how could he not? -- the arm talent really pops on intermediate passes that need to be four-seam fastballs to be squeezed in between defenders. Check how he makes this 3rd-and-17 conversion look routine against a Utah defense that had four secondary members picked in the 2020 draft.
There's touch to Eason's throwing repertoire, too. If he was a fastball-only thrower, he wouldn't have gone in the fourth round. Believe me. Here's just one example of a gorgeously placed downfield fade against Stanford. The toss to this exact route, with this type of placement, is littered all over Eason's Washington film.
When Eason is in the eye of the storm and has a second to survey, or simply knows pre-snap where he's going with the football, he often makes playing the quarterback position, and more specifically ripping high-degree-of-difficulty throws, look effortless.
As mentioned above in my pre-draft write-up on Eason, his pocket presence and consistency under pressure were clear-as-day limits to his ceiling as a prospect. I would've had no issue if a team picked him in the second round because of his raw talent. But the first round was never in the cards because of how far he needed to progress in those more advanced elements of playing the position.
On this wide-open seam route off play-action against Utah, Eason felt pressure mounting -- and still had plenty of time -- but sailed the throw on what should've been a huge gain.
Now, sure, every quarterback has a few misses each game. But those type of misses in the face of pressure appeared on Eason's film often.
One of the more egregious mistakes Eason made at Washington was this pick six to Utah's Jaylon Johnson. He saw an extra rusher bearing down on him, but instead of standing in, he faded away, which sapped velocity from what was a late throw to begin with. Six points the other way.
In Indianapolis, with an elite offensive line, a powerful run game, and Reich as his quarterback-minded head coach, Eason couldn't ask to step into a much more cushy situation. The Colts' receiver group has question marks, that's my only major concern with his audition as an NFL starter.
And, sure, the game is typically a half-step too quick for first-time quarterbacks in the NFL. But Eason's arm talent can buoy him early in 2021. He'll be able to react a tick late and still fit the ball into targets as passing lanes are closing.
Last year, Rivers had the NFL's third-lowest time-to-throw average at 2.39 seconds. Now, some of that was strictly on him. Yet there's some precedent for Reich's system producing quarterbacks who get it out fast. In 2018, Luck finished ninth in that stat category at 2.54 seconds, far and away the lowest time in his NFL career. Reich will be a tremendous mentor for Eason.
And, from a position-specific skill perspective, Eason is as talented as Wentz, and his arm is a touch stronger. Both are decent-at-best athletes by today's NFL quarterback standards, and Eason is a little light on his feet.
Eason has the raw talent, a year in the Colts' system under his belt, and the offensive personnel around him -- particularly up front -- to be a pleasant surprise as Wentz's stand-in this season.