I was taught a long time ago that the NFL is a year-round business. The season may only last from September-February, but the wheels are constantly in motion for NFL franchises. The scouts will have their assignments and they'll be delving into the tape, ready for the new college football season. Well we're doing the same thing. We're highlighting 10 college football quarterbacks that we think you should keep an eye on.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has signed on for one more year. Geno Smith is in the last year of his contract. Bryce Petty still has a lot of work to do to convince us he's the QB of the future, and Christian Hackenberg is the great unknown. So I thought it was wise to start this series with a look at the field general, the most important position on the football field. The Quarterbacks.
I'm going to place a disclaimer right here. These are likely to shift throughout the year, perceptions on players change constantly, so I reserve the right to change my mind on a week-to-week basis. However here is my list based purely on what I've seen so far, and what I expect in 2017.
#1 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
67.8% completion percentage, 4000+ yards, 35 TD's and just 13 INT's. The numbers speak for themselves.
Watson is an incredible prospect brimming with pro potential. He has a quick compact delivery with plenty of pop behind it. He can put some serious mustard on the ball, but he also shows the ability to drop passes into tight coverages. He shows an advanced ability to escape pressure and complete passes on the move. His 1000+, 12 TD rushing performance last year shows how dangerous he is when he gets outside the pocket. He'll need to pack on a little muscle and work on becoming a better pocket passer, but the sky's the limit.
#2 Brad Kaaya, Miami
61.2% completion percentage, 3238 yards, 16 TD's to 5 INT's.
Kaaya still has a lot of work to do, but after starting as a freshman and a sophomore, I fully expect him to take that next step. He has the build that teams covert in a QB, and his delivery is smooth and effortless which bodes well for the future. He shows an ability to fire passes in and play with touch. He does need to become a better pocket passer, his mechanics break down under pressure and he'll need to show an ability to read defenses accurately after playing in a spread system.
#3 Luke Falk, Washington State
69.4% completion percentage, 4561 yards, 38 TD's to 8 INT's
The first thing to note about Falk is that he plays in a Mike Leach spread system, so his numbers are always going to look good in the spread that they deploy. I saw Falk on a couple of occasions last year and his ability to move in the pocket really impressed me. It also seemed as though he was reading the field and working to both sides, something you don't often see in a spread. He's got good height and a good set of physical tools. Expect another big year from Falk.
#4 Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
65.1% completion percentage, 4042 yards, 31 TD's to 13 INTs
It wouldn't completely astound me if Chad Kelly ended up being the best QB and the first one off the board in 2017. Not only did he throw the ball with accuracy, read defenses and deliver passes with velocity, he also ran for 500 yards and 10 TD's. The problem with Kelly is that he's a risk taker, it looks as though he reads the defence, sees an easy short completion, but elects for the dangerous long one. Sometimes it works, sometimes he gets picked off. If he can improve his decision making, he could be very good at the next level.
#5 Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
68.1% completion percentage. 3700 yards, 36 TD's to 7 INT's.
Like Watson and Kelly, Mayfield can hurt you with his arm and his legs. To go with the stats above, he also rushed for 405 yards and 7 TD's. I like the mental makeup of Mayfield, but there are a couple of limitations for him. One he is a small QB, we'll find out how small at the combine, but he doesn't look much over 6 foot. He also has inconsitent velocity, he can zip the ball into receivers...but he also has some wobble to throws to the sideline. It'll be interesting to see how he develops this year.
Other QB's to watch
#6 Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
#7 Seth Russell, Baylor
#8 Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech
#9 C.J. Beathard, Iowa
#10 Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
DW Dark Horse
Cooper Rush, Central Michigan
He's certainly not a sure thing, but his pocket presence really impressed me last year. He was able to slide and climb in the pocket without losing focus. He has good size and production, he's also got some ability with his legs to extend plays when the pocket breaks down. I'll be watching him closely this year.