2019 NFL Draft: An early introduction to the potential top QBs in next year's draft
Let's peek ahead at the possible headliners in the 2019 draft class of quarterbacks
With the ultra-hyped quarterback prospects from the 2018 draft set for minicamps with their new NFL teams, it's time to look ahead to next year's crop of signal-callers.
It's a group that won't garner nearly as much hype as the Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph crew, but there certainly will be teams in the quarterback market early in the 2019 draft.
Here's an early introduction to the potential top passers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Experience: Finley has already started two seasons for the Wolfpack. He completed 65.1 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2017. He's tall, with a somewhat lanky build. Above-average athlete who can pick up first downs with his legs on scrambles or naked bootlegs.
Strengths: Quick delivery, rhythmic passer in the short-to-intermediate ranges. Good, not great arm. Impressive downfield accuracy but didn't push the ball deep often. Flashes of refined pocket drifting and pocket patience. Can read the entire field. Overall accuracy is reliable. Made a handful of tremendous anticipation throws toward the sideline. Willing to stand in and take a hit as he throws. Good athlete and scrambler.
Weaknesses: Has a tendency to move out of clean pockets after his first few reads aren't open, and he must get faster moving through his progressions. Velocity lacks at times. Accuracy is solid, yet his ball placement isn't at this point.
Early comparison: Ryan Tannehill
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Experience: Lock has been Missouri's starter since October of 2015. Had a crazy, roller-coaster of a season in 2017. Started with a seven-touchdown performance, then had back-to-back games with completion percentages under 50. After that, he completed 60.1 percent of his throws -- in a system with many vertical shots -- with 34 touchdowns and seven picks over the final nine games.
Strengths: Huge, live arm. Good size with athletic build. Ball pops off his hands and can really drive the ball on a line 35+ yards down the field with ease. Velocity is never an issue. Ultra-aggressive. Offense accentuated his arm strength and his supreme confidence to make any throw, especially downfield. Likes to sling it three-quarters and can quickly snap the football from different arm angles. All of those aspects of his game keep a defense on its toes all game. Delivered a variety of awe-inspiring lasers down the field in 2017. Did flash the willingness to stand in as inside pressure mounted.
Weaknesses: Moments of impressive movement ability but not a deft scrambler. Not very proficient quickly moving through his progressions and has a tendency to stay locked onto his first read for a long time; however, that could've been scheme-related. Bails at the first sign of pressure more often than you'd like and will vacate clean pockets. When facing inside pressure, he likes to fade away from his throws, which causes high passes. At times didn't feel the pocket caving in around him. Had some bad-decision interceptions. Overall accuracy is good but does have instances of ugly misses. Must get calmer inside the pocket when he's not kept perfectly clean. Accuracy wanes on the run.
Early comparison: Matthew Stafford
Experience: Has started 15 games over two seasons at Oregon with a 34 to nine touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 65.3 percent completion rate. Broke his collarbone during the 2017 season but returned and finished with six touchdowns and three picks at 66.3 percent completion.
Strengths: Requisite height, springy athlete for the QB spot. Quicker than fast but has some long speed. Rapid three-quarter delivery. Impressive pocket patience. Despite his athletic talents, he's not quick to leave the pocket and does like to keep his head up when improvising. Strong but not ridiculous arm. Reliable accuracy.
Weaknesses: Can hang onto the ball too long. Drifted into pressure occasionally and missed free rushers coming at him. Decision-making is below-average, especially after ad-libbing. Deep ball leaves a little to be desired. Needs to get better reading the entire field but wasn't solely a half-field reader in 2017.
Early comparison: Marcus Mariota
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Experience: Started his career at Baylor, where he completed nearly 69 percent of his throws with 12 touchdowns and two picks in 10 games as a freshman. Had 18 touchdowns and six picks at 66.5 percent completion during his first year as Auburn's starter in 2017. Yards per attempt dipped from 11.6 as a freshman to 8.8 last season. Has now played in two screen-heavy offenses, and Gus Malzahn runs an option-based system.
Strengths: Above-average athlete. Solid arm. Has a very fast, three-quarter-to-sidearm delivery. Displayed impressive improvisational skills against top competition. Rare moments of awesome pocket patience. Made many pinpoint accurate passes at the intermediate level through tight coverage.
Weaknesses: Fades away from passes downfield too often and seemingly throws the ball up for grabs instead of trying to drop it in the bucket. Not currently a full-field reader and isn't quick through his reads. Can get antsy inside the pocket as pressure mounts. Must improve his downfield accuracy and consistency throwing from a balanced base. Needs to show better ball placement when throwing on the run.
Early comparison: Andy Dalton
Experience: Began his career at Florida. Completed 65.6 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions before testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs with led to a year-long NCAA suspension. Transferred to West Virginia. Sat out 2016. Averaged 9.0 yards per attempt with 34 touchdowns and 12 picks last season. Has started 17 collegiate games.
Strengths: Pocket patience is ahead of his experience level. Likes to stand in and scan the field. Rarely feels the need to leave a clean pocket. Willing to take shots down the field. Accuracy isn't a concern at the short-to-intermediate levels.
Weaknesses: Just an average arm. Smaller build for the quarterback position at the next level. Throws too many reckless jump balls -- was bailed out by his receivers on most of those plays in 2017. Throws through the intermediate level and down the field tend to float and take an extra second to get to their intended target. Demonstrated bad decision-making under pressure at times in 2017.
Early comparison: Brian Hoyer
Experience: Has 36 starts currently on his college resume. Thus far, has tossed 60 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his Boise State career. Completed 62.6 percent of his throws last season.
Strengths: Often took big hit as he was throwing -- accurate -- passes down the field in 2017. Understands he needs to get off his first read quickly if it's unavailable. No wasted motion in his release. Naturally moves up in the pocket, which helps his offensive tackles. Short accuracy is impressive.
Weaknesses: Not an imposing physical specimen. Downfield accuracy is extremely hit or miss. Left many big plays on the field due to overthrows of open receivers deep. Some athleticism to avoid pressure but does tend to drop his head as pressure mounts. Arm strength is average, which hurts him on long throws across the field.
Early comparison: Josh McCown
Experience: Three full seasons of starting experience under his belt. In 2016, he threw for 43 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. In 2017, his touchdown number plummeted to 19 touchdowns, but he did boost his completion percentage from 62.1 to 68.5.
Strengths: Textbook, over-the-top delivery which allows him to get the most out of his arm strength. Natural pocket drifter who's capable of some super-creative scrambles and always keeps his head up against pressure and often finds an open target. Despite his average-at-best arm, he made a variety of long throws toward the sideline from the far hash. Consistent thrower from a solid base. Impressive accuracy all over the field. Ball-placement is not a concern. Deep-ball accuracy is good. Refined quarterback.
Weaknesses: Lacks size and typical arm strength for the position. Some longer passes take a while to arrive, and he can't reliably drive the football down the field. Tendency to try do too much when improvising, often reversing his field and taking sacks for big losses when throwing the ball away would've been the smarter decision.
Early comparison: Kirk Cousins
Experience: Has appeared in 39 games for the Wildcats. Completed 60.4 percent of his throws in 2017 -- a career high -- with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Tore his ACL in Northwestern's bowl game after making a catch on a trick play.
Strengths: Good-sized frame. NFL starting quarterback-caliber arm. Fundamentally sound delivery. Always locked and loaded and ready to release the football. Lower body stays married to his upper body when scanning the field. Somewhat quick through his progressions. Some athleticism to improvise.
Weaknesses: Accuracy is sporadic. While he has flashes of pocket patience, his overall lack of plus athleticism leads to him failing often when trying to elude pressure. Doesn't appear to be a natural pocket drifter. Downfield ball placement is below-average.
Early comparison: Jacoby Brissett
Experience: Penn State's starter for two full seasons -- 27 games. Completed 66.5 percent of his passes in 2017 at 8.4 yards per attempt with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Strengths: Natural improviser who can pick up yards in scramble drill but also routinely keeps his head up and will find open receivers outside of the structure of the play. Flashed some nice anticipation throws from the far hash toward the sideline.
Weaknesses: Undersized with below-average arm. Ball-placement needs work. Can move well away from pressure inside the pocket yet rarely resets his feet, which often leads to inaccurate passes or throws that float downfield. Deep-ball accuracy needs to be improved.
Early comparison: A.J. McCarron
Experience: Has appeared in 18 games for the Bulls. Completed 60.3 percent of his passes in 2017 at 8.8 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and three picks. Has also scored nine rushing touchdowns in his two collegiate seasons to date with 596 yards on the ground. Suffered a knee injury in September but returned alter in the season.
Strengths: Tall, muscular quarterback with above-average thickness for the position. Big arm he uses often to stretch the field. Great downfield accuracy. Plus athlete with supreme long speed. Can be used on designed runs and has the ability to accumulate major yardage with his legs. Can fire the football into tight windows at the intermediate levels and flashed nice touch in the red zone.
Weaknesses: Must become more calm, cool, and collected under pressure. Accuracy dips considerably if he throws after holding onto the ball for a while. Tends to leave the pocket early, choosing to pick up yards with his legs over staying patient to locate secondary and tertiary targets.
Early comparison: Cam Newton
Experience: Has made 25 targets for the Bulldogs. Currently has 39 touchdown passes and 21 picks at the college level at 6.7 yards per attempt. Suffered serious ankle injury in final regular season game of 2017.
Strengths: Good size. Quick release. Long-strider who can be a weapon in the designed quarterback run game, especially on the outside. Good overall athlete. Strong arm. Very tough. Will fight for extra yardage as a runner and stand in to make a throw as he's getting hit.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent accuracy, especially when he needs to make an anticipation throw. Doesn't appear to be very comfortable reading the entire field. Logical to use him on the run as a passer, but he often isn't set as he throws, which frequently leads to throws with poor ball placement.
Early comparison: DeShone Kizer
Daniel Jones, Duke
Experience: Two full seasons as Duke's starter. Has completed 59.7 percent of his throws with 30 touchdowns and 20 picks in those campaigns.
Strength: Traditional height. Good zip on those throws. Impressive athleticism despite his taller frame. Willing to make high-degree of difficulty throws into tight windows. Can get into a tremendous rhythm when kept clean, especially at the intermediate level.
Weaknesses: Tends to lose lower-body torque when pressured. Stands flat footed, and it negatively impacts his downfield accuracy. Overall ball-placement needs improvement. Athletic enough to make rushers miss at times but pocket presence and pocket management need work.
Early comparison: Christian Ponder
Experience: Started seven games for Ole Miss in 2017. Completed 63.8 percent of his throws at 8.4 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Tore his PCL in October. Granted permission to transfer to Michigan without having to sit out a season.
Strengths: Lightning quick delivery. Can snap the ball with three-quarter release like a shortstop to get the ball out in a hurry on screens or slants to maximize yards-after-the-catch opportunities. Throws with good velocity. Twitchy athlete who can make some defensive linemen and linebackers miss in space. Good speed too. Solid short accuracy.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have NFL size for the quarterback spot. Antsy after his first read is covered. If that doesn't cause him to instantly morph into a running back -- which happens too often -- and he does keep his head up to throw the football, his ball-placement is typically poor.
Early comparison: Drew Stanton
Easton Stick, North Dakota State
Experience: Has already appeared in 40 games for the Bison including the last two seasons as the full-time starter. Completed 62.1 percent of his throws at 9.3 yards per attempt with 28 touchdowns and eight picks in 2017. Also ran for 12 touchdowns and has averaged 6.0 yards per carry on 310 rushes in his career.
Strengths: Efficient runner. Used on many designed runs, and while he's not super twitchy, he's adequately fast and has some elusiveness. Quick release. Mobile inside the pocket. Overall accuracy is reliable. Capable of making throws downfield despite knowing a hit is coming. Footwork is typically good.
Weaknesses: Not an adept full-field reader. Only flashes of scanning the entire field. Can be quick to turn into a running back inside the pocket as pressure mounts and isn't very aware of pressure at times. Arm strength is average at best. Too often throws the ball to covered receivers. On the smaller side of the NFL quarterback size spectrum.
Early comparison: Colt McCoy
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