Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) rolls out to score a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Who will be the Dak Prescott of the 2017 NFL Draft?
The Dallas Cowboys made easily the best selection of the 2016 NFL Draft when they landed quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth-round (135th overall). Prescott has come in and become an over-night sensation for the Cowboys, leading them to a dominant 11-1 record. Prescott is a major reason for the Cowboys’ 2016 success and is undoubtedly a major threat to take home the NFL MVP award as a rookie quarterback. Last season, when the Cowboys lost Tony Romo to injury, their season was over. This year, their season got better.
Romo is undoubtedly a high-level NFL quarterback, but Prescott has immediately taken the league by storm. He is an incredibly gifted player who rarely makes a bad decision on the football field. Nobody really saw this coming, but the Cowboys could not be happier about their selection.
Who will be the next Dak Prescott? That is obviously not an easy question to answer. Prescott has come in and is playing better than any fourth-round rookie quarterback who we have seen before. Expecting someone to repeat that success next year would be foolish. Moreover, he’s a player who came into a fantastic situation.
That being said, there is always potential value at the position. Expecting any of these guys to be league MVP candidates next season would be crazy, but I think there is some nice under-valued talent at the quarterback position in the 2017 NFL Draft.
As Prescott has shown us this season, anything can happen. Here are five quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft who will likely go in the middle-to-late rounds and could potentially have a Prescott-like impact.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
5. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Height: 6-3 Weight: 230 pounds 2016 Statistics: 65.7-percent completion percentage for 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 131 rushes for 285 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If there is a single quarterback prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft who reminds me the most of Prescott, it is Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has the size, speed and athleticism that gives the obvious comparison to Prescott. Also, the Texas Tech product has a stronger arm, was a more polished college passer and had much better numbers than Prescott.
The biggest knock on Mahomes entering the draft will be the system that he played in. In Texas Tech’s Air Raid attack, Mahomes slung the ball all over the field. We saw Jared Goff go No. 1 overall coming from a similar offensive system last year, but there is certainly a stigma attached to these quarterbacks.
Honestly, if you can look past the idea that Mahomes played in an offensive system that catered to his success, you will like what you see. He is a strong armed passer with high-level athleticism, great touch on his passes and above average accuracy.
If Mahomes can come in and show poise in the pocket and make good decisions, taking the league by storm similar to Prescott is certainly possible. Mahomes is unlikely to be a first-round selection, but I strongly feel that whoever ends up landing him in the second-round, or even later, is coming away with a future starting quarterback.
Nov 5, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) drops back for a pass against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
4. Luke Falk, Washington State
Height: 6-4 Weight: 216 pounds 2016 Statistics: 71-percent completion percentage for 4,204 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Luke Falk plays in a similar Air Raid passing attack as Mahomes. He enters the draft as an interesting redshirt junior prospect who can undoubtedly rise up the draft board. Falk is a precise pocket passer who shows consistent accuracy and great timing on his passes. He consistently gets in a good rhythm offensively, especially in the short-to-intermediate passing game.
There is a lot to like about Falk’s game. He is a smart player who could come in and make an immediate impact at the next level. However, his overall skill-set does leave plenty to be desired.
Athletically, Falk does not show much either in or out of the pocket. His pocket awareness is decent, but Falk simply does not have the foot speed to make plays when things break down. Also, he does not posses an overly strong throwing arm. Falk does have decent zip on his passes, but slinging the ball deep is not exactly the strongest part of his game.
The Washington State product is an extremely accurate passer who can make every throw on a football field. NFL scouts will undoubtedly pick apart his game, but he is a competitive guy who can make an immediate impact. Luke Falk is a potential steal in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sep 17, 2016; Mount Pleasant, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush (10) looks for an open receiver during the second quarter against the UNLV Rebels at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cooper Rush, Central Michigan
Height: 6-3 Weight: 230 pounds 2016 Statistics: 61-percent completion percentage for 3,292 yards, 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Western Michigan quarterback Central Rush does not put up massive numbers, nor is he particularly impressive athletically. Having said that, Rush is an absolute gamer who consistently leads his team to victories on the football field. He is an extremely accurate and reliable quarterback who always shows up in the game’s biggest moments.
Rush is a fantastic leader and is undoubtedly tough as nails. He makes everybody around him better, displays top-notch accuracy and is a fantastic decision-maker with the ball in his hands. Perhaps the biggest testament to the youngster’s leadership is that the Chippewas are heading to a bowl game in 2016. They lost a ton of talent last season, but Rush returned and led them to eligibility.
Rush may not have put up eye-popping numbers at Central Michigan, but there is certainly reason to believe in him going forward. Whoever lands Rush in the 2017 NFL Draft will be ecstatic about their selection. At worst, he is a great guy to have around and a reliable backup. However, he does have more upside than that.
Oct 27, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb (7) passes against the USC Trojans during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Davis Webb, California
Height: 6-5 Weight: 230 pounds 2016 Statistics: 61.6-percent completion percentage for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Early in his career at Texas Tech, Davis Webb showed a lot of upside in the Air Raid passing attack. However, he eventually lost his job to Patrick Maholmes and he moved on as a graduate transfer this past season. Webb came to Cal to replace 2016 number one overall selection Jared Goff. While he will not get the same kind of draft attention as Goff, Webb performed well in last collegiate season.
He is an extremely passer who has a big arm and an extremely quick release. Webb does not show much mobility, but he is a talented passer who shows nice accuracy and touch on his passer.
Similar to the first two quarterbacks on this lists, scouts will doubt Webb’s ability to translate to the NFL based on his college system. The Air Raid attack allows for quick and easy decisions to made by the quarterback.
Webb was not challenged to make tough decisions at either Texas Tech or Cal and that will be a question that he will have to answer going forward. That being said, he is undoubtedly a talented quarterback who has nice upside at the next level.
Nov 12, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) prior to the snap during the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
1. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Height: 6-2 Weight: 225 pounds 2016 Statistics: 59.7-percent completion percentage for 2,602 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. 69 rushes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
There are some quarterback prospects where it is obvious. They have top-notch athleticism, an incredibly strong arm and elite-level production. However, there are some times where you have to squint a little bit to see the potential.
Pittsburgh’s Natahan Peterman is one of those guys who you have to squint for. Peterman does not have a strong throwing arm, his statistics are not going to set him apart and he is never going to light up the combine with elite athleticism. However, all this guy does is show up and play football at a high level. Peterman is a tough, smart and completely reliable quarterback prospect who has the skills to succeed at the next level.
After not seeing the field much at Tennessee, Peterman transferred to Pittsburgh and has been their starting quarterback for the last two years. Pittsburgh does not ask Peterman to throw the ball 50 times a game, focusing their offensive attack on a strong rushing game, but he shows up when they need him to the most.
If you need five yards, Peterman makes sure to get you six. He is a tough, hard-nosed player who does whatever necessary to get the job done. Peterman has a linebacker mentality at the quarterback position and is the kind of player who coaches absolutely love.
The Pitt product simply does not have the numbers to get first or even second-round consideration. That being said, his intangibles are going to set him apart.
Nobody expected Prescott to come in and immediately lead an 11-1 team, but here we are. I strongly believe that Peterman has the overall ability to be a similar kind of surprise story. Being smart, reliable and tough can get you a long way in the NFL if you have the right pieces around you.