This series will go position by position to look at the tiers of where NFL draft prospects stack up to each other. Rankings are great for discussion, but so many factors such as coaching, scheme fit and usage will affect who actually will have more NFL success. Every player in each tier could easily be the top player in the tier based on these factors. Any prospect not discussed unfortunately did not have enough adequate tape to have a full evaluation. For this edition, we look at quarterbacks.
2017 NFL Draft Quarterbacks: Breaking Down the Tiers
1.DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Call it a hot take, a bold prediction, call it what you want. There is one quarterback in this class with star potential and his name is DeShone Kizer. The laziest argument against Kizer has to be that his team did not win in his last season. First, teams win games. On top of that, his team won so much in his first season, Notre Dame is still 14-11 in games he has played in. Last year the Notre Dame defense gave up more than 30 points in six games last season. To the surprise of nobody, Notre Dame went 1-5 when they gave up more than 30 points. But sure, let’s blame Kizer.
There are knocks on Kizer, no doubt. His accuracy goes from pinpoint to a big miss in seemingly unexplainable moments. What separates Kizer from the rest, though is where he succeeds. In the red zone, on the run, and when the pass rush is in his face, he is one of the most flawless quarterbacks in the past decade. Seriously. Kizer has great footwork, pocket awareness, and from a physical traits perspective, he is everything needed in a star quarterback. If he can find consistency, and a better coach than Brian Kelly, the sky’s the limit for Kizer, and he should be labeled as the best quarterback in this class with no discussion needed.
2. Mitchell Trubisky, UNC
Trubisky is the closest quarterback of the next three to the top tier. Trubisky has a lot of traits that you need to see from a starting quarterback, and it starts with his rocket arm that can show pinpoint precision. He is a strong athlete, is light on his feet, and can drop 50-yard dimes. However, he comes with flaws. His biggest flaw is pocket presence. There are times he straight up has no idea that pressure is coming. This leads to ugly sacks with nobody to blame but himself. There are other times he sees it, but has faith in his arm and abilities to where he just leans back or changes his arm slot in throws to get the ball off instead of buy time with his feet. It leads to a variety of poor passes, mostly overthrows. Trubisky is only a 13-game starter, and that may be something that can be fixed with time and experience in the pocket, which does give the unfinished product a decently high ceiling.
3. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Mahomes ceiling is arguably higher than Trubisky. However, his floor is leaps and bounds lower. There is one way to describe Mahomes, and that is a gunslinger. He is erratic, has little to no pocket presence, and his feet are almost never set when he throws. Mechanically, he is an undraftable quarterback. However, you cannot knock the results. He can drop dimes throwing across his body and can sling it 50 yards off of his back foot. Where he is drafted will determine whether he can hit his ceiling, though. A coach who wants to put him in structure may end up frustrated and eventually fired because of the selection of Mahomes. However, the right coach can turn him into a Matthew Stafford caliber of player, and with the right weapons, he can have a successful NFL career.
4. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson gets all the praise for beating Alabama and being a winner. You know who else has recently beat Alabama? Johnny Manziel, Jordan Jefferson, Nick Marshall, Chad Kelly, and Bo Wallace. Notable college winners include Kellen Moore, Andy Dalton, Colt McCoy and David Greene.
Now that that myth is debunked there is still some to like about Watson. He has a quick release, accuracy and an ability to extend plays with his legs. However, Watson is a great example of the difference between accuracy and ball placement. Watson can put the ball in a general area, and give his players a chance to make a play on it. He cannot place the ball in spots, and when it comes to tight windows, he winds up with incompletions and interceptions. Add in that he has dealt with a lot of clean pockets in his time, and his first instincts under pressure are to put his eyes down and run, and more can be desired from the college superstar.
5.Brad Kaaya, Miami
Brad Kaaya does a lot of the little things well. He turns his hips well on the move, his footwork in dropping back and in the pocket look great, he has a quick release, and when in rhythm his accuracy is strong. However, he lacks playmaking abilities. When pressure comes, he shrivels up. He doesn’t have a big arm to extend the field and is best in a west coast, short passing game. His upside is a Sam Bradford type, but he may be able to manage, and start NFL games in the near future.
6. Jarod Evans, Virginia Tech
Evans is a junior college transfer and only started one season at Virginia Tech. Still, he had a decent amount of success in his first year. Evans has the biggest arm of this tier and has shown accuracy in the deep passing game. Evans has not shown an ability to make reads, and the offense he was in typically gave him an option to look at one receiver, or tuck and run. It leaves a questionable upside, and while it could even be higher than a player such as Watson, his downside due to his unknown and limited skill set is that of a player who may never see an NFL field.
7. Nate Peterman, Pitt
Peterman has a weaker arm than Kaaya, and sometimes he over compensates leaving poor mechanics and misfires. However, he has athleticism, and a game acumen to excel in short to intermediate passing. He can find a job as a backup and in a pinch can complete passes and make a needed start or two. While his ceiling is not very high, being a relied on backup is a more valuable job than ever in the NFL, and that is what he should be.
8. Davis Webb, Cal
There is Davis Webb hype out there. It comes from the fact that he is tall, has a strong arm, and speaks well. Who else has this skill set? Brock Osweiler. Webb’s ability to handle pressure is poor. He throws off of his back foot, and a lot of his throws turn into pray and heave situations. Webb is a system quarterback and has not shown an ability to make reads or plays on his own. He is a developmental thought at best.
9. Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
Dobbs has a big arm and decent athleticism. He also has the footwork to handle pressure, and buy time in the pocket. His pocket presence gives you some stock to buy into, but his accuracy makes him a developmental shot in the dark at best.
10. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Kelly likely has the most arm talent of the three in this tier. Still, he has an overconfidence in his arm and has no regard for footwork, arm slot, or where defenders are when he lets go of his passes. He will heave passes into all sorts of danger and it leaves you scratching your head at times. Add in some off-field questions and a current ACL injury and it is tough to expect any sort of NFL career from Chad Kelly.