Any way you slice it, quarterback is the most important position on the football field. It’s been since the 2000 Ravens that a team won the Super Bowl without an elite quarterback at the helm of the offense. With that said, finding an elite option at the position has proven to be near impossible. The bust rate for first round quarterbacks is much higher than it is at any other position. Part of that is because there aren’t many quality quarterbacks out there, but another big reason is team’s overrate lesser prospects to fill the need and end up wasting a first round pick on a second or third round player. This year’s draft is a perfect example of the conundrum teams face every April. At least 6 quarterbacks have received first round grades from various NFL teams, and it’s not inconceivable to see all of them be selected on the draft’s opening night. With that said, I’ve evaluated those six throwers and ranked them in the order that I feel they should be drafted.
Measurables: 6’7″, 245
2015 Stats: 296/443, 66.8%, 3778 yards, 28 TD, 4 INT
Lynch is my number one quarterback in this draft. There seems to be no holes in his game. Starting from his physical acumen, Lynch is the complete package. His height is more than prototypical, while he has already began putting proper weight onto his frame. All this while maintaining the ability to get out of the pocket and run, something very few quarterbacks his size can do. Perhaps most impressive about Lynch’s physicalprowess is that he doesn’t use his speed to take off; more so, he uses his athletic ability to move around in the pocket to evade pressure and buy more time for his receivers. Lynch was a three year starter at a university that has had limited football success, but his final year on campus brought a ton of attention to the program and led them to a quality bowl game. Lynch was also coached by Justin Fuente, a known quarterback guru who has coached up Andy Dalton among others. Fuente instilled in Lynch the importance of quality footwork and reading a difference, and it all showed this year as Lynch enjoyed his most successful season. Some analysts are down on Lynch because of his porous performance in his bowl game against Auburn, but I’m not worried about it. Fuente wasn’t coaching that game, and there were multiple turnovers by players other than Lynch that changed the game. Ithink whoever gets Lynch is getting a young Ben Roethlisberger. He has the arm strength to make every throw on the field while also displaying the mental makeup of a veteran quarterback. His ability to not turn over the football is also amazing for a player his age. Lynch is the only quarterback I see that has the ability to come in and start from day 1, as his experience in a pro style system is something only one of the other quarterbacks on this list have.
Measurables: 6’5″, 250
2015 Stats: 109/175, 62.3%, 1459 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT
I recognize that I may be the only draft analyst with Jones this high, but I’m sold onhim as a prospect. Are there red flags on him? Sure. His limited experience as a starter is worrisome, as are his average stats when he started this season. But Jones is a leader and a winner. He still has never lost a game as a starter, which includes coming in cold and winning not only the 2014 Big 10 championship game but also the inaugural college football playoffs. Jones had the unquestioned support of his teammates, and it was telling that they all gravitated to him to lead them when things got tough. His play in 2014 reminded me of Cam Newton, and I think if Jones gets in the right system and has time to develop, that’s who he could be. Jones has an absolute cannon for an arm. It’s not an exaggeration that his nickname is 12 gauge. But Jones can run. He’s got very underrated speed, and he’s got the size to run people over, something he’s proven the ability to do. Jones isn’t ready to start this year, that’s obvious. Throwing a quarterback with less than a season’s worth of starting experience into an NFL lineup is a recipe for disaster. But Jones can easily be the next Cam Newton, as they are almost exactly the same prospects to me at this point in their respective draft process. Give Jones time and he could be the best quarterback of this whole bunch.
- Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Measurables: 6’5″, 232
2015 Stats: 130/208, 62.5%, 1651 yards, 17 TD, 4 INT
Wentz’ rise up draft boards has been nothing short of meteoric. Buzz for Wentz started prior to the Senior Bowl, as word starting getting around that a prototypical quarterback who is a winner was going to make his presence felt at the event. Wentz arrived at the Senior Bowl and only added fuel to the fire that was his draft stock, having a great week of practice and following it up with a solid performance in the Senior Bowl game. What we saw from Wentz was just what we saw at North Dakota State. Wentz is very advanced when it comes to reading a defense. He is usually at least a step ahead of the opposition, which is why his rushing stats are as impressive as they are. Wentz isn’t a blazer by any means, but he has underrated athleticism that allows him to break off a nice gain when the opportunity presents itself. Wentz doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but there isn’t a throw he can’t make. The only issue I have with Wentz is inability to avoid turning the ball over. Despite only starting seven games this year, Wentz had ten turnovers, fumbling six times combined with his four picks. And this is against subpar competition. The turnovers are the only reason I don’t like Wentz as much as the two players listed above him. He reminds me Blake Bortles at this point in his career, and I think that’s the player he most resembles going forward also. I think he can get his turnover problems figured out, but the belief of various scouts is that Wentz is a franchise quarterback. I just don’t share that sentiment with them.
Measurables: 6’4″, 216
2015 Stats: 229/408, 56.1%, 3131 yards, 24 TD, 7 INT
If it weren’t for Cook’s shoddy leadership ability, I’d probably have him rates ahead of Carson Wentz on this list. Unfortunately Cook has come under fire for not being a great leader and coming across as a poor teammate. NFL evaluators obviously feel something similar to that, as he has not been rated as highly amongst the scouting community as he was before the season. Another knock on Cook is his completion percentage, which has dropped each year he’s been the starter. I don’t view that as an issue. Cook has seen his supporting cast dip each year and was victimized repeatedly by dropped passes from his receivers. Still, I see some Eli Manning in Cook. Regardless of the fact the two have almost identical build, the two both have had issues completing passes in the past but both offer all the elements you look for in your franchise quarterback. Arm strength, mental aptitude, footwork. Physically, Cook has it all. The leadership concerns were factored into his lower ranking, but I believe in Cook’s ability to be a franchise guy. If he can quell those concerns, I could see him having a major rise up draft boards and reclaiming his top 10 pick grades, because on film, I’ve seen enough to deem him a franchise quarterback. I just need those leadership questions answered.
Measurables: 6’4″, 215
2015 Stats: 341/529, 64.5%, 4714 yards, 43 TD, 13 INT
Goff has received nothing but positive praises from many in the scouting community, but from what I’ve seen from him hasn’t impressed me. Sure, the numbers are impressive, and Goff has a huge arm, but what I’ve seen in the field worries me. First off, Goff has the worst foot work of all these six quarterbacks, and it’s not even close. Since his freshman year Goff hasn’t sped up his foot speed one bit, which leads to his bouts on inaccuracy he’s had throughout his career. The spread offense he’s played in hasn’t done him any favors with me either. Goff is very undeveloped when it comes to reading a defense. His whole career he has been told which receiver to throw to or has always had a receiver open due to play design. And on games where things don’t go as expected, Goff begins forcing throws and turns the ball over. It’s not all bad for Goff though. He’s got a great arm and is a leader with quality intangibles. Plus he also has the prototypical build NFL teams are looking for from their signal caller. And when Mike Mayock is on your side you’re obviously doing something right. I just don’t think he’s a franchise quarterback, and I think selecting him in the top 10 will be a grave mistake for whichever team in that range drafts him. Goff really reminds me of Blaine Gabbert. When Gabbert came out in 2011, I had him rated higher than Cam Newton, and I’m not about to make that mistake twice.
Measurables: 6’4″, 234
2015 Stats: 192/359, 53.5%, 2525 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT
After being viewed as a potential top overall pick after his freshman season, Hackenberg stock has fallen so much that some have considered him an undraftable prospect. However, Hackenberg has fans in the NFL community, and I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him selected in the first frame when the draft process is over with. Hackenberg was essentially left for dead by coach James Franklin after Bill O’Brien bounced to the NFL. Coincidence that Hackenberg had his best season when he was receiving NFL level coaching? In that freshman season Hackenberg showed the ability to make every throw on the field, pick apart defenses with his mind while also showing an impressive propensity to release the ball just as the pressure arrived. All those things people now have questions about because the talent and coaching around him dipped to epically low levels in Happy Valley. Hackenberg was pressured on nearly every drop back behind a green offensive line, yet Franklin continued to have Hackenberg bomb it. His abilities he showed freshman year gave me confidence to say Hackenberg could be the next Andrew Luck, and while that comparison may have been a bit lofty, I still see a potential Pro Bowl quarterback when I put the tape on. Hackenberg really cut down on his turnovers this year too, something people had legitimate concerns about. I can see Hackenberg still becoming a Pro Bowler, and if he does fall out of the first round I think a team is getting a huge steal when it’s all said and done.