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Ian Book: Wasted pick or potential starter of the future?

Could the answer be “Both?”

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

If you spend a lot of time on social media, and in particular ‘Saints Twitter’ you have likely seen many opinions about the New Orleans Saints 2021 draft, and most of them are far less than pleased with the picks. None of the Saints picks in the 2021 draft are an easy ‘slam dunk’, at least not from a general consensus perspective or based on what is known to us today. They all have questions, most have at least visible upside to analyze, but probably none of them are more perplexing than the selection of former Notre Dame Quarterback Ian Book in the 4th round.

Book is the player I saw receive the most negative attention when he was drafted from fans, draft enthusiasts, and even fans of the Notre Dame whining Irish. Book, at least at first glance, is the classic mediocre player from a ‘name’ university who won a lot of games, didn’t play very well, and gets a shot based on factors largely outside of his control. Book had longevity and lot of wins in college, but not a lot of quality wins, not a lot of production, and not a lot of flashes to make you think, “That could be our guy”.

So why then did Sean Payton decide to draft him in the 4th round this year? Well, for starters it was in the 4th round, so past the point where draft picks are likely to matter. However, that timing isn’t just about value and relative likelihood to be a contributor to the team, the 4th round and beyond is for players with attributes you like who haven’t been refined/developed enough to be worth a higher pick. Ian Book is a lottery ticket who possesses some attributes that point to a solid potential. He’s a question mark for sure, but there are some things in his favor, while there are also reasons to think his ceiling is a mediocre backup. Just to make things easy, lets look at a high level summary of his pros and cons.

PROS

  • Good Athlete with ability to move around and outside the pocket as well as make plays with his legs
  • Good poise, doesn’t seem frazzled too often
  • long time starter with lots of reps
  • demonstrated ability to throw accurately with touch
  • No longer being coached by Brian Kelly (sorry Notre Dame fans...he’s terrible)

CONS

  • Highly inconsistent
  • 1 year of + production at the college level, and no years of ‘great’ performance
  • Lots of bad decision making
  • Was coached by Brian Kelly (bad habits are hard to break)
  • Not a strong arm
  • Did not elevate his teammates

What all of that will mean for Ian in the long run is yet to be determined. Is it likely that a 4th round QB who never showed the ability to be great in college becomes a high level starter in the NFL? No. Not even a little bit. But it’s not impossible either. If you doubt that, go watch Taysom Hill at BYU and then go watch him last season. They are completely different QBs. Players can improve, if they want it bad enough, put in the work, and have the raw tools to work with, they can get better. Is Ian Book a wasted pick? No, because the Saints don’t currently have a QB and as long as you don’t have a for sure starter you should be trying to get more guys in the building who could potentially be that guy. Is he the Saints future starter? Well....that’s up to him to decide.


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