Quarterback Ryan Tannehill earned himself another season in Miami, after his promising play with the Dolphins ended prematurely due to injury. Additionally, with the solid play of backup quarterback Matt Moore, the Dolphins are more likely to make a decision at quarterback after next season. While it’s unexpected the Miami Dolphins spend any picks on a quarterback, anything is possible draft night.
This quarterback class is one of the thinnest in a while. There is no elite quarterback talent currently coming out of this draft. There is value throughout the list below, but just about every prospect will need to be coached before starting. The best prospects are Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky, but neither come out of college as elite quarterback prospects. Could they be elite one day? Yes, anything is possible, but they’re far from that now.
Honorable mentions: Seth Russell, Baylor.
10. Sefo Liufau, Colorado: Liufau is flying under the radar as a prospect in the draft.
He’s tough as nails — and took some brutal hits during his college career. Despite being very accurate with deep throws, he needs to develop more consistent touch over zone defenses on intermediate throws. He must increase accuracy when taking hits and throwing on the run. He doesn’t have an elite arm, but an above average one. Liufau is patient and keeps his eyes downfield when extending the play with his legs. He rarely chooses to scramble for yardage, unless he’s forced to. The Colorado quarterback has decent pocket awareness, but must improve at getting rid of the ball earlier. Despite being a decent athlete, he’s average at escaping pressure. He’s not going to blow you away with talent, but you can count on him to lead a balanced drive for your offense.
9. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss: Kelly had an unfortunate ending to the college football season after a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in his knee ended his college career.
He’s not a big guy, but he’s a good athlete with mobility that can escape pocket pressure. While he has good pocket awareness, he can improve on blitz awareness. Kelly is not a dual-threat quarterback, but he can scramble for a first down when he wants to. The spread system he was in doesn’t require him to scan the entire field, only half of it – which may hurt his draft stock. He’ll need to work on reading his progressions and scanning the whole field. Kelly has a decent arm and can deliver nice throws when taking huge hits. Tough guy. He needs to improve decision making and forcing the ball into tight windows. Some of his gunslinger throws worked, others were disastrous. He’s an accurate thrower on short to intermediate range, but inconsistent deep ball accuracy. Despite throwing very well on the run, he must be careful while throwing off his back foot. Kelly must improve footwork consistency to avoid inconsistent accuracy on intermediate throws. His ¾ release point when throwing the football is a concern. There were a lot of tipped balls at the line of scrimmage on tape. May need to adjust throwing mechanics.
8. Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin: Pipkin is one of the biggest sleepers in the draft.
He’s a quick, decisive thrower, who plays in a spread offense that limits his progression reads. He is undersized and will need to learn to play under center and go through his progressions more thoroughly. Pipkin has good mechanics with throwing the ball, but occasionally will throw in a wind-up motion. He throws well when on the run, and doesn’t hesitate to check it down if it’s there. He needs to improve on disguising his target, instead of staring it down. He’s a great athlete with speed, and avoids pressure in the pocket in an elite way. Despite having decent footwork, he predetermines his footing, and plants too early at times. He got caught waiting for routes to develop flat footed, instead of keeping his footwork active. Pipkin can make every NFL throw with his great arm strength. He has good accuracy and nice touch on his throws. He must improve ball security, and needs to avoid holding the ball too loosely. The knock on him is the level competition he played against (Division II). There’s a ton of potential there to be great dual-threat QB, but the questions remain. Can he overcome being undersized? Can he learn progressions? Can he handle the elite competition at the next level?
7. C.J. Beathard, Iowa: Beathard has been an underappreciated quarterback prospect this year.
His numbers won’t amaze you, but he showed good arm strength and can make any throw vertically. The University of Iowa quarterback has a quick release, and can fit his throws into tight coverage downfield. He has good accuracy, but has room for improvement and needs to develop more touch on certain throws. He’s sneaky fast with his escapability and mobility, and makes big plays when scrambling and throwing on the run. Beathard has inconsistent pocket awareness, especially from backside pressure. There were times where he stayed in the pocket too long and got whacked by blindside pressure from holding onto the ball too long when reading his progressions. He’s a great decision maker and an experienced quarterback in the pro-style system. He must work on his inconsistent footwork. His throws took a noticeable drop in accuracy when he used choppy footwork under pressure. An impressive pro day could significantly boost his draft stock.
6. Davis Webb, California: Webb can sling it all over the field with ease.
Webb has a great arm – better than Beathard’s — and Webb possesses more touch on throws than he’s given credit for. He has a high, quick release. Webb has good accuracy to all parts of the field, but occasionally throws it low on outside comebacks. His accuracy and timing were most notably inconsistent against Oregon on tape. Despite the ability to make off-balance throws with his arm strength, he must improve on accuracy when throwing on the run. The University of California quarterback fires it into tight windows when necessary, but misses throws over the middle of the field when outside of the pocket. He must improve his footwork because he rushes his throws after resetting his feet when stepping up in the pocket. He has decent pocket awareness, but lacks escapability with his average speed and athleticism. Webb’s decision making is in desperate need of coaching. Too many times Webb predetermined his target and let it fly before going through his progressions. Questions will arise about his experience, since he played in the Air Raid offense at Texas Tech and Cal, and he turned in a disappointing final season at Cal. He also needs to work on decieving his decision making and throws -- he makes it way too obvious what target he’s going to, allowing defensive backs to cheat routes. That type of offense is not contusive to success in the NFL. With his good size at 6’5” he could be tough to tackle if he adds weight. Intriguing prospect.
5. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: Mahomes has one of the strongest arms in the draft with his impressive downfield throwing power.
He has above average accuracy, but he must a little more touch on some throws rather than throwing a fastball. Mahomes has good accuracy when throwing on the run, but must show more consistency in the pocket when throwing to the outside hashes. He must refrain from throwing off of his back foot under pressure. He sometimes will throw flat-footed, and needs to improve on maintaining proper mechanics. Like Kelly, Mahomes is a true gunslinger. He remains a raw decision maker, and must improve in that area. Mahomes tries to make a big play, every play, and he needs to learn to abort a play earlier. He trusts his arm a bit too much, and is reckless with the ball at times. He’s too loose with the ball when scrambling and evading pressure. He needs to be coached, but has all the talent in the world. He’s an elusive and agile athlete. Mahomes made numerous highlight reel plays where he escaped multiple defenders behind the line by scrambling and throwing across his body downfield. He possesses elite escapability and play-making skills. Like Webb, Mahomes comes from an Air Raid offense, which will have teams question his ability to play under center.
4. Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL): Kaaya had a good career at the University of Miami, but fell short of the hype around him.
Despite having good deep ball accuracy, there’s room for improvement, especially under pressure due to his lack of deep ball arm strength. He has above average arm strength, but he needs to get stronger at the next level in order to throw balls with high velocity, consistently. He shows nice touch on his throws, but he lacks a quick release, and he must improve on getting the ball out quicker. He also must work on accuracy under pressure, and improve quick decision making. Kaaya takes cares of the ball well, but needs to abandon a play earlier instead of holding on to the ball too long. He’s got good footwork while stepping up in the pocket when he has protection, but his footwork and mechanics abandon him when under pressure. He’s a smart player. Despite scanning the field well, he needs to avoid staring down his receiver and telegraphing his throws. Kaaya must improve pocket awareness, especially with back side pressure on blitzes. His below average escapability often killed promising drives. He’ll need to be coached before starting in the NFL, but has a lot of potential.
3. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame: Kizer has the tools to be a dual-threat nightmare for defenses, but he’s yet to show that on the field.
He’s an exceptional runner and athlete, and has great escapability due to his athleticism and big body. He has great pocket awareness and usually avoids huge sacks. Despite his great arm strength, he must improve his accuracy. Sometimes he would thread the needle or loft the ball into tight windows, other times the ball would sail under, over or behind receivers.
Kizer must also improve decision making. He tends to scramble too soon when he’s pressured, and must keep his eyes downfield longer to allow the play to develop. He needs to go through his progressions a little quicker, and there’s room for improvement on footwork consistency. He’ll have to be coached to drop back under center, and remain in the pocket in the NFL. Played in a zone-read scheme, with a lot of run-pass option plays. That type of offense will only get you so far in the NFL, just look at Colin Kaepernick’s career. At no point has Kizer looked like a first-round pick on the field, but again, he has the tools to be one.
2. Mitch Trubisky, UNC: Trubisky is the first quarterback out of the list where you say “He looks close to an NFL prospect.”
He should not start right away, as sitting and learning could do him wonders since he has only started one full season. Despite only starting one season, he looks like the second most mature quarterback behind DeShaun Watson. He has great arm strength. Throws absolute darts to all parts of the field. He doesn’t throw an elite deep ball, but all his throws have high velocity on them. His arm is comparable to Mahomes’s as one of the best arms in the draft. Trubisky has great accuracy, but has room for improvement on his inconsistent deep ball. He has good mechanics and footwork, but will occasionally throw with a bit of a wind-up release. He’s a good decision maker, and throws for a high completion percentage. He’s mobile and surprisingly quick, and can extend plays using his legs. Trubisky does a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield when scrambling. He’s always looking to pass first. He has an above average ability of going through progressions and reading defenses. If he returned to college for one more year and produced the same season again, he’d be a top five pick. It will be interesting to see if teams will be timid to pick him after only one season of experience.
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson: Watson had an up-and-down season.
On tape, he took a step back in decision-making from his stellar sophomore season.
He has good accuracy, but his 17 interceptions – and 30 over the past two seasons – are concerning, according to espn.com. The interceptions are due to his decision making, more than his accuracy. He must improve decision making. He had moments where he didn’t read the field well, leading to balls thrown to defenders who weren’t seen. He’s arguably the most complete quarterback in the draft – a gifted runner and passer. When he’s playing well, he’s a dangerous dual-threat QB. He has great arm strength, and is exceptionally accurate when throwing on the run. He doesn’t have elite speed, but I’m interested to see what is 40-yard dash time is – I think it’ll be very good. He didn't play like a first-round pick, but played exceptionally well down the stretch of the season to make up for his lackluster play earlier. He does well with maintaining his mechanics and replanting his feet to throw the ball accurately downfield when scrambling. Watson has an exceptional deep ball with great touch for his receivers. He made big-time throws in many clutch situations over his career. He’s the best quarterback in this draft – and is likely to be taken in the top 10 – but in a good quarterback class, he wouldn’t be a top 20 pick.