Former Ravens quarterback Scott Mitchell, who was an NFL quarterback from 1991-2001 and played in Baltimore in 1999, has been a radio analyst for Utah football games since 2018. He starred for the Utes prior to his time in the NFL, throwing for 8,981 yards and 69 touchdowns from 1987-1989.
Of course, he’s not the only former Utah star who has played quarterback for the Ravens. Tyler Huntley threw for 7,351 yards and 46 touchdowns for the Utes from 2016-2019, serving as the starter for the final three years of his college career. He went 23-10 as a starter.
The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Huntley has filled in admirably for Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson when needed this year, throwing for 743 yards and three touchdowns in parts of five games. Huntley’s best performance of his young career came in a 31-30 loss the Green Bay Packers Dec. 19, when he threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns while running for 73 yards and two scores as well.
Mitchell called Huntley’s games at Utah in 2018 and 2019. He joined Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 22 to discuss what he saw from Huntley at Utah, whether Huntley can be a starter in the NFL and more.
PressBox: What did you think Tyler Huntley was at Utah and what did you think he was going to be capable of moving forward in his career?
Scott Mitchell: I think it’s hard to say where he would eventually end up. The offense was built around play action, Zack Moss, run first, so everything Tyler did was kind of, “Block a lot of guys and you’ve got one guy to throw to down the field or two guys.” So having to make decisions and read defenses like you do in the NFL wasn’t something that he had a lot of experience [with] in college. In fact, when Utah would run plays like that, he just wasn’t comfortable with it.
But he had a lot of talent. He had a strong arm. He’s running more now I think than when he did in college and probably more effectively. I have to wonder if some of that’s being around Lamar Jackson and kind of seeing how a really good runner runs. You kind of pick up that stuff. But he’s gotten better at maybe reading defenses. He’s still young. He’s still learning things.
You see this a lot, where these players have talent and you just don’t know how soon or when they’re going to blossom. There are quarterbacks that come into college, they’re these five-star guys, and they never get any better. It’s like they’ve reached their peak, they’ve reached their ceiling when they get to college and then they don’t pan out at the next level. You just saw Tyler had a lot of ability and a lot of potential, you just didn’t know where it would end up or even if he’d get an opportunity to showcase it.
PB: Was that surprising to you, that he was undrafted? Were you caught off guard by that?
SM: Just knowing the NFL and how hard it is, I can’t say no. I wasn’t surprised. So much of it is landing in the right situation, and I think Baltimore was a really, really good fit for Tyler. The NFL, they don’t necessarily get it right. My year when I was drafted, John Randle, who was a Hall of Famer, was undrafted after 12 rounds and only one team picked him up. And he said, “I loved the fact that I could be a free agent because I could actually pick what was the best spot for me.” So sometimes not getting drafted and being a free agent can end up being a better thing. It’s hard to deal with on draft day, but down the road it might turn out. So when I saw Tyler end up in Baltimore, I thought, “This could be a good spot for him.”
PB: The way that he’s handled the moment, that nothing has been too big for him making his initial foray into the NFL, are you not surprised by that based on what you knew about him as a player and person in college?
SM: Not at all. He’s a tough-minded kid and extremely competitive. Utah had been a newly-anointed member of a Power Five conference. He led the team, really, to two conference championship games. He’s not above big moments. He’s not above competing. He’s not above playing and doing things that I think people maybe didn’t expect. None of this actually surprises me at all.
PB: Do you think he is a starting quarterback in the NFL? Lamar Jackson is the Ravens’ quarterback, but is Huntley the type of guy if you’re another team around the NFL, you’d be looking at and saying, “Hey man, it’s worth making a move to go get this guy in the offseason?”
SM: Here’s the challenge with the NFL. Eventually quarterbacks have to be able to make all the throws. Defensive coaches will figure it out. If you’re a scrambling quarterback, you’re a dead quarterback in the NFL. Eventually they’re going to force you to sit in the pocket, and if you can’t read a defense and if you can’t make certain throws, it’s over. I don’t know where Tyler Huntley’s evolution is yet. Can he read the defenses in the pocket, make the throws? On a short-term basis, you can get by on just running around, scrambling, try to figure things out. But if you’re going to be a consistent, everyday guy in the NFL, it’s got to happen.
Taysom Hill for the New Orleans Saints is kind of a good barometer, where he was a guy who was undrafted and he’s this kind of unique player for the Saints. He can do a lot of different things. When Drew Brees retired, it’s like, “Well, can he be an everyday guy?” And the answer right now is no because there are certain throws that Taysom Hill just can’t make. Teams will force you to do that.
I don’t know where Tyler Huntley ultimately is, but that’s the question you have to answer. Is he a guy that can sit in the pocket and make that deep throw down the sideline or make the intermediate throw? A lot of times it’s intermediate throws down the field to the sideline with accuracy. Lamar Jackson to me is another example where a lot of people thought, “This guy’s a runner, he’s not really a quarterback.” And he really worked to say, “No, I throw first,” and he’s proven he can do that. If Tyler Huntley can figure that out, yeah, he’s a guy who can play in the NFL. I just don’t know whether he can or can’t because I don’t know that he’s played enough where you can answer it.
PB: At the end of the day, I think just sitting back and saying that this is an undrafted free agent who was called upon behind an MVP-caliber quarterback and has stepped up and represented himself quite well, it’s a pretty remarkable story what he’s done these last couple of weeks.
SM: When you’re a backup, especially a quarterback coming in, you can do no wrong because if you do like Tyler and you show something, you win games, you handle those kind of tough situations well, you show some promise, we’re having this conversation at the end of the day. “Wow, Tyler Huntley.” And if you go in and you do poorly, people go, “Well, yeah, he’s a guy who’s never played. He was undrafted.”
So you really don’t lose regardless of how you play. If you play well, it maybe gets a little overhyped and I think people need to be a little bit cautious. The NFL is a tough business. It’s what have you done for me lately and what have you done right this moment. People forget. You have to constantly prove yourself game after game after game, season after season after season if you’re someone who’s really going to stick and play and be memorable.
To hear more from Mitchell, including his memories of playing in Baltimore, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox