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2017 NFL Draft: Quarterbacks

By: Robert Davis

There is no more coveted position than a franchise caliber quarterback. Teams are constantly looking for an upgrade and every year there are teams that have obvious holes at the position. There are a number of talented passers in the 2017 NFL Draft, but teams may be turned off by the readiness of the players. None of the top tier prospects appear to be ready to start in the NFL early in their careers.

North Carolina's Mitch Trusbisky has come out of nowhere to be among the best players at the position available this year. After two years as a backup, he has really taken off this year, showing off a nice blend of physical tools, accuracy, and intelligence. Trubisky has good size(6'3 220), is a good athlete, and has a strong arm. The athleticism is put to good use, as he shows excellent pocket mobility and also has the ability to pick up occasional yardage on the ground. He has the arm strength to make throws all over the field, and is an accurate passer on all levels. The knock on Trubisky is his lack of real game experience. This past season was his only season as a starter, and he is an early entry candidate. There isn't a lot of film on him period to see his growth and development, and he hasn't had to face a lot of different looks from coaches that have coached against him previously. Even with just one year of starting experience, Trubisky has all the tools and smarts, and has shown enough polish to put him in the first round with a chance to be the first QB off the board.

DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame may be the most physically gifted player at the position this year, which combined with his intelligence, gives him as much upside as any player in the draft. He has fantastic size and athleticism, standing 6'4 and pushing 250lbs. Watch one play and the athleticism stands out. He has the feet and agility to move around the pocket and elude the rush, to buy more time to throw, and he is also a threat to run with the ball as well. Kizer also has a strong arm. There isn't a throw on the field that he cannot make. The problem with Kizer is his lack of experience, polish, and consistency. On one play, he looks like he's the surefire #1 pick. On the very next, it's clear he's not ready for the NFL. The mechanics are inconsistent, the accuracy is inconsistent, and his decision making is inconsistent. Kizer has declared for the draft as a draft eligible sophomore, and he will definitely require a bit of patience in the NFL. All the tools are there to be a star, including the intelligence and work ethic. It just may take some time. Kizer's draft projection could be all over the place. Some teams may buy into his potential and coachability and take him in the top ten. Others may view the time needed to develop him not worth a first round pick. Wherever he ends up, he has tremendous potential and could be one of the best players out of this draft down the road.

QB RANKINGS
  1. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, Jr.
  2. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, So.
  3. Deshaun Watson, Clemson, JR.
  4. Brad Kaaya, Miami, Jr.
  5. Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech, Jr.
  6. Luke Falk, Washington St, Jr.
  7. David Webb, California
  8. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma St Jr.
  9. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
  10. Brady Gustafson, Montana

Deshaun Watson of Clemson entered the year as the biggest name at the position, and he still possesses big time upside thanks to his incredible athleticism and dual threat ability. He is as dangerous as a runner as he is with his arm, and has had big games on the biggest stages of college football. Watson doesn't have a cannon, but it's good enough to make any throw he needs to. At times, he has shown tremendous accuracy and the ability to put the ball right where it needs to be. As a runner, he has the speed and elusiveness to routinely make big plays. Consistency has been an issue with Watson as a junior, as his accuracy has not been as good as it has in the past. The Clemson offense also has not given him a great foundation of development for the NFL game. The read option with a heavy emphasis on the run is not an NFL offense, and Watson is going to need to learn to be more consistent as a passer. He needs to learn to line up under center, as well as locating secondary options in the passing game instead of taking off as a runner. Watson is a superb playmaker, and he is a bright kid that has been on the Dean's list at Clemson. The talent, the intelligence, and the work ethic are top notch. He is not a polished passer and despite being a three year starter, he will need some time to develop his passing skills at the next level.

Miami's Brad Kaaya is yet another underclassmen at the top of this list. He has the most experience of the top tier passers, having been a three year starter for Miami, despite being a true junior. He's the first true, somewhat of a throw back, pocket passer on this list. He is tall, with a good arm, and operates well in the pocket. He puts the ball on the money with a quick release and plenty of zip on the ball. The downside to being labeled a true pocket passer is that Kaaya is a bit of a statue. He lacks the mobility to do anything with his feet if plays break down, and his in pocket mobility isn't great either. He can get flustered when pressure comes and his accuracy and decision making suffer. For a guy that stands in the pocket, Kaaya also needs to bulk up some more. He is a very lean 6'4 215lbs. Despite his flaws, Kaaya might be one of the more pro ready QB's because of his experience in the ACC and his experience as a pure passer. He had some momentum entering the year as a guy that could push his way up the list, but he had some ups and downs and he is probably looking at a day two selection this year.

Texas Tech junior Patrick Mahomes is another talented signal caller whose ranking is seen as all over the place. Nobody questions his physical tools. He's got a stout frame at 6'3 230, has a cannon for an arm, is mobile, and athletic. He has the bloodlines as well, as his dad pitched in the bigs for a decade. There isn't anything he can't do physically on the field. He has a gunslinger's mentality and throws it a ton, and can make any throw with ease. He can move around well inside the pocket and out. The questions with Mahomes stem from the Texas Tech offense. He isn't tasked with many responsibilities NFL QB's are, and the history of Air Raid quarterbacks is very poor. There is also a left wrist injury that required surgery, which casts some doubt about his decision for the 2017 draft. Remaining at Tech really isn't going to allow him to develop his skills under center, dropping back, or reading a defense. But, the potential inability to workout could scare a lot of teams. Mahomes is very gifted, and it would be unfair to him to write him off based on past failures in the Texas Tech offense. All the ability is there, but the common trend in this draft continues: he's a work in progress. Mahomes will need time to develop his skills as a passer. He's a kid who has the talent to be a first rounder, but the lack of polish and experience with pro concepts, and the wrist injury really cloud where he may end up on draft day.

Luke Falk is another Air Raid quarterback trying to prove the doubters wrong. He plays for Mike Leach at Washington State, and faces a lot of the same questions as Mahomes, although the two are very different talents. Falk isn't going to wow you with any physical trait. He has good size at 6'4 215, but could use some more bulk. He has a good arm, but some throws can float on him at times. He's a decent athlete for a pocket passer, but he's not a threat to run in the NFL. Falk stands out for his polish as a passer and the intangibles. He is a former walk on that has more than earned his scholarship. He stands tall in the pocket and doesn't flinch in the pocket. He gets back up quickly after getting hit. Falk shows tremendous accuracy on short to intermediate throws, but he will need work on his vertical game. He may lack the arm for it, and it's not something Washington State utilizes a lot anyway. Falk is the kind of guy who could surprise some with how good he is in the NFL. He has some work to do stemming from his college offense, but his awareness, accuracy, and intangibles are top notch. He's a very good QB prospect despite not having standout physical traits.

Yet another prospect with an Air Raid background is California's Davis Webb. He began his career at Texas Tech under their version of the offense, and ended his career at Cal under theirs. He has the classic drop back passer frame and game. He's 6'5 230 with a big time arm. His best trait is his ability to fire strikes into openings very few can fit it into. That is something that is needed in the NFL, and he can do it. Webb has a quick release to go with the arm strength, which gets the ball where it needs to be in a hurry. He shows impressive accuracy over the middle of the field when he has time to throw a strike. When it comes to throwing the ball, he can make every throw, and put it on the money when given time. The obvious question about his game is the offenses he's been developed in. He simply hasn't been tasked with basic NFL fundamentals and will need time to polish those skills. Outside of the system, Webb is also not very mobile. He's not a threat to escape and run, and he has trouble eluding the rush in the pocket. Webb has some traits and skills that cannot be taught, and because of that, he is an interesting prospect this year. He needs some work, but so does everyone else this year. As a mid to late round prospect, he brings real upside.

Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph is another kid with upside as a pocket passer. He has a sturdy frame at 6'5 240, and the arm to go with it. When his first read is open, he decisively fires the ball and puts it on the money, no matter where it is. He is one of the better long ball throwers in the draft, and has the arm strength to get it down field, and has the accuracy and touch to drop it in. Issues arise when the first option isn't open, however. He is indecisive, which leads to him holding the ball too long, and causes his accuracy to wane as pressure comes. Rudolph is yet another prospect that needs time to develop his skills under center and in the huddle. He needs more experience going through his progressions. The size and arm strength stand out though, and when he delivers the ball with confidence, he is very good. He will need time to gain more consistency and develop his skills, and if that confidence continues to grow, he is one that could have a very bright future in the NFL.


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