2019 Rookie Draft Reference Guide: The QBs
John Holler - 4/15/2019
Every year, the NFL has its shelves restocked with the top college talent in the game. Through seven rounds that includes 224 assigned picks and 32 compensatory picks – this year there will be 254 picks due to two picks being used in the supplemental draft – and whether you are the first pick or the last pick, teams draft players in hopes that they will become part of the long-term futures to maintain or build a franchise.
These are the QBs fans should be aware of heading into the draft, some of whom are already being touted as the future faces of the NFL.
POSITION OVERVIEW – This isn’t a dominant class by any stretch, but, given the added draft importance given to quarterbacks, there could be four taken by the middle of the first round. After that, however, the drop will be quick and significant.
THE BLUE CHIPPERS
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, 5-10, 207 – Third-year junior who transferred to OU from Texas A&M in 2016…One-year starter who completed 260 of 377 passes for 4,361 yards with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed 140 times for 1,001 yards and 12 TDs…Is very accurate and capable of making all NFL throws…Has a good a strong arm and solid passing mechanics…Has good speed and is a legitimate dual threat…Is very short – barely measured over 5-10 at the Combine…Ran an offense that typically didn’t have many contested passes and he made quick decisions in the shotgun…Did not work out at the Combine. PROJECTION: He shot up draft boards after the season ended and will end up going No. 1 overall, either to Arizona or the team that trades into the No. 1 spot.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State, 6-3, 231 – Third-year sophomore…One-year starter who completed 373 of 53 passes for 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions and ran 79 times for 108 yards and four TDs…Has ideal NFL size and arm strength…Is able to make all the throws needed in the NFL…Plays with a lot of poise and doesn’t panic in the pocket…Needs to add some core strength and muscle to his body…Played primarily out of the shotgun so he will have a learning curve at the next level…Ran a 5.04 40 at the Combine with a 28½ inch vertical jump. PROJECTION: He is the most purely physically gifted QB in the draft class, but is extremely inexperienced, but, in his one season, broke every record Drew Brees held for 20 years in the Big Ten. If someone doesn’t trade up to get him, he shouldn’t make it past the Giants at No. 6.
Drew Lock, Missouri, 6-3, 228 – Fourth-year senior…Four-year starter who completed 883 of 1,553 passes for 12,193 yards with 99 touchdowns and 39 interceptions, while rushing 202 times for 437 yards and six TDs…Prototype NFL size, strength and experience for a college QB coming to the NFL…Has good deep ball accuracy and throws passes with the needed velocity…Has a quick release and good mobility to extend plays…Inconsistent throughout his career and will make ill-advised decisions…Doesn’t have great mechanics or natural footwork, which should have been corrected by this point…Ran a 4.69 40 at the Combine with a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump. PROJECTION: He has all the need measurable attributes to be a starter in the NFL and has as much big-time experience as any QB in the 2019 draft. He has mechanics issues that need to be improved, but his talent should have him off the board in the top half of the first round.
Daniel Jones, Duke, 6-5, 221 – Fourth-year junior…Three-year starter who completed 764 of 1,275 passes for 8201 yards with 52 touchdowns and 29 interceptions and rushed 406 times for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns…Is very intelligent and reads defenses extremely well…Has a strong arm and plays with a natural feel and poise in the pocket…Played in a pro-style offense and won’t have to make the same type of transition as many college QBs…Holds the ball too long and will take a lot of sacks…Came to Duke as a can’t-miss prospect and has never fully reached his awesome potential…Ran a 4.81 40 at the Combin with a 33½ inch vertical jump and a 10-0 broad jump. PROJECTION: A gifted, intelligent QB who hasn’t lived up to all his potential to date. He has all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback, which will likely be enough for him to get drafted in the first half of the first round. But, he will likely be viewed as a game manager more than a guy who can dominates games immediately.
Will Grier, West Virginia, 6-2, 217 – Fifth-year senior who transferred from Florida in 2016…Two-year starter who completed 516 of 785 passes for 7,354 yards with 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions…Has good mechanics, a quick release and the velocity to make all the throws needs…Reads defenses well and is good on short to intermediate throws…He was given the freedom to call audibles frequently when he saw something he liked in the defense…Is old (24) and missed time after being suspended at Florida for taking PEDs…Doesn’t have great deep arm strength or accuracy…Didn’t play in a pro offense and often struggled with forced to stay in the pocket…Ran a 4.84 40 at the Combine with a 34-inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump. PROJECTION: He doesn’t have a great arm, but makes the most of the short passing game. His measurable traits will be keep him out of the first round, but he has the skills to be a Day 2 pick with a chance to compete for a starting job at some point.
Ryan Finley, NC State, 6-4, 213 – Sixth-year senior who spent his first two seasons at Boise State…Three-year starter who completed 880 of 1,364 passes for 10,501 yards with 60 touchdowns and 25 interceptions and rushed 185 times for 309 yards and one touchdown…Reads through his progressions quickly and delivers the ball accurately and on time…Showed consistent improvement throughout his career…Completed more than 64 percent of his career passes, including more than 66 percent the last two years…Is very old for a college QB – he will turn 25 during the season…Doesn’t have a cannon arm or delivers the ball with extreme velocity…Inconsistent on deep passes…Ran a 4.73 40 at the Combine with a 30½ inch vertical jump and a 9-8 broad jump. PROJECTION: An intelligent player (he has two Master’s degrees) and is a natural leader who could eventually compete for a starting job, but, at age 25, whoever drafts him will understand that he is on the clock and his timetable will have to be sped up. He’s likely a Day 2 pick, some teams will devalue him due to his age.
BEST OF THE REST
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn, 6-2, 218 – A fourth-year senior who sat out 2016 after transferring from Baylor…A two-year starter who completed 470 of 739 passes for 5,952 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while rushing 175 times for 154 yards and seven TDs…A pocket passer who throws with good velocity and a quick release…Is capable of making all the needed throws for an NFL QB…Isn’t a runner, but is able to keep plays a lot with good, natural movement skills in the pocket…Didn’t have to read through progressions much since his offense was designed for quick-hitting plays designed for one half of the field…Doesn’t play with great mechanics or footwork and often throws awkward passes that will be intercepted in the NFL…Didn’t play at his best in the most important games for his team and often struggled on the big state…Ran a 4.81 4-0 at the Combine with a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: He could have helped his draft stock by returning for his senior year. He has strong intangibles, which should get him drafted in the middle rounds, but he has never fully lived up to his hype and will likely have to earn his chance to be a starter at some point in the NFL.
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo, 6-7, 249 – Third-year junior…A three-year starter who, in 32 career games, completed 553 of 955 passes for 6,999 yards with 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions, along with 202 carries for 757 yards and 16 touchdowns…Has elite size and a cannon for an arm – he can throw a ball 70 yards with velocity…He is a good combination of size, strength and speed and can make plays with his legs…He made the most of 2018, being named MAC Offensive Player of the Year and was named team MVP of the South team at the Senior Bowl…Doesn’t play under control and too many of his passes sail…Doesn’t have a compact throwing motion and opens himself to hits when asked to throw a long pass…Didn’t play elite competition and injuries prevented him from a full season until last year…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine with a 34½ inch vertical jump and a 10-0 broad jump. PROJECTION: He made himself some money at the Senior Bowl and Combine, but the NFL Advisory Board told him he would have been much better served to return to college for his senior season. His amazing athleticism will get him drafted higher than he should, but he may always be more of an athletic specimen than a team leader or an accomplished NFL starter or backup.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern, 6-4, 222 – Fourth-year senior…Became a starter midway through his freshman season and finished his career completing 991 of 1,696 passes for 9,364 yards with 61 touchdowns and 45 interceptions, along with 362 carries for 408 yards and 27 TDs…Has a strong arm and throws into tight windows with good velocity…Has experience as a four-year starter in a power conference and has improved over time…Has a good presence and poise in the pocket and avoids pressure while keeping his eyes downfield…Throws too many contested passes – 45 career interceptions are far too high…Doesn’t always make good decisions…Doesn’t have consistent accuracy and is streaky…Did not work out at the Combine. PROJECTION: He has great intangibles and experience, but has struggled to be consistent and his tape is a problem because he throws too many bad passes and interceptions. He’s likely going to be a career backup who will need a lot of things to fall right to be a starter in the NFL.
Gardner Minshew, Washington State, 6-0, 225 – Fourth-year senior who spent two seasons at East Carolina before transferring to Washington State last year…In his only season at WSU, he completed 468 of 662 passes for 4,776 yards with 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions, along with 58 carries for 119 yards and four touchdowns…Extremely accurate thrower who completed almost 71 percent of his passes in 2018…Has a compact throwing motion, good mechanics and excelled in Mike Leach’s Air Raid Offense…Is quick to read defenses and feel pressure…Is undersized by NFL QB standards…Does not have elite arm strength and most of his passes at WSU were quick-read throws that didn’t require him to air the ball out deep…Viewed as a system QB from a system that hasn’t produced NFL starters...Ran a 4.97 40 at the Combine with a 33½ inch vertical jump and a 10-8 broad jump. PROJECTION: He played at three different schools after high school and picked up those offenses quickly. But, he was never asked to read all the progressions NFL QBs do because of Washington State’s gimmick offense is catered to QBs. A Day Three pick with some upside.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Jake Browning, Washington, 6-1. 211 – A fourth-year senior who threw almost 1,500 passes for 12,396 yards with 94 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. Had early success, but didn’t replicate it his final two seasons.
Trace McSorley, Penn State, 6-0, 202 – A three-year starter who is intelligent and tough, he is best in a system that throws short, timing passes. He has a relatively low career season, but has a good chance to be an accomplished NFL backup taken on Day Three of the draft.
Brett Rypien, Boise State, 6-1, 210 – The nephew of Mark Rypien, he was a four-year starter who was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. He isn’t a dominating player, but posted a record of 37-12 in his college career.
Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt, 6-4, 230 – The son of Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, he was a three-year starter who has the intelligence and sound decision-making under pressure to be an NFL backup, but doesn’t have elite arm strength.
Easton Stick, North Dakota State, 6-1, 224 – The guy who replaced Carson Wentz, he broke all of Wentz’s records, including pass yards (8,693) and touchdowns (88). Like Wentz, he has a strong arm and good deep accuracy, but he will be a late-round project pick with upside.
Jordan Ta’Amu, Ole Miss, 6-2, 221 – Known as "The Throwin’ Samoan," he turned a lot of heads at the East-West Shrine Game, being able to show off his football I.Q., command of the huddle and velocity of his passes. But, he worked out of a shotgun system and will need to refine his game at the next level.
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