2017 NFL Draft: Top 10 Quarterbacks

By Frank Coppola

*Notes:

  • NFL Comparison – This is a comparison of the playing style of a draft prospect to the NFL quarterback that I believe the prospect most resembles. This is NOT a measure of talent or ability, but rather of the player’s style.
  • Value – This is the round/pick that I believe the player should be drafted based on his talent, potential, and overall ability.
  • Projected Pick – This is the round/pick that I believe the prospect will be selected by an NFL franchise in the 2017 Draft.

 

Quarterbacks:

  1. Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)

Strengths:

  • High completion percentage (68.0%) and low interception total (6) in only season as starter
  • Prototypical NFL quarterback size (6’3’’, 220 lbs.)
  • Ability to connect on mid-range and deep tight window passes
  • Reads secondary coverage well to make smart plays in between defenders
  • Accurately connects on mid-range and deep throws when on the run
  • Exhibits poise in the pocket when under pressure and great mobility to buy time for his receivers downfield
  • Ability to scramble and make plays on the ground running the ball
  • Competent redzone passer – ability to roll out and make tight throws to receivers

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of experience (13 career starts) and issues with consistency may mean he will need some time to develop
  • Tendency to bypass reads when under pressure and hit check-down receivers
  • Operated in a passing system that favored slant patterns, screen passes, and read-option zone runs
  • Often does not set his feet and makes errant throwing motion causing inaccuracy
  • Throws off his back foot when making some deep throws causing under-thrown passes

NFL Comparison: Matt Stafford

Value: Top 10

Projected Pick: Top 5

 

  1. Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech)

Strengths:

  • Constant improvement in completion percentage through three years at Texas Tech (56.8%, 63.5%, and 65.7% from 2014-2016 respectively)
  • Ability to scramble, avoid pass rushers, and/or run the ball when the pocket breaks down
  • Makes accurate passes downfield when being forced to roll out of the pocket and throw on the run
  • Strongest arm in the draft class; can accurately connect on a wide range of deep passing routes on both sides of the field
  • Elusive runner who can break through the line of scrimmage and make plays on the ground
  • Poised and accurate when facing pass rushers and blitz packages

Weaknesses:

  • High interception totals in two years as the Texas Tech starter (15 and 10 in 2015 and 2016 respectively)
  • Inconsistent accuracy when throwing deep passes down the sideline
  • Has some timing issues on quick comeback and curl routes
  • Often forces passes into tight coverage leading to interceptions and incompletions
  • Developmental quarterback prospect who will need to progress in an NFL system and pass with more consistent accuracy

NFL Comparison: Cam Newton

Value: Top 20

Projected Pick: Early 2nd Round

 

  1. Davis Webb (California)

Strengths:

  • Elite size for an NFL quarterback (6’5’’, 230 lbs.)
  • Ability to read defenses and complete deep throws in tight coverage
  • Exhibits confidence and poise when standing in the pocket and going through his progressions and reads
  • Patience in the pocket allows his receivers to finish routes and create space and throwing lanes
  • Pinpoints receivers on deep routes and throws the ball into space to lead receivers between coverage
  • Remains poised when under pressure and avoids a loss of yards by throwing the ball away or hitting his check-down receiver

Weaknesses:

  • Transferred to California in junior year after losing starting quarterback job to Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech
  • Inconsistent, sloppy footwork sometimes leads to accuracy issues
  • Inability to run the ball and gain yards on the ground when plays breakdown (negative rushing yards in 2016)
  • Often lazy and sloppy when making passes on short routes
  • Has a habit of staring down intended receivers and allowing the secondary to jump on passes
  • High volume of interceptions signals poor decision-making and lack of awareness (12 interception in 2016)

NFL Comparison: Eli Manning

Value: Late 1st Round

Projected Pick: Early 3rd Round

 

  1. DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)

Strengths:

  • Great pocket awareness to sense pass rush and step up to make throws under pressure
  • Mobility gives him the ability to scramble outside the pocket and extend plays
  • Elite footwork and throwing mechanics translate to his passing accuracy
  • Has the ability to rush on designed quarterback running plays and contribute to the ground game (525 rushing yards in 2016)
  • Very accurate throwing passes on the run when rolling out to his right side

Weaknesses:

  • Functioned as a game-manager and read-option style quarterback, so most of his throws were short-mid range passes
  • Low passing touchdown totals in two seasons as starting quarterback (21 and 26) lead to concerns in production through the air
  • Relatively untested on deep throws; potential issues in development and ability to complete NFL passes
  • Sometimes struggles with timing and accuracy on quick passes like slant patterns and curl routes
  • Gets caught forcing passes into tight coverage, which can lead to interceptions
  • Struggles with accuracy when rolling out to his left side

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson

Value: Early 2nd Round

Projected Pick: Late 1st Round

 

  1. Deshaun Watson (Clemson)

Strengths:

  • Dynamic runner with the ability to contribute to the rushing attack to open the offense up
  • Consistent mechanics and quick release when making passes
  • Experience in high-pressure situations – national champion with four CFB playoff game appearances
  • High production level – 12,097 total yards and 116 total touchdowns in three seasons at Clemson
  • National recognition and success at the collegiate level: national champion, two-time Heisman runner-up, two CFB playoff appearances (four total playoff games)

Weaknesses:

  • Played in a read-option system and will require development to learn how to operate in an NFL offensive system
  • Consistently inaccurate on deep throws; often under-throws and relies on his receivers to bail out poor passes
  • Lack of ability to stand in the pocket to complete passes; has the need to run outside of the pocket to make his throws
  • Poor timing and accuracy; constantly under-throws receivers who gain a step on their defender

NFL Comparison: Robert Griffin III

Value: Early 3rd Round

Projected Pick: Top 20

 

  1. Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh)

Strengths:

  • NFL QB size – 6’3’’ height and 225 lbs.
  • Exhibits great poise and comfort in the pocket and has very consistent footwork on drop backs and throwing motion
  • Makes very smart decisions when facing pass rush and has the ability to complete accurate throws with pass rushers in his face
  • Relatively low amount of interceptions (15 total in two seasons as starter) signals great decision-making and ability to take care of the ball
  • Operates as a game manager-styled passer, but has shown the ability to make deep throws when his offense calls upon it
  • Has the mobility to scramble and create versatility to open up the running game

Weaknesses:

  • Throwing velocity is sometimes an issue when he struggles to get power behind his throw
  • Low passing yards and touchdown totals in 2015 and 2016 (2,287 yards and 20 TD’s; 2,855 yards and 27 TD’s respectively) signal low production and his role as a situational passer
  • Inconsistent accuracy against tougher defenses; had a 61.5% and 60.5% completion percentage in 2015 and 2016 respectively
  • Transferred from Tennessee in 2015 after failing to secure the starting quarterback job; originally lost starting job at Tennessee due to issues with turnovers and accuracy

NFL Comparison: Alex Smith

Value: Mid-Late 3rd Round

Projected Pick: 5th Round

 

  1. Jerod Evans (Virginia Tech)

Strengths:

  • Prototypical NFL QB size at 6’4’’ and 235 lbs.
  • Strong, accurate arm on deep passes and has shown the ability to make throws from both inside and outside of the pocket
  • Great mobility and movement in the pocket – able to scramble and has the arm strength to throw on the run
  • Has the physical strength to dominate in the redzone on tough short yardage runs as well as the ability to break off long runs down the field
  • Defeated fellow top quarterback prospects Trubisky, Kizer, Peterman, and Kaaya during the 2016 season and kept up with Watson in a close loss to Clemson
  • Possesses the tools to develop into a capable backup and a potential starter

Weaknesses:

  • History of injury – tore his ACL in 2013 while playing at the Air Force Academy; led to his transfer to community college
  • Has only one year as a Power Five conference starter
  • Errant footwork often causes inaccuracies and sloppiness in his passes
  • Has displayed the ability to run, but posted average 40 time (4.8) at the combine among quarterbacks
  • Developmental prospect – will need time to develop consistent mechanics and ability to read NFL defenses
  • Minimal D1 experience may lead to a lack of ability to read defenses at the next level

NFL Comparison: Jameis Winston

Value: 4th Round

Projected Pick: 5th Round

 

  1. Brad Kaaya (Miami)

Strengths:

  • Great pocket mobility and ability to avoid pass rushers to extend plays
  • Makes smart decisions when receivers are in coverage to utilize check-down or throw the ball away
  • Experienced three-year starter with three bowl appearances
  • Has displayed an ability to finish drives and score touchdowns when in the redzone and/or on the goal line
  • Ability and strength to throw on the run when under pressure

Weaknesses:

  • Inconsistent accuracy when targeting mid-range and deep receiver routes
  • Often over or under-throws deep routes and exhibits poor timing when receivers get into space
  • Operated in a system of short throws and zone runs and was not as tested on deep throws as his fellow quarterback prospects
  • Concerns arise about his arm strength – he has been caught lobbing passes that are deep and outside to compensate for his weak arm
  • Sometimes seems to be caught uncomfortable in the pocket and is not very fluid when making his drop back
  • Athleticism is in question; he opted out of running the 40-yard dash during the combine and posted negative rushing yard totals in each of his three seasons as a starting quarterback

NFL Comparison: Philip Rivers

Value: 5th Round

Projected Pick: 4th Round

 

  1. Chad Kelly (Ole Miss)

Strengths:

  • Strong pocket awareness; confident pocket presence and has the ability to scramble and run when the pocket breaks down
  • Possesses one of the strongest arms in the 2017 quarterback class and displayed his ability to hit open receivers on deep route patterns throughout his career at Ole Miss
  • Has very good instincts when reading defenses and utilizes pump fakes to draw in defenders and open up passing lanes
  • Great timing and anticipation; ability to diagnose defenses and throw receivers into space
  • Very strong and athletic; able to handle taking hits, throw on the run, and make athletic plays

Weaknesses:

  • Wide throwing motion and weak mechanics cause his slow release time and may cause problems with velocity when transferring to an NFL offense
  • Has the tendency to stare down his receivers and throw passes even if no separation is made; needs to progress through his reads in order to avoid interceptions and incompletions
  • Many concerns arise from his off-the-field issues; he was uninvited to the NFL Combine, kicked off the Clemson football team in 2013, and has a history of disorderly conduct
  • Often fails to look downfield while throwing on the run and will usually choose to hit check-down man or run the ball even if receivers are open on deeper routes
  • Sometimes forces plays (throws or runs) despite tight defense
  • Will need time to develop throwing mechanics and ability to read NFL defenses before being considered for playing time at the next level

NFL Comparison: Blake Bortles

Value: 6th Round

Projected Pick: 7th Round

 

  1. C.J. Beathard (Iowa)

Strengths:

  • Experienced starter in the Big Ten conference; led the Hawkeyes to a 12-0 regular season record in 2015 and appeared in the Rose Bowl
  • Demonstrated his ability to run the ball during the 2015 season (237 rushing yards)
  • Confidently steps up in the pocket to throw downfield; does not get easily frazzled when facing a pass rush or when the pocket collapses
  • Mobile and able to handle pass rush; looks downfield when scrambling in order to throw the ball from outside the pocket
  • Exhibited leadership skills as starting quarterback at Iowa and led the team to many signature Big Ten wins against tough opponents

Weaknesses:

  • Inconsistent accuracy both in the pocket and on the run; often under-throws passes (56.5% completion percentage in 2016)
  • Low passing production due to role as a game-manager style quarterback (1,929 passing yards and 17 passing TD’s)
  • Regressed from junior to senior year; posted worse stat numbers in 2016 than 2015 in completion percentage, passing yards, interceptions, passer rating, and rushing yards
  • Relatively weak arm in comparison to the rest of the quarterback class; was not tested on deep throws in the Hawkeyes’ system as much as the other prospects were
  • Often settles for short, open receivers; not very willing to take shots down the field and throw into tight windows

NFL Comparison: Teddy Bridgewater

Value: 7th Round

Projected Pick: 6th Round

 

OVERALL:

Most NFL Ready – Mitch Trubisky

Highest Potential – Patrick Mahomes II

Most Overrated – Deshaun Watson

Most Underrated – Davis Webb

Late-Round Steal – Nathan Peterman

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