2019 NFL Draft: Two college QBs could join Mahomes, Wentz as the next saviors of the deep ball
Drew Lock, Tyree Jackson have the skills to join an NFL group of young guns who can keep the deep ball from vanishing
The NFL is being infused with big, rocket-armed quarterbacks who just might stage a coup against the dink-and-dunk, high completion percentage trend in today's game.
Five seasons ago, in 2013, the league average completion percentage was 61.2 percent. A decade before that, it was 58.8. In 1993 ... 57.9. In 1973, it was 52 percent.
In fact, 2006 was the last year the league average for completion percentage was under 60. Of course, quarterbacks haven't magically gotten more accurate over the years. It's just that their offensive coordinators aren't asking them to throw the football as far down the field as often.
Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz, Josh Allen, and 2019 draft prospects Drew Lock and Tyree Jackson all have cannons as right arms that could catalyze a future of NFL quarterbacking that very well may feature the deep ball being back in style. Let's call them the Deep Ball Savior Coalition (DBSC).
About the DBSC, we've got to start with truly how strong each member's arm really is.
Here are the respective velocity figures from the combine for the three quarterbacks already in the NFL:
Allen was the only quarterback to throw over 60 miles per hour at the 2018 combine, and his 62 mph toss was the fastest recorded in the event's history. Wentz's 57 mph was the third-fastest at the 2016 combine, and Mahomes' 55 mph was the second-fastest in 2017.
Does Mahomes' 55 mph seem low to you? Me too. There is video evidence he can throw a football harder than that.
In the preseason, Mahomes gave the league fair warning of the power his arm can generate with this bomb to Tyreek Hill that traveled just over 69 yards in the air and immediately went viral. In Week 1 against the Chargers, the cameraman had trouble keeping up with the speed of Mahomes' passes, a phenomenon I've never witnessed, but one likely to continue.
Tell me I'm not the only one who thought the ball was never going to come back into the screen in some bizarre Madden-like glitch. While Allen hasn't connected on a deep shot yet, his college film was highlighted with absurd demonstrations of his Herculean arm. And he came thisclose to finding fellow rookie Robert Foster in his first preseason game ... on a pass that went 64 yards before hitting the ground.
And this isn't cherry-picking long balls from the pro members of DBSC to artificially improve their reputation as aggressive, downfield shot takers.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, through two games in the 2018 season, Mahomes leads the NFL with a gargantuan "Intended Air Yards" (IAY) per pass of 12.1. Guess who's currently in second? Josh Allen at an even 12.0. All IAY measures is "the average Air Yards a passer throws on all attempts."
In 2017, Wentz finished fourth in IAY at 9.9 yards. Fellow youngster Deshaun Watson, who's not necessarily known for his arm but might eventually join DBSC, led the league at 11.2 on his 204 attempts as a rookie, and he's currently tied with Allen at 12.0 this season.
I could wax poetic about Lock's rifle, but it's more fun for you if I embed some video.
That was about 67 yards in the air, with a defender falling into his lower half. Not to mention, the throw came from the far hash mark.
You can be mesmerized by the rest of his highlights from 2017 here.
As for Jackson -- at the moment, the least known quarterback I've put in DBSC -- he's a 6-foot-7, 245-pound marvel who's shredding defenses this season with 12 touchdowns and one pick in three games.
Last year, he fired the football just under 60 yards and connected with his receiver for a score against Army.
Although Lock and Jackson can let it rip upwards of nearly two-thirds of the length of the entire field, like the rest of the members of DBSC, they routinely throw with immense velocity at the intermediate level, which for them isn't just 15 yards down the field.
I won't be surprised if Lock and Jackson hit somewhere in the 55-62 mph range when they throw in Indianapolis in early March of 2019. Jackson already has a 75-yard touchdown pass in 2018. Lock has a 59-yarder and a 70-yarder. And none of those were on screen plays.
Members of DBSC come from a variety of lineages and backgrounds.
Mahomes is the son of a former Major League Baseball pitcher. Allen grew up on a farm in a small, rural town in California and didn't receive a Division 1 scholarship directly out of high school. Lock was a four-star recruit and the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country in 2015, according to 247 Sports. Per Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated, Wentz said most of his collegiate offers were "Missouri Valley teams and a bunch of FCS teams" before he decided to head to North Dakota State. Jackson was rated by 247 Sports as the nation's No. 37 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2015, way down the list behind names like Kyler Murray, Jarrett Stidham, Sam Darnold, and Lamar Jackson.
But they've all been blessed with monster arms and have shown a willingness to utilize their rare, natural talent to the nth degree while playing the quarterback position. Collectively, they can save the deep ball from extinction.
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