It’s only June, but there’s been a lot of buzz around some of the 2019 draft eligible quarterbacks’ names already. This time last year there was a ton of known talent for the 2018 class with Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen already being pegged as first-round selections. Obviously, Baker Mayfield was taken above all of them and there’s still a whole season of tape to go before we truly have an idea of what the 2019 class will be. This is a belligerently early look at the draft eligible QBs, but it’s always good to have early grades on players before entering the college football season. These are 26 of the draft eligible quarterbacks with the most hype around their names entering the season.
Justin Herbert, Oregon, Jr (6-5, 225)
- Right now, Justin Herbert is in a class of his own. His tape is by far the best of the draft eligible quarterbacks and he holds the only first round grade. With the combination of size and athleticism matched by few in this class, he will be hard to dethrone as QB1. Herbert has the arm talent to make all of the throws and has impressive deep accuracy. With beautiful footwork and clean enough mechanics all the potential is there for him to have a monster season. The biggest knock on Herbert right now is his leadership skills and ability to stay healthy. Like former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Herbert is on the quieter side, but head coach Mario Cristobal has him taking on a larger leadership role this year. As for his health, Herbert missed five games last season and needs to stay healthy to solidify being the top QB taken.
- Stats: 3,919 passing yards, 65.3%, 8.5 YPA, 41 total TDs, 9 INTs (16 games)
Easton Stick, North Dakota State, Sr (6-2, 225)
- Surprisingly, the guy who replaced Carson Wentz as the starter at NDSU has received little hype so far for the 2019 NFL Draft. Maybe it is because of the small school thing, but look for Easton Stick to rise up boards throughout the season. Stick has great accuracy on every level and enough arm to make it as an NFL starter. Coming from a more sophisticated scheme will help him in the NFL too. Toss in his mobility and ability to throw on the run, and he looks like a potential first round caliber quarterback. Other than some lack of size and mechanical issues Stick should at minimum be a day two quarterback.
- Stats: 5,941 passing yards, 60%, 8.5 YPA 1,846 rushing yards, 84 total TDs, 21 INTs (39 games)
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern, RS Sr (6-3, 220)
- It is tough to evaluate Clayton Thorson at times. He doesn’t have the surrounding talent most of these other quarterbacks have, in the context of the strength of opponents they play. Thorson does a great job with what he has, but his accuracy and interception numbers are hurt at times by misplays from teammates. There’s not one trait that stands out with Thorson. He has enough arm and accuracy on every level while also having solid mobility and mechanics. It’ll take time to develop Thorson, but he’s one of the safer quarterback options in this class as a jack of all trades type.
- Stats: 7,548 passing yards, 57.3%, 6.3 YPA, 62 total TDs, 30 INTs (39 games)
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo, RS Jr (6-6, 245)
- Based on pure physical tools, Tyree Jackson has first-round ability. He could be this year’s Josh Allen, a Group of Five quarterback who makes a ton of wow plays. Like Josh Allen, Jackson needs to become more consistent and clean up his mechanics and accuracy issues. Jackson has the biggest arm in this draft class, but his throwing motion is elongated and it causes the ball to come out late at times. Due to that motion his accuracy is off, particularly on short throws where the ball needs to be out lightening quick. On the other hand, he has all the size, arm strength and mobility you can ask for in a franchise passer. If he comes out as a Junior, he’ll need the right situation to sit and learn.
- Stats: 3,868 passing yards, 56.2%, 7.1 YPA, 30 total TDs, 12 INTs (18 games)
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn, RS Jr (6-2, 215)
- Another tough evaluation is Jarrett Stidham. It has a lot to do with the offense he is in and the playcalling. Usually, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has a gifted athlete at the quarterback position and not such a polished passer. Stidham is a fine athlete, but for much of this past season it seemed like his passing tools weren’t being utilized enough. At times Stidham seems to struggle under pressure and lacked poise. He needs to learn to stay in the pocket and work through his progressions. With impressive accuracy and a solid arm Stidham has the passing tools to be a first-round talent. He just needs to work on the mental side of the game, especially with his lack of size.
- Stats: 4,423 passing yards, 67%, 9.2 YPA, 36 total TDs, 8 INTs (24 games)
Drew Lock, Missouri, Sr (6-3, 225)
Drew Lock throws a dime and then has some pettiness after.
- There’s been an overhyping of Drew Lock. He put up huge numbers last season for Missouri, but the tape doesn’t match the production. There’s no denying his arm strength and velocity, but everything else is iffy. It starts with his footwork. Often his feet just go dead in the pocket and it effects his accuracy on all levels. Lock also has a tendency to make poor decisions under pressure and lacks poise. With last years OC, Josh Heupel, gone and the Tigers bringing in Derek Dooley to replace him, there will be an adjustment period. Expect the Lock hype to cool down especially with Dooley calling plays. His arm talent will keep him in the first-round conversation, but there’s just too many flaws elsewhere.
- Stats: 8,695 passing yards, 54.5%, 7.8 YPA, 75 total TDs, 31 INTs (37 games)
Ryan Finley, North Carolina State, RS Sr (6-3, 210)
- Need a game manager? Ryan Finley is your guy. He doesn’t blow you away with any physical tools, but he’s a safe option at quarterback. Finley is extremely poised and does not make many big mistakes. He’s safe with the football and throws with incredible touch. It’s noticeable he lacks the arm talent teams look for, but with clean mechanics and a high football IQ he makes up for that. Finley can be a day two selection that starts for a handful of years, think Andy Dalton.
- Stats: 7,219 passing yards, 62.6%, 7.4 YPA, 42 total TDs, 19 INTs (33 games)
Daniel Jones, Duke, RS Jr (6-4, 215)
Save your mock drafts and hot takes regarding Shea Patterson and Drew Lock as QB1 for next year. Get yourself a real quarterback and that quarterback is, Daniel Jones out of Duke. RPO concept with a BOMB to the post route. Ground forces the incompletion but Jones is for real. pic.twitter.com/T0K1VpE4ml
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) May 3, 2018
- Of course, a David Cutcliffe quarterack is one of the most intriguing of the group. Daniel Jones probably won’t go pro after this season, but if he did there would be plenty of buzz. It’s rare to see a young quarterback like Jones with as much power at the line of scrimmage as an NFL passer. Jones’ football IQ is through the roof, thanks to Cutcliffe. With experience in basically an NFL offense combined with clean mechanics, poise and accuracy Jones could be looked at as a future NFL starter. His lack of arm strength is what holds him back.
- Stats: 5,527 passing yards, 59.7%, 6.3 YPA, 44 total TDs, 20 INTs (25 games)
Need to Take the Next Step
Nathan Stanley, Iowa, Jr (6-4, 215)
Surprised Iowa QB Nathan Stanley hasn't received much 2019 #NFLDraft hype. He toasted Ohio State. Has awesome velocity and consistently goes through progressions. pic.twitter.com/Hu4EsYSlZE
— Rob (@RobPaul54) May 10, 2018
- Not much has been made about Nathan Stanley’s first season as the Hawkeye’s starting quarterback. After watching the tape, it is surprising he isn’t mentioned more. Stanley has the physical tools to be an NFL quarterback and might be the most talented Iowa quarterback of the century. With NFL size, Stanley can zip the ball almost anywhere. His velocity is impressive and his arm strength is good enough to stretch the field. On top of that Stanley has solid mobility and poise to make plays under pressure. If he can improve his accuracy his name should begin to heat up.
- Stats: 2,494 passing yards, 55.8%, 6.9 YPA, 26 total TDs, 6 INTs (13 games)
Jake Bentley, South Carolina, Jr (6-2, 220)
- All of a sudden the SEC is full of quarterback talent and Jake Bentley measures up with just about all of it. Bentley is still young with a lot of room to grow, but has flashes of NFL ability. He plays with a toughness that separates him from others and endears him to fans. More importantly the ball pops out of his hand with unexpected velocity from a somewhat smaller quarterback. He needs to learn to ease back and throw with touch at times and stay calm under pressure. If he continues to develop he should be the SEC’s most NFL-ready passer.
- Stats: 4,214 passing yards, 63.4%, 7.2 YPA, 33 total TDs, 16 INTs (20 games)
Shea Patterson, Michigan, Jr (6-1, 200)
- There are a couple reasons Shea Patterson has hype around his name. The top reason is him transferring from Ole Miss to Michigan and gaining eligibility right away. The other reasons are the stats he put up as a young passer in the SEC plus the Baker Mayfield comparisons he seems to get. Patterson has a long way to go to be anywhere near Mayfield. At Ole Miss he kind of just freestyled all the time and would bail on the pocket and toss the ball up to his incredible receivers. Patterson does possess impressive improvisation skills and arm strength, but he needs to develop as a passer. The hope is that with Jim Harbaugh at Michigan he’ll become a more poised and clean passer.
- Stats: 3,139 passing yards, 60.7%, 8 YPA, 24 total TDs, 12 INTs (10 games)
Will Grier, West Virginia, RS Sr (6-2, 214)
- The craziest thing in the world right now is the NFL hype surrounding Will Grier. That’s not to say he doesn’t have NFL ability, but he is not currently a first-round passer despite all the mock drafts that love to put him there. Grier plays quarterback like a wild man. He constantly bails on clean pockets, chucks it up and prays. West Virginia has the wide receivers to make plays on these balls, but this won’t translate to the NFL. Grier has a big arm for a smaller passer, but the mechanics and footwork leave a lot to be desired. If Will Grier is going to be an NFL starting quarterback he needs to learn to play with structure.
- Stats: 4,692 passing yards, 64.8%, 8.6 YPA, 48 total TDs, 15 INTs (17 games)
Return to School
Brian Lewerke, Michigan State, RS Jr (6-2, 215)
- In two years Brian Lewerke could really get his name on the NFL radar. After becoming the starter last season he got into a groove late in the season. He plays with far more poise than you’d expect out of a young passer, especially in a pro-style scheme. Lewerke does a great job going through his progressions and when the play breaks down, he scrambles but remains a passer with his eyes always downfield. Two more seasons at MSU could help his mechanics and accuracy a ton. His name should be hot for the 2020 NFL Draft.
- Stats: 3,174 passing yards, 58.4%, 6.7 YPA, 27 total TDs, 8 INTs (17 games)
McKenzie Milton, UCF, Jr (5-11, 185)
- Everybody knows McKenzie Milton as the architect of Scott Frost’s offense for UCF’s self claimed National Champion team. As of now Milton is being counted out as an NFL passer because he’s tiny. It will take time for Milton to prove doubters wrong, but he can make it in the NFL. He has started at UCF for two years, and likely will for two more. But come 2020 it will be hard to find a more polarizing quarterback prospect. Ignore his size for a second and watch the tape. The ball is explosive out of his hand and he has plenty of arm strength to put passes where he wants them. Milton is an absolute playmaker with his mobility and poise. Other than the size, the knocks are just footwork and inconsistency with touch passes. Russell Wilson comparisons here we come.
- Stats: 6,020 passing yards, 62.8%, 8.2 YPA, 58 total TDs, 16 INTs (23 games)
Khalil Tate, Arizona, Jr (6-1, 215)
- Like McKenzie Milton, everybody knows Khalil Tate. He’s one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football, and like Milton, his NFL Draft hype is non-existent right now. Luckily for Tate, Rich Rodriguez is gone. Rich Rod runs a fun, but simple spread option offense that wouldn’t prepare Tate for the NFL. With Kevin Sumlin in charge, Arizona will be running a traditional spread offense. As a runner Tate is rare and can create plays almost automatically, but he has some passing skills too. He is consistently accurate on short throws and stays calm under pressure. Unfortunately, he was rarely given the opportunity to show his passing ability last season. Now with Sumlin in charge and Tate having two more years of eligibility he can begin to put together an NFL worthy resume.
- Stats: 1,834 passing yards, 57.6%, 8.2 YPA, 1,648 rushing yards, 30 total TDs, 12 INTs (Parts of 18 games)
Joe Burrow, LSU, RS Jr (6-2, 215)
- Unlike every other quarterback here, Joe Burrow has never been a starting quarterback at the collegiate level. He spent three seasons at Ohio State, but only got in games in mop up duty. Burrow finally got to compete for the starting job this past Spring, but transferred after Dwayne Haskins beat him out. It’s not a big deal that he left the Buckeyes; he just was not a good fit for the offense. Burrow is a pocket passer that will be at his best in a pro-style offense. Enter LSU. LSU has not had a quality passer in a few years and Burrow should start from day one. In garbage time he showed off wonderful footwork and mechanics. He definitely has the tools to be a future NFL quarterback, now he has the next two seasons to prove it.
- Stats: 287 passing yards, 74.4%, 7.4 YPA, 3 total TDs (Parts of 10 games)
Brett Rypien, Boise State, Sr (6-2, 210)
- As far as career backup quarterbacks go you just want a guy with enough ability to spot start who can bring a football IQ to the QB room, Brett Rypien checks those boxes. He has nice arm strength, accuracy on all levels and solid athleticism. Rypien has some mechanical flaws and struggles under pressure, but he’ll be worth a late round draft pick and should put together a long career as a backup. It’s always nice to have a quarterback with a lot of college experience as a starter on the roster.
- Stats: 9,873 passing yards, 62.7%, 8.4 YPA, 63 total TDs, 22 INTs (37 games)
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State, RS Sr (6-4, 230)
- Statically Nick Fitzgerald has been an incredible quarterback and a great fit for Dan Mullen’s offense. He should continue to put up big numbers for Joe Moorhead and his size and athleticism are intriguing. With big accuracy issues and an elongated throwing motion, Fitzgerald is likely a late round draft pick. His arm strength, size, and athleticism would be nice as a change of pace project quarterback for the right offense.
- Stats: 4,440 passing yards, 55.4%, 6.7 YPA, 2,486 rushing yards, 72 total TDs, 21 INTs (25 games)
Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt, Sr (6-3, 225)
- The son of New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is the best quarterback Vanderbilt has had since Jay Cutler. What stands out with Kyle Shurmur is the impressive velocity with his throws. He can make all the throws asked of him, but his throwing motion is wonky. That holds him back from an accuracy standpoint. With his arm talent and poise he has the ability to make it as a backup.
- Stats: 5,735 passing yards, 54.5%, 6.7 YPA, 43 total TDs, 23 INTs (31 games)
Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss, Sr (6-2, 215)
Ole Miss has so much firepower on offense and honestly think Jordan Ta'amu is better at QB for this team than Shea Patterson. Look at the athleticism. He also has clean footwork and mechanics. Gets the ball out quickly to his WRs. pic.twitter.com/IEoXVnb5rR
— Rob (@RobPaul54) May 22, 2018
- More college quarterbacks should be willing to go the CFL route, it’s by far the best option right now if you can’t make the NFL. In the CFL teams look for quarterbacks with athleticism, accuracy and quick decision making skills. Jordan Ta’amu is the best quarterback for the CFL of the guys that likely won’t be picked. Honestly with the Ole Miss offensive talent, Ta’amu is probably better for them than Shea Patterson. He makes quick decisions and gets the ball to his playmakers as quickly as he can. With a quick release and mobility Ta’amu could make it in the CFL. Quietly Ta’amu has a shot at the NFL.
- Stats: 1,682 passing yards, 66.5%, 9.7 YPA, 15 total TDs, 4 INTs (7 games)
Justice Hansen, Arkansas State, RS Sr (6-3, 220)
- It’s never a good thing when a quarterback looks unnatural throwing the football. Unfortunately, Justice Hansen looks so awkward as a passer. He has mechanical issues that effect how the ball comes out, which ultimately hurts the velocity. On a positive note he has fine arm strength and impressive athleticism. To make the NFL he’d probably need to become a tight end.
- Stats: 6,686 passing yards, 60.7%, 8.1 YPA, 64 total TDs, 24 INTs (25 games)
Kelly Bryant, Clemson, Sr (6-3, 220)
- It might not be long until Kelly Bryant is benched at Clemson for stud frosh Trevor Lawrence. Positives for Bryant as a passer are solid arm strength and velocity, but mechanics and accuracy are an issue. His running ability is his best trait and he would do well as a CFL short yardage quarterback. And yes, that’s a real thing teams have.
- Stats: 2,877 passing yards, 66.1%, 6.6 YPA, 28 total TDs, 9 INTs (14 games)
Trace McSorley, Penn State, RS Sr (6-0, 205)
- It’s not fair to compare college quarterbacks to Baker Mayfield, he’s arguably the greatest we’ve ever seen. But Trace McSorley is already being compared. McSorley is a great college passer for sure, but he is nowhere near the passer that Mayfield is. Throw that comparison out the window. For McSorley to get drafted he’ll need to improve his arm strength, velocity, mechanics and accuracy. For the CFL though, McSorley has the poise and mobility to make it as a backup.
- Stats: 7,369 passing yards, 61.8%, 8.6 YPA, 77 total TDs, 18 INTs (27 games)
Manny Wilkins, Arizona State, RS Sr (6-2, 200)
- For Arizona State, Manny Wilkins has been a revelation and he’ll need to carry the offense this season. He lacks arm talent, but he can make plays on the move and has better than expected deep accuracy. Wilkins plays out of structure frequently, but has the tools to get a shot in the CFL.
- Stats: 5,599 passing yards, 63.4%, 7.8 YPA, 44 total TDs, 17 INTs (23 games)
Go into Coaching
Tanner Mangum, BYU, Sr (6-2, 220)
- Not only does Tanner Mangum lack NFL talent, but he’ll be 26 by the time his rookie season starts. It’s hard to give a shot to a guy that old already. Talent wise Mangum does not have a whole lot of velocity to go along with accuracy problems. The lack of poise, mobility and mechanic issues kill his chance.
- Stats: 5,158 passing yards, 59.2%, 7 YPA, 37 total TDs, 20 INTs (25 games)
Jake Browning, Washington, Sr (6-1, 210)
- The biggest misconception in college football is that Jake Browning is anything more than a system passer in an ideal situation. His production dipped last year because he didn’t have John Ross making up for his frequently inaccurate throws. Browning is nothing special and has major accuracy issues. His poise under fire is poor and he does not have clean footwork. Browning is a poor man’s Kellen Moore.
- Stats: 9,104 passing yards, 64.4%, 8.3 YPA, 90 total TDs, 24 INTs (39 games)