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The NFL Draft is slated to take place in the city of brotherly love from April 27th-April 30th. As you get ready to watch who your team will select, CBS Local Sports will preview the top available prospects in the various different position groups.
We start with a focus on the most important position on the field: quarterback. There are several teams in need of a franchise QB and this year’s class offers a variety of options. The question for teams looking at this crop: are these guys ready to play right away? Or do they need some time to develop?
Here’s a look at the five best QB prospects in this year’s draft.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
6’2″ 222 lbs.
College Stats: 31 games, 13 starts 67.5% completion percentage 4,762 yards 41 TD 10 INT
Combine Stats: 40 Time – 4.67 seconds, Vertical- 27.5 inches, Broad jump – 9’8″, 3-cone – 6.87 seconds, 20-yard shuttle – 4.25 seconds
Trubisky shot up draft boards this year after entering the season as an unknown quantity following two seasons of backing up Marquise Williams. His one season as a starter was an impressive one to say the least as he finished fifth in the country in completion percentage (68 percent) while throwing for 3,748 yards and a 30-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio. Scouts love his accuracy, prototypical build and arm strength, but an area of concern is the (relative) lack of experience as a starter in college. There have been questions (fair or not) throughout the draft process so far about his inability to beat out Williams in his first two years on campus.
Overall, Trubisky is likely to be the first QB off the board with QB-hungry teams like Cleveland, San Fran, the Jets, all near the top of the draft.
DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
6’2″ 221 lbs.
College Stats: 38 games, 34 starts, 67.4% completion percentage, 10,168 yards 90 TD 32 INT
Combine Stats: 40 Time – 4.66 seconds, Vertical – 32.5 inches, Broad jump – 9’11”, 3-cone – 6.95 seconds, 20-yard shuttle – 4.31 seconds
If Trubisky is considered option 1A, then Watson is considered option 1B in the minds of most draft evaluators. His college career is one that’s well-chronicled at this point after leading Clemson to back-to-back national championship game appearances against Alabama and defeating the Crimson Tide to end this season.
Watson averaged 472 yards of total offense in the two games against Alabama and had eight touchdowns versus just one interception. That’s a big plus to his resume, but one of the biggest drawbacks is his interception total in his final two college seasons. Watson threw 30 interceptions across 30 games in his final two years in school, including 17 (2nd-NCAA) this past season. Watson also comes from a different style of offense that was built on the threat he presents as a runner as well as a passer. That kind of offense has worked in the NFL (see: Cam Newton), but Watson doesn’t have the same size or arm strength that Newton has. That’s not to say that Watson definitely can’t settle into a pocket-passing role. At times, his accuracy fades, and he overthrows his receivers on deep balls.
Taking everything into account, Watson is likely the second, at worst, the third QB to come off the board on draft day.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
6’2″ 225 lbs.
College Stats: 32 games, 28 starts, 63.5% completion percentage, 11,252 yards 93 TD 29 INT
Combine Stats: 40 Time – 4.80 seconds, Vertical – 30 inches, Broad jump – 9’6″, 3-cone – 6.88 seconds, 20-yard shuttle – 4.08 seconds
Mahomes is the guy that’s been rising up the boards more and more since the draft process began. He wasn’t as big of a name in the beginning of the process likely due to Texas Tech’s pedestrian record in his time there (16-21 over three years). However, just because the team didn’t have much success, doesn’t mean that Mahomes is any less of a prospect.
In fact, his numbers in spite of the team’s performance are likely more impressive. Part of Mahomes’ efficiency and eye-popping stat line comes from his playing in an Air Raid offense, but, that shouldn’t discourage teams from giving him a look. While recent Air Raid quarterbacks haven’t found much success (Bryce Petty, Geno Smith), Mahomes seems to be better prepared for NFL success than those guys. A former baseball prospect, Mahomes has plenty of arm strength and he likes to showcase it in throwing plenty of deep balls. That said, his preference for making big plays can sometimes lead to bad turnovers. There’s always a question of how a guy who has spent a majority of his time in shotgun will transition to playing under center, and Mahomes will have to answer that for whichever team drafts him.
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
6’4″ 233 lbs.
College Stats: 25 games, 25 starts, 60.7% completion percentage, 5,805 yards 47 TD 19 INT
Combine Stats: 40 Time – 4.83 seconds, Vertical – 30.5 inches, Broad jump – 8’11”, 3-cone – 7.40 seconds, 20-yard shuttle – 4.53 seconds
Entering this past college football season, Kizer, along with Watson, were considered as the top QB prospects in the potential draft class. It was easy to see why. Kizer had stepped in for an injured Malik Zaire in 2015 and put up 2,880 yards 21 TDs and 10 INTs in leading Notre Dame to the Fiesta Bowl. Back for his red-shirt sophomore year, many expected him to improve upon those numbers. That didn’t exactly happen. Kizer threw for just 125 more yards (2,925) despite starting one more game than he did in 2015. His interception total went down (10 to 6) while his touchdowns went up (21 to 26), but his completion percentage also fell (62.9 to 58.7). The talent that he showed in 2015 still showed in flashes, but, as the team struggled in 2016, so did Kizer.
He looks the part of an NFL QB based on his size and arm strength, but that kind of inconsistency in performance from year-to-year has some concerned about where he fits at the pro level. Could he be a franchise QB? Sure. He could also be nothing more than a backup. The same could be said for any of the QB’s on this list however as there’s no sure-fire Andrew Luck type candidate this year.
Davis Webb, QB, California
6’5″ 229 lbs.
College Stats: 35 games, 30 starts, 61.5% completions, 9,852 yards 83 TD 34 INT
Combine Stats: 40 Time – 4.79 seconds, Vertical – 33 inches, Broad Jump – 9’10”, 3-cone – 6.92 seconds, 20-yard shuttle – 4.21 seconds
After starting his career at Texas Tech and splitting time with Baker Mayfield, he was overtaken by the guy who’s ranked third on this list, Patrick Mahomes. Webb then transferred to Cal as a graduate student and was able to play right away for Sonny Dykes. Statistically, Webb had his best season with 4,295 yards and 37 TDs versus 12 interceptions. Like Mahomes, Webb spent his entire college career in the Air Raid style of offense. Webb looked good at the Senior Bowl. completing 11 of his 16 attempts for 165 yards and a touchdown as the South picked up a win. The main knocks on Webb are inaccuracy on deep balls, playing in those offenses, and predetermining where he’s going to throw the ball before the snap. Webb is a developmental project, but could turn into a solid QB if put in the right system and given the right coaching.