(Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)
We are quickly coming to an end of the college football season, and that means we are coming closer to getting our last looks at the incoming rookies of the 2019 class. While the combine is great and allows us an up-close look at these players who will be populating our fantasy rosters after our rookie drafts. It often doesn’t give an accurate representation of the players, like seeing them against their counterparts in real game action. Last year by looking at these players in game action and analyzing their stats, we were able to let you know about guys like Phillip Lindsay and Ito Smith household names now yes, but at the time players given little thought by fantasy players. While of course, we got players wrong as well me personally I had Ronald Jones II ranked fourth in his class, he obviously has fallen short of those expectations so far this year. Over the next month, I will release an article on a different position of players to start watching out for, for those of you in dynasty leagues who want to get a leg up on your competition. I will give you their current stats and where I have them ranked. As we come to a close to the college season I will revisit each position and show you where players values have changed.
For this article, I will discuss my current top 5 college quarterbacks I expect to declare for the 2019 NFL draft. This list will be my top 5 as of right now and will likely change when you see the next list at the end of the season as their play can improve or decrease their current stock value for me. How I evaluate these players is based on how they play against top competition and in ranked games. I also put an immense value on how they play in the pocket and their play style which will be referenced on each players bio. Each of these players stats being posted will be from the current 2018 year. Once the top five are listed I will list a couple players right on the outside to watch who could move up toward the end of the year and bowl season.
Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Justin Herbert is one of the most intriguing prospects for me in this class at quarterback. He is a dual-threat quarterback and has played extremely well at Oregon. He was a three-star prospect in High School in Oregon per Rivals.com While he has struggled as of late and has talked about going back to school for his senior year. If he comes out I think he is easily the consensus number one quarterback of this class.
Herbert passes the eyeball test he’s a big, strong quarterback who has an NFL arm. He can push the ball to all levels of the field. Has shown some beautiful touch, particularly on bucket throws and back shoulder passes away from defensive players, he can fit the ball into tight spaces. Mobility outside the pocket has become a key part of quarterbacks games in the NFL, and he has this in spades. He has shown the ability to get outside the pocket and extend plays while continually keeping his eyes downfield and finding an open receiver.
Coming out of a spread offense brings some concerns. He struggles at times to go through his full progressions on the field, sometimes locking onto one receiver for an entire play. Decision making under pressure at times has been bad. His internal clock has suffered at times when holding onto the ball too long with a rusher inbound. He needs to work on getting rid of the ball quicker and sometimes finding easy completions.
In this clip, you can see Herbert’s velocity he can put on a ball while fitting it into a tight window.
In this clip you get a good look at his athletiscm and what he can do rushing out of the pocket.
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)
Dwayne Haskins may have the best arm talent in this class and has shown that off this year as the starter for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Haskins has been a pro-style quarterback going back into high school where he was a four-star recruit per Rivals.com. Much like Herbert, Haskins has talked about going back to school as he has struggled in some games this year. If he comes out though he will be a highly regarded prospect and likely a first-round target much like Herbert. Being a redshirt sophmore Haskins has the oppurtunity to come out this year, the fate of Urban Meyer might push him one way or the other at the end of the year.
Haskins is a natural thrower of the ball. He does a good job maneuvering in the pocket, stands tall and delivers the ball with great pace and velocity to receivers. He consistently sees the whole field and does a good job hitting his receivers in space allowing the opportunity to run after the catch. Has the accuracy and velocity to hit receivers on all three levels of the field. He does a good job manipulating a collapsing pocket and sliding to avoid rushers. He does a good job driving throws and hitting receivers in between the numbers, while also “threading the needle” giving his receivers a chance to catch the ball over defenders.
Haskins doesn’t take many shots downfield, though that may be more a product of his offense compared to his ability. Has shown so major inconsistencies placing the ball downfield in recent games, which is concerning given the talent around him. This is his first year as a starter and hasn’t played many top defenses. However, he has a couple crucial matchups coming up, and if they make the playoffs will play top talent there. He may struggle coming out of the OSU offense in the NFL but has mastered his role at OSU. Likely if given time in the NFL he should be fine given his lack of experience as a starter.
In this clip, you can see the arm strength that Haskins possesses. Putting the ball toward the outside of the wide receiver where only he can catch it, all while throwing almost upright off his back foot. Impressive to see him get that ball there on a touch pass without stepping into it.
In this clip, you see the good pocket awareness of Haskins as he takes a step back. He delivers a pass allowing the wide receiver to run into it with pace.
After Justin Herbert and Dwayne Haskins, I believe there is a drop off in the rest of this class. Most of these quarterbacks below this point I believe will likely be second round picks or later.
Will Grier ( West Virginia)
Will Grier much like Justin Herbert is a dual-threat quarterback, and a four-star recruit coming out of high school per Rivals.com. Grier has been a great leader at West Virginia, but signed and was with Florida before he transferred to West Virginia. He transferred due to taking a banned substance and was pushed to leave Florida by coach McElwain. While the off-field drama led him to leave, on the field for Florida he showed us exactly what he has been showing at West Virginia. His arm and mobility in the pocket and out of the pocket are what make him an intriguing player for me.
Great technique in 3-5 step drops. Does a good job reading defenses and has a quick release to his wide receivers. Possesses the arm strength to fit the ball through intermediate windows and holes in the defense. Can throw with touch to all areas of the field. Accurate in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Does a good job hitting players with back shoulder passes. Grier also has great mobility in and out of the pocket, his ability to hit players in stride while outside on the pocket is incredible.
He is considered to be a little undersized for the NFL. Plays in more of a spread offense that affords him the opportunity to make a lot of throws against man coverage. He has seemed to struggle against teams that play zone coverage, or teams with a good blitz that forced him out of the pocket. His accuracy on deep throws needs improvement.
In this clip, you see Grier fit the ball in a tight space (though a bit behind the receiver) with good velocity on the ball.
In this clip, with a clean pocket, you can see his arm strength placing the ball right over the wide receivers back shoulder for an easy touchdown.
In this clip, we see Grier throw with great pace to the back shoulder allowing just the wide receiver a play on the ball for a good touchdown.
Drew Lock (Missouri)
Drew Lock a four-star prospect out of Missouri, committed to Mizzou per Rivals.com and has become a gunslinger and top NFL prospect. Lock plays in a good pro-style offense at Missouri. He is easily locked into my fourth spot at the moment, but many other analysts have him anywhere from the third prospect all the way down to the eight. This is all mostly due to some inconsistencies in his play at this time. These next few games and bowl season for Mizzou will be key to him rising or falling down boards.
Drew Lock has the “NFL” size most teams are looking for and great arm strength. He can throw to all areas on the field and to all three levels. As stated above he has shown a gunslinger mentality and has proven he can make tight window, back shoulder and corner route throws. He has shown great poise in the pocket keeps his eyes downfield even when under heavy pressure, and has shown the ability to hit his receivers in stride knowing he’ll take a big hit. He can extend plays outside the pocket, but he doesn’t thrive in these situations like others in his class. Though he has the gunslinger mentality his decision making has improved every year and has shown poise in late game situations being tied or down late.
Inaccuracy is one of his biggest concerns. His deep ball is consistently misplaced, he overthrows wide receivers especially down the sideline out of bounds. While sometimes he will hit them in stride. Has shown on short-intermediate routes to throw behind his receiver or down by their hips and legs. He has also had some struggles in the red zone overthrowing wide receivers. Lock has also shown a tendency to lock onto his wide receivers and not look them off, even if the defense is giving him something else. Learning to see the whole field and consistency are his biggest areas that need improvement.
In this clip, We see Lock step into his throw with good overhead mechanics and drive the ball into a tight window on the sideline.
In this clip, we see Lock drive the ball yet again leading the receiver dropping into his hands for about 40 yards.
In this clip, we see yet again Lock is able to drive the ball down the field with a clean pocket. He drops it in over the defender for what should have been an easy touchdown.
Tyree Jackson (Buffalo)
Tyree Jackson is the biggest quarterback in my top five and possess quite possibly one of the strongest arms I’ve seen. He plays in a pro-style offense and was only a two-star recruit out of high school per Rivals.com. He is one of the most physically gifted athletes in this draft class. However, we haven’t seen many quarterbacks succeed at his height. He also has played more games against weaker teams than the other players in the top five. He has also failed to play an entire season in college so far, so a full 2018 season should help improve his stock. However, with his physical gifts, Jackson is intriguing enough that he could end up being the best of this class.
Jackson, as I stated earlier, will be one of the most intriguing prospects to watch in the bowl season and throughout the draft/combine process. His ability to push the ball downfield from the pocket showing little effort is truly outstanding. His ability to stand in the pocket and sidestep defenders, or even shake off the tackles in an underrated attribute. He has shown the ability to extend plays as well. He has only played 27 college games up to this point but has continued to improve in the pocket and improve his accuracy.
As stated above he has yet to play a full college season so far in his career. If he can play a full season this year and play in a bowl game, it will go a long way to increasing his draft value. Accuracy is by far his biggest issue and though he has continued to improve it, he has shown major inconsistencies throwing the ball especially in the short and intermediate routes. This could be due to limited reps because of all the missed games but will be something he needs to improve on to succeed at the next level.
In this clip, we see Tyree’s accuracy issues. He rushes the ball and throws the ball to the wide receiver so low its uncatchable. One of the things he needs to continue to improve.
In this clip, we get to see Tyree’s amazing arm strength. With little effort, he flings this ball almost 60 yards and drops it on the wide receiver who should have held onto the ball for a touchdown.
This is my favorite clip of Tyree. He is pushed out of the pocket and makes a beautiful 38 yard throw with touch. To put the ball over the defender, while dropping right to the receiver in stride, while off balance and on the run. That throw right there is what makes him such an interesting prospect.
These three quarterbacks are right on the fringe for me and do have a chance to jump into my top five, for these players I will just give their names and stats. Once the season comes to an end I will do a full top ten list and we will see if any of these players change their values in my eyes.
Jordan Ta’amu (Ole Miss)
Brett Rypien (Boise State)
Ryan Finley (NC State)