What if I told you there’s a quarterback prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft who owns seven school career passing records, six single-season passing records, has twice been named All-America and All-Conference, and led his team to victory in 75 percent of the games in which he played?
Ok, what if I added that this player was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award for three consecutive years—and, for good measure, he was also a finalist for the Williams V. Campbell Trophy, otherwise known as the academic Heisman?
That should be enough, right? Not yet?
What if, as the icing on the proverbial cake, I told you that the same player capped off his spectacular collegiate career with an outstanding performance in a postseason all-star event attended by over 140 scouts?
This is no hypothetical. That player exists.
Meet Taryn Christion, a 6-1, 225-pound signal caller from Sioux Falls, S.D., who amassed over 11,000 passing yards at 8.5 yards per attempt, with 104 passing touchdowns against just 34 interceptions while starring for South Dakota State.
Christion was able to do damage on the ground as well, finishing with over 1,500 rushing yards with 26 rushing touchdowns.
That’s a lot of production for a player to be flying this far beneath the national radar. But, while the media may be a bit late to the party, the NFL scouts definitely have a bede on the former Jackrabbits standout.
Speaking with a few NFL scouts at the College Gridiron Showcase, where Christion participated this past January, it was stated that he was the top QB prospect coming into that event and had significant interest from a few teams who were there solely to watch him.
There is a lot to like about the quarterback responsible for leading the Jacks to three straight FCS playoff appearances from 2016-18. But what about his game makes him a pro prospect? And which of his skills and traits will translate to the next level?
Christion is a very smart individual, who is also very ‘football smart.' He’s got above-average ability from the neck up. He understands coverage and shows a good mastery of how to attack leverage as well.
Eye discipline and manipulation from South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion: pic.twitter.com/bro1D65LpE— Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) May 15, 2018
On film, he was able to quickly diagnose voids in the defense, whether it was from vacated defensive pressure or from vulnerability in coverage, and find the best matchup and deliver the football. This is a big reason why his turnover numbers are low. He does a fantastic job of minimizing risks by how well he sees the field.
He’s strong in this area as he seems to be unfazed by pressure—both situationally and from the defense. He trusts his athleticism to get him out of a jam, and at the end of the day, he feels as though he can pick up what’s necessary with his feet. That allows him to operate with a clear mind because he always has an exit strategy.
Christion’s accuracy can run a bit inconsistent at times.
He tends to misjudge the depth of a defender and not put enough arc on the ball—or flat out miss him completely. He is extremely accurate on the move, always able to maintain a great throwing base to place the ball well, and shows better accuracy coming off of play-action.
Christion is really good inside the red zone. Mistakes are either minimal or nonexistent. He also shows a high level of proficiency in four-minute and two-minute situation. With a backed up offense and in end-of-game situations, he rises to the occasion, as well.
He gets really good velocity on his passes, especially on in-breaking routes over the middle of the field. He doesn’t have a cannon per se, but his arm is more than adequate when making tight-window throws.
Christion makes it an 11-on-11 game and can really hurt a defense picking up chunk yards on the ground. Within the pocket, he shows A+ pocket mobility and doesn’t look to quickly vacate. He can buy time within and outside the pocket, while also being able to hit the home run with his legs.
During the South Dakota State Pro Day, Christion posted the following testing numbers:
- 40-yard dash: 4.49
- Pro agility: 4.43
- 3-cone: 7.12
- Vertical: 34.5
- Broad: 9’11”
Taryn Christion on the vertical jump. pic.twitter.com/ecaTsszScK— Matt Zimmer (@argusmattz) March 29, 2019
Overall, Taryn Christion has legit, pro game. He’s a chain mover that’s super productive inside the red zone, mitigating risks while putting points up on the board. An NFL team is getting a battle-tested prospect, who played in one the Missouri Valley Conference—among the toughest in the FCS—and is one of the few quarterbacks to lead his team to victory against the juggernaut North Dakota State Bison.
His game is very similar to that of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in how efficient he is within the offense. Christion showed good poise throughout his career. And one of the more underrated aspects about this past season is how he remained extremely productive (3,020 yards, 32 TD to 8 INTs, 8.9 YPA, 57.9 percent completion) without wide receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert, who are both in the NFL.
That speaks volumes about the talent of Christion and his freedom from dependency on the NFL talent around him.
While he may not go during the first two days in the NFL Draft, Christion has the talent and temperament to have success at the next level. It’s not a question of ‘if’ as much as ‘when’ he will get the opportunity to showcase his ability.
Christion is the type of prospect who will 'wow' during training camp and preseason, showing the makings of a solid QB2 on a roster with a developmental path to QB1 down the line.