February 18th, 2017; Nyck Grayson
As we near the festivities in Indianapolis in early March, all 32 teams will be keying in on players to boost and lead their franchise going into the future. Most notably, the league’s GMs and scouting teams will be looking for their next “Face of the Franchise” Quarterback. This season’s draft class of QB’s raises many questions throughout the league: Does he have the experience? Is he a pocket passer? Can he push the ball downfield? Is he a winner?
Over the next week we’re going to be breaking down the positional outlook on this years NFL Combine. We’ll highlight what traits are already a given, what needs to be displayed at Lucas Oil Stadium, and what needs to be improved going forward into their rookie year.
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, 6’3 220lbs
The Given: What we know about Trubisky is that he has displayed an ability to play with efficiency and accuracy, his high draft projection stems from his ability to play with a sneaky athleticism in the pocket. He’s not necessarily a Roethlisberger or Flacco build, but his 6’3 stature and solid build is a quality that will keep him among the higher picks in this year’s draft.
The Unknown/Need to improve: Experts on the position are not enamored with his mechanics, some have said that the shift in weight during his delivery disable him from being able to push the ball better than he has. Another indictment on his play has been the decrease in his accuracy when throwing on the run. And lastly, this year again the what I like to call the “Hand Size Phenomenon” may play a factor as Trubisky fumbled the rock on 4 occasions. Mitch has a chance to raise to be the definitive QB1 in this year’s draft by displaying a tightening of the aforementioned “loose screws” in the combine and during his pro day.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 6’2 205lbs
The Given: Nobody in the country should be debating the fact that Deshaun Watson is an athletic human being for the Quarterback position. His elusiveness and vision as a runner was a key component in his leadership in taking the Clemson Tigers through the 2017 College Football Playoff. Watson improved in his final year at Clemson at his ability to fluidly move defenders with his eyes and make his offensive linemen correct with his pocket mobility. Not a terrific arm but competent enough to push the ball downfield.
The Unknown/Need to improve: Watson’s accuracy has often been considered sporadic and inconsistent. The Clemson offense catered to him to where he wasn’t asked to do too much post-snap and often led him to forcing balls into tough spots like his first interception thrown in the Semifinal rout against Ohio State. He’s not necessarily a small build but his measurements have always led teams to shy away due to a question of his durability. If in his pro-day, he can show an ability to navigate through pre-snap reads and build consistency in his accuracy; he’ll be able to give himself a chance to silence the many doubters in the National Championship Quarterback.
Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame, 6’4 230lbs
The Given: In my opinion, Kizer is the most physically impressive of the top QB prospects, many GMs would say that he “looks the part.” His build makes him a durable prospect and provides him with an advantage to endure punishment on the next level. He also may be the draft’s most gifted all around passer and has shown an ability to make a good majority of what scouts call “The NFL throws.” Kizer has also shown that he can make the pre-snap adjustments and checks thanks to the pro style Notre Dame system.
The Unknown/Need to improve: Kizer receives a lot of praise for the leader of a 3-9 football team. Whoever drafts him, and if he goes on to succeed, should be rewarded for their ability to evaluate individual talent. Kizer, like many young QBs tends to rely his initial pre-snap read and leads to bad, late, and forced decisions. Although not a nonathletic prospect he can help himself by displaying the athletic traits to get out of the pocket quickly when needed and a better mental clock facing pressure. In Indy, if he can show ability to throw with good ball placement on the run will help his draft stock rise.
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, 6’3 219lbs
The Given: Coming out of the always high flying Texas Tech offense, Mahomes was able to sling the rock all over the yard with no issue thanks to his good arm strength and decent accuracy. He’s as mobile as they come in this years draft class, extremely nimble and quick within the pocket and shifty enough to be a danger to defenses in the scramble game. Some say Mahomes has the highest ceiling of any of the Quarterbacks in this draft if he is able to stabilize his fundamentals and stay healthy.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: Like mentioned earlier Mahomes biggest indictment or weakness is in his mechanic. It’s messy to say the least and has led him into having poor ball placement and also interceptions. It needs to be built from the ground up in order for him to have any success at the next level. Although he’s agile within the pocket he needs to do a better job of having pocket awareness. Lastly Mahomes can increase his draft stock tremendously in the next month if he can show scouts that his decision making has improved vastly and ball security issues have been tightened.
Davis Webb, California, 6’5 229lbs
The Given: Webb is another prospect that is a work in progress type of Quarterback, great physical attributes at his height and build he definitely fits the mold of what a NFL QB should look like. That height allows Webb to stand in clean pockets with a high release point and deliver balls down the seams with good accuracy. Feet are good enough to slide and create time for himself inside the pocket and can show that he is capable of the boot play action game as well.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: Despite being able to navigate between the tackles in the pass game, Webb has not shown an ability to be effective if things down the field breakdown. The big question with Webb is how can coaching improve his play after playing in both the Texas Tech and Cal offenses for the last two seasons. He struggled this past year when it came to getting balls out to the perimeter as Cornerbacks and Safeties were too often able to contest the passes outside the numbers. Fixing this or at least showing improvement can help improve his 2nd to 4th round grade.