Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book has the name recognition that comes with being a three-year starter at one of college football’s most prestigious schools. But despite this, Ian Book remains an afterthought in the 2021 NFL Draft discussion at quarterback. Does Book have a future at the NFL level? Or is he just a good college quarterback who lacks the aptitude to produce professionally?
Ian Book NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 206 pounds
School: Notre Dame
Current Year: Redshirt Senior
In high school, Ian Book provided the same long-term steadiness that he’s become known for at the college football level. Book was a three-year starter at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California. There, he helped Oak Ridge win double-digit games twice, and made a name for himself as a passer with enticing dual-threat ability.
Despite his success, Book only attracted moderate interest on the recruiting trail. ESPN listed Book as a mere three-star prospect. Book consequently failed to generate much attention across the league.
The scope of interested programs
By April of 2015, Book only received interest from regional teams, such as Boise State, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Idaho. He also had offers from two Ivy League schools, Harvard and Yale.
Book initially signed with the Washington State Cougars, to play under offensive guru Mike Leach. But late in the process, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish displayed interest. Book immediately capitalized on the interest of the Fighting Irish. He visited the school in August that year.
Just three days after his visit to Notre Dame, Book de-committed from Washington State, and committed to Notre Dame. He enrolled ten months later in June of 2016.
Ian Book’s career as the quarterback of Notre Dame
Book’s career at Notre Dame started predictably. The three-star signee redshirted his freshman campaign in 2016. He saw no game action, while future second-round pick DeShone Kizer started at quarterback. At the start of the 2017 season, Book served as backup to Brandon Wimbush. In limited game action, Book completed 46 of 75 attempts for 456 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
In 2018, Wimbush returned as the starter, but inconsistent play soon sowed controversy. Subsequently, Book logged his first start in a road contest against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. In that game, Book threw for over 300 yards and amassed five total touchdowns. Thus, he sealed his fate as Notre Dame’s starter moving forward.
Book boasted longevity as Notre Dame’s quarterback
Book went on to keep that starting role through the 2020 season, giving the Fighting Irish much-needed consistency at quarterback. Through the 2020 regular season, Book threw for 8,718 yards, 72 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions while completing 701 of his 1,102 attempts. He also put up 1,462 rush yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground in that same time span.
Most recently, Book helped take the Fighting Irish to their second CFB playoff appearance under his watch. He plays the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national semifinals. It’s a game that will be of great importance, not just to Notre Dame’s championship aspirations, but to Book’s individual draft stock.
Is Ian Book underrated as an NFL Draft prospect?
Ian Book does have the best first name in existence, so that moves him up a round grade for me. All joking aside, Book possesses some intriguing football traits. Although his limitations are clear, he has potential as a long-term backup who could hold his own as a spot-starter in the NFL.
The quality that stands out most with Ian Book is his athleticism and ability to extend plays. Book is nimble and elusive in the pocket, and few match his propensity for keeping plays alive in the class. He’s also gritty and competitive as a runner, and this style resonates with his teammates.
However, while Book’s extension capacity is a plus, some issues are encrypted in his abilities.
While Book can extend plays, there are times when he shouldn’t. Some plays go on too long because Book fails to make his progressions quickly enough and sees the pocket collapse on him. Others go on too long because Book habitually leaves the pocket prematurely and works himself into a corner. Book’s skittish and elusive nature helps and hurts him at different times.
Ian Book’s abilities as a thrower
As a thrower, Book is similarly dual-sided. When he has his feet set, he can generate a surprising amount of velocity in the short and intermediate ranges. He can also throw with accuracy when in rhythm. He’s shown the ability to hit back-shoulder throws, among other things.
However, this passing ability fades dramatically in the deep ranges and when Book rolls out and throws off-platform. He can still hit some tight sideline windows when rolling out, but his velocity suffers without a strong base, regardless.
This isn’t to say Book can’t hit deep passes; he has shown flashes in that area. But the same velocity issues remain even in those instances. Book can occasionally throw with accuracy downfield, but the ball doesn’t always reach its target quickly enough. In the NFL, that can be a recipe for disaster.
The term “backyard football” is often used to describe Book’s play, and it’s an accurate description. Book certainly has the ability to make plays off-script and extend opportunities, but he relies on this style almost to a fault. There are times when Book only causes damage when he seeks to extend plays, and when he tries to stand in the pocket and be a pure passer, the results are inconsistent.
Statistically, Book has been good throughout his career. However, he appears to be a solid college quarterback whose traits won’t be completely translatable at the NFL level. The prevailing opinion checks out.
Ian Book’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
As a 2021 NFL Draft prospect, Ian Book likely shouldn’t be selected before Day 3. His inconsistency with processing and limited arm strength serve as mitigating factors for his upside.
Despite this, Book has a lot of appeal as a long-term backup. His escapability gives him tools to withstand adversity, and as a two-time team captain, he has the leadership ability NFL teams look for. He has a chance to emphasize that at the Senior Bowl in January.
Book through the Bill Parcells lens
If you favor the Bill Parcells rules of selecting quarterbacks, Book is the rare signal-caller that checks all of the boxes.
He is a three-year starter. He is a senior in college who graduated in the spring. He’s completed over 60% of his passes and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio over 2:1. Book is also Notre Dame’s winningest quarterback with over 30 wins. Thus, he checks Parcells’ game requirements as well.
Parcells’ rules aren’t the gospel. Parcells drafted Chad Henne in Round 2 with the Miami Dolphins, and we know how that turned out. But there is something to be said for Book’s experience, leadership ability, and competitive fire, and his legitimate functional athleticism serves as a bonus. He might not be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he has what you want in a quality backup.
Book’s round projection reflects his skill set. He’s a Day 3 guy, but teams with an immediate need for quarterback depth should be more apt to key in on him. Teams like the Giants, Jets, Lions, Vikings, and Falcons stand out. Additionally, Book could be a good schematic fit for the Chiefs, Ravens, and Seahawks. As a draft prospect, Book is nowhere near the caliber of Trevor Lawrence. But, his style should still afford him a solid NFL career as a safety blanket.