Much like Nathan Peterman a year ago, a quarterback from the ACC has the potential to be a draft sleeper, from now until Mobile, Alabama for Senior Week.
Meet Wake Forest’s John Wolford.
Wolford has been a four-year starter for the Demon Deacons, and after three years of mediocre numbers, has finally put it all together as a senior. Wolford has thrown for 1,991 yards with a 65% completion percentage. Throw in a 17/3-touchdown ratio; Wolford has a quarterback rating of 161.2, which is over 30 points higher than his sophomore number of 128.8.
While he may not be putting up crazy numbers, he’s in the top 50 in yards, ranks tied for 27th in touchdowns. His 161.2 passer rating has him ranked 9th among qualified quarterbacks. Throw in his ability to run, 400 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns, and Wolford has flown under the radar all year long.
Wolford was able to cut through an admittedly awful Louisville defense, completing 28/34 for 461 yards and five touchdowns, and what was easily his best performance of the year.
Against better defenses, Wolford has been above average, guiding Wake Forest to a victory over Boston college by being an efficient 13/19 for 151 yards and two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air.
When Florida State came to town, Wake wasn’t able to pick up a win, but he was efficient yet again, completing 70% of his passes and rushing for a touchdown, but did throw a costly pick in a one possession game.
Moving away from the numbers and looking at the tape, Wolford has a quick release, and shows good accuracy on short throws. However, he likely won’t be able to stretch the ball down the field with his arm. What he doesn’t have in arm strength, he makes up for in his ability to pick up yards with his legs.
Part of that is due to lack of size.
Much like Peterman, Wolford is short, coming in at about 6’1”. That alone will scare teams off, as he doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an NFL quarterback. He’s put up nice numbers without having a plethora of weapons. He will also be without his #1 option, freshman Greg Dortch, who is out for the rest of the season with an abdominal injury, which he suffered against Louisville.
In that game, Dortch torched (sorry, too easy) the Cardinals for four touchdowns.
While he may not get a ton of attention because of the team he plays for, Wolford has some intriguing traits. The quick release, the running ability and the fact that he was a four-year starter in a pro style offense could benefit him if he impresses during Senior Day workouts and during the Combine.
He has led a little bit of a resurgence in the Demon Deacon football program, guiding them to a 7-6 record and a Military Bowl win a year ago. In 2017, his team is 5-4, and could position themselves for another bowl game, after going bowl less the four years prior, with a win over Syracuse.
Wolford could lead this team to back-to-back above .500 seasons, which hasn’t happened at Wake Forest since 2007-2008.
Right now, Wolford is the 36th ranked quarterback, and is projected to go undrafted, according to NFL Draft Scout. But don’t be surprised if the hype starts to build down the stretch if he can continue winning games. Peterman went in the 5th round a year ago, and that could be Wolford’s ceiling in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Cover Photo via Old North Banter