Upon hearing that the Denver Broncos are linked to Clayton Thorson, I immediately became skeptical. Then I decided to dig a little deeper.
Both of these prospects have pre-draft workouts on the books in Dove Valley. There is a signal caller that the Denver Broncos are interested in who won’t be a first (or likely second) day draft selection. They are even flying to Chicago to work him out.
I’m talking about none other than Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson. Upon hearing that Denver is linked to him, I immediately became skeptical. We’ve been down this road before with another late round prospect at QB from this very school. Then I decided to dig a little deeper.
Let’s compare Trever Siemian and Clayton Thorson’s stats for the Wildcats (according to sports-reference.com).
While both were with their teams for four years, only Thorson’s workload was significant since his days as a Sophomore. We will use the stats for their last two seasons with the school. Thorson’s accuracy (60.4 as a junior, 61.1% as a senior) was higher than that of Siemian’s (59.7, 58.2%) on significantly more attempts (+136, +97). This lead to Thorson having more yards (+695, +969) and touchdowns (+4, +10). Clayton also was able to win more games during that span (19-10) than Trevor as well.
Year over year, it looks as though Trevor Siemian’s efficiency regressed from his Junior to Senior seasons (as evidenced by the 20.5 point drop in rating). Clayton Thorson essentially “peaked” in college during his Sophomore season, however his drop off from then stabilized at only four points lower for following two seasons.
What is another way one of these quarterbacks can differentiate themselves from each other? Let’s look at their rushing stats for a career.
For a career, Thorson had 220 more rushing attempts for 431 more rushing yards and 21 more rushing touchdowns.
Although at the next level Trevor Siemian has got it done with his legs a bit (just ask Joey Bosa), he was is not a world beater rushing the football. Siemian finished with negative 23 yards rushing for his collegiate career.
Clayton Thorson, however, adds a little punch in that department. Although most of his rushing touchdowns were plunges from one to two yards out (15 of such scores), he had 42 yard rushing touchdowns against both Nebraska and Stanford. Clayton even had option and designed power QB-keeper plays called for him. Nobody is going to confuse Clayton Thorson with Kyler Murray but he could be a Nick Mullens type of QB in a zone/play-action heavy Rich Scangarello offense.
How are they built? Coming out Trevor Siemian was 6’3” weighing in at 215 pounds and ran a 4.94 40 yard dash. Clayton Thorson is 6’4” weighing in at 222 pounds and he’s got nice size hands at 9 3/4 inches. John Elway likes big hands…
As you can see, Thorson is a somewhat different prospect than Trevor Siemian was coming into the NFL. Clayton has potential to be a solid backup at the next level while potentially could be a low-end starter if needed. An issue with him has been staying healthy (had a knee injury his Junior year, didn’t participate in Senior Bowl due to ankle injury).
Clayton Thorson ended his career as Northwestern’s all-time leader in QB starts, passing yards, passing attempts, passing completions, and passing touchdowns. Pretty much all the things.
If he can avoid the injury bug and maintain the same level of efficiency as a pro, he could carve out a niche for himself in a similar (and perhaps greater) fashion than that of his Northwestern predecessor.