Not every one can be a star. Stars are the rage in recruiting. Get enough stars and you win. Some people think stars don’t matter. Most fanbases believe their blue chip prospects are properly, or somehow under, rated. They all believe their 2 and 3 star prospects were overlooked by the recruiting services for a litany reasons, number one being their state or town of origin. It’s a process every single fanbase goes through every single year.
As an amateur talent evaluator, I try to remain level-headed. Every signing class will have a share of failures. Some players objectively throw their football lives away. Some guys never fully polish their game. Some guys are just plain stars. We spend most of our time talking about these guys. But sometimes underrated players significantly out achieve their rankings.
LSU isn’t really in the business of hunting for diamonds in the rough, choosing instead to pick amongst the diamonds in plain sight. But every program takes their role players, except for Alabama, who gray shirts top 100 players. Sometimes role players make their roles bigger than anyone imagined.
Patrick Queen may be on just that path.
Back of the Card
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
247 Composite Ranking: ****
247 Composite Rating: .8955
Let’s first acknowledge how spoiled we are that a composite 4-star, national top 300 prospect is considered underrated in our signing class. Patrick Queen would have been one of the four best players in Ole Miss’, South Carolina’s, Wisconsin’s and Oregon’s signing classes. At LSU, he’s merely the third ILB we signed.
Queen ranked as an ATH coming out of HS, though was targeted as an LB for LSU all along. He rushed for nearly 1,500 yards as a Senior and wound up an All-State player. Officially listed at 6’1”, 220 pounds, he doesn’t have the ideal frame for an ILB. He’s built more in line with players like Debo Jones, Duke Riley and senior Donnie Alexander. Queen committed to LSU in February of last year and only bothered to take a pair of unofficial visits to Ole Miss and nothing more. Throughout the process his quality character and loyalty stood out.
On the Field
Already There: Aggressiveness, Closing Speed, Lateral Movement
Working On It: Learning His Position
Doesn’t Have It: Size
Aggressiveness: Queen likes to hit people. Just :07 into his reel you see how willing he is to throw himself into the run game and make a physical tackle. I love 1:32 because it’s not even a glory play where he gets a tackle. No, he’s just being a bully coming up and laying a big lick on a would-be blocker.
Closing Speed: His speed overall is a strength, but I always love a LB that can swallow up ground in a hurry and make a tackle. 3:05 he really crashes hard, even after falling for the fake, he’s still able to track down the QB in pursuit. 4:36 that knifing quickness allows him to split the defense and make an easy TFL.
Lateral Movement: You can see his skills on display as a RB throughout the reel, but a shining example on D comes at 7:41, where he’s able to put his foot in the ground and cut like a running back, creating a clean line for him on the way to a QB. His overall athleticism allows him to thrive in situations like these.
Overall Athleticism: The above two play into this obviously, but Queen is just such a fluid, easy moving athlete. Look at 9:10, where he goes for a jam on the line then opens his hips and glides in coverage for a PBU. 9:20 he’s blitzing and making an impact with his speed.
Working On It
Learning His Position: Unlike his classmates, Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor, Queen doesn’t bring the same instincts and nuanced understanding of the position. On tape, he doesn’t stand out for his LB play but for his athletic ability. Queen is your vintage “chase LB” that runs down the action of the play, but doesn’t always anticipate it well. He’s got tools to translate, but he needs to spend a lot of time in the classroom.
Doesn’t Have It
Size: Queen sits around 6’0 and carries about 215 pounds. It’s not bad size, but it’s the type of size you may see from a typical WILL in a 4-3 or possibly a coverage MLB in a heavy Cover 2 scheme. To play inside, I think he could stand to add another 15-20 pounds of good muscle to help him stand up in the run game. Even at 6’1”, 240, he’s still a guy that would be considered undersized for the next level.
Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison
The 80s were the Golden Age of Indie. Indie rock was all the rage or as it was called back then, “college rock.” And a shadow movie industry blossomed as the Hollywood studio system collapsed in the late 70s thanks to some big budget, high profile failures from the young gun auteurs. Hell, even Francis Ford Coppola had problems getting movies financed after Apocalypse Now, because he spent so much time and money.
These were the underdogs of the movie world, and they revolutionized the art and the industry. Patrick Queen is our underrated indie god, who also hopes to make an outsized impact from his modest beginnings outside the major hype machines. Most independent films get lost to history, some become legendary, like sex, lies, and videotape.
Steven Soderbergh went to high school at LSU Lab here in Baton Rouge and worked in music videos for a spell before returning home and writing the movie that would launch his career. Shot in Baton Rouge, the movie won the Audience Award at Sundance and eventually the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the first American winner in a decade (and kicking off a run of American indie directors taking the prize: David Lynch and the Coen brothers would win the following years). Soderbergh would go on to a highly successful career as a Hollywood filmmaker, winning an Oscar for Traffic and directing the Oceans series for huge box office returns. Some times, the little guy turns out to be the star. Just like Patrick Queen hopes to be.
What the Future Holds
Queen is a guy I was almost sure would take a RS this year as he acclimated to college football and added additional bulk. In his press conference recently, Aranda remarked that Queen is the most athletic of the three LB prospects and he would need all three to play. Depth wise, it does make sense.
It’ll be interesting to see in what capacity Queen is used. He seems like a shoe-in for ST work with his aggression and athletic ability. I’m not sure what strides he’s made during fall camp, but based on HS tape, he’s not a guy I’d think would be ready to spell Devin White or Donnie Alexander for meaningful snaps, right away.
Situationally, you might be able to exploit his athleticism, either dropping him in coverage or buzzing him off the edge or up the middle in a blitz. I’d think that would be the nature of his role in 2016.
Long term, his potential will all depend on how much work he’s willing to put into refining his game. I think he’s further behind the developmental arc than guys like Debo and Duke, who still took the full four years to climb the depth chart and become legitimate contenders. Couple that with the fact that he’s signed along with a superstar like Jacob Phillips and another stud like Tyler Taylor and you’ve got a complex equation to solve here. I do think Aranda will look to maximize the talent on hand and utilize their strengths and Queen’s athleticism should be his ticket to the field.
Queen’s not likely to be a star, but he’s the type of guy you build the foundation of your program upon.
High End: Picks up the game quickly and athletic traits allow him to take off and shoot ahead his ultra-talented classmates and become a significant, multi-year contributor.
Low End: Gets lost in the talented LB shuffle and contributes as a 4-year program player.
Realistic: Quality LB depth that becomes an eventual starter his senior season.