The NFL season may be winding down, but don’t expect the news cycle to follow that lead. The 2019 NFL Draft will be here before we know it, and front offices and scouting departments across the league are doing all they can to stay ahead of the curve.
College All-Star games have been taking place this month, and that will be followed by the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. Mock drafts are flying all over the place, but the reality is that there is plenty of time before the draft board comes into clear focus.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead and ponder the merits of this year’s class. Quarterbacks naturally capture a ton of attention in the run-up to the draft, and there are several intriguing prospects to keep in mind. Some appear destined to be first-round picks, while others have plenty of question marks swirling around them.
Performance in the All-Star games can change opinions in a hurry, and we can say the some about the scouting combine. Certain measurables will vault some up the charts while impacting the prospects of others. Add in the all-important interviews and individual workouts, and we have a bunch of young men with a ton on their plates over the next few months.
The buzz will ebb and flow on many of the prospects as we get closer to draft day, and we could even see an unheralded prospect come out of nowhere and suddenly become the next big thing in the eyes of scouts and draftniks. It’s always a fascinating process to watch, not to mention one of the big highlights of a busy offseason. So who are the quarterbacks that you need to know this draft season?
Here’s a breakdown of the top names to keep in mind, starting with those at the top of the charts.
As mentioned up above, it’s still a guessing game as to which quarterbacks will ultimately separate themselves for the pack. That said, many highly-respected draft analysts are penciling in Dwayne Haskins as a high selection this year. Based on hs stellar 2018 season for the Buckeyes, it’s not tough to see why.
The Heisman Trophy finalist threw for a staggering 50 touchdowns and looked every bit the part of a player with potential to be a franchise quarterback while doing so. Whether he can light up the pro ranks as well will be the unanswered question lingering in the air over the next few months, but Haskins seems like a first-round lock barring anything unforeseen.
Decisions, decisions. Kyler Murray has already been a high draft choice for Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, and that has netted him a healthy signing bonus. He has potential to be a pretty big deal in MLB, but the NFL is calling as well. So what is Murray going to do?
After being on the fence for awhile, the Heisman Trophy winner has thrown his hat into the ring. While some immediately vaulted him up the ranks, others deflated those balloons with concerns about his height. There’s no denying that Murray is an exceptional athlete, but that doesn’t guarantee success at the NFL level. Regardless, if Murray hits the right notes at the combine, he’s going off the board in round one.
After throwing 44 touchdowns in 2017, Drew Lock followed that up by tossing 28 last season. All the while he has been regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class. Standing 6-3, Lock has been having descriptions such as ‘pro-ready’ dished his way for several years now.
He’s being bypassed in the buzz department by Haskins and Murray at the moment, but he could prove to be the wiser long-term investment when all is said and done. He seems like a surefire first-rounder, and he could rise to the ranks of a Top 10 selection if a team falls in love with him.
At 6-5 and a three-year starter in college, Jones didn’t exactly set the collegiate ranks on fire. However, he spent his time in college under the tutelage of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, who is well-regarded in NFL circles as an exceptional developer of quarterback talent.
If Jones has himself a stellar combine, then it wouldn’t be shocking to see him be the fourth QB off the board or higher. Teams that are still on the hunt for a franchise signal caller aren’t going to pass on a prospect that really captures their attention.
May Have to Wait Awhile
Will Grier, West Virginia
After a fine season in the video game-style offense of the Mountaineers, Will Grier is player that’s on the bubble. He could easily slide into the first round if he tests out well, but there’s also the chance he falls to a Day Two selection.
While there’s plenty of room to grow for Grier, he could also require some patience and a deft hand guiding him. If he lands with the right franchise, he could evolve into a future starter. If he falls into a QB quagmire, we’ll have to take a wait and see approach.
Ryan Finley, NC State
Ryan Finley spent time at Boise State before closing out his college career at NC State. Entering this season, he was viewed as one of the brightest QB prospects in this year’s draft class. He has been bypassed by others, but there’s still room for Finley to move back up the charts.
He’s another player who it wouldn’t be shocking to see leap into the first round. This isn’t a very deep QB class, and that could lead to some talented signal callers being overdrafted. That’s not to say that Finley doesn’t have the chops to make it at the next level. It looks like he does, but the right situation will be critical for his development.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
For teams that value a ton of experience as starter at the collegiate level, Clayton Thorson will attract plenty of interest. He started 53 games for Northwestern, a team in the highly-competitive Big Ten conference. Thorson helped lead his squad to the conference title game where they fell to Ohio State.
He’s an interesting prospect with good size – 6-4 and 225 lbs. – who could be a Day 2 of 3 selection. That said, a strong showing in the run-up to the draft could easily lead that to shift. He’ll need some work, but it’s not out of the question to see Thorson starting at some point on Sundays.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
It was a disappointing year for Auburn overall, as the team struggled to a 7-5 record. However, the team looked completely different in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The Tigers exploded for 63 points, and Jarrett Stidham threw for five scores.
While one stellar Bowl Game outing doesn’t necessarily translate into a phenomenal NFL career, Stidham looked great and re-established himself on the radar while doing so. As of now, he’s probably a Day 3 choice, but there’s plenty of time for him to move up.
The Jury is Still Out
Trace McSorley, Penn State: McSorley had a stellar collegiate career for the Nittany Lions, but concerns over his size point to him having to show a lot in the coming weeks. He should be a late-round selection at worst.
Gardner Minshew, Washington State: Minshew threw 38 touchdowns for the high-powered Washington State offense. He came in fifth place in Heisman Trophy voting, and he could generate a good amount of buzz if he tests out well.
Brett Rypien, Boise State: Rypien has the NFL pedigree box checked off as the nephew of former Washington Redskins QB Mark Rypien. He was productive and solid in college, but as of right now he’s looking like a potential backup or developmental prospect.
Jordan Ta’Amu, Ole Miss: Ta’Amu was one of the biggest head turners at Senior bowl practice, and his stock is on the rise as a result. He was a force for the Rebels this season, but he’ll have to show a lot more to prove he’s not just a practice wonder.
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo: Small-school quarterbacks can be tough to judge in the early going of the draft process, but Jackson’s size and arm strength are generating interest. At 6-7 and with an ability to sling it, Jackson is a player we’ll be keeping an eye on.
Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt: Over the past two seasons for the Commodores, Shurmur threw for 50 touchdowns. He has solid skills and size, but signs point to him being a work in progress if selected in the late rounds.
Jacob Dolegala, Central Connecticut: Every draft season, it seems like there’s a QB who comes out of nowhere to suddenly become a hot commodity. Dolegala could be that guy this year, as the unknown commodity is beginning to receive shiny new toy attention in scouting circles. We’ll see if that lasts.