Spencer Rattler enters 2024 NFL Draft as one of its biggest enigmas

First of an 11-part series. Coming tomorrow: running backs.

He was a wunderkind, and then he wasn’t. He was the No. 1 quarterback recruit out of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, and then Caleb Williams supplanted him at Oklahoma, and he transferred to South Carolina.

And now the NFL draft beckons Spencer Rattler.

“I covered a lot of Spencer when he was first starting at OU, and he was showing a lot of talent, and particular arm talent,” Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt told The Post. “He was basically the Heisman favorite going into his second year, and a lot of us believed that if he played up to his potential, he was gonna be the No. 1 overall pick.”

Spencer Rattler struggled to live up to his billing in the college game, but showed flashes of his potential. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Rattler currently finds himself at or near the top of the quarterback tier below Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J, McCarthy, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr.

He could prove to be one of the steals of the draft.

“Spencer Rattler at the top of his game is a first-round pick,” Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline told The Post. “But literally the last four years, how many times have we seen him at the top of his game?”

Pauline rates Rattler as a mid-fourth-round pick. Asked if he has potential to one day become a starter, Pauline said: “Yeah. He’s an RPO quarterback, with a big arm, who needs to improve his accuracy and ball security. If you coach him correctly and you’re able to develop him, you take him in the fourth round you’re gonna hit a home run because you could potentially have a starter.”

Rattler impresses with his big arm and legs, though he’ll likely start out as an NFL backup. AP

Why did Rattler strike out under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma?

“Their offensive line was not quite as solid as what they had been in the past his second year,” Klatt said, “and so he was under quite a bit of duress right from the beginning.”

From the fan base as well.

“There was a moment during that year where he heard some boos, and they were chanting for Caleb Williams,” Klatt said.

Williams was a better fit because of his legs and mobility.

“He could handle that lack of pass protection or quality of line play better than Spencer Rattler could,” Klatt said.

Rattler isn’t in the same top 2024 NFL Draft tier as Michael Penix. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rattler told ESPN: “I was just happy to get away from a toxic situation.”

Rattler threw for 438 yards and six TDs in a 63-38 win over Tennessee last November and then upset No. 7 Clemson 31-30 in Death Valley. He was MVP of the Senior Bowl.

“I think on the plus side, Spencer has a really talented arm, and he can make a lot of the throws that they’re gonna ask him to make at the NFL level,” Klatt said. “What he has struggled with at times, he is slow to process, and your processing speed has to increase as you play more, and he’d get locked on one receiver at times and get a little bit sloppy with his fundamentals. That’s really the only knock.

“Unfortunately for him, he’s in this draft that is incredibly deep at this position, and it’s basically a result of Name, Image and Likeness, and in part transfer portal and the new rules in college football you’ve got guys that stayed a long time and found opportunities like Michael Penix and Bo Nix, and you’ve got the guys that were the traditional three years and come out, guys like Drake Maye and Caleb Williams.”

Klatt, who will be calling Fox Sports’ first-ever spring game at noon Saturday from Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium, also believes that Rattler has starter potential.

“If you looked at his tape when he was first at OU, and some of the throws that he made, you’d say, ‘Yup, he can make it happen,’” he said. “I think he can be a really good backup in his first few years, and in my estimation, can grow into a guy that could start and win football games.”

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer raved about his leadership and demeanor.

“I don’t want everybody to be as good as me,” Rattler said once. “I don’t call it cocky. I just call it being confident in your abilities and you just gotta go out there and have fun with it.”

Rattler was one of three high school quarterbacks featured in Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond the Lights” documentary in 2017. He was suspended the latter part of his senior year for reportedly violating a district code of conduct.

To his credit, he has put all the darkness behind him.

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