The Fabrication of Quarterbacks

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The Fabrication of Quarterbacks
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes changes to play at the line of scrimmage during the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual between Washington and Ohio State, on January 01, 2019 in Pasadena, California. The Ohio State Buckeyes top the Washington Huskies 28-23 at Rose Bowl. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

We do this every year. Every year we as fans, media, and analysts discuss the top quarterbacks in the draft. While every class has a top quarterback, they aren’t always high-end prospects or the next franchise saviors, despite how hyped up they get.

The truth of the matter is that not every class has quarterbacks that are franchise changers, and we, as fans, should recognize and be okay with that. The growing myth is that there needs to be a strong quarterback class in order to attract fans towards the NFL draft. That’s not necessarily the case anymore though. As years pass there seems to be more coverage of the draft as fans get more engaged in the processes. Because of this, you don’t need the allure of top quarterbacks to bring the views on the draft class.

The moral behind this is: don’t fabricate a high-end quarterback prospect out of nowhere.

The Fabrication of Quarterbacks

The Tragic Tale of the 2013 NFL Draft

The biggest example of this happened just a short six years ago, in 2013. Flashback to draft day and you see only one quarterback was taken in the first round, E.J Manuel (13th overall). I think it’s safe to say that even that was a reach, and appeared to be then as well. Geno Smith was the next quarterback off the board, going 39th overall to the New York Jets.

This may be a bit overdramatic as this year’s class is not on this level of bad, but you see the point. With the growing need for a franchise single caller in today’s NFL though, the truth is you will reach for a quarterback whether their true value is there or not. That’s just the demand that the position has.

Last Year Spoiled Us as Fans

Five quarterbacks. Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of last years draft. Because of this, we seem to be spoiled when it comes to quarterback play and talent. Sam Darold and Josh Rosen were guys talked about as top quarterbacks since they stepped on their college football fields. Then there’s Baker Mayfield, the journeyman quarterback who overcame all odds, won a Heisman trophy, then was selected first overall. Next comes Josh Allen, the prototypical quarterback with accuracy issues but a rocket arm to make all the throws you want.  Don’t forget the electric Lamar Jackson who lit the collegiate world on fire with his legs and arm.

No matter your outlook on the class entering the draft there was no denying it was a stacked quarterback class and the returns have already shown promise to most guys.

This Year: Let’s Break It Down

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Haskins is the definition of a pocket passing quarterback. He prefers to sit in the pocket and throw rather than escape with his legs. This isn’t an insult, as he understands how to step up to avoid pressure climbing the pocket accordingly. He has great arm strength and can really rifle the ball downfield. The problem is that he often shies away from doing so. Instead, Haskins prefers to check down to the short and intermediate levels of the field and ignore the downfield targets. Further development in downfield passing and poise in big situations is much needed for Haskins to develop into a true franchise single caller.

Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

A true wildcard for the position, Murray might just have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this year’s class. But like any other prospect, he has his flaws. Of course, the first thing you notice on tape is his rare athleticism for the position. Despite being an undersized quarterback Murray doesn’t show many signs of it limiting his game. Typically, shorter quarterbacks have problems with batted passes, which isn’t the case with Murray, having only five this past season. Now some of that credit does go to his offensive line being the best in the nation.

As a passer Murray has great arm talent. He can generate great velocity on the ball and really zip it downfield. His accuracy is more general than pinpoint, but he makes up for it with the ability to fit throws in tight windows downfield. And of course, when all else fails he can make something happen with his legs.

Now here’s where I have my hesitations with Murray as a prospect. Murray tends to not be a great decision maker. He relies on his athleticism and arm talent over the ins and outs of the quarterback position. He also struggles to handle pressure well, preferring to leave the pocket on the first glimpse of pressure. Luckily for him, it was hidden at Oklahoma due to their quality line play. Murray can also be skirmish at times, looking flustered in the pocket and not knowing what to do with the ball. this can certainly lead to turnovers at the next level.

Overall, Murray is a true playmaker for the position and has tremendous upside. He has his faults, but they can certainly be fixed with more practice and development at the position. Him fully committing to football is a good sign and could lead to great returns with development coming at one position instead of him splitting time between two sports.

Brett Rypien, Boise State

As crazy as it sounds Rypien might end up as the third best quarterback in this year’s class for me. No, he doesn’t get the hype the other do, but he also doesn’t have some of the same concerns I presented with the others.

Rypien may not have the strongest arm in the world but he understands how to throw with anticipation and often throws his receivers open. Many times, on tape you see him drop buckets to his receivers where only they could catch them. Accuracy is slightly above average. Ball Placement can be spotty at times though, as he tends to make some ill-advised throws not understanding what it is, he sees.

Rypien isn’t afraid to sit in the pocket and take big hits as long as he can get his throws off, and he does exactly so. He does have a smaller, slimmer frame which might scare some team as well. Though he may never be a high-end starter, Rypien has the potential to develop and be in the league for a long time.

Drew Lock, Missouri

Strong-armed quarterbacks, the NFL loves them. There is no denying that Lock has all the arm strength in the world but that doesn’t take away from his other issues that are prevalent. Lock has the height, weight, and physical tools that the NFL will love. Many teams will fall for these tools and convince themselves that they can fix the rest. Ultimately this will lead to Lock being reached for come draft time, especially in a weak quarterback class. He has made some amazing throws, which will likely draw many fans and scouts in. However, his highs and lows are too far apart for him to be a starting quarterback, especially early on in his career. Because of this, he will be a project for any team who drafts him.

Lock’s limited mobility will hinder him, especially in today’s NFL. Not only will he have to prove he can extend plays with his feet when needed he will also have to learn how to properly navigate a pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. For him to reach his ceiling he will have to learn how to face pressure with ease and learn to continue past his first read more consistently.

It is obvious that Lock has the arm talent and strength wanted in the league. His accuracy could improve but is overall decent enough. Improvements on Lock’s situational awareness are much needed. Learning how to slow the game down, especially when the game gets tough will be huge at the NFL level. Early on Lock should be a backup. If he can improve on some of the things listed above, he could become a starter down the road but will be a big project for whoever drafts him.

Daniel Jones, Duke

Jones got a lot of hype as the season winded down which has since seemed to cool a little. Still, he projects as a potential first-round pick, which is something I can not get behind. Jones tends to get stuck on his first read far too often and lacks the arm accuracy to consistently push the ball downfield more past the intermediate areas of the field. Jones has shown he has the smarts to understand the position just hasn’t put most of it together yet.

Last Word

While this year’s class has some big names, it lacks the overall high-end play needed for franchise single callers. At the end of the day, it is best to look at the class how it really is. The quarterback prospects may not be as rich as years past but that shouldn’t lead to the fabrication of so. A realistic outlook of the class as a whole shows an underwhelming group who has a lot of potentials, but each comes with massive concerns in some parts of their games.

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