EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 15: Payton Thorne #10 of the Michigan State Spartans passes the ball during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Spartan Stadium on October 15, 2022 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 15: Payton Thorne #10 of the Michigan State Spartans passes the ball during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Spartan Stadium on October 15, 2022 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

New Auburn QB Payton Thorne Produces Rough Game Film

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Michigan State quarterback (QB) transfer Payton Thorne has a new beginning at Auburn.

Well…he hopes he does.

Will changing helmets help?

Highly unlikely.

Thorne is a QB story that’s been told a thousand times over – – touch passer with an average arm, inconsistent downfield ball placement, and limited mobility.

There aren’t too many happy endings in the NFL fitting that description.

Actually, I can’t think of any in the last 41 years since I started watching the game as a kid.

Ball security concerns

Let’s cut to the chase on this one.

Thorne has the worst ball security of any QB I have seen so far in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

I couldn’t believe how many defenders were able to disrupt his passes.

All told it happened 24x in this five-game block of game film.


That’s a lot.

It’s way too much.

That’s an average of 4.8x per game.

QBs can’t make a living in the NFL putting the ball in jeopardy that often.

Not to mention he fumbled twice on top of it.

Sitting duck in the pocket

His limited mobility doesn’t help his cause.

Last season, Thorne rushed the ball 60 times for 42 yards (0.7 avg.).

Those are the times he managed to break free somehow and take what defenses gave him.

The rest of the time, he folded like a tent under pressure. It looked like he froze as pass rushers were closing in.

Thorne was sacked 18x in 2022.

Tell me something positive


Sure, everyone does something positive, and it’s not all just negative.

Thorne’s best attribute is throwing back shoulder intermediate route level passes squeezed against the sideline with a corner draping his receiver in coverage.

He really excels at throwing those touch passes.

Outside of that, he excels at throwing short to intermediate hook passes that help create a large enough throwing window to compensate for his lack of arm strength.


This is the last word an NFL team wants to hear when it comes to QBs, but this is the word that best describes Thorne.

The reason he’s inconsistent is for all the reasons I’ve stated.

Bottom line – – it’s just hard to make it with an average arm and limited mobility.

If a QB is going to get by being a touch passer, he’s got to consistently be on point, and Thorne is not.

Does an NFL team bring Thorne into camp?

Perhaps, if they need an extra arm for camp it’s a possibility.

Outside of that, I can’t see it.

I certainly do not see him making an NFL roster based on what he put on his football resume in these five games.

There’s space in the league for developmental upside, but there’s no room for someone who puts the football in harms way as often as Thorne has.

#1 Payton Thorne 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Spring 2023 Grade: UDFA – Undrafted Free Agent (I wouldn’t select him)

Projected by 0% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of June 5, 2023 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2022 game film reviewed (Michigan State Jersey No. 10): Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Penn State, and Ohio State (click to view games watched to form this evaluation)

2022 stats: 242/387 (62.5%), 2679 yards, 19 TD, 11 INT, 18 sacks, long-72

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Inconsistent pocket passer with limited running ability. Conservative nature. Leads with a sporadic rhythm and tempo. Good initial ball-handling skills. Very average pocket awareness. Can hold the ball too long. Poor escape. Easy target for pass rushers. Tends to lock in with receivers and pat the ball pre-delivery. Mixed bag of accuracy short and intermediate. Inconsistent placement. A lot of dink and dunk passes. Really has to step into intermediate throws and doesn’t always produce a tight spiral. Deep game leaves a lot to be desired. Tendency to overthrow deep. Mediocre and reluctant runner.

What to watch for during the 2023 college football season

1. Ball security?

2. Number of sacks?

3. Deep ball accuracy?

4. How does his arm strength look?

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock and has written for Sports Illustrated Lions, Jets, and 49ers, as well as a featured guest on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

Featured Articles

2024 NFL Draft QB1: Spencer Rattler

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out what game film reveals about South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler.


Is Shedeur Sanders the Next Johnny Manziel?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out what has a former NFL Scout concerned about Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders.


The Howitzer: Joe Milton III, QB, Tennessee

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch Tennessee QB Joe Milton III on game film both at Tennessee and Michigan embedded into this article.


Caleb Williams Turns in Finest Performance vs. No. 93 Stanford

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out how USC quarterback Caleb Williams looked on game film against Stanford.


Sam Hartman Shares NIL Fortune with Teammates

Reading Time: 3 minutes First Round Mock's Victoria Jonach checks out why all of Notre Dame's football team received their own custom Beats headphones.


Bo Knows Football -Bo Nix, Oregon

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out why one NFL Draft Analyst sees Oregon quarterback Bo Nix as a first-round prospect.


Quinn Ewers – Quintessential QB

Reading Time: 3 minutes First Round Mock's Victoria Jonach checks out Quinn Ewers and his role at the Manning's famous training camp.


C.J. Stroud Big Play Machine

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out what Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud does well and not so well on his game film.


Bryce Young: 2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Reading Time: 3 minutes Find out why Alabama's Bryce Young is QB1 in the 2023 NFL Draft.


Anthony Richardson is a Bust According to Former NFL Scout

Reading Time: 3 minutes Game film projects Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson as a fifth-round NFL Draft value.