Bo Levi Mitchell could soon go from the most valuable player in the CFL to one of fewer than 100 quarterbacks on an NFL roster.
The two-time CFL MVP (called the ‘Most Outstanding Player’) quarterback could have his eye on a transition to the NFL and several teams are interested. According to TSN Football Insider David Naylor, Mitchell now has a private workout scheduled with the New York Giants. Mitchell has already privately worked out for the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Jacksonville Jaguars. According to Naylor, Mitchell also has three more private workouts scheduled.
The 28-year-old quarterback has won the CFL’s most valuable player award twice, he’s a two-time Grey Cup Champion and MVP, and he put up big-time production playing college football at SMU and Eastern Washington. Mitchell won the Walter Payton Award (2011) and Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year (2011) after transferring to Eastern Washington. Mitchell also holds the CFL record for most consecutive wins by a starting quarterback (14) and the fastest starting quarterback to 60 wins (he needed just 72 Starts).
Mitchell is a dual-threat quarterback who has also tacked on 723 rushing yards with 14 additional touchdowns on 156 carries during his CFL career.
According to current NFL scouts who spoke with Naylor after watching Mitchell work out, he has a legitimate chance to catch on with an NFL roster.
“I would think there is enough curiosity and if he competes well enough in workouts and it seems like he’s willing to make the jump,” an NFL scout told Naylor. “I think there’s a lot of sincere interest and I would be surprised if he did not get signed.”
“You’re getting a cost control player for three-to-four years who is very accomplished and has 100 starts.”
NFL scouts are intrigued by Mitchell’s skill set.
He’s been very productive,” one NFL general manager told Naylor. “Undersized type of player, good athlete, has won up there. Maybe as a backup type.”
“It’s not an easy transition,” a different NFL general manager told Naylor. “But you never know. He’s smart, competitive and productive. Worth maybe taking a flyer on him.”
Some NFL teams are transitioning away from seeking the quarterbacks who fit a prototypical build by shifting their focus toward targeting the quarterback prospects with short accuracy and most importantly the ability to throw with anticipation. These traits help certain offense schemes stay on track and in rhythm more than a prospect who can throw the ball 75 yards down the field with ease. Mitchell is the type of quarterback who appeals to head coaches looking for these traits.
“He won’t necessarily stand-out in terms of arm talent but he has smarts and anticipation and those things are more important than arm strength in some offenses,” an NFL scout told Naylor. “With offenses that will ask him to make manageable and timing throws he will be able to compete because he will have a lot more experience than guys who have been on the practice roster but haven’t played in a game.”
Another NFL scout who spoke with Naylor agreed.
“To me it’s accuracy and can you drive the ball and he can do that,” the scout said. “I think he has a legit shot and is good enough to be a No. 2. He’s accurate, he has a quick release. The reason Calgary doesn’t give up any sacks is because he gets rid of the ball so damn well. His pre-snap reads are so precise. And he throws a very catchable ball … he puts it in places where his receivers can make the catch.”
Earlier during his first offseason with the Giants, head coach Pat Shurmur broke down what he’s looking for in his next quarterback — the success to Eli Manning.
“We know what we’re looking for,” Shurmur said about drafting a quarterback during the 2018 Combine. “We know it when we see it. You want to try to determine whether he’s a good decision maker, whether he has a sense of timing, the tape tells you whether he’s an accurate passer or not. Then you just want to get a feel for, hey is this the guy we want to lead our team. Some of it is subjective and some if it really just comes by getting to know the player. We have a good idea of what a good quarterback is and we’re trying to see those attributes in all these candidates.”
Mitchell would not be the first quarterback to make the transition from the CFL to the NFL, but the success stories are not very common. Warren Moon is the most prominent example of a quarterback who was able to make the transition, but the CFL to NFL transfer at quarterback also includes former NFL starters Jeff Garcia and Doug Flutie.
Mitchell is on the radar of several NFL teams and it will be interesting to see if he finally gets his NFL chance after dominating in the CFL.