The 2017 NFL Draft is approaching rapidly and we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible.
This series of articles will attempt to rank all of the top prospects in this year’s class. These rankings are based on a prospect’s ceiling; you will notice more quarterbacks are going than actually will.
For example, four players have first round grounds. That is a high number and it would be surprising if all four were selected that fast. With that being said, all four have unique enough ability to be considered there. Another example is a player like Chad Kelly. He might go undrafted, but there is enough raw talent that a team might be willing to pull the trigger in the third round.
A lot can happen between now and April 27th, but let’s go ahead and start making a positional big board.
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, 6-2, 222 lbs., Redshirt Junior
Trubisky is one of the most accurate passers in this class and his 68.2% completion rate backs that trait up. Scouts have compared him to a more physically gifted Andy Dalton, with the consistency and pocket presence to lead an NFL franchise. Although he is my number one quarterback, a few teams will knock him down their boards due to his lack of experience. Few quarterbacks are successful in the league after only one year of starting experience at the college level.
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, 6-4, 233 lbs., Junior
When it comes to mobility, few quarterbacks come close to Kizer. He has displayed excellent accuracy at every level of the field while scrambling and his ability to move within the pocket is impressive too. He has the pure talent to start for a majority of NFL teams now and if you only evaluate his 2015 tape he has a consistently elite presence, but his struggles in 2016 will sour some teams. His pure physical talents, poise, and ability to bounce back from mistakes remind scouts of Carson Palmer. The 2016 season really shined a light on Kizer’s flaws as he often read defenses late and made bad decisions too often. His film shows he often tries to run even though there are open receivers and he will also have to learn how to release the ball quicker at the next level.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 6-2, 221 lbs., Junior
Watson checks the leadership box a million times over. He is a winner and will well represent a franchise both on and off the field for a long time. His continuous ability to overachieve has started his comparison to a more talented Tyrod Taylor. We have also heard comparisons to Robert Griffin III, because of their similar talents. Many will argue Watson is much better suited for the league, because of the more NFL-ready Clemson offense and his ability to shine under pressure. He will not be every team’s cup of tea and he will be a prospect that an offense may have to be tailored around his skills for him to really be successful. Even if drafted into the perfect scheme, he will need time to develop and adjust to the pro game.
Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech, 6-2, 225 lbs., Junior
It is common knowledge around the scouting community that Mahomes has one of the strongest arms in the class and he has the ability to distribute anywhere on the field. His film shows great anticipation and a natural feel for where to go with the ball. With that said his game relies too much on the play breaking down and him making a play. His reliance on his athleticism will not be successful at the pro level. He also lacks refinement in basic mechanics and will need to be coached up in his drop back and defensive reads.
Brad Kaaya, Miami (Fla.), 6-4, 214 lbs., Junior
Kaaya was seen as virtual lock for the first round going into the 2016 season, but most scouts agree he took two steps back in his maturation as a quarterback. There are still flashes of excellence and he has great experience as a three-year starter. He has the height that scouts look for at this position and a strong enough arm to make all the throws in an NFL playbook. Although he has the height, he lacks the weight and strength that it takes to withstand the physicality of the game.
Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 226 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Few quarterbacks coming out of college have the elite level of vision that Peterman has and his timing releasing the ball to his receiver is as close to perfect as it gets. I have talked to a few scouts who believe that he may end up being the most successful player in this class and the only reason he may fall this low is due to the lack of hype surrounding him. The comparison to a rich man’s Kirk Cousins has been made thanks to his intelligence and preparation for the game. Peterman can clearly play, but he lacks the size that scouts covet, especially for someone who makes his living in the pocket and his passes are not as pretty as some of the other top tier prospects. His accuracy and arm strength are not elite by any means.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss, 6-2, 224 lbs., Redshirt Senior
No one is more hit or miss than Kelly. He has a ton of physical talent with top-notch arm strength and accuracy to be a starter in the NFL, but his decision- making on the field is well below average and his poor character off the field will have some teams crossing him off their big board completely. His attitude is the same way, he expresses a desire to win and has the never say never mindset that coaches love, but he is stubborn and has supreme over confidence in his abilities.
Davis Webb, California, 6-5, 229 lbs., Senior
Webb is one of the only quarterbacks in this class that has the requisite size to handle an NFL beating. He possesses a natural feel for where his receivers are and he distributes the ball to the ideal target more often than not. Webb has shown no fear when staying in the pocket trusting and anticipating his open receivers. He is not going to outrun anyone and looks somewhat uncomfortable when forced to be an athlete. Another disappointing aspect to Webb’s game is his lack of arm strength and velocity on passes.
Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 232 lbs., Junior
Everyone agrees it was not the best idea for Evans to declare for the NFL, but nonetheless, he has some elite traits that if given time will allow him to become a solid starter in the league. Evans possesses top-notch mobility and possesses some of the same ground game spark that Cam Newton and Michael Vick did. Those players were first overall draft picks, but Evans lacks the accuracy to be a star and his mechanics will need serious work for him to even reach starter potential.
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, 6-3, 216 lbs., Senior
Dobbs has the running ability that will remind many scouts of Dak Prescott. Dobbs will have to deal with questions surrounding his reliance on his running, because he too often took off before making the necessary reads. His experience in a simplified college offense will also hinder how scouts view his development. What will keep him in middle round conversation is his ability to control the game. There were instances where Dobbs was the whole offense and his raw tools show that there is enough potential for him to develop.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa, 6-2, 219 lbs., Redshirt Senior
The ability to get the ball out of your hands as quickly as possible is key for any quarterback and no one in the class has a quicker release than Beathard. He also shows great accuracy when distributing the rock. The reason he is not higher on this list is due to his lack of arm strength, which will limit how effective he can be at the pro level. His throws lack the velocity that some scouts covet. Standing at only 6-2 and weighing less than 220 pounds is also not ideal for any NFL starter.
Sefo Liufau, Colorado, 6-3, 232 lbs., Senior
Liufau was a three-year starter and that experience should help him at the next level, but the offense he ran was simplified and he will have to adjust to an NFL playbook.
Seth Russell, Baylor, 6-3, 213 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Like former Baylor alum Bryce Petty, Russell will have to adjust to an NFL playbook. He does, however, sport NFL-ready arm strength.
Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin, 6-1, 225 lbs., Senior
The lack of competition Pipkin faced will hurt him, but his production can not be ignored. His anticipation when deciding who and when to throw is lacking, but he does have the ability to throw through tight windows.
Alex Torgersen, Pennsylvania, 6-3, 230 lbs., Senior
Much like Pipkin, Torgersen will have to answer similar small school questions, but he dominated and showed some flashes that he can be an NFL starter. Perhaps he is the poor man’s Carson Wentz.
Brady Gustafson, Montana, 6-6, 237 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Gustafson has an NFL arm with the accuracy and strength to potentially start in the league. His lack of consistency will keep him from being drafted high.
Cooper Rush, Central Michigan, 6-3, 228 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Having the ability manage a game can go a long way and Rush has that ability, but he lacks the accuracy and arm strength that scouts want in their starter.
Bart Houston, Wisconsin, 6-3, 235 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Houston has the benefit of playing in a pro-style offense, but his inconsistencies will have some scouts too scared to take a chance.
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan, 6-1, 209 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Being coachable is extremely important and Terrell is a student of the game, but he lacks the size to be a top prospect.
Ryan Higgins, La. Tech, 6-0, 209 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Mitch Leidner, Minnesota, 6-4, 230 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Wes Lunt, Illinois, 6-5, 225 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Undrafted Free Agents
Trevor Knight, Texas A&M, 6-1, 219 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Austin Appleby, Florida, 6-4, 240 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Garrett Fugate, Central Missouri St., 6-2, 210 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati, 6-4, 225 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Phillip Nelson, East Carolina, 6-1, 216 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska, 6-1, 220 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Sean Maguire, Florida St., 6-2, 222 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Dillon Buechel, Duquesne, 6-3, 200 lbs., Redshirt Senior