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These young men will be tasked to be the future leaders of an NFL franchise. Today I rank the top five quarterback prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Trevor Lawrence - Clemson
Bio: A two-time Georgia state champion and the state's all time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, Trevor Lawrence committed to Clemson. After splitting playing time as a freshman with Kelly Bryant, he was named the fulltime starter and led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season and National Championship. In his three seasons at Clemson, Lawrence amassed a 34-2 record as a starter to go along with 10,098 passing yards and 108 total touchdowns.
Strengths: Elite height and frame that can handle more mass added. Smooth set up with controlled feet, clean weight transfer, and slick over the top throw with a quick release. Capable of making every throw from the pocket. Ball bursts out of his hand when needing to throw with power on plants, deep outs, post routes, and fades. Smooth placement on touch passes. Perfectly drops the ball in windows down the seam and near the boundaries. Fluid athlete with deceptive acceleration and top speed for a quarterback. Lures rushers towards him then fires accurate passes around or over them. Good awareness and composure from the pocket, navigating out of trouble when needed while keeping eyes downfield. Mature than most players his age. Recipient of the Tim Bourret award, honor given to the player who best represents himself, his teammates, and university to the media.
Weaknesses: More of a risk taker than his career turnovers suggests. Will stare down targets at times while overly trusting receivers and his arm to fit balls into tight windows. Needs to do a better job protecting the ball on the move. Fumbled 10 times when scrambling. LSU exposed some flaws in his game in the 2020 National Championship when pressure forced him to throw on the run. Very accurate, but doesn't consistently hit on corners or outs. Too often forces receiver to veer from their route to catch off target balls, which closes doors on run after the catch opportunities. Missed two games in 2020 with a positive COVID test. Had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder this past February.
Pro Comparison: John Elway
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Justin Fields - Ohio State
Bio: The Mr. Georgia Football as a senior and the top rated dual threat quarterback of the 2018 class, Justin Fields committed to Georgia. As a freshman, he saw playing time in 12 games while backing up Jake Fromm. The following spring, he transferred to Ohio State and was immediately named the starter. In his first year in Columbus, he helped the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship, finished third in the Heisman voting, and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The following year he helped Ohio State reach the National Championship Game while repeating as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. In his three years between Georgia and Ohio State, Fields completed 68 percent of his passes for 5,701 yards and 86 total touchdowns.
Strengths: Dynamic playmaker with his arm, feet, and brain. Gifted passer with solid arm, touch, and accuracy to make all the throws. Quick set up and delivery with effective release over the top. Can change arm angle to improvise when needed. Feet get set quickly to throw with balance. Generates torque on the ball to deliver tight spirals on bombs that allow receivers an eas target to track. Strong arm with throws of 75-yards in the air dating back to high school. Money on deep sideline throws. Delivers with soft touch down the seams and go routes. Great recognition of defenses and rarely forced the ball into danger. Agile athlete to be a consistent threat on RPOs. Compact frame to handle punishment. Impressive core strength with great ball security. Good vision and awareness from the pocket. Threatens to scramble then flips ball over incoming defenders. Toughness will nevedr be a question.
Weaknesses: Slightly shorter than some teams look for. Played in a quarterback friendly scheme under Ryan Day that allowed receivers to easily get open. Was surrounded by all star talent. Wasn't asked to throw with anticipation in the system. Accuracy slightly drops on the move, forcing receivers to adjust. Great receivers helped on inconsistent 50-50 balls. Occasionally holds on to the ball too long, taking sacks rather than throwing the ball away. Never missed a game in college, but took some brutal hits which raise durability concerns.
Pro Comparison: Dak Prescott
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Atlanta Falcons
3. Zach Wilson - Brigham Young
Bio: A Utah native, Zach Wilson chose to stay at home and attend Brigham Young. As a true freshman, he became the youngest quarterback ever to start for the Cougars. As a junior, he broke Steve Young record for single season completion percentage at 73.5%. In his three seasons, he threw for 7,652 yards and 71 total touchdowns.
Strengths: Quick footed passer with solid athletic ability to improvise when the play breaks down. Naturally feels pressure and adjusts accordingly. Can throw strikes from anywhere on the field. Not an RPO quarterback, but capable scrambler with enough mobility to extend plays and find success. Doesn't put the ball in dangerous spots. Compact throwing motion with no wasted movement.
Weaknesses: Only one season of serious productivity. Was not forced to come off his first read too often in BYU's system. If his first read wasn't there, would just tuck and run. Never played against elite teams or defenses. Arm is good, but not elite. Doesn't throw with anticipation and ball placement needs work. Not a short quarterback, but frame is light and he's already dealt with shoulder and hand injuries in 2019.
Pro Comparison: Baker Mayfield
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Carolina Panthers
4. Trey Lance - North Dakota State
Bio: After only being recruited by FBS programs to play safety, Trey Lance decided to play at North Dakota State so that he could play quarterback. After redshirting his freshman season, he led the Bison to an undefeated season and an FCS title. North Dakota State's 2020 season was canceled due to COVID and Lance decided to forgoes his final two seasons and enter the draft.
Strengths: Maybe the strongest arm in this class on a well packed frame. Ability to test defenses at every level with both his arm and legs makes him a nightmare for any team. Not an elusive scrambler, but stays strong through tackles and fights for yards after contact. Decently accurate and doesn't put the ball in harms way. Just one career interception in college.
Weaknesses: Ability to process defenses remains to be a work in progress. Slow going through his reads. Relied more on his physical tools rather than technique or timing during his college career. Fairly raw in terms of learning the game and could take time before being trusted as a starter. Played against fairly weak competition in FCS.
Pro Comparison: Steve McNair
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Denver Broncos
5. Mac Jones - Alabama
Bio: Originally committing to Kentucky, Mac Jones chose instead to play at Alabama. After just being a holder on special teams his first two years, he replaced an injured Tua Tagovailoa late in the year and helped the Crimson Tide to a Citrus Bowl win. In 2020, he won every major passing award while helping Alabama to an undefeated National Championship season.
Strengths: Accurate at all three levels of the field. Exceptional ball placement leaves door open for yards after catch opportunities. Mechanically sound with clean set up and release. Smart decision maker and won't force the ball if the right leverage isn't there. Unquestioned leader of the Alabama offense.
Weaknesses: Doesn't extend plays with his legs and shouldn't be asked to scramble. Arm is average at best. Throws on the run lose a lot of velocity. Processes time on reads needs sped up. Only one season as the fulltime starter. Played in an offense with elite talent at every position. Might only be a game manager at the pro level.
Pro Comparison: Kirk Cousins
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: New Orleans Saints
Other Notable Prospects
Kyle Trask- Florida
- Great size, average arm
Kellen Mond- Texas A&M
- Cannon arm, poor footwork
Sam Ehlinger- Texas
- Tough as nails, questionable accuracy
Jamie Newman- Georgia
- Good dual threat, lacks control on some throws
Davis Mills- Stanford
- Knows how to attack leverage, mechanics affected by added weight
Feleipe Franks- Arkansas
- Imposing size, limited athleticism
Ian Brook- Notre Dame
- Solid mobility, unrefined throwing motion
KJ Costello- Mississippi State
- Looks the part, flawed mechanically
Peyton Ramsey- Northwestern
- High IQ, poor arm strength.
Michael Collins- Rice
- Ideal frame, project quarterback
Zach Smith- Tulsa
- Confident passer, sails throws too often
Zac Thomas- Appalachian State
- Exceptional athletcism, suspect accuracy
Kevin Thomson- Washington
- Dangerous on the move, erratic as a passer
Brady White- Memphis
- Takes care of the ball, poor deep ball accuracy