2019 NFL Draft QB Stock Watch: Big stat games for Ryan Finley, Justin Herbert, Will Grier
The marquee quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft class cruised against lesser competition
Though none were seriously tested, the top quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft class all performed well over the weekend, and another sleeper signal-caller has emerged who stands 6-foot-5, weighs 235 pounds and has a cannon for an arm.
Next week's the big week for three of these passers. NC State plays West Virginia. Auburn plays LSU. But here's Week 2's edition of Quarterback Stock Watch.
1. Ryan Finley, NC State: Stock Steady
You look at the stat line -- 31 of 38 for 370 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick -- and think this had to have been a clear-cut "stock up" game for Finley. But the interception was a bad underthrow on a pass into the end zone on one of NC State's patented play-action rollouts which featured an open receiver. Also, on the opening drive of the game, Finley was late on a stick route that should've been picked but was dropped.
Everything else was par for the course for Finley. He made one outstanding long, anticipation throw to the sideline, did execute a few rollouts perfectly and was patient inside the pocket. The veteran quarterback almost always understands where to go with the football and takes what the defense gives him. He'll pick apart zone defense, and he's not afraid to give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball against man. One of Finley's touchdowns was almost unfairly accurate into the hands of Thayer Thomas and away from two defenders. Big game next week against the high-powered offense of West Virginia led by Will Grier.
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Lock quickly snapped his head from read-to-read and made some impressive throws on what looked like his second or third looks. His accuracy wasn't an issue, and, of course, he stretched the defense with ease all game. His arm is ridiculous, and he has excellent back-shoulder timing with his wideouts, especially Emanuel Hall, who looks like a mid-round prospect at the very least.
Lock's ability to have patience in the pocket to get through his progressions is seemingly trending in the right direction. The occasional major mishap in that area still pops up though. In the first half, he stared down a receiver to his left, drifted out of a totally clean pocket and zinged a pass that should've been intercepted.
Beyond that, he was surgical in the 40-13 win over Missouri. He went 33 of 45 for 398 yards with four scores and no picks. Also, Lock flashed some plus athleticism on his touchdown scramble and when he kept the ball on a read-option look. Two of his touchdowns were gently lofted touch passes to his tight end off play action.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon: Stock Up, Slightly
No shocker early -- for the second-straight week, Oregon had vastly more talent than its opponent, and it really showed in the yards-after-the-catch department. Herbert's live arm, ability to make anticipation throws and springy athleticism make him a very decisive thrower of the football.
Like he did in the season-opener, the junior quarterback unloaded a pinpoint laser to the back portion of the end zone for a score and showed a few plays with an antsy tendency in the pocket when his first few looks weren't available. Herbert finished 20 of 26 for 250 yards with four touchdown passes and no picks.
4. Will Grier, West Virginia: Stock Up
Grier shook off a bad early pick -- he was forced to his left and didn't see an underneath defender near the sidelines -- to shred the Youngstown State defense en route to completing 21 of 26 passes for 326 yards with four scores. Later in the first half, he connected with one of his pass-catchers on a similar play to that of the interception.
He was patient behind his offensive line -- which dominated -- for the vast majority of the game and checked through his progressions on a few plays. As has become one of Grier's trademarks, he worked the intermediate level well. The ball was noticeably slow to its target on a few of the longer throws he made. One of his touchdowns was gorgeous -- he looked off the deep safety then came back to his right and put the ball in perfect location in the back of the end zone. Grier did miss a wide open touchdown down the seam in the second half, but all in all, a good day for the West Virginia quarterback against an FCS opponent. No surprise.
5. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: Stock Steady
Not much to glean from Auburn's 63-9 thrashing of Alabama State for Stidham. He went 6 of 11 for 113 yards, and 57 of those yards came on a deep-strike touchdown to a wide open Anthony Schwartz.
Huge litmus test for Stidham awaits on Saturday when the LSU Tigers come to town.
Honorable Mention: Steven Montez, Colorado
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback went 33 of 50 for 351 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Buffaloes' comeback win over Big 12 rival Nebraska. He launched 40-yard dime to budding superstar Laviska Shenault with close to a minute remaining to give Colorado the lead in Lincoln.
I'm placing Montez in the "deep sleeper" category for now, because his pocket presence is severely lacking, and, like last year, I didn't see him make full-field reads often -- if at all -- on Saturday. But the ball rockets out of his hands, he's a plus athlete and displayed impressive downfield touch. Montez, right now, is the definition of a raw, "toolsy" quarterback prospect.
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