There isn't a position more valuable and subsequently more talked about and analyzed than querterback. The book on the 2017 quarterback back class is one of intrigue and little consensus. Unlike 2016's class with two clear passers at the top of the class and a percieved precipitous decline thereafter, this year's class offers intrigue heading into the middle rounds. Further, the phenomenon of Dak Prescott - a 4th round rookie whose stardom changed the NFL landscape - looms large over a class with experienced passers potentially existing well into the 3rd day of the draft.
Below is a top 10 primer on the this year's top passers.
1. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Analysis: Above average arm strength with a quick, consistent and compact release. Excels in the short and intermediate game. Desplats good eye discipline and the ability to freeze safeties before going to his first read. Shows good pass anticipation by buzzing throws by defender's ears. Throws well on the run going both to his right and left. Consistent lower body mechanics and can make off platform throws in a pinh.
Well proportioned athlete with a muscular frame. Possesses the necessary ability to avoid rushers and pick up yardage for first downs and touchdowns. Not fully proficient making full-field reads and can miss backside defenders. Highly recruited coming out of high school with only one full year of starting experience in college.
Pro Comparison: Tony Romo
2. Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame
Analysis: Powerful arm with the accuracy to match when throwing from a defined base. Excellent deep ball accuracy. Throws well to the sidelines but less confident throwing between the hashes in the second level. Sight thrower; doesn’t see receivers come open. Lower body mechanics deteriorate the longer the play carried on. Can get the ball out quickly to a checkdown if things don't materialize downfield.
Doesn’t quickly move through progressions and hangs with initial reads for too long. Doesn’t show a short memory and mistakes stack up on each other. Ability to sense and avoid rushers in the pocket and carries momentum as a powerful runner in the open field. Played in a pro-inspired offense but often failed to take advantage of the full breadth of the reads. Production and performance didn’t improve upon sophomore year. Well spoken athlete who will make the media swoon.
Pro Comparison: Dak Prescott
3. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Analysis: Excellent arm talent. Can make throws from unconventional arm angles and platforms with little detriment to velocity and accuracy. Relies too much on pure arm strength leading to mercurial accuracy due to inconsistent lower body mechanics. Never rules out receivers do to distance or position leading to ill-advised cross-body pass attempts. Good positional athlete who can avoid rushers within the pocket and pick up yardage for first downs. Excels in out of structure situations and regularly flashes improvisational ability.
Drops deep into the pocket and doesn’t consistently step up to avoid edge pressure. Can scan the entire field and make late play throws. Played in an offense at Texas Tech which is incompatible with pro schemes. Baseball background and bloodlines show up with short-stop like approach to quarterbacking. Surrounded and raised by professional athletes should instill a valuable work ethic.
Pro Comparison: Matthew Stafford
4. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Analysis: Average arm strength with a consistent release. Rhythm passer who can string throws together in crunch time. Most consistent in the short passing game. Makes quick decisions within structure of the offense. Shows trust in receivers’ ability to make plays in the air and make adjustments. Throws within a receiver's catch radius, but lacks precision accuracy in intermediate and deep game. Sometimes lacks awareness seeing passing lanes leading to his passes often getting batted down at the line.
Offense rarely required full field reads. Sometimes forces the ball where it shouldn’t go. Doesn’t typically hang in the pocket and read the field; prefers to run if single side read fails. Displays running-back-like vision when in the open field. Proven winner who led Clemson to two straight title games and a championship in 2017. Graduated high school and college early.
Pro Comparison: Marcus Mariota
5. Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech
Analysis: Average arm strength with a compact release. Proficient in throwing to all parts of the field but often leaves deep passes short of intended target negating big plays. Often make routine throws look difficult by lacking lower body discipline. Shows ability to hang in the pocket when pocket holds up but often wilts in the face of a heavy rush. Displays the ability to scan the field and his second and third reads. Can make plays on the move, but prefers to throw from a stable platform.
Powerful runner who can force his way into first downs and the end-zone. Has good open field vision while on the move. Ball handling and exchanges can be an issue in cold weather. One year starter who many believe should have returned for another year and possibly become a 1st round pick in 2018. Never say die attitude who overcame big second half deficits against Notre Dame and Arkansas.
Pro Comparison: David Garrard
6. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Analysis: Visibly strong arm that can open up tight windows. Commonly throws into double and triple team windows and puts the ball in the receiver’s hands. Proficient in utilizing his receiver’s catch radius. Moves well in the pocket while keeping his eyes down field. Scans the field well and displays a liberal trigger.
Sometimes throws to hard and will have passes sail. Quality positional athlete who can pick up first downs with his feet. Linear athlete who won’t make defenders miss in the pocket or the open field. Put up big boy statistics against top level competition (Florida State, Alabama, LSU). Long list of off field decision making and maturity issues - including threats of violence and drug related incidents.
Pro Comparison: Jay Cutler
7. Davis Webb, California
Analysis: Above average arm strength with middling accuracy. Doesn’t reliably put the ball where receivers can make plays after the catch. Most confident throwing deep, but results vary. Shows resilience in the pocket, but doesn’t efficiently slide to avoid contact. Can make plays on the move and shows surprising athleticism while rolling. Makes questionable decisions throwing passes late into coverage. Interview reports indicate a highly impressive football mind who will mesh well with offensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches. Played in collegiate air raid offenses at both Cal and Texas Tech which don’t project well to the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Nick Foles
8. Brad Kaaya, Miami
Analysis: Average to below average arm with middling accuracy. Throws a catchable ball with conservative ball placement. Has a hard time placing intermediate and deep passes to all parts of the field - particularly the sideline. Mechanically sound who is formulaic in his drop back. Sees the field reasonably well but is a step behind making timely decisions. Isn’t a threat to break the pocket and make plays on the move. Mature individual off the field who should immediately assimilate NFL culture. Good but not great body of work at Miami.
Pro Comparison: Kevin Kolb
9. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Analysis: Below average arm with spotty accuracy from a compact release. Isn’t a threat to make plays from NFL hashes to sidelines. Throws his body into throws to maximize velocity. Most comfortable targeting seams and off play action. Plays half the field and doesn’t show the ability to threaten the entire field. Hyperactive feet in the pocket makes game seem faster than it is. Reasonably good athlete and is a threat to pick up first downs on the ground. Consistent, albeit uninspiring, production in the ACC for two straight seasons. Has the build and on-field demeanor coveted by NFL coaches and could become a trade chip if he flashes in limited action.
Pro Comparison: Chase Daniel
10. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Analysis: Average arm strength with decent accuracy on sideline throws. Offense didn’t challenge him to make tight windows throws. Routinely misses throws high when trying to guide balls over the second level of the defense. Best when throwing short and to the sidelines. Doesn’t challenge the secondary by scanning the field making late play decisions downfield. Good athlete at the position who can beat defensive ends and linebackers to the sticks and pylon. Aerospace Engineering major indicate a highly intelligent individual off the field who impressed some NFL coaches during the Senior Bowl.
Pro Comparison: Josh Johnson