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Top Five 2016 NFL Draft Prospects- Quarterback
These young men will be targets to be the future leaders of an NFL franchise. Today I rank the top five quarterback prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Jared Goff, Cal
Bio: As a freshman at Cal in 2013, Jared Goff started all 12 games. Despite the team finishing with a 1-11 record that year, Goff set school records in passing yards, attempts, and completions. Over the next two seasons, he continued to break his own records in passing yards, touchdown passes, and total offense while also setting a PAC-12 record with 4,714 passing yards. He capped his Cal career by throwing six touchdowns in a win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. Goff decided to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL Draft.
Strengths: Above average arm. Can make all the throws and can sling the deep ball with velocity and accuracy. Clean release and snaps throws off with minimal effort. Drives hips through his release for extra heat. Pocket mobility and poise showed improvement from his sophomore and junior seasons. Keeps proper footwork and readiness to throw as he slides up in the pocket. Knows what to do when feeling the pressure. Able to run out of trouble rather than into it. Looks the part of a confident quarterback when working from a clean pocket. Sells his play fakes with purpose, drawing defenders out of position. Will throw receivers open in tight quarters. Has excellent accuracy and soft touch on touch throws down the field. Willing to attack intermediate areas of the field. Impressive deep ball accuracy.
Weaknesses: Leaner than ideal. Has rough patches with accuracy from time to time. Sails throws over intended targets early in games. Has moments where he makes receivers work too hard on simple throws. Took almost all of his pass snaps from pistol or shotgun this season. Rhythm passer who benefited from the up-tempo of Cal's air raid offense. Must distinguish between getting ball out and rushing throws. Able to escape pocket, but isn't a consistent finisher when on the move. Fumbled the ball 24 times over the last three seasons, losing 11. Sacked 81 times over three years. Has to monitor internal clock. Several of his interceptions came when he failed to read zone defenses.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Cleveland Browns
2. Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Bio: After redshirting his freshman year, Paxton Lynch became Memphis' starter in 2013. Starting 38 games over three seasons, Lynch showed his prowess as a dual threat quarterback. As a redshirt junior, he completed 296 of 443 passes for 3,778 yards, 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions. That year in Memphis' 63-0 victory over SMU, Lynch tied an FBS record with seven passing touchdowns in a half. He decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the draft.
Strengths: 6'7", athletic body with ability to scan over the top. Exceptional foot quickness for a tall quarterback. Can maneuver quickly out of a busy pocket and away from trouble, but desires to keep passing option alive. Sets up in the pocket quickly. More functional scrambler than most quarterbacks. Sacked just 15 times over 477 drop backs. Able to win with his feet when he needs to. Has a quick release to overcome his slight wind-up throw. Has enough arm to drive the ball into tough windows. Strong arm to attack downfield while rolling out. Great decision maker. Rarely falls for defensive backs' tricks. Displays qualities of a field general. Doesn't rattle easily. Yards per attempt have exploded over his last two years. Can gain big yards as zone read quarterback and will appeal to boot action teams. Challenging red zone threat. Took better care of the football, cutting turnovers down from 26 the last two season to just four this year.
Weaknesses: Needs to improve ball placement. Inability to throw with desired accuracy on the move forced him to leave yards on the field. Must learn to better anticipate routes and stay ahead of the play. Doesn't quite have the quickness through progressions that he will need in the NFL. Has to learn to move defenders around with his eyes to open throwing lanes. Crowds receivers against the sideline. Consistency of arm strength has been an issue. Inconsistent weight transfer o some throws. Perimeter throws lack velocity. His ball comes out with wobble instead of tight spiral. Touch throws over the middle need improvement.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: San Francisco 49ers
3. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Bio: After spending his first three seasons redshirting and serving as a backup, Carson Wentz final became the Bison's starter in 2014. In his two years as a starter, he threw for 4,565 yards and 41 touchdowns while rushing for 642 yards and eight touchdowns. Despite breaking his wrist in his senior year, Wentz led North Dakota State to its fifth consecutive FCS National Championship.
Strengths: Tall with an athletic, proportional build that is perfect for NFL quarterbacks. Played in a pro style systems with plenty of snaps under center. Has ability to make all the NFL throws. Stands tall in the pocket and delivers with a high release. Keeps ball high and tight in the pocket and can fire it quickly with tight release. Throws catchable ball with tight spiral. Naturally accurate. Sees defenders underneath and throws receivers open to safest spot. Able to change arm slots and still throw a strike. Has impressive deep ball accuracy and touch. Cool in pocket and has no problems sitting in and taking a hit to complete a pass. Excelled in NDSU's offense that required him to read the entire field. Athletic enough to escape pressure and hurt defenses with his legs. Able to feel pressure on the edges and slide around in pocket without dropping his eyes. Above average in play-action game at selling fakes and quickly finding defenders to help determine proper targets. Intelligent off the field. Should be able to grasp an NFL playbook quickly. Excels against zone defenses.
Weaknesses: Balls tend to sail on him when rolling out. Allows passing windows to close quickly. Needs a little more consistency on anticipating throws. Gets caught locking in on target, bringing defensive backs charging to the ball. Inconsistent footwork. Arm gets ahead of his feet. Needs to pick up pace in hurry up situations. Can be a little flat with his downfield throws. Has to eliminate the occasional haphazard throw into tight quarters. Doesn’t look comfortable yet with rollout throws. Injury history dating back to high school. Lower level of competition could cause issues for him at the next level.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Dallas Cowboys
4. Connor Cook, Michigan State
Bio: After redshirt his freshman year, Connor Cook became Michigan State's starter in 2012 after Andrew Maxwell was benched. In 2013 after Maxwell again struggled, Cook was named the Spartan's permanent starter. In his three full years a starter, he led Michigan State to two Big Ten Championships, two major bowl victories, and a spot in the 2015 College Football Playoff. Cook finished his college career with a school record 9,194 yards and 72 touchdowns.
Strengths: Has shown consistent improvement and added new elements to his game each year. Can operate with a high level of confidence and efficiency. Worked under center and plays with good foot quickness. Shows good anticipation for developing windows and timing routes. Will continue to scan thru targets when on the move. Reads safeties early and rarely takes shots downfield where safeties can get involved. Comfortable operating on the run. Throws in rhythm and accuracy when rolling right. Good arm strength with quick release. Able to make pro level throws with velocity into difficult windows. Will stand in and take the hit to challenge man defender with a deep shot. Attacks corners of end zone with touch throws. More experience than any quarterback in this draft.
Weaknesses: Throws short passes with too much heat. Accuracy is a big concern. Often caught flat footed in the pocket and appears willing to launch throws without balance. Opens front hip causes him to throw outside frame of intended target. Sees throws come open but won't always pull the trigger. Struggles when forced off of his first option. Misses opportunities to adjust protection. Gets locked in on shotgun snap and misses signs of blitzers. First instinct wins against the blitz rather than finding short, safe completion. Doesn't sell play fakes even on run downs. Questions about his on field demeanor and leadership in adverse times. Couldn't rise to the occasion in 2015 Big Ten Championship Game and played horribly against Alabama.
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible landing spot: Houston Texans
5. Cardale Jones, Ohio State
Bio: After entering the 2014 season as a redshirt sophomore and third on the Buckeye's depth chart, Cardale Jones made his first start of his college career in the Big Ten Championship Game after starter J.T. Barrett broke his ankle the week before against Michigan. Jones led Ohio State to a 59–0 victory over Wisconsin and ultimately earned them a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Jones then when on to upset top ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and blowing out Oregon in the National Championship. In 11 games as a starter, Jones was a perfect 11-0.
Strengths: Great physical tools and well built frame. Top tier arm strength and has the mobility to move the pocket or pick up chunk yardage with his legs when needed. Skill set perfect for a vertical passing offense utilizing play action and running the ball between the tackles, which will open up options on the outside.
Weaknesses: Struggles in the mental aspect of the game. Fails to read defenses and locks onto his first option. Lacks anticipation and timing. Waits for targets to get open before throwing the ball as hard as he can so it arrives before the defender. Must learn to throw receivers open. Inconsistent footwork, internal clock, and overall accuracy to all levels of the field. Major drop off in consistency cost him his starting job midway through the 2015 season, Maturity has been an issue over his college career due to controversial tweets. Will likely have to sit for a season or two behind an experienced quarterback.
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible landing spot: Los Angeles Rams