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2016 QB Rankings

April 6, 2016

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  1. Jared Goff Cal 6’3 ¾ 222 Jr. Jared is a rocket armed QB that is immediately recognizable on film as a top NFL prospect. He can sling the ball around like few others that have come out in recent years and reminds me of Jay Cutler with his long and lean build, rocket arm, and good mobility. Some will be worried about that comparison but Cutler isn’t an elite QB due to his lack of intangibles and mediocre intelligence, not due to his rocket arm or mobility. His sack rate of 26, 26 and 32 sacks in 2013-2015 is alarming. I can’t remember an elite QB with that high of a sack rate since Matt Ryan. His 88-20 TD/INT ratio (4.4 to 1) is impressive as is his 4,719 passing yards as a senior (3rd in the nation). He had good games against Stanford (386 yds 69% 2/0) and USC (277 yds 74% 2/2), great games against Texas (268 yds 73% 3/0) and Arizona State (542 yds 59% 5/0) but poor games against Oregon (329 yds 44% 2/1) and Utah (340 yds 53% 2/5) so he generally was good against top defenses but had a few hiccups. He clearly can be tricked by good defenses as Utah, USC and Oregon combined for 9 of his 13 INTS (69%) while only being a small part of the overall games (23%). He’s a little robotic in his movements and isn’t a star athlete but he has great calm under pressure, some might say too much calm and point to his high sack rates, and seems to be adept at threading the needle. I consider that a huge compliment because every franchise QB has the ability to take an offense on their back and “throw open” wide receivers. I see that ability with Goff. I also though see his inconsistent accuracy, he often throws high and has some poor misses, mediocre skills at reading a defense and extremely small hands (9 1/8). Nonetheless I see Goff as a Jay Cutler type QB without the terrible work ethic or horrible lack of leadership. Carson Wentz is becoming the preferred favorite as the #1 QB yet I don’t buy it. Goff is a true talent with elite arm strength, good accuracy (though it wavers a bit), great patience in the pocket and there is plenty of tape to make the argument that he will be a productive passer. I do worry about his weight, his arm strength and his inconsistency but think he’ll overcome those issues to become a Tony Romo level QB as a franchise QB one step below the greats. Top 5 as my #1 QB 3/28/16.
  2. Carson Wentz North Dakota State 6’5 237 Sr. Carson has an elite build which reminds many of Andrew Luck. I understand the comparison physically (Luck came out as 6’4 234 with ’10 hands, Wentz is 6’5 237 with ’10 hands) and stylistically (Wentz has elite footwork and ball handling fakes) yet Luck was one of the most experienced, intelligent and savvy QB prospects I’d ever graded and Wentz is coming from FCS competition and only started 23 games. To me it blows apart any further comparison of Wentz and Luck with the more apt comparison being Wentz to Blake Bortles. Carson has an elite frame but lacks the experience, arm strength or game film to warrant being compared to arguably the best QB prospect of the past decade. Don’t get me wrong I really like Wentz but I think Goff is clearly a better prospect than him so the comparisons being made by Mayock with Luck have me confused. Luck was the runner up for the Heisman 2x, Wentz wasn’t a finalist for the Walter Payton Award (so Luck dominated a higher level of competition more thoroughly than Wentz did a lower level). Luck never missed a game in his 3 seasons at Stanford or first 3 seasons in the NFL, Wentz broke his hand and missed 8 weeks this season. Luck left school at 21 years old with 38 career starts, Wentz left school at 23 years old with only 23 career starts. I don’t get the comparison. Moving on…Wentz has accuracy issues and never played against top competition but he excelled as a leader, played in quite a few clutch games as North Dakota State won the FCS Championship each of his two years as a starter and you couldn’t ask for a much better frame for a QB. He’s fast, strong, elusive, has great footwork, scored a 40 on the Wonderlic test, is a leader, coaches rave about his work ethic and he looked like he belonged at the Senior Bowl. I see Wentz as a starter from Day 1 who could develop into an elite QB. I question it happening though and see more Bortles than Luck in him. My biggest issue with him is that in every game he had the more talented team so he won the games against poor competition that he should have but he didn’t play against elite talent and he always had a dominant supporting cast around him. Combine those two things with his limited starting experience and there are just too many red flags to give this high rising prospect an elite grade despite his extremely high ceiling. Top 15 pick as my #2 QB 3/28/16.
  3. Connor Cook Michigan State 6’4 217 Sr. He’s a tall, skinny kid that has a little Tom Brady to him in how he plays the game and how he seems to always be in big games. One huge difference though is Brady is one of the most accurate QBs in NFL History and Cook somehow never had a 60% completion percentage season for his career. This is a huge red flag in today’s college game as EVERYONE completes +60% of their passes. On the other hand he was 23-2 for his career in the Big 10 and there is no other QB who played in more big games, and played well, than Cook. He’s a tough minded guy that has probably the best intangibles of the QB prospects in this draft and when you watch his film you see that he runs a pro friendly offense which limits his short passes and can partially explain his poor completion percentage. Also he is conservative with the ball often accepting a sack or throwing the ball away instead of forcing the action. This can be seen by his 70 to 21 TD/INT ratio (3.3 to 1) which is solid. He is great at reading a defense, he and Kessler are clearly the best at this in this draft class, and seems NFL ready. He had a terrible final game as a collegiate getting stomped 38-0 by Alabama but I watched the tape and he never had an open receiver to throw to. Cook boils down to two theories. Either he is an elite prospect playing with non-NFL caliber players ala Matt Ryan at Boston College or he is a solid prospect that looks like a career backup, occasional starter ala Matt Cassel-two guys he reminds me of stylistically. After going into more film on Cook than any other QB prospect in this draft I have to say that I think he’s more Ryan than Cassel. Cook has the best timing of any QB in this draft and regularly had to throw open his guys. His completion % sucked because he had no gimme throws. He also is a tall kid with decent mobility who should be able to add weight and become a 6’4 230 pounder. Once that added weight comes on I expect his arm strength to improve as a result. I think Cook looks like a Day 1 starter if need be and he projects as a 10 year pro in my eyes. Most have him as a 2nd-3rd rounder and I can’t find anyone placing him ahead of the heralded trio of Wentz, Goff and Lynch but I have him with a Top 20 grade as my #3 QB 4/6/16.
  4. Paxton Lynch Memphis 6’7 244 Jr. Paxton is an interesting kid as he was hurt his senior year in HS and forced to go to Memphis despite his prolific talent and now he is leaving school early despite his junior year ending pretty poorly down the stretch and the draft already filled with quite a few legit QB prospects. I consider it a mistake him leaving early but he has a lot of talent and should get drafted early enough to make it worth his while. Lynch is an extremely tall quarterback that has the quick feet which remind me of Brock Osweiler. Others will see the height and good arm strength and make the Joe Flacco comparison but Lynch lacks Flacco’s elite arm strength. Paxton is a tough one to evaluate as he runs a gimmicky offense with a lot of screens and short passes. He runs the offense well but it gives him a lot of open wide receivers and limits his downfield throws. I can’t find much tape of him being able to thread the needle, read a defense or audible to another play so I question how ready he will be to start as a rookie. Nonetheless there is ample film of him hitting guys on target, avoiding rushers and making something out of nothing. He appears to be a developmental type but a good one at that. His Combine performance was pretty poor as was his 2nd half film in 2015 so it’s no surprise that he’s been slipping down draft boards lately. Early 2nd round as my #4 QB 3/28/2016.
  1. Cody Kessler USC 6’1 ¼ 220 Sr. Kessler is an easy grade as he’s short and slow which makes him an undersized pocket passer, something few other than Drew Brees do well. Yet he has good arm strength, great accuracy, good stats, good experience (3 year starter in a Big 5 Conference) and is arguably the best QB when it comes to timing plays or reading a defense and determining where to go with the football. No one goes to their 2nd or 3rd read more than Kessler and that is an offensive coordinator’s dream. He’s also Alex Smith like in his ball security as he had a 68 TD to 12 INT for a whopping 5.6 to 1 ratio! If Kessler was ‘2 taller and 0.02 faster he’d be a Top 10 pick which makes me surprised that no one is giving this kid a chance. I said a similar comment about Russell Wilson and Case Keenum and they are both now starters in the NFL. At worst Kessler is a top level backup ala Chase Daniels, someone he shares actually quite a few similarities with, but I could see him actually becoming a mediocre starter (20-25 in QB Ranking in range with a Ryan Fitzpatrick level talent). I like Kessler and think he’s one of the more underrated guys in this class. Mid 2nd round as my #5 QB 4/6/16.
  2. Kevin Hogan Stanford 6’3 ¼ 218 Sr. Hogan at one time had a late 1st round grade on my board. I saw a big bodied QB with good accuracy and great experience (4 year starter in a Big 5 Conference). Unfortunately he never developed as much as I expected him to as he was basically only a 2 to 1 TD/INT ratio guy in 2013 and 2014 and even as a senior never had a 3,000 yard passing season. Despite his limited attempts he also had an alarming number of sacks the past two seasons. Yet Hogan was in a run oriented offense and his lack of opportunities shouldn’t completely disqualify him as a prospect. At 6’3 ¼ with 4.78 40 speed he’s both taller and faster than Dak Prescott. That shouldn’t surprise anyone as he’s a legit NFL athlete and makes a lot of sense as a developmental QB as a result. Unfortunately his arm strength is pretty mediocre and it holds me back from praising him too much as the film I saw of his sideline throws (outs, comebacks, throws to the far hash, etc.) made me cringe a little. He is a big, athletic kid with good accuracy, great experience, great intelligence (Stanford, hello) and he played well in quite a few big games. Unfortunately his mediocre stats and his poor arm strength limit him but I still like him as an early 3rd Rounder as my #6 QB 4/6/16.
  3. Christian Hackenberg Penn State 6’4 ⅜ 223 Jr. At one time I had a Top 15 grade on this kid but I have done an about face on him as he just seems to have run out of excuses. He hasn’t played well since his freshman season, he clearly has leadership and maturity issues (everything is always someone else’s fault) and his inconsistent accuracy causes some of the simplest plays to be difficult. Someone will fall in love with him though as he’s 6’4 ⅜ 223 with an absolute cannon of a right arm. Also if he falls far enough I’d draft him too since at one time he did flash franchise QB potential. Alas he reminds me of Jay Cutler on an emotional maturity level and combined with his poor accuracy I want no part of this developmental project. 3rd Round as my #7 QB 4/6/16.
  4. Cardale Jones Ohio State 6’5 253 Jr. Cardale is similar to Logan Thomas out of Virginia Tech a few years ago in that the arm strength, height, weight and strength all are elite yet the accuracy, touch, ability to read defenses and starting experience (only 8 career starts!) all are well below average. I am not a fan of these types as they pretty much never work out. I can’t think of one strong armed, inaccurate passer taken outside of the first two rounds that is currently starting in the NFL. Cardale is the classic tease for NFL GMs and QB coaches as they all think THEY can do what everyone else couldn’t, turn him skillful. Guess what, Urban Meyer is a pretty damn good coach. Jones got his shot and failed. He had 3 amazing games to end the 2014 season with a championship but teams learned and he became mortal again during the 2015 season, benched midway through the year. I’d be surprised if he ever starts an NFL game unless it is as an injury replacement. That being said someone will waste a pick earlier than my grade indicates as he does have a few star level qualities. 4th round as my #8 QB 3/28/16.
  5. Brandon Allen Arkansas 6’1 ⅜ 217 Sr. Going into the season Allen wasn’t regarded as a draftable prospect yet every time I turned around he seemed to be shredding some SEC defense. His best performance was against Mississippi State where he threw for 406 yards and 7 TDS! What impressed me the most about that game was Allen’s ability to move around in the pocket and improvise when a play broke down. Unfortunately his size could cause him to go undrafted as he’s under 6’2, has mediocre arm strength and miniscule hands (8 ½) for a QB prospect. I can’t remember a QB being drafted with hands smaller than ‘9 so it could be the nail in the coffin. Of course Case Keenum wasn’t drafted out of college (I gave him a 2nd round grade by the way) yet he’s penciled in as the opening day starter for the Rams this year so it can work out even if he goes undrafted. I like Allen but his size coupled with his one year wonder kind of status (only 1 season with 2,300 yards or more passing) makes me hesitant he will ever be more than a quality backup. 5th round as my #9 QB 4/6/16.
  6. Vernon Adams Oregon 5’10 ⅞ 200 Sr. Vernon impressed me in his one injury plagued season with the Ducks. The problem is he’s 5’10 ⅞ which is Russell Wilson’s height and his 4.83 40 isn’t near Wilson’s 4.55. He likely won’t be drafted but don’t be surprised if a team like the 49ers or Bills (he has a lot of Tyrod Taylor in his game) take him in the late rounds. He has very underrated accuracy and proved to be a quick learner of Oregon’s quick tempo offense. 6th round as my #10 QB 4/6/16.
  7. Dak Prescott Mississippi State 6’2 ¼ 226 Sr. Dak is a unique prospect as at 6’2 ¼ 226 with a 4.79 40 he has a thickness to him to go along with some speed and quickness which made him a legit dual threat in college. Unfortunately 4.79 isn’t terrible fast in the NFL and when you watch him against a team like LSU his mediocre athleticism is apparent. He was a darkhorse Heisman candidate the past two seasons as the offense was basically built around him and he produced with 56 TDs to 16 INTs (3.5 to 1). Unfortunately I don’t see his game translating well to the NFL as he isn’t quick twitch fast, his 226 lbs isn’t Cam Newton like so he won’t be a regular short yardage rusher in the NFL, his accuracy is mediocre and even his arm strength has me less than impressed. I’ve seen him in the Top 5 of some QB Rankings by analysts but I don’t see why as to me he’s a backup at best but likely a bust at the next level. 7th Round as my #11 QB 4/6/16.

 

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