NFL Analysis

7/8/24

5 min read

2025 NFL Draft QB Study: Noah Fifita Transcends Size Concerns, Has First-Round Potential

Dec 28, 2023; San Antonio, TX, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Noah Fifita (11) throws a pass in the first half against the Oklahoma Sooners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more remarkable college football season success stories came courtesy of the Arizona Wildcats. The emergence of quarterback Noah Fifita spearheaded the program's sudden rise to a team no one wanted to face. Now, entering this fall, we've studied Fifita's potential as a 2025 NFL Draft prospect.

Can the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Fifita follow in the footsteps of 2023 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young as an undersized top selection?

Noah Fifita 2025 NFL Draft Outlook

The rise of smaller but electric quarterbacks at the collegiate level has been more accepted by the NFL than we've seen throughout the league's history. Fifita fits the archetype of an undersized jitterbug who creates chunk plays downfield. He's remarkably similar to current Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young, who won the Heisman Trophy at Alabama before going pro. 

A former 3-star prospect from Anaheim, California, Fifita was a modest recruit despite being a successful high school star. His other notable scholarship offers included Cal, Fresno State, and Utah State. Now, the 20-year-old redshirt sophomore is leading one of the country's most explosive and effective offenses.

The Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year immediately translated what worked in high school to the collegiate level. He set the program's record for completion rate (72.4 percent), totaling 2,869 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. He usurped an established, quality starter in Jayden De Laura as soon as the opportunity showed itself when De Laura suffered an injury within the first month of action.

His first start came against Washington, where he completed 27-of-39 attempts for 232 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. That performance set the stage for the rest of the season. Fifita most effectively maximized an immensely gifted receiving corps made up of likely 2025 first-round receiver Tetairoa McMillan and 2024 draft picks Jacob Cowing and Tanner McLachlan. 

The raw numbers and highlights are almost unprecedented for a first-year starter. Like Young, Fifita's seamless transition to a higher level of play is encouraging for his NFL outlook. His consistent accuracy, natural playmaking, and higher-level processing are clear.

His ability to blend being a reliable point guard who maximizes his surrounding cast and avoiding oncoming rushers to create positive plays is exactly what the NFL desires right now. Though his frame will always be limited and a concern, Fifita has a stronger arm than Young and flashes even better ball placement.

He'll never be confused for a powerhouse thrower like Josh Allen, but he certainly checks the boxes of someone who is effective and must be respected.

Can Noah Fifita Become the No. 1 Pick?

Part of why Young went No. 1 overall was that he was unstoppable at Alabama. For Fifita to replicate much of what Young did at Arizona might be slightly less impressive for some, but he's quickly brought a program to relevance. Fifita's biggest roadblock to being a first-round pick and potentially the top overall pick will be himself.

What that means is building upon an advanced foundation already in place. His flexible arm allows him to whip the ball out and deliver accurate passes when his base isn't set or he's being hit. He's highly effective both inside and outside of the pocket, so his mastery of pre-snap and post-snap reads from a playbook knowledge perspective can tip discussions in his favor. 

Compared to the other top quarterbacks in the 2025 class, Fifita is much more athletic than Carson Beck but is otherwise similar to Shedeur Sanders and Cam Ward. That means winning in the margins and soft skills can make a big difference. Fifita plays with high intelligence, routinely manipulating safeties and properly seeing where his leverage advantage exists.

Where Fifita needs to improve is meaningful despite him being advanced for a young player. Because he's not super strong or large physically, and his arm is good but not capable of every throw possible without proper mechanics, he has to tighten his process. He's prone to drifting backward to throw over the line of scrimmage to overcome his lack of height, causing some passes to miss the mark or float.

His arm can't always compensate for a rushed dropback or failure to twist his hips during his release. We also see a good number of examples of getting stuck on his primary read and not quickly realizing where the hot read or better option exists. This is usually more to do with experience and exposure than anything. 

The Arizona playbook gives Fifita some valuable experience with more vertical reads but doesn't offer many opportunities between the line of scrimmage and beyond intermediate routes. The middle of the field is rarely used, and that's where every team has concerns with sub-6-foot passers. Fifita isn't used to managing the tight windows that come with middle-of-the-field routes and timing.

It might not matter because his placement and velocity are better than Young's. While Young was accurate, Fifita is precise more often. That is an important gap in talent that bodes well for Fifita. Mixed with his contact balance, ability to sense pressure, and toughness to take hits, a high baseline puts him in the mix to be a first-rounder in 2025. 


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