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Top Five 2017 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. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
Bio: After redshirting his first year at North Carolina in 2013, Mitch Trubisky played in ten games as a backup completing 42 of 78 passes for 459 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. As a junior, Trubisky took over as the starting quarterback in 2016, completing 69% of his passes for 3,468 yards and 28 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
Strengths: Tall, solidly built passer. Outstanding athlete with the mobility and body strength to escape pressure and extend plays. Efficient pocket movements to climb and delicately operate against backfield pressure with his eyes downfield. Quick to reset his feet, set, and fire. Slightly above average arm strength and controls his ball speed well. Shows consistent accuracy on short-to intermediate passes and doesn't force his receivers to work for it. Very confident passer who will use the entire field. Steady play in late game situations. Great job fitting the ball between levels of coverage. Reliable decision maker and limits low-percentage attempts. Displays the ability to make anticipation throws on in and out-breaking routes, delivering prior to the receiver starting his break. Appears frantic at times in the pocket, but quickly regains his composure and stays in control, understanding protections and where his check down is. Toughness to stand tall in the pocket and adjust his arm when needed. Impressive production as a junior, accounting for 35 touchdowns and setting numerous school passing records. Calm playing temperament, but also has the the resilient competitive drive to lead an offense.
Weaknesses: Throwing mechanics need improvement. Doesn't consistently drive through his hips in his delivery and needs to better shift his weight. Tends to lock onto reads and stare down targets. Needs to improve his reads and understanding of coverages, not consistently deciphering alignments and the responsibilities of defensive backs. Still finding his downfield touch and his deep balls are lacking. Internal clock needs refinement. Accuracy tends to drop when throwing on the run. Needs to improve his field awareness and better protect the ball when scrambling. Only one season of starting experience after spending three years on the sidelines showed patience to sit and wait his turn, but his inability to unseat Marquise Williams as the starter raises questions.
Projected Round: 1
Compares to: Carson Wentz
Possible landing spot: San Francisco 49ers
2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Bio: As a freshman, Deshaun Watson showed enough playmaking ability to be the starter before injuries derailed his season. As a sophomore, he lead the Tigers to a 12-0 regular season record before losing in the national championship against Alabama. The following year, Watson avenged last years loss and beat Alabama to win the National Championship. In three seasons at Clemson, he amassed 8,897 passing yards and 81 touchdowns with 1,616 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Strengths: Remarkable athlete. Excellent vision, elusiveness, and speed to make even well-coached defenses look like bad. Even better, Showed no signs of regression following knee surgery, demonstrating the flexible joints and explosive acceleration that often takes at least a year to return. Shows impressive spatial awareness, recognizing when defenders are near and either sliding or running out of bounds to keep himself from absorbing unnecessary hits. Even though aided by shotgun heavy offense, he shows the quick mental processor expected at the position. Can move defenders with his eyes, creating lanes to take advantage of over-aggressive defenders. He has a tight release and possesses adequate arm strength to deliver long sideline throws. When he sets his feet properly and throws with balance, Can place the ball beautifully, fitting the ball through tight windows, including while on the move. Possesses excellent touch on bucket throws, laying the ball out in front of his receivers on deep passes down the seam and sideline.
Weaknesses: Shorter than ideal and possesses a relatively slim frame with limited room for additional muscle mass. The same durability questions which dogged Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater will be an issue throughout the pre-draft process. Clemson's offense is a relatively simple one, frequently asking the quarterback to make simple underneath throws off of pre-determined reads. Often the ball is out of his hands so quickly on these throws that he fails to set his feet properly, tossing the ball flat-footed or while drifting back, negatively impacting his accuracy on simple throws. Needs to improve his consistency in this area, as well as show greater willingness to move on from his initial pre-snap read.
Projected Round: 1
Compares to: Marcus Mariota
Possible landing spot: Cleveland Browns
3. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Bio: After redshirting as a freshman, DeShone Kizer became the starter after Malik Zaire went down with an injury. In his two seasons as a starter, he passed for 5,589 yards and 45 touchdowns while rushing for 1,029 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kizer decided to forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the draft.
Strengths: Looks the part with the desired height and developed build. Above average arm strength with nice velocity to make every NFL throw. Comfortable downfield passer, delivering with proper touch and accuracy. Efficient set-up with an elevated, natural release. Loose athlete with functional movements within the pocket to shuffle, slide and easily shift his weight. Veteran pocket movements and poise, keeping his vision downfield. Not a twitchy mover, but nimble for his size with the mobility to beat defenders with his open field quickness. Understands ball placement and not intimidated by tight windows and throwing passes through the keyhole. Highly intelligent both on and off the field with the horizontal and vertical vision to make all the reads. Asked to digest a complex playbook at Notre Dame. Feels the blitz well and often has an escape plan, whether running or throwing it away. Stands tall in the pocket with the durability to take punishment, whether in the pocket or when scrambling. Wired right for the NFL with the mature work habits and unselfish attitude that NFL coaches live for.
Weaknesses: Internal clock lacks consistency. Holds the ball too long and appearing gun shy at times from the pocket. Too many late throws on his resume tape and would greatly benefit from speeding up his process. Wide throwing base, stemming from his background as a baseball pitcher. Bad habit of relying on pre-snap reads and locking on to first target. Ball placement tends to waver, especially on the move when unable to set up properly. Consistency declined drastically throughout the 2016 season and received questionable support from head coach Brian Kelly, causing his confidence to waver. Durable body type, but willingness to finish runs through contact leads to potential injuries. Ball security needs addressed with 13 career fumbles.
Projected Round: 1
Compares to: Steve McNair
Possible landing spot: Arizona Cardinals
4. Brad Kaaya, Miami
Bio: As a true freshman, Brad Kaaya led the Hurricanes to a 6-7 overall record and a bowl appearance. Over the next two years, he went 17-9 as a starter, going 1-1 in bowl games. In three years as a starter, Kaaya threw for 9,968 yards and 69 touchdowns.
Strengths: Decent height for the position with room to add bulk. Strong understanding of touch and trajectory downfield, fitting the ball between levels of the defense. Unforced throwing motion with the arm strength to make all the necessary NFL throws. Displays crisp zip on outs, slants and dig routes. Efficient pocket movements with his upper and lower body, using pumps and motions to move defenders. Uses both sides of the field, finding his second and third receivers. Great anticipation, keeping a level head in the pocket. Enough mobility to extend plays, sliding and moving away from pressure. Toughness was often tested at Miami, taking hits but only missing one game the past three seasons. Miami's all-time leading passer in only three years, also finished fourth all-time in ACC history in passing yards.
Weaknesses: Slow trigger and shows too much hesitation from within the pocket, holding the ball too long and taking unnecessary hits. Leaner than ideal body type and needs to continue to build muscle tone. Late, inconsistent decision maker and needs to improve anticipation of passing windows. Enough arm talent for the next level, but won't wow with his arm strength. Deep ball is non-existent. Goes through erratic stretches with inaccuracy. Inconsistent footwork and gets panicked on some pressures, internal clock needs rewired. Mechanics lack refinement and needs to clean up his balance. Missed playing time as a sophomore due to a concussion and played through an injured right shoulder as a junior.
Projected Round: 2-3
Compares to: Jared Goff
Possible landing spot: Miami Dolphins
5. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Bio: A highly-recruited passer coming out of Florida, Nathan Peterman signed with Tennessee. His time as a Volunteer was injury plagued as he broke his hand in his first start of 2013 and lost the starting job to Joshua Dobbs. He earned his degree in only three years, so he transferred to Pitt to finish his college career. In his two years as a starter, he threw for 5,142 yards and 47 touchdowns.
Strengths: Smooth, quick set up in pocket. Big hands. Shows poise in the pocket and takes the hit to deliver a completion. Will set-up, slide and then reset before making his throw. Can cut it loose from off-balance angles from bootleg or play-action if he sees a winning option break open. Full field reader. Works all the way through his progressions. Shoots glances at safeties to keep them honest. Strong natural accuracy. Able to throw receivers open and lead them away from defeders. Can pinpoint passes to moving targets in his intermediate zone. Has enough arm to work field side, intermediate throws. Great vision. Sees passing windows before they develop. Throws with outstanding timing and anticipation. Can put the ball on receivers' hands as soon as they come out of a break. Utilizes accuracy and anticipation to challenge windows on all three levels. Won on the road at Clemson throwing five touchdown passes on their talented defense. Good escapability and can extend drives with his legs. Excellent deep ball accuracy completing 46.2% of deep throws.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent mechanics causes some throws to sail. Has instances where his arm strength is lacking. Will float some throws on seams and dig routes. Will have to be mindful to drive the ball on pro level to avoid the ballhawk safeties. Has to prove he has enough arm to challenge the same tight windows he did in college. Ball handling a little sluggish in wide receiver screens, hitches and most option routes. Wants to play the hero at times which gets him in trouble. Needs to learn when to just throw it away and move on to next play rather than trying to force sideline throws. Can improve overall touch.
Projected Round: 3
Compares to: Derek Carr
Possible landing spot: Houston Texans