The NFL Draft is right around the corner with the big day less than a week away. The quarterbacks have generated a lot of attention up to this point – as they always do – with four guys battling to be the first one selected next Thursday.
As many as 12 are likely to be drafted next weekend, which would be a few shy of the 15 that went last year. To familiarize you with the names to know, we ranked every quarterback who’s probably going to be taken in the draft.
Seth Russell, Baylor
Russell is the next Baylor quarterback trying to succeed in the NFL, but he has a steep learning curve. Though he’s a great athlete with a big arm, he played in Baylor’s spread offense, which does no favors for quarterbacks transitioning to the NFL. Russell will be a project for whichever team drafts him, likely sitting on the bench for two or three years before getting a legitimate chance.
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Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Based on pure talent, Kelly is one of the best quarterbacks available. Unfortunately, he carries significant baggage off the field and has an injury history that’s concerning at the next level. For starters, his recent wrist surgery will keep him out for three months.
As a late-round project, Kelly has a chance to clean up his act and prove he can remain focused and succeed at the next level. He has a huge arm and sees the field well, but his decision-making is shaky as he often tries to do too much.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Beathard’s ceiling isn’t very high in the NFL, but he has experience under center, so that’s a slight edge over some other late-round guys. The potential just isn’t there for him to be a reliable starter in the pros. He doesn’t have a big arm, and he doesn’t throw with anticipation, causing him to miss on deep passes down the field. He'll have to make it as a backup, most likely.
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Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech
Evans is a good athlete despite running only a 4.80 40, moving the sticks regularly with his legs. He’s best outside the pocket, which works in college, but in the NFL it’ll be a different story.
Whichever team drafts him can’t expect him to start in Year 1, and taking him means you’re willing to let him sit for a season or two. He has a lot of developing to do as a pocket passer who has to learn to go through his progressions before making a throw.
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Dobbs, quite literally a rocket scientist, is one of the smartest prospects of 2017. That’s a huge plus for him going into the NFL, but as a starting quarterback, he has a lot of work to do. Dobbs’ mechanics and footwork are unorthodox and will get him in awkward situations at times, and he doesn’t have the arm strength to make up for throwing off-platform.
There’s no question he’ll work as hard as anyone to hone his craft and improve by the day, but he has a steep learning curve.
Brad Kaaya, Miami
Kaaya has experience playing in an NFL-style offense, which helps his stock. What doesn’t do him any favors are his mechanics and footwork – both of which need work if he’s going to have any success at the next level.
Both improved from the time he left Miami to the NFL Combine, which is good to see. However, his accuracy was shaky for the most part. He struggles with intermediate and deep throws, which is the result of his arm strength being sub-par. Kaaya will be a developmental Day 3 pick, most likely.
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Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Peterman is about as close to an NFL-ready quarterback as there is in this draft, having played in a played in Pitt’s pro-style offense. That doesn’t mean he’s better than the top guys, but he has a better understanding of an NFL playbook and his footwork is more refined on dropbacks from under center.
Unfortunately, he’s not an elite arm talent. His arm strength is adequate, but it’ll be tested at the next level. At 6-foot-2, 225, he doesn’t have the biggest frame, either, despite being willing to take big hits in the pocket.
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Davis Webb, Cal
Webb is just a notch below the four best quarterbacks and likely will go in the second round. Though he’s tall at 6-foot-5, he lacks arm strength. He doesn’t like to take shots downfield, partly because of the system he played in, often opting for short to intermediate throws.
As a result, it’s hard to tell whether he has the arm and accuracy to be an NFL quarterback. Jared Goff, Webb’s predecessor, made it with deep-ball accuracy and good decision making, but Webb’s game features question marks in both areas.
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Mahomes probably has the highest ceiling of any player in this class, but his floor is also the lowest of the top quarterbacks. Coming from Texas Tech’s “Air Raid” offense, Mahomes has no experience playing in an NFL system. He got away with making throws without his feet being set, relying solely on his arm strength.
That’s fine in college, when defenders are a step slower, but in the NFL, that’s going to get him in trouble. What Mahomes does have is a huge arm and a gunslinger mentality, similar to that of Brett Favre and Jay Cutler. Sometimes it hurts him, and other times he makes highlight-reel plays. His footwork and mechanics will be a focus of whichever team takes him.
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
If Kizer plays the way he did two years ago, he’s the top quarterback in the draft. Unfortunately, he was not great in 2016 and saw his draft stock tumble as a result. As we get closer to the draft, there are reports he could be waiting around into Day 2.
Though he’s not a polished product, the structure of an NFL quarterback is there. He has the confidence to make throws into tight windows – sometimes to a fault – and has the arm strength to hit corner routes in tight coverage.
Where Kizer needs work is going through his progressions while in the pocket. He doesn’t see the field the way many NFL coaches will want him to, which is why he’ll take some time to develop.
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Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Trubisky is probably going to be the first quarterback taken next week, whether it’s by the 49ers, Browns or Jets. That doesn’t mean he’s the best quarterback in the class, but he has the tools to develop into a solid starter at the next level. For one, he’s a terrific arm talent and can make all the throws necessary in the NFL.
There will be questions about his ability to drop back from under center, considering he played exclusively out of the shotgun at North Carolina, but that’s something several quarterbacks have had success with after playing in spread offenses in college.
Trubisky is a better athlete than some give him credit for, too. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash and his agility scores were great, too. Like most of the other quarterbacks, he’s a work in progress.
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Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson entered the 2016 season as the draft’s top quarterback prospect with many calling him a favorite to go first overall. A shaky final year at Clemson in which he threw 17 interceptions dropped his stock a bit, as did questions about his ability to succeed from within the pocket, but he should still be the top quarterback in the class.
He’s a proven winner, getting it done on the big stage on multiple occasions. He has the “it” factor that teams covet in quarterbacks, boasting leadership qualities that will help him develop in the NFL.
Yes, there are concerns about his decision-making, overall accuracy and anticipation on throws, but he has the makings of an NFL quarterback.