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2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington University

Eric Barriere EWU
Eastern Washington signal caller Eric Barriere was a Semifinalist for the FCS Walter Payton Award in 2019. NFL Draft Diamonds newest writer Michael Bertasso Jr. breaks down the film of the Big Sky gunslinger.

By: Michael Bertasso Jr.

Eric Barriere is arguably the top quarterback prospect in FCS football this season.  He is highly productive, leading the FCS in passing yardage (3297 yards as of October 30th).  He threw for 600 yards and seven touchdowns in a single game against the University of Idaho this season. Barriere took over the starting job in Eastern Washington six games into the season. He then led the team on a seven game win streak with three playoff victories, finishing 8-2 as a starter for the season. He was selected as the 2019 Preseason Offensive Player of the year by FCS Fan Nation.  Threw 239 straight passes without a pick, and finished the 2019 season with 4 interceptions on 438 passing attempts. Finished the season with 3712 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. In the 2020 spring season, Barriere threw for 2439 yards and 19 touchdowns over a span of six games.  Broke Vernon Adams school record for career rushing yardage (1232 yards, Barriere is now over 1363 on his career). Barriere is a classic dual-threat quarterback with the potential to develop as a legitimate NFL quarterback. Although he is not yet a perfect prospect, he showcases the talent necessary to stick on an NFL roster for years to come.

Strengths: Wildly productive passer who seldom throws picks and showcases a knack for spreading the football around to receivers; in his record-breaking 600 yard game, six different receivers recorded at least three catches. Three receivers recorded 100+ yard games.  Showcases the ability to throw accurately into coverage, placing the ball where only his receiver can get it. Accurate deep ball, even if it isn’t always pretty.  Tends towards being calm under pressure, does not hear ghosts.  Heads-up player who recovers quickly from mistakes, for example on a botched snap in the playoffs in the spring season against North Dakota State University,  bobbled the snap and then ran the ball in for a touchdown.  Strong fake handoff ability in play action settings. Willing to climb the pocket to buy time while progressing through his reads rather than immediately relying on his legs to buy yardage.  Showcases a strong ability to read and find seams in a defense.  Extremely strong scrambling ability.  Dangerous in the run game. Able to scramble and buy time under pressure, and can get the ball off accurately under pressure.  Capable of accurate cross-body throws and off-balance throws.  Reads the entire field, and can work both the center of the field and the sideline. Tends to rely on his legs as a secondary option rather than immediately run the football.   Not an immediate NFL starter but showcases the tools and traits necessary to develop into a solid weapon at the next level. Experienced adversity at an early age with multiple brushes with death (including the shooting death of a childhood friend at age 7). First generation college graduate who comes into draft season with the drive to succeed. Highly coachable player who still receives high levels of praise for his preparation from his high school coach.  Has developed a reputation as a humble, teachable, extremely high-character person.  The off the field picture showcases a player with the intangibles to both develop and also win over a coaching staff and locker room.

Weaknesses: Barriere is small for the position; some sources record him as 5’11, others as 6’1. His combine measurements may have an impact on his draft position (although quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Russell Wilson show that one does not have to have prototypical height to succeed at quarterback; the game is changing). Can be gameplanned against and shut down; struggled at times against the University of Montana in the 2021 season. Plays almost exclusively from the shotgun, which means he will need time to adjust to playing under center regularly.  While he showcases the ability to read defenses, will occasionally miss a defender and throw into danger. This has not caused many problems for him in the FCS, but it is a spot for improvement in the NFL.  Can be quiet in team meeting rooms and film sessions, although this was also a criticism leveraged against Justin Herbert; Barriere absorbs information quickly and learns easily.  Although level of competition will come up as a criticism given Barriere’s position as an FCS quarterback, he led Eastern Washington to victory over UNLV, an FBS team, on September 2nd, 2021. Also performed well against Washington. While Barriere is athletic and runs extremely well, needs to learn to slide at the end of runs and to protect his body at the next level.  Also has a tendency to throw off balance, although this is coachable and he has been successful throughout college.

Synopsis: Eric Barriere is a stronger quarterback prospect than fellow Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, who ultimately spent time playing in the CFL.  While he may not project as a first round pick, he is the type of player that represents a strong value and investment on draft day.  Barriere stands out as one of the top, if not the top, prospects in FCS football heading into the draft, and while he does have room to develop, he also showcases the work ethic necessary to grow.  His best fit is on a team with an older established starter where he will have a season or two to learn the system before being thrust into a starting role, but his ceiling is not that of a career backup; I see him more as a Tyrod Taylor-type prospect (with more upside) who can spend a season or two adjusting to the speed of the NFL and then getting a chance at a starting role.  Also has the potential to emerge as a gadget player like Brad Smith or Taysom Hill, given his agility and rushing ability.  Barriere is a winner, he has faced (and overcome) adversity throughout his life, and he has the drive to succeed at the next level.  Barriere represents a late day 2 or (more likely) day 3 prospect who will outperform his draft stock.


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