The consensus opinion on this year’s quarterback class is that it’s extremely top-heavy with a steep decline after several players. If you were to put the prospects into tiers, there’s definitely a top tier of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.

Down from there, there are two guys who are developmental starters in Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. In what most would consider the third tier are the guys who can be potential starters in their second seasons in Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans. There’s even a drop off from there into players like California’s Davis Webb, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, and Iowa’s C.J. Beathard, who most people would consider career backups. There may be some fluctuation in there, but that’s how this class pretty much looks in an overview.




Here’s what makes this year’s class so perplexing: you could talk to ten different draft analysts and get four different answers as to who is the top quarterback overall.

In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into my overall rankings of the top 27 quarterbacks in this class and offer up some rationale for the guys who I have draftable grades on. Let’s get into it.

#1: North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky

UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky only had one year of starting experience at the college level but did a very good job in that one year, passing for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Trubisky had played sparingly in his first three years with UNC choosing to go with Marquise Williams. Overall, Trubisky offers accuracy at all levels of the field and good decision making as well as an underrated dual-threat ability. Trubisky should be considered by teams in the top 10 who want a player who needs some polishing but has a tremendously high ceiling.

Grade: First Round
Comparison: Andy Dalton

#2: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is one of the more prolific players in the history of college football. Watson led the Tigers to a national championship berth during his sophomore season, where they nearly pulled off a comeback against Alabama. In 2016, he took the Tigers back to the title and led a game-winning drive in the final minute to give Clemson the title. Watson, although a proven winner, has some questions about his overall game. His decision making is suspect at times due to his playmaker mentality and his deep accuracy needs some refinement. Watson does bring great ability under pressure and an ability to make multiple reads across the field and take the reins of a complex offense from day one. Overall, Watson probably has a higher floor and is more polished than Trubisky, but will likely have a learning curve as he transitions to the next level.

Grade: First Round
Comparison: Robert Griffin III

#3: Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes

Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes has a cannon for an arm and made plenty of highlight reel plays while in Lubbock. Mahomes was a prolific passer while working in Texas Tech’s Air Raid offense, and at one point throwing 93 passes in a single game. Mahomes has pinpoint accuracy on the run and is also probably one of the best mobile quarterbacks to come out in a while. Johnny Manziel did a lot of the same things he did on-field coming out of Texas A&M, but also had some of the same issues on-field.

Mahomes doesn’t necessarily have bad mechanics, but they are against the grain of what is traditionally used. Mahomes’ timing and decision making are also suspect at times. He will often just chuck the ball up in the air and not take into account the coverage around the player or the spot that he is in. But this is what you get with Mahomes. You are getting a player who is going to have a steep learning curve to acclimate himself into an NFL offense. He will make you a ton of plays but also will make a lot of them and stumble along the way. Overall, Mahomes should be considered by teams to be taken in the 25-40 range where they are in a situation where he can sit and develop for a season before hitting the field.

Grade: Second Round
Comparison: Matthew Stafford and Johnny Manziel blend

#4: Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer

Deshone Kizer was in an interesting situation at Notre Dame. In 2015, starting quarterback Malik Zaire went down with injury as well as starting running back Tarean Folston, and the season appeared to be lost. Kizer, a redshirt freshman, stepped in and led the Fighting Irish to a 10-3 record while playing through a stress fracture in his foot. He came into 2016 as the presumptive starter and split reps with Zaire in the first game of the season. Kizer ended up starting the rest of the season, but Notre Dame disappointingly finished with a 4-8 record.

Kizer overall is a dual-threat quarterback who has an insane arm and can push the ball down the field. His mechanics and timing are suspect and probably worse than Mahomes’, however, and need some serious polish. Overall, Kizer has the lowest floor but the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. He should sit in his first season so that he can refine and develop.

Grade: Second Round
Comparison: Ryan Tannehill

#5: Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman

Nate Peterman had a winding path to get to where he is now. Starting at Tennessee, Peterman split reps with Josh Dobbs for several seasons before Dobbs won the starting job, to which Peterman subsequently transferred to Pitt. Peterman did a good job at Pitt, totaling 2,855 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions during his senior season. He offers a well-rounded game with good accuracy, decision making, and arm strength. He has good poise in the pocket and good footwork. Peterman might just be a game manager but should be considered on Day 2 by teams who want a developmental starter who is good in all areas and is reliable overall.

Grade: Third Round
Comparison: Kirk Cousins

#6: Miami’s Brad Kaaya

Brad Kaaya is one of the most experienced players in this class. Kaaya started as a true freshman for the Hurricanes and was a three-year starter while at Miami. However, the Hurricanes never really had any big wins under his leadership. Kaaya, in a clean pocket, is accurate and has good anticipation and touch on passes with good field vision. However, under pressure, Kaaya collapses and makes bad decisions and gets intercepted or fumbled a lot. This is something that could doom Kaaya at the next level as his blocks will not always hold. He will be thrust into situations as a starter where he will have to move around in the pocket to avoid rushers. Overall, Brad Kaaya should be considered late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 as a project quarterback who with some development can be a starter but is still pretty raw overall.

Grade: Third Round
Comparison: Sam Bradford

#7: Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans

Jerod Evans was a one-year Division 1 starter at Virginia Tech, where, after transferring from Trinity Valley Community College, won the starting job and was a quality performer for the Hokies. Working out of first-year head coach Justin Fuente’s offense, Evans threw for 3,552 yards and 29 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. Evans does possess some good tools but has a tendency to scramble and run if his first read is not open and does not have great field vision. He also lucked out with a lot of dropped interceptions during the season. Evans’ deep accuracy is superb and his touch and anticipation on the outside are easily his best traits, as well as the spin he can put on his passes. Evans offers some dual-threat ability as he ran for nearly 800 yards and ten touchdowns during his junior season at Virginia Tech.

Overall, Evans probably shouldn’t be considered until the middle of Day 3 due to how raw he is and some of the basic issues he has with reading defenses, but can develop into a starter and can be a good backup from the start for an NFL franchise.

Grade: Fifth Round
Comparison: Tyrod Taylor

#8: California’s Davis Webb

Davis Webb has played in two spread offenses under Kliff Kingsbury and Sonny Dykes and is a bit of a loose cannon. Webb was a graduate transfer from Texas Tech after he was injured and subsequently lost the starting job to Patrick Mahomes. He has a raw skill set with arm strength and great deep ball placement but his decision making is also suspect, as he often will just throw it up into coverage despite how open the receiver may or may not be. Webb will have a steep transition to the next level due to playing in spread schemes during his college career and not really being reined in to have an exact play structure.

However, he was a productive player during his one season at Cal, passing for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions in his senior season. Cal’s offense often revolved around “YOLO” passes to Chad Hansen and screen passes, so Webb acclimating to an NFL offense will take some time. Overall, he’s probably a backup player or spot starter at the next level.

Grade: Sixth Round
Comparison: Geno Smith

#9: Baylor’s Seth Russell

Seth Russell was the successor to Bryce Petty at Baylor, where in two seasons he was highly productive with 4,230 yards and 49 touchdowns compared to 14 touchdowns in the sixteen games he played over the two seasons. However, injuries are the major concern with Russell, as gruesome leg and ankle injuries have cut his seasons short and stunted his development while he has been a starter. Baylor’s system isn’t exactly known for producing good NFL talent. However, Russell offers a dual-threat ability and crazy arm strength that can make him a quality backup in the league.

Grade: Sixth Round
Comparison: Bryce Petty

#10: Temple’s Phillip “P.J.” Walker

PJ Walker was a four-year starter while at Temple and despite his small frame (5’11” and approximately 200 lbs), Walker is an accurate passer who can also be a running option. Walker fits the Parcells principle for evaluating quarterbacks — a senior who is a graduate and has started three years while accumulating 23 wins over that span. Walker has good footwork and is especially good off play action. His ball placement and anticipation are great and he showed up nicely in big games in 2015 and 2016. He does a lot of the same things that people liked a lot in Oregon’s Vernon Adams last season. Overall, Walker is probably a backup or spot starter in the NFL but displays good traits and leadership.

Grade: Sixth Round
Comparison: Vernon Adams Jr.

#11: Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs

Josh Dobbs is an interesting study. Dobbs is literally a rocket scientist as an aerospace engineer and is an infectious leader who gets nothing but rave reviews from his teammates, coaches, and those around him. He has some decision-making issues but does well under pressure. Dobbs performs well in tight situations with multiple comeback wins for the Volunteers in 2016. He is also a running option as Tennessee’s leading rusher in 2016 with 800 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Overall, Dobbs is a guy whose game doesn’t translate very well but is a high-character guy who you root for and hope can carve out a role for himself in an NFL franchise.

Grade: Sixth Round
Comparison: Aaron Murray

#12: Iowa’s C.J. Beathard

C.J. Beathard was a two-year starter for the Hawkeyes who took Iowa to the Big 10 Championship in 2015. Beathard is fearless in the pocket (almost too fearless for his own health) and will take any number of hits in the pocket and get right back up. His mental processing is also very good and despite being largely a game manager he made clean reads. Beathard does, however, have some bad decision-making skills and is probably a backup at the next level due to his below average traits. However, I do think he can have a long career and be successful just nowhere near a starter.

Grade: Sixth Round
Comparison: Jimmy Clausen

The Rest

#13: Penn’s Alek Torgersen
#14: Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell
#15: Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight
#16: Colorado’s Sefo Liufau
#17: Boston College’s Patrick Towles
#18: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Higgins
#19: Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly
#20: Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin
#21: Brigham Young’s Taysom Hill
#22: West Virginia’s Skyler Howard
#23: Central Michigan’s Cooper Rush
#24: Montana’s Brady Gustafson
#25: Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel
#26: Illinois’ Wes Lunt
#27: Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner