The football season may be over, but draft season is upon us. The NFL Draft is my 2nd favorite sporting event behind the Super Bowl. That may seem odd, why pick the draft over March Madness, the NBA Finals, or even the CFB Playoff? Well, like most NFL fans the draft brings optimism back into their frame of mind when thinking about their beloved teams. Saturday, April 29th, pay attention to how many people on Twitter and Facebook promise that their team is going to the playoffs next year after the draft ends. I guarantee you will be able to find a post from a fan of each of the 32 NFL teams. Also, I’m a numbers and film fanatic, the long process that leads up to draft intrigues me. Okay, enough with the introduction let me explain the new series my co-author and I are introducing.
Geoffrey Leins, my co-author, and I are both aspiring to enter the NFL scouting world after graduation and preparing for that profession unfortunately isn’t included in any of our course work. So with both of us eager to learn about our dream job, Geoffrey suggested jumping in full force and doing our own analysis of prospects by watching film, keeping up with the news, and briefly referring to scout’s work. Therefore, each week leading up to the draft Geoffrey and I will be releasing a post that evaluates the top 6 players in each position and 1 dark horse player that isn’t on people’s radar. Also, the week of the draft we will release a mock draft for the 1st round. Not only will this series be entertaining and a distraction from our tedious classes and grueling football workouts, but hopefully is a valuable experience that increases our knowledge and benefits us as we transition from college to the real world. I hope you enjoy.
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
- Height: 6’3, Weight: 215 lbs.
- 50 Total TDs (9 Rushing), 17 INTs, 67% Completion Rate
- 4,593 Passing Yards, 629 Rushing Yards
- 3 Year Starter
Strengths: Watson is the purest gametime baller at the quarterback position coming out this year. His ability to handle pressure and provide a spark to his team in the big moment is unmatched. The chemistry he has with his receivers, especially Mike Williams, is impressive, it’s clear he has great relationships with his receivers and spends extra time working with them (see video below). In the pocket his presence and footwork is excellent, which lead to the high completion rate he had this season. He has adequate running ability; however I believe that he will rarely have designed runs in the NFL, only rollouts and scrambles.
Weaknesses: Watson’s football IQ is questionable, he rarely audibled or changed the protection and struggles reading routes and coverages. Now, I don’t know how much of that is on his lack of ability or on the offensive coordinator in his ear telling him exactly what to do on each play. However, Tajh Boyd came out of Clemson with the same red flags and look how he turned out in the NFL. The 17 interceptions he had this past year are concerning and many of them came on rollout throws, which surprisingly is the achilles heal of his game.
Overall: I have been very critical of Watson over the past year, but the 2 College Football Playoff games have swayed my opinion of him. Watson’s ability to thrive in pressure situations is highly impressive and will translate nicely when he takes an NFL field next season. I believe his weaknesses aren’t overwhelming and are fixable with the right offensive mind on staff. He will be a solid pro quarterback with the ability to be great if he listens
and learns well in his first few years.
- Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
- Height: 6’3, Weight: 220 lbs.
- 35 Total TDs (5 Rushing), 6 INTs (Most efficient QB), 68% Completion Rate
- 3,748 Passing Yards, 308 Rushing Yards
- 1st Year Starter
Strengths: Trubisky is a QB with a high football IQ and a drive to win. He shows poise in the pocket, but he also knows when to take off and run. The fact that he can throw accurately on the run makes him even more of a weapon. He displays great accuracy in passes all over the field and gets the ball out quick. He’s a guy that can manage the clock and he uses all of his offensive weapons. He will also take the check-down route if nothing else is open.
Weaknesses: The fact that he only started 1 year showed up at moments on tape. He’s often “locked-on” to a receiver, which makes a DB’s life pretty easy (Stanford clip). Also, against Stanford he seemed flustered in the first half while trying to adjust to all the pressure from Stanford’s front 7. If he is a starter Day 1 in the NFL, he has to learn how to notice disguised coverages and exotic blitzes fast. Another thing to watch is the fact that UNC is not a pro-style offense. They ran a lot of screens and short passes and he never operated under center. He will have to learn how to take snaps under center in the NFL.
Overall: I am a huge fan of Trubisky. Sure, he doesn’t have a lot of starts, but I think he has the ability to pick up on the NFL style rather quickly. He also didn’t receive any ACC awards because of the 2 Heisman candidates that are also in the ACC (Watson and Jackson). When watching his film, I saw a lot of plays that Trubisky made that were left on the field by his receivers, especially in the bowl game. I think he is a first-round talent and very well could be the best QB that comes out of this rather weak QB draft class. I see a lot of Alex Smith in his game in the essence that he can be a game-manager with a high football IQ and can occasionally make plays with his feet.
- DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
- Height: 6’4, Weight: 230 lbs.
- 34 Total TDs (8 Rushing), 9 INTs, 59% Completion Rate
- 2,925 Passing Yards, 472 Rushing Yards
- 2 Year Starter
Strengths: Kizer’s size and frame is perfect for a NFL quarterback. His completion rating is lower than one would like for this past year, but a few percentage points can be accompanied to the lack of talent around him. Kizer has a great knack for tight windows over the middle and time after time he impresses with throws in that area of the field (see video below). The running ability he has is underrated and goes hand in hand with the exceptional playmaking capability his possesses.
Weaknesses: His game isn’t 100% buttoned up yet. I know that is expected out of a rookie; however his youth shows up on game film with little mishaps that are causes for concern. One of the major flags is his poor performance in the redzone. Multiple times each game he telegraphs passes causing his team to settle for field goals and sometimes he even throws crucial interceptions. Nothing is more frustrating to a coach than a quarterback who is unable to lead his offense to touchdowns.
Overall: Out of all the quarterback prospects for this years draft I believe that Kizer has the biggest ceiling. His shear size and raw talent are hard to come by. The inexperience in parts of his game are slightly concerning, although they can easily disappear within a few years experience in the league. In a couple years there will a be debate on who is the most productive quarterback from this draft class and I believe Kizer will barely beat out Trubisky.
- Chad Kelly (Ole Miss)
- Height: 6’2, Weight: 224 lbs.
- 24 Total TDs (5 Rushing), 8 INTs, 63% Completion Rate
- 2,758 Passing Yards, 332 Rushing Yards (Missed 3 games due to injury)
- 2 Year Starter
Strengths: Kelly is a confident QB that has good arm strength and accuracy. He can make plays with his arm and with his feet. Kelly makes tight throws and has a quick release. He also trusts everyone on the field to make plays, distributing the ball to everyone. He displays toughness against good teams and poise in the pocket. He also gives great effort to break tackles when scrambling. An impressive stat is that he completed 66.7 percent of his passes when on the move this past season.
Weaknesses: As everyone knows, Kelly has had his fair share of issues off the field. A lot of teams want their QBs to be leaders and role models. Kelly is not one of them. He has shown flashes of greatness, but he is very inconsistent. Having an inconsistent QB is something that NFL teams hate. Kelly also does not have the prototypical QB frame either. His technique gets abandoned quickly and sometimes rushes throws that any college QB should be able to make.
Overall: A lot of people are skeptical of Kelly, and for good reason. Kelly has shown flashes of greatness and flashes of mediocrity. He has enough talent to get an opportunity in the league and it is up to him to make the most of it. If he can get his act together and become healthy, he could range from a lower-tier starter to being a top-tier backup. Even if Kelly’s team lost, he always displayed toughness in the pocket and is a great competitor.
- Brad Kaaya (Miami)
- Height: 6’4, Weight: 215 lbs.
- 28 Total TDs (1 Rushing), 7 INTs, 62% Completion Rate
- 3,532 Passing Yards, Negative Rushing Yards
- 3 Year Starter
Strengths: Kaaya’s arm strength is fantastic and his ability is read coverages is top notch. Also, he worked under center as well as in shotgun, which will lead him to be more comfortable in pro style offenses. His football IQ is high, he has a great grasp on the concept of deception from the quarterback position, constantly he is looking off safeties creating open throwing lines and throwing off the defenses during play action.
Weaknesses: In the pocket, Kaaya consistently has a wide base leading to some red flags. His proficiency while handling pressure is low causing him to take more sacks and throw more inaccurate passes (see video below). Extending plays is not something you see from Kaaya frequently due in part to his wide base and also his lack of running ability.
Overall: Kaaya’s future to become a franchise quarterback is far fetched, but that doesn’t mean that a team won’t take a chance on him during day 2 of the draft. His raw throwing talent will carry over well, although his mechanics in the pocket need upgrading, which makes me hesitant to put him high up on the board. I believe his running ability won’t have a major impact on his game during the next level. Kaaya will be a sound backup quarterback for many years who comes in when his starting quarterback is hurt and plays average, efficient games.
- Davis Webb (Cal)
- Height: 6’5, Weight: 225 lbs.
- 37 Total TDs (6 Rushing), 12 INTs, 61% Completion Percentage
- 4295 Passing Yards, Negative Rushing Yards
- 2 Year Starter
Strengths: Webb is a tall quarterback with a high release point, so balls don’t get deflected very often. He can get the ball out quick once he makes the decision of where the ball is going. Webb is a Texas Tech transfer that took over halfway through his freshman year, he also took the starting job from Baker Mayfield. He then transferred after Pat Mahomes took his spot and he was battling injury and sickness. He transferred to Cal and demonstrated that he can throw the ball in 2 different systems.
Weaknesses: Just like Goff last year, Webb’s team had a losing record. Even though his team put up points, they didn’t win. Webb also struggles dealing with pressure and exotic schemes. He gets flustered easily and makes poor decisions when pressure is in his face. He turned the ball over 15 times this past season, which shows he can be careless with the ball. He also throws checkdown routes often and 65% of his passes are under 10 yards. When throwing deep passes, he can be inconsistent with accuracy (see video below). His stats also are inflated because he threw the ball 620 times this season, his passes averaged a measly 6.9 yards per catch.
Overall: It was tough to determine who goes here, Webb or Nathan Peterman from Pitt. Webb gets the spot because his ceiling is higher. Davis Webb will be a developmental QB in the NFL, but one with a higher ceiling than a majority of the class. Neither of the offenses he ran are pro-style so he will definitely need coaching. Webb needs to work on his deep passes, since that is where the majority of his interceptions came. Webb can be a starter in the league, and he can lead explosive offenses. He has to work on his accuracy and he needs to get in a system where he can excel.
Dark Horse: Brady Gustafson (Montana – FCS)
- Height: 6’7, Weight: 235 lbs.
- 27 Total TDs (2 Rushing), 8 INTs, 66% Completion Rate
- 2,785 Passing Yards, 11 Rushing Yards (Missed 2 games)
- 2 Year Starter
Strengths: As you can see above his size is favorable, although that is not his finest quality. His tremendous arm strength is almost unmatched by anyone else in this years draft class. Surprisingly his accuracy is greater down the field than it is within 10 yards (see video below). He has a quick release that could turn out to be a valuable asset.
Weaknesses: The biggest red flag is the same one that was tagged on Carson Wentz last year, how will he perform against better competition. I don’t believe his transition will go as well as Wentz’s did this past season. Gustafson has lazy feet in the pocket that lead him to be sacked almost every time pressure came close to him. Also, as noted above his poor accuracy for quick and short routes makes any NFL scout uneasy.
Overall: I see Gustafson being the next Mike Glennon. Yeah, I know what a great comparison. Anyhow, both stand tall (Glennon is 6’6) and have great arm strength, but lack playmaking ability and ample talent that hinders them from being a starting quarterback. He will go day 3 of the draft and be a backup for many years and might even get shipped around the league a few times.
All stats included are from the 2016 season. Highlights included are from both the 2015 and 2016 season.
I encourage you to comment below and share your thoughts and feelings on who you think will win this week or the weeks to come. Also, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to discuss the playoff in more detail or talk about any sports topics you would like for me write about in the future.