Well, here we are. A little under four months until the 2019 NFL Draft and as everyone knows the consensus QB1 in the class is returning to school. Oregon QB Justin Herbert returning to Eugene for his Senior year shouldn’t come as a surprise, it was rumored for months. Yet, it was still a little bit shocking. In a weak QB class he was essentially a top 10 lock, but you can’t knock him for returning. Many things factored into his return. He’s from Eugene and loves Oregon and wants to return them to a winning program, his brother will also be joining him on the team next season, and he wants to complete his degree. All terrific reasons to go back to school.
Herbert has all the physical tools NFL scouts love in a QB. He’s 6-6, 240 pounds with a big arm, great movement skills, and some dazzling ball placement ability. Even though it’ll be hard to improve his stock from where it would have been in the 2019 NFL Draft he does have something’s to work on. If he can improve on consistency as a Senior, he could end up the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The real question that arises with the return of Herbert is how does it shake up the rest of the 2019 NFL Draft’s QB class?
The New QB1: Dwayne Haskins
The biggest beneficiary from the return to Oregon of Justin Herbert is Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. Haskins is now the clear QB1 in the 2019 NFL Draft and he has no real competition. Thanks to the value of the QB position, Haskins is a top 10 lock and could even go top five. In his only season as the Buckeyes starting QB, Haskins was a Heisman finalist, won the Rose Bowl, and set numerous Ohio State passing records. Teams are going to covet him despite some flaws because he has the tools to be a franchise passer. Haskins seems to get better every week and there’s a lot to build on with him.
When looking at Haskins talent on the field the first thing that stands out is his ability to manipulate a defense with his eyes. He has shown a consistent ability to move defensive backs with his eyes to create openings in the passing game. This is impressive for such a young passer. Haskins is a quick striking passer who likes to get the ball at fast to his playmakers on short to intermediate routes. Something that helps with this is how quickly he gets through his progressions. He’s a mentally polished passer for a young QB. This doesn’t mean he has a weak arm; he has all the arm talent needed to succeed in the NFL. He can push the ball deep and throws with impressive velocity. Due to his style of play he will at times pass up a deep shot he should take for a shorter gain.
The main knocks with Haskins game will be his lack of mobility which can causes him to panic when under fire in the pocket. His poise is improving and he got better as the season went on with dealing with pressure as a passer, but he’ll be best fit for an up-tempo passing offense that allows him to make quick decisions.
The Safe Bet: Daniel Jones
It’s rare for multiple QBs to actually be worth first-round picks. Due to the value of the QB position passers are pushed up the board every single year. Last year was a rare year where a handful of QBs were actually worth first-round picks. Dwayne Haskins will likely be the only QB “worth” a first-round pick this year, but it’s a near guarantee at least one or two more end up going on Day 1 with him. The safest QB option to take in the first-round who probably won’t be worth a first-round pick is Duke’s Daniel Jones. Jones played for David Cutcliffe at Duke who had a huge hand in developing both Peyton and Eli Manning. He’s strong at reading defenses pre-snap and has shown more power at the line than most college QBs thanks to his high football IQ and being in Cutcliffe’s system.
There’s a lot to like about Jones. He has fairly consistent accuracy on every level of the field and is one of the better decision makers in the class. On top of that of the QBs that will go in the first two rounds Jones is probably the best athlete and does a good job as a runner. If you like clean mechanics this is also your guy. He has a consistent stroke with an over the top delivery, clean footwork, and does a good job engaging his lower half. There will be some questions about arm strength, but his struggles had a lot to do with a broken collarbone. Jones doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he has the tools needed to start in the NFL. In the right system he can be a franchise QB.
The Baseball Player: Kyler Murray
It’s not going to happen, but there are still whispers that reigning Heisman winner Kyler Murray could choose football over baseball. If this somehow happens it will shake up the entire 2019 NFL Draft. Murray is more than an exciting college QB, he’s a legitimate NFL talent. Sure, his size is a major concern (5-10, 195 pounds) and he’s probably smaller than he’s listed, but he has all the tools. In the right scenario Murray can be a franchise passer and there’s even an argument that he could be QB1 in this draft he did choose football over baseball.
Despite a lack of size, Murray doesn’t have a lack of arm talent. He makes all the throws Lincoln Riley’s system asks a QB to make. Surprisingly he actually throws with some of the best velocity in the class. So throw out the small QB means small arm argument that has grown old. When looking at Murray from a mechanical standpoint he has some of the smoothest footwork in the class. He also has the ability to contort his arm and throw off platform when needed. It won’t come as a surprise to anybody, but he’s clearly the best athlete at QB in the class and can be an absolute weapon when asked to run. If somehow he chooses football, there will be size questions, but an innovative offensive mind will be salivating over this kid. He’s worth a first-round pick.
The Draft Twitter Darling: Brett Rypien
Every year there’s a QB in the NFL Draft that we draft Twitter folk fall in love with, guys like Kyle Lauletta, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Russell Wilson. This year that guy is Boise State QB Brett Rypien. He wont be a first-round pick, but he’s the guy teams should be looking at on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) as a developmental starter. Rypien isn’t a physical freak (6-2, 202 pounds), but he has a sneaky impressive arm. It’s not talked about much, but he can make every throw an NFL team could want and more importantly he’s got damn impressive ball placement. Complimenting that placement/accuracy is fantastic footwork in the pocket and a clean delivery. It would have been nice to get a better look at him during the Senior Bowl. Rypien doesn’t have any elite traits, but he doesn’t have any massive holes either. Take him on Day 2, sit and develop him, and down the road this is an NFL starter.
The Arm: Drew Lock
Every year there’s a QB in the NFL Draft that is the opposite of what we “draft talking” Twitter folk covet. Usually it’s someone with impressive size and a massive arm like Josh Allen, Davis Webb, and Paxton Lynch. The guy who falls under that category this year is Drew Lock, though he’s closer to a Josh Allen than a Paxton Lynch in terms of NFL ability. Lock has a cannon, best arm in the draft, but he lacks a lot of other things. He has some of the worst lower body mechanics I’ve ever seen from a top QB. He rarely engages his hips or even steps into throws, choosing to gun it with all arm. There are even times he gets flat footed and lets his feet go dead in the pocket. Lock also has a tendency to lock onto a receiver pre-snap and when he does go through progressions it’s slow.
The obvious thing to like about Lock’s game is the arm. He makes some crazy throws. For some reason he’ll drift backwards and throw off platform when there’s no need to at times, but his arm talent can make up for it. The problem is he won’t be able to get away with that stuff in the NFL. Lock is far from NFL ready and it’s a massive risk to take a guy like this in the first-round. Any NFL team taking him needs to have a developmental plan for him and avoid rushing him into a starting role.
The Small School Kid: Easton Stick
Another QB who gets a ton of love on draft Twitter is North Dakota State QB Easton Stick. He’s the guy who replaced Carson Wentz once he left for the NFL and guided the Bison’s to back-to-back FCS National Championships. Stick is one of the most athletic QBs in the class and is a consistent threat as a runner. He lacks some size and arm strength, but it’s could enough for the league. Stick is a safe option on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) of the NFL Draft and should have a long-term career as a backup QB with the ability to potentially start down the road. He’s got impressive deep accuracy and is a fast decision maker. Mechanically his throwing motion is a little elongated and it can hurt his short accuracy at times. The mobility, decision making, and poise are what teams are going to like about him as an NFL QB2.
The Bigger Names than Games: Grier-Stidham-Finley
These final three QBs fall under a similar category. None of them are first-round QBs and none of them should even be drafted on Day 2. They’re three big names who have been hyped for far too long, but don’t have the traits to be anything more than potential backup QBs in the NFL.
Of this trio Will Grier is the best of the bunch by a mile. He actually has a chance to be a high-end backup QB for a long time who can spot start or maybe even be a low-end starter for a period of time. Grier has some ability. Despite a lack of size, he has enough arm for the NFL and although it isn’t consistent at times he’s shown an ability to make some wow throws. There are just too many issues around his game. He has an off throwing motion, he’s not a great decision maker, and when things aren’t on schedule he has a tendency to turn the ball over. Another problem is he bails on clean pockets too frequently, he’s not a pocket passer. The arm talent, mobility, and deep accuracy are things NFL teams will enjoy.
There was too much first-round talk around Jarrett Stidham’s name before the season, but most of that seems to have died at this point. Stidham isn’t an NFL starter. He’s a guy with physical tools that’s shown no improvements over multiple years in the mental aspect of quarterbacking. There’s no denying Stidham has some impressive arm talent and can make some tight window throws, but what else is there? He hasn’t shown ability to consistently work through progressions, has no poise in the pocket, and is a terrible decision maker. The best case is Stidham can develop into a QB2 in the NFL. He should have returned to Auburn.
- Pro Comparison: Jimmy Clausen
- Potential Landing Spot: Oakland Raiders
Ryan Finley has been around so long and has been a solid college QB, so maybe that’s why there was some hype behind his name. Kind of like a Perry Ellis type, around long enough that everybody and their cousin knows him. Finley doesn’t have the arm talent to be an NFL starter and it doesn’t help that he isn’t much of an athlete. Teams will like his poise, touch throwing ability, and mechanics, but there’s nothing else there. No arm, no mobility, inconsistent accuracy, and struggles with decision making.
- Pro Comparison: Nathan Peterman
- Potential Landing Spot: Cincinnati Bengals
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