2016 NFL QB Prospects

By John Laub

 

 

When analyzing college talent at the quarterback position, both the objective (data and statistics) and subjective (eye-ball test) must be considered in order to rank the players. Because of the many different offensive systems and level of talent among opponents in college football, touchdown passes and passing yards do not necessarily provide acumen into the player’s long-term NFL potential. 

 

Instead, Games Played, Passing Efficiency, Completion Percentage and Yards per Attempt provide enhanced insight in order to evaluate the signal callers. Of course, any assessment must include watching the player perform in games and on tape, and consider their measurables (height and weight).

 

After analyzing the entire group of signal callers, it is not as strong as the last two drafts. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are the faction's franchise gemstones for fantasy football rosters while Paxton Lynch is next in line for fantasy diehards and Dak Prescott provides Dynasty value. Considering the aforementioned criteria, the top-five field generals for fantasy football owners in the Draft are examined below.

 

Benchmark College Stats for Draft Consideration

Games Played: Over 30

Passing Efficiency: 150.0

Completion Percentage: 65%

Yards per Attempt: 8.0

 

Quarterback Draft Prospects: Position Grade B-

 

QB Jared Goff

 

1. Jared Goff, California

The Berkeley celebrity declared for the Draft after three seasons on campus. Tall and slim frame at 6’4” and 215 lbs. Cerebral leader with confidence and poise on the gridiron. A master of fundamentals with quick release, eyes and feet. Good passer who reads defenses well. Stupendous pocket awareness and manipulates defenders with eyes and shoulders. Pocket climber with advanced footwork. Fakes with purpose and controls defensive backs. Feels pressure well and comfortable with chaos all around. Excellent ball placement and makes jaw-dropping strikes downfield. Can make anticipatory passes and throws receivers open. Processes multiple reads easily: left to right and long to short. Fits pigskins into tight windows. Over-the-top release with soft touch. Recognizes pre-snap blitzes. Three-year starter in the Bear Raid offense: Set Pac-12 records for passing yards (4,719) and touchdowns (43) as a junior. Two-season captain who coaching staff trusted with considerable responsibility: At line of scrimmage, called audibles for pass routes and protection. Only 14 victories in 37 games on campus. Spindly frame with long, lean limbs. Sacked often (81) and has developed happy feet. Production inflated in coach Sonny Dykes’ wide-open attack; however, owns skill set to succeed in pro-style offense. Not a physical specimen like Cam Newton or Andrew Luck. At times, locks onto top target. Most of passing plays from pistol or shotgun and needs to improve taking snaps under center. Does not scramble to keep the chains moving and accuracy drops when throwing on the run. Must protect the pigskin: Fumbled far too often. Without question, the top signal caller in the draft with noble athleticism and worthy of a top-five selection overall.

Key Career Stats

Games: 37

Passing Efficiency: 144.0

Completion Percentage: 62.3%

Yards per Attempt: 7.8

Best Performances: vs. Washington State, vs. Oregon State, vs. Arizona State, vs. Air Force (Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl).

Draft Potential: First round 

 

2. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State

FCS product with NFL build and body at 6’5” and 237 lbs. Very good athlete and hardy competitor. Nice fastball and excellent passer between the hash marks. Natural pocket presence with feel for the edge rush and can absorb a hit. Sound mechanics: Uncorks a tight spiral with a high release. Changes arm angle and maintains speed on throws. Adept at reading secondary coverage across entire field and moves from target-to-target. Tosses catchable ball. Escapes defenders and uses athleticism to keep chains moving. Stupendous play-action passer who employs ball fakes. Academic success: Intelligent scholar on-and-off the gridiron. Two-year starter at North Dakota State, won two national titles, posted a 20-3 overall record and named FCS Championship Game Most Outstanding Player. During tenure at NDST, totaled 45 passing and 13 rushing touchdowns. Bisons ran a pro-style offense. Comfortable taking snaps under center. Moves well under duress in the pocket.  A structured competitor who can improvise when required. At times, spotlights primary receiver and does not manipulate opponents with eyes. Lacks anticipatory passing skills and a feel for timing routes: Must improve both at next level. Forces ball too often. Needs to develop consistency and footwork. Appears to pre-read coverage and does not deviate from plan. Clearly, owns the tools and skills to succeed in the NFL. In a quarterback driven league, a franchise in need at the position will over draft the talented field general. Would benefit from sitting on the sideline for a year or two to hone craft.

Key Career Stats

Games: 23 (2014-15)

Passing Efficiency: 153.9

Completion Percentage: 64.1% 

Yards per Attempt: 8.4

Best Performances: vs. Weber State, vs. North Dakota State, vs. Northern Iowa, vs. Jackson State(FCS Championship Game)

Draft Potential: First round

 

3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

Three-year starter with prototypical NFL frame (6’7” and 244 lbs.) and colossal hands: Looks like a power forward athletically. A dual-threat competitor with a strong arm, long legs and rapid eyes. A rhythm passer who tosses a catchable ball: Effective throwing intermediate and deep balls. Elite foot speed and quick release despite long windup. Can complete passes in tight windows. Maneuvers out of busy traffic and keeps passing option alive outside of pocket. Competes with chaos around him: Rarely panics and remains patient. In red zone, frustrates defenders with run-pass option. Keeps eyes scanning for open receiver. Statistically improved every season on campus. Last year, averaged an impressive 8.5 yards per attempt and compiled a 28:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Slumped badly down the final weeks of the season. Terrible performance vs. Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. Remains fixed on pre-snap assignment and doesn’t always adjust decision-making after play begins. Short on the ineffable nuance of playing quarterback at the next level, working progressions downfield, following through on throws, and sustaining footwork in the pocket. Tigers offense based on quick throws and screens as well as the occasional deep pass. Noteworthy interviews at the Combine. Limited progression growth in Memphis offensive system. Anticipatory throws not evident on film. At times, hangs receivers out and must improve ball placement for YAC yards. Does not create open lanes with eye movement. Very likely will be selected in the first round based on a team’s need at the quarterback position. 

Key Career Stats

Games: 38

Passing Efficiency: 137.0

Completion Percentage: 62.9%

Yards per Attempt: 7.4

Best Performances: @ Bowling Green, vs. Cincinnati, vs. Ole Miss, @ Tulsa

Draft Potential: First round

 

QB Dak Prescott

 

4. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Scouts have very different perspectives and thoughts on the former Bulldog dual-threat leader. Compact, stout and powerful frame at 6’2” and 226 lbs. A dynamic athlete who uses legs and feet to extend plays and move the chains. Good decision maker with nice throwing motion and solid mechanics. Progression scholar of coverage: Displayed ability to read defenses across the full field. Climbs pocket and throws strikes. Gets ball out of hands quickly and apt timing hurler with outstanding ball placement. Willing to take a big hit and bounces back. Size, speed and vision foretell effective running skills at the next level. Not a highly-rated quarterback prospect when the season kicked off in 2015: Tremendous development last season. Improved as a pocket passer throughout college tenure. Tossed 56 aerial strikes against only 16 interceptions last two campaigns. Scored double-digit rushing touchdowns (13, 14 and 10) in three consecutive seasons. Gallant mobility and can be employed on designed runs and sneaks. When mechanics are sound, tosses a sound, tight spiral. Moves defenders with eyes and creates windows for receivers. Reminds old-school Diehards of former Titans QB Steve McNair. Mentally tough with maturity and character. Leadership traits and physical tools to succeed in NFL. At the Combine, one of the upmost competitors among field generals: Displaying touch, accuracy, footwork and body control during drills. A long-term prospect: Is not a starter on first day of training camp. Essential to increase footwork consistency. Erratic ball placement and unreliable accuracy. Once in awhile, will stare down targets and gets into trouble. Needs to work on anticipatory skills when throwing the football. With good coaching and patient development, could really develop into a solid starter in the NFL.

Key Career Stats

Games: 37 (2013-15)

Passing Efficiency: 146.0

Completion Percentage: 62.8%

Yards per Attempt: 8.0

Best Performances: vs. Louisiana Tech, vs. Kentucky, @ Missouri, @ Arkansas, vs. NC State (Belk Bowl)

Draft Potential: Third-day talent


5. Connor Cook, Michigan State

One of the more polarizing prospects in the draft. The answer to the following question likely sways a scout’s evaluation: Does the rock-star persona outweigh the NFL skill-set and tools? A three-year starter and all-time Big Ten signal caller: Won 34 games against only five losses, including two league championships. As a senior, captured Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Big Ten Quarterback of the Year. Posted a 71:22 career touchdown-to-interception ratio. Despite gridiron success was not named team captain last year. Ideal size at 6’4” and 217 lbs. Ran a pro-style offense: Navigates team with confidence and efficiency. On most passing plays had to make reads and progressions. Above-average pocket awareness. Nice release and gets ball into hands of playmakers. Willing to absorb hits and built to take punishment. Poised passer with a strong arm, compact and quick release and deceptive athleticism. Inconsistant upper-body motion: Accuracy and ball placement suffer as a result. Unsettled feet hinder velocity and power on throws. If removed from spot in pocket by rushers, mechanics fall apart. Tosses flutter passes on sideline routes. Forces throws to favorite receiver despite double coverage. Limited mobility and struggles seeking second option in progression. Does not recognize blitzers well. Completed less than 60% of career passes. Some club may overvalue Cook’s size and abilities; however, from an holistic rating, a third-day selection with long-term upside.

Key Career Stats

Games: 40 (2013-15)

Passing Efficiency: 139.8

Completion Percentage: 57.5%

Yards per Attempt: 7.9

Best Performances: vs. Air Force, @ Rutgers, @ Michigan, Indiana, @ Nebraska

Draft Potential: Third-day talent

 

The Remaining Signal Callers:

6. Kevin Hogan, Stanford

7. Cardale Jones, Ohio State

8. Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State

9. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

10. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

 

2014 Pre-Draft Rankings

1. Blake Bortles, UCF 

2. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

4. Derek Carr, Fresno State

5. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

 

2015 Pre-Draft Rankings

1. Jameis Winston, Florida State

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

3. Brett Hundley, UCLA

4. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State

5. Bryce Petty, Baylor

 

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