In an effort to get through all of the positions before the draft, I’ll be just shortly naming some of the prospects to watch in this draft class, as well as some potential sleepers and maybe busts. This isn’t nearly as in depth as I’d prefer to go, but for the sake of getting them done, they’ll pretty concise.
This year’s Quarterback crop is notoriously bad, as I only have 4 passers with a draftable grade, but the two headliners are certainly the topic of much discussion, and are worth the hubbub. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota should, and I think that they will become good starters in the league. That being said, I have them in two different places in this article.
Top QB Prospect: Jameis Winston Florida St. 6’4” 231
Jameis Winston has been the topic of a lot of off the field incidents, but on the field, Winston makes things happen that others simply can’t. His anticipation on his throws are borderline elite, and he sees things pre-snap that others don’t. He threw 18 INTs this past season, but don’t forget that Matt Ryan threw close to that his senior year at BC, and Ryan worked out alright. Overall, off the field stuff aside, Winston is simply the best QB in this class.
Biggest Bust Potential: Marcus Mariota Oregon 6’4” 222
Marcus Mariota, this past season’s Heisman trophy winner, is as exciting a prospect as we’ve had in a while. A much more refined passer than Johnny Manziel a year ago, he couples that with 4.4 speed in the 40 as well. He’s also renowned as a great leader and a great person, which is something that he has over Jameis, the lack of off of the field concern. However, we’ve yet to see an Oregon Quarterback succeed in the NFL. Over the past ten years or so, they’ve produced passers who put up impressive numbers, but the scheme simply doesn’t translate well to the NFL due its simplicity and spacing concepts. Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli, and Darren Thomas have all come before Mariota, with minimal to no success in the NFL. While Mariota presents incredible talent and potential, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever reach it.
Biggest Sleeper: Blake Sims Alabama 5’11” 218
As I mentioned on last week’s radio broadcast, not many players from Alabama can really be classified as “sleepers”, but this year’s Crimson Tide team is a little different. There’s not all of the high level talent as we’ve seen in the past. Sims was a 5-year player for Alabama, with only one year of starting experience. Many will undervalue Sims, or completely take him off of their board due to his height, but I see a lot of Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor in Sims, and that type of Quarterback has found a spot on NFL rosters in the past. I think at a minimum, Sims is a 3rd stringer who holds a clipboard, but provides athletic potential. At maximum, Sims could be a low-level starter, or a solid backup who is used for his athleticism and running ability. Sims was after all, recruited to Alabama to play Runningback.
Small School Stud: Bryan Bennett SE Louisiana 6’2” 211
Bryan Bennett presents as much exciting upside as any thrower in this class, aside from the top 2. Bennett, a former Oregon Duck that was beat out by Mariota in 2012, transferred to FCS Southeastern Louisiana, and played exceptionally there, leading the program to the National Semifinals in the FCS playoffs. While still fairly raw as a passer, Bennett presents an interesting blend of athleticism, and running ability to pair with an absolute cannon of an arm. Reports were at the Peyton Manning QB camp last summer Bennett threw a ball nearly 80 yards. Bennett probably won’t get drafted, but he’s a low risk investment for a team, who could eventually pay great dividends, and could potentially start down the line.
My Quarterback Rankings:
- Jameis Winston Florida St. 6’4” 229 Top 5
- Marcus Mariota Oregon 6’4” 222 Top 10
- Brett Hundley UCLA 6’3” 226 Round 2-3
- Garrett Grayson Colorado St. 6’2” 213 Round 4
- Bryan Bennett SE Louisiana 6’2” 211 Round 7-UFA
- Bryce Petty Baylor 6’3” 230 Round 7-UFA
- Blake Sims Alabama 5’11” 218 Round 7-UFA
- Bo Wallace Ole Miss 6’3” 214 Round 7-UFA
- Connor Halliday Washington St. 6’3” 196 Round 7-UFA
- Brandon Bridge South Alabama 6’4” 229 Round 7-UFA