Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
DTR is a guy that feels like he’s been in college since 2006. When you remember that he backed up Wilton Speight at UCLA in his freshman year, you realize that thought might not be too far-fetched.
Thompson-Robinson has seen it all in his college career. The Bruins went 3-9 in his freshman year but rose as high as number nine in the country in his senior year. He’s been beaten down by USC, 49-3 in his sophomore year, and then led one of the Bruins’ biggest embarrassments of the Trojans in 2021, winning 66-33. Despite all that, between the state of the program when DTR arrived followed by a couple of Covid years, DTR was only able to play in one bowl game in his five-year career.
Thompson-Robinson was as big a reason as any as to why UCLA turned around. His play is probably directly responsible for why Chip Kelly is still employed in Los Angeles. But now it’s time to find out if DTR really is that good or if he’s another Chip Kelly product that doesn’t see as much success in the pros.
DTR’s most productive game came in 2019 on the road against Washington State. He threw for 507 yards and five touchdowns.
Don’t forget that he’s a dual-threat quarterback which will draw a little more attention from scouts. He ran for 1826 yards and 28 touchdowns during his Bruin career which included three games over 100 yards and 19 games over 50. That pairs well with his 10,710 passing yards and 88 touchdowns through the air.
DTR needs to work on limiting his interceptions. He there 36 picks, and if you’ve watched any UCLA football, you don’t need me to tell you that a pretty good amount of those picks were really, really bad and totally avoidable. He should have a spot on an NFL roster. I could see a team like the Chargers taking a flyer to compete for a backup role.
Holton Ahlers, East Carolina
We’re digging deep on this one. I doubt Ahlers will even be drafted, but I think he’s absolutely worth a look.
Ahlers is a 6’3, 237lb lefty who was a four-year starter for the Pirates of East Carolina. He can move well for a guy his size and while he won’t be making any highlight reel hurdles over defenders, he’s not afraid to run straight through a linebacker.
Ahlers showed great improvement over his career. As a freshman, he only completed 48% of his passes, but by his senior year, he was up to 67%. That’s a 20% increase, which is a huge number. He was just shy of 14,000 yards passing in his career and threw 97 touchdown passes.
He had three games with five or more touchdown passes, and in those three games, he didn’t throw a single interception. He dominated an 11-win Cincinnati in 2019, threw for 311 against UCF in 2022, and led his Pirates to wins over BYU and Coastal Carolina last year. East Carolina is a team on the rise so unfortunately for Ahlers, the wins just weren’t there. But without Ahlers at the helm, there are even fewer victories to speak of.
The Colts, Falcons, and Saints are teams that would match Ahlers’ skill set the best.