Once considered a top QB prospect, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler could be a potential late-round option for Broncos

INDIANAPOLIS — At one point, Spencer Rattler was a star.

He was a five-star recruit and the top quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, ahead of Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels. Rattler had an extensive list of offers, broke Arizona high school passing records and even appeared in the Netflix sports documentary “QB1: Beyond the Lights.”

After Rattler threw for 28 touchdown passes at Oklahoma in 2020, he was considered a Heisman Trophy favorite and potential first-round pick.

South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler 2024 NFL Draft Profile - A to Z Sports

Rattler’s career seemed like a smooth ride before turning into a roller coaster.

He was benched for Caleb Williams and then transferred to South Carolina, where he spent the past two seasons battling inconsistency. Rattler was meant to be surrounded by a sea reporters like Williams at the 2024 NFL scouting combine. Instead, his news conference was less than half the size of Williams’, as the idea of him being a first-round candidate faded long ago.

But Rattler’s journey has him confident that he can increase his stock and be a quality quarterback in the NFL.

“You’re going to go through adversity at some point in your career,” Rattler said. “You are going to fail, but you gotta keep going. That’s the most important thing.”

Rattler’s fall from grace happened in a matchup against Texas in 2021. Down 35-17 with 6:41 left in the second quarter, former head coach Lincoln Riley benched Rattler after he threw for 111 yards and committed two turnovers. Williams — a freshman at the time — stepped in and guided the Sooners to a 55-48 comeback victory.

That epic chapter in the Red River Rivalry jump-started Williams’ path to being a Heisman winner and potential No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, while Rattler became an afterthought.

A year later, Williams joined Riley at USC while Rattler went to South Carolina.

Rattler said the switch from Oklahoma to South Carolina helped him mentally. He had to learn a new offense, teammates and environment. In his first season with the Gamecocks, Rattler threw for 3,026 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading his team to an 8-5 record.

Rattler’s numbers improved last season, even though South Carolina finished 5-7. He completed 68.9% of his passes while throwing for a career-best 3,186 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Rattler doesn’t dwell much on how his college career unfolded because he still found a way to be at the combine.

“I always believed I could make it here,” he said.

The traits that could make Rattler an NFL quarterback are noticeable. He has a strong arm and is accurate. However, identifying pressure has been an issue. He also struggled against ranked opponents in 2023, throwing for 537 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions.

“His IQ is off the charts,” South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette said. “He’s a great football player, and to me personally, he has the best arm talent.”

Rattler has the mobility to get out of the pocket and make plays. In 2023, he emphasized showcasing his ability to use his legs. He had 97 carries for 104 rushing yards — second-most in his career since 2020 when he recorded 160 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

“I felt like I did a better job with it,” Rattler said. “I needed to use my legs a little more, get some first downs, and get some explosive runs. I feel like I took strides in those areas.”

With the strong chance of Russell Wilson getting released after two seasons in Denver, the Broncos are in the quarterback market. The team has had meetings with all the top quarterback prospects in the draft, as well as Rattler. Earlier this week, head coach Sean Payton spoke on the importance of finding a solution for the position.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy has been considered a potential first-round option for the Broncos. But If Denver doesn’t take a quarterback with its 12th overall pick, Rattler could be a possible late-round choice. He thought his meeting with Denver went well and said Payton was impressed with his game film.

Rattler caught some eyes in the Reese’s Senior Bowl when he was named the game’s MVP after going 4 for 4 with 65 passing yards and a touchdown. He hopes to impress more people Saturday during quarterback workouts when he will showcase his arm strength.

“I’m ready to rip it on Saturday. Stay tuned,” Rattler said.

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