NFL Draft Position Rankings 1.0: Quarterbacks
By Jim Johnson
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Ranking the ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, and SoCon 2017 NFL Draft prospects.
The 2017 NFL Draft is just a couple of months away and, as always, the bulk of the top talent is coming out of our coverage area -- the ACC and SEC (with some Sun Belt and SoCon players as well) -- so I will be releasing fluid position rankings throughout the run-up to April 27th. This ranking only includes players from teams that we cover, meaning some of the major players from the other conferences will not be included. Curiously, the rankings wouldn't look much different even if they were, though.
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson is the premier quarterback talent, albeit in a weak draft. On the shortlist of all-time great college players, but there are questions about how he will translate to the NFL. Maintained about a 2.5:1 touchdown to interception ratio over his two season as a full-time starter. Needs to improve his accuracy on deep balls.
2. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
Not as much tape on Trubisky as one would like, having only started one season at UNC. Great arm strength; can make every throw. A dual-threat, but doesn't default to his legs at the first sign of trouble. Could use some work on recognizing blitzes. Pocket awareness comes and goes.
3. Brad Kaaya, Miami
Super polished. As technically and mechanically sound as they come. Excellent timing, and will be comfortable in a pro-style offense immediately. Has below average arm strength for a professional. Must improve accuracy on intermediate to deep passes.
4. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Kelly is a good, old fashioned gunslinger. Supremely gifted passer that can make just about every throw. Short memory, willing and able to test safeties vertically. Struggles on passes to his left. However, his bouts of inconsistency, lack of pro-style experience, and off-the-field issues could be concerning.
5. Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech
Evans will not be an immediate, or even early, starter in the NFL. He's a project. His upside, though is why he's in the top five. Extremely naturally talented and built like the prototype NFL quarterback, Evans could be a good starter in the league someday. That said, coming from a very 'college system' plus the lack of high-level football experience will limit him early.
6. Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
Josh Dobbs is a playmaker that may not have ever lived up to his full potential at Tennessee. Puts the perfect touch on his deep ball, allowing him to complete close to half his passes of 20 or more yards. Slight frame could be cause for concern, but not as much as his tendency to set himself on a presnap read and fail to adjust, leading to turnovers.
7. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Peterman could be an top tier NFL quarterback one day, if he can iron out his consistency issues. At times, it seems he is everything you look for in a modern signal caller. Occasionally overestimates his own arm talent. If he can learn to play smart, and not do too much, rather rely on his teammates, he will be a steal.
8. Trevor Knight, Texas A&M
A natural athlete. Can improvise when things break down. If nothing else, could find a niche in short yardage situations. Brutally inaccurate passer. Winds up to an extent that will not fly against the world-class athletes in NFL secondaries. Hard to say how easily correctable the mechanic issues will be.
9. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
People may have forgotten, but Justin Thomas was once one of the most highly sought after high school recruits in the country. May end up at another position, and is capable of making the transition, but wants a shot at quarterback. If maximizes his pro day, he could start to sneak up some draft boards.
10. Patrick Towles, Boston College
Under ideal conditions, Towles can be a serviceable quarterback. However, he struggles under duress, fails to maintain consistency, and makes poor decisions more often than one would like.