2019 NFL Draft: Ranking all 13 quarterbacks to know, from Drew Lock to Kyle Shurmur
Here's a comprehensive examination of the 2019 draft class of quarterbacks
By now you know -- the 2019 draft class of quarterbacks isn't remotely comparable to the famed 2018 class.
That doesn't mean the entire group should be cast aside and ignored completely. There are a few signal-callers who -- in the right environments -- can be franchise leaders as well as an adequate collection of potential spot starters with quality backup floors.
This is the first installment in a position-by-position breakdown of the rankings of prospects you need to know in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Franchise QBs ... if they land in nearly perfect situations
1. Drew Lock, Missouri
2. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
3. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The caveat after "franchise quarterbacks" above was necessary because none of these prospects are instant team saviors who can mask flaws and raise the level of the entire team. And that's not something I envision any of these signal-callers doing even after Year Two. Lock is my top quarterback prospect for many reasons. He has loads of experience, and I noticed clear-cut improvements with his accuracy -- which still needs some work -- pocket presence, and decision-making in 2018, particularly down the stretch. Also, he has high-end arm strength for the NFL level and rarely is afraid to make a throw down the field through a tight window. Plus, he's a good athlete. The fadeaway tosses need to be left in Columbia, Missouri though.
Murray is a pretty poised pocket passer, especially given his knowledge that he could take off and run for at least 10 yards on seemingly every play in the Big 12. He has an NFL arm, and I didn't notice major accuracy issues to any level of the field. While mostly patient inside the pocket, there are times when he leaves a bit prematurely and starts to create with his legs. That's when he morphs into Michael Vick, although Vick had more overall juice down the field. Murray will make defenders at any position look silly in space.
Haskins is fascinating because you look at 50 touchdowns and just eight picks at a 70 percent completion rate, and you instantly think ... first overall pick? And while his skill set is ahead of 95 percent of first-year starters at the collegiate level, I have concerns with his intermediate and downfield accuracy as well as his ability to maneuver inside the pocket and make on-target throws. I didn't see much of that in 2018. However, he is a deft, full-field reader and clearly wants to win from inside the pocket -- two major pluses to his game. He routinely puts perfect touch on seam throws over linebackers. Ohio State's scheme helped him more than Oklahoma's helped Murray.
Potential to be quality spot starters/decent backups
4. Ryan Finley, NC State
5. Daniel Jones, Duke
6. Will Grier, West Virginia
7. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
8. Brett Rypien, Boise State
9. Easton Stick, North Dakota State
10. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
This might seem like too many quarterbacks for this category. I get that. The further away you get from No. 4 (Finley), the closer you get to the "decent backup" distinction.
For the longest time, my NFL comparison for Finley was (and probably will ultimately be) Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins signal-caller is better moving away from pressure inside the pocket, but after watching Finley over the past two seasons, I still think that comparison is perfect. He doesn't have a great arm but can make long throws across or down the field on occasion. Accuracy is good to all levels. Pressure overwhelms him too often, and he can make high-quality anticipation throws toward the sideline to make up for his lack of velocity. Also, there's some scrambling ability. That's Finley. That's Tannehill.
As for Jones, he has a strange tendency to make throws fading away from his target. His feet can be leading his body to the left and he'll throw to the right side of the field with barely any momentum behind the football. He works the short areas of the field awesomely and will drop some in the bucket on occasion. He has problems resetting his feet when his first read isn't there and can hold onto the ball too long when pressure is mounting. Get him in a West Coast Offense, and Jones can be decent.
Grier doesn't have an NFL arm. And, like Jones, when he has to reset his feet, things get ugly with his otherwise pinpoint accuracy and velocity. There are loads of tremendous throws down the sideline on his film. His decision-making needs work.
Jackson has monstrous size, a huge arm, and he's super aggressive. He also showed flashes of the calmness needed to step up into the pocket away from edge pressure, but it's not his forte. Neither is rapidly getting through his progressions. The long balls and tight-window rockets are alluring.
If Rypien were a little bigger with a stronger arm and more athleticism, he'd be in the first-round conversation. I really believe that. He's incredibly experienced and it shows. He's the most polished quarterback in the class. He makes accurate throws to second and third reads. Awesome footwork. Downfield dimes. Pocket-drifting mastery (at times). Other times he doesn't feel pressure mounting. The ball can explode of his hand on long throws to the sideline or down the seam. In other instances, his arm strength leaves a little to be desired and gets him in trouble.
Stick is almost always perfectly balanced with feet and shoulders aligned when he throws the football. You can tell he's been well coached. His arm is Rypien-like, and he can occasionally turn into a runner too early inside the pocket, although he can step up and away from pressure in some instances. Impressive accuracy too.
Though they have different skill sets, I have Jackson, Rypien, and Stick graded very closely. Thorson is someone I can see rising up boards over the next few months because he checks a lot of traditional boxes. Size. Arm strength. Experience. His best plays are franchise-quarterback like. It's just that he's not consistent moving away from pressure, resetting, and unloading a rocket to his second read. His decision-making is questionable, and he should be more patient in the pocket for how experienced he is.
11. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
12. Gardner Minshew, Washington State
13. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
Once the recipient of first-round buzz, Stidham fell off across the board in 2018. He's not very poised inside the pocket, and for every dime he drops down the field, there are two or three bad misfires on what should be easy completions. Stidham does have an NFL arm, and he can make good throws from many arm platforms. He needs to get faster through his reads.
Like most Mike Leach Air Raid quarterbacks, Minshew flies through his progressions and is willing to wait for someone to come open. His arm is severely lacking -- particularly when forced off his initial drop -- and his pocket management leaves a little to be desired.
Shurmur is kind of a mix of Stidham and Minshew but is more clunky inside the pocket. He has a decent arm with decent accuracy and the ability to move to his second read. He's not a full-field reading master and can be perplexed by different coverages. His experience will likely land him on a practice squad early in his career.
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