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Quarterback Buffalo Rumblings.
Here, taken from a draft of my 2017 NFL Draft guide, are my quarterback rankings for the draft. I’ll include a key sentence or two explaining why I feel the way I do about these prospects. If my words don’t sway you, we’ll be publishing scouting reports for the quarterbacks targeted by Buffalo before draft weekend starts.
In general, quarterbacks within the same tier will be ranked rather closely together. That is to say, there’s a greater difference between Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in my mind than between Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes.
DeShone Kizer | Notre Dame
Pocket movement is outstanding, with quick recognition of pressure, clean footwork to reset his throwing platform, and fast processing speed. Can anticipate some throws, but multi-read progressions are still developing NFL speed. Short to intermediate throwing accuracy is great, while deep passes are inconsistent: either on the money or placed too far. Reminds me of a less-developed Jameis Winston, with a sterling off-field reputation.
Mitchell Trubisky | North Carolina
Trubisky plays without fear, and senses pressure well. He has natural movement in the pocket, and always seems to have enough poise and vision to find exactly the right receiver to convert that 3rd down. Arm talent is another plus. I see vibes of Eli Manning watching him play, and the only real question is his single year of starting.
Patrick Mahomes | Texas Tech
Johnny Manziel: Deluxe Edition. Taller, thicker, stronger arm, no off-field issues. Same great insane improvisation. He does everything wrong, but audaciously makes it succeed for him anyway. I thought Manziel could be a game-changer in the NFL, if he tried to be. Mahomes has the same potential, but the only thing that could hold him back are NFL coaches, not an insatiable desire to party.
Deshaun Watson | Clemson
Arm strength is passable, but a definite notch down from the other top guys. Aggressive, confident passer with good presnap reads but occasional blindness to postsnap adjustments, which creates turnovers. Extremely elusive in the pocket, but needs to learn to stay in the pocket and throw rather than bailing at the first sign of adversity. More than one of his traits concern me, and you couldn’t talk me into picking him tenth overall.
Jerod Evans | Virginia Tech
Very impressive ball placement, frequently putting passes where defenders can’t reach or to lead receivers upfield. Either an anticipatory thrower or an extremely good system fit, because balls were frequently thrown by the end of his drop. Sometimes fades back and throws off his back foot under pressure, but I wasn’t able to get a good read on how he deals with pressure because there’s not much tape for Evans, who only started one year for the Hokies. With more viewing, could potentially move up to tier two.
Brad Kaaya | Miami
Much better playing in a controlled space, where he can roll out from under center and throw with a more relaxed process. His accuracy and field reading improve tremendously when he’s not under pressure, and he has a dynamite play fake to freeze defenders. Not at ease in a messy pocket.
Nathan Peterman | Pittsburgh
Peterman has excellent mechanics, including dropbacks, pocket movement, and play action fakes. While he generally chooses the right targets, his receivers frequently have to leap or dive to catch his passes, especially when he’s being pressured or throwing on the run. Backup is the most likely outcome for him, which is why he sits in this tier.
Chad Kelly | Ole Miss
You have to add all the pieces together - the Favre-esque on-field play, the extensive injury history, and the laundry list of off-field concerns. Kelly is a serious risk, but in terms of passing potential he’s top-three in this class. I don’t like him. But I understand why others do.
Davis Webb | Cal
Webb has the arm, graceful movement, and beginnings of good field reading to suggest that he could develop into a long term starter, given some TLC. At the moment, beware when pressure comes - his instincts are to throw up a prayer deep downfield, or to back outside the pocket instead of step up.
Joshua Dobbs | Tennessee
With his arm, athleticism, and a brain that could handle an aerospace engineering degree, Dobbs has the tools to be an NFL starting quarterback. But many parts of his game lack the refinement of his peers, which is why he sits in this tier.
Mitch Leidner | Minnesota
Built like a Tebow or Prescott, and had a disappointing college TD:INT of 36:32. Has good pocket presence, decision-making when pressured, but rarely on the same page as his receivers and it affected his perceived accuracy a good deal.
C.J. Beathard | Iowa
Well-coached passer from a pro-style offense with a decent arm. Needs to speed up his progression process to avoid giving defenders a chance to tee off on his receivers.
Cooper Rush | Central Michigan
Has good throwing mechanics, starter-caliber arm strength, and generally good accuracy. If he can kick his habit of throwing off his back foot when pressured, he could stick around the league long-term.
Kevin Anderson | Fordham
Unafraid of throwing in the face of oncoming pass rushers, and a smart decision-maker who had a 27:4 TD:INT in his final college season. Accuracy needs to develop.
Taysom Hill | BYU
Hill would be a 27-year-old rookie, tore his LCL, fractured his leg, fractured his foot, and hyperextended his elbow during an injury-plagued career. He’s still one of the most athletic QBs in this draft, and has a similar playstyle to Tyrod Taylor. Low floor, high ceiling.
Seth Russell | Baylor
Athletic, and possesses a great deep ball. But remember: Bryce Petty had much more success than Russell at Baylor, and even he was a fourth round pick who struggled to emerge from an NFL bench.
Brady Gustafson | Montana
Big, with a strong arm - but he played like NFL Brock Osweiler, in college. What would that look like if he tried to play in the NFL?
Wes Lunt | Illinois
Missed time in college with a leg fracture and, most recently, a back injury. Accuracy suffers because of a weird throwing stance. When pressured, takes too many unnecessary chances instead of being aware of the game situation. Not especially athletic or productive in college, there are probably better options.
Nick Mullens | Southern Mississippi
Very slow process in the pocket, and a see-it, throw-it passer. While he has upside as a scrambler, he lacks touch on his passes, throwing most throws as bullets. Doesn’t have any skills for dodging pressure in the pocket right now.
Jeremy Johnson | Auburn
Essentially mobile artillery. Has a rocket arm, but accuracy beyond five yards was scattershot due to unrepeatable mechanics. Had difficulty reading defenses in Auburn’s simple spread, and was eventually benched.
Not Yet Evaluated
Alek Torgersen | Pennsylvania
Sefo Liufau | Colorado
Patrick Towles | Boston College
Antonio Pipkin | Tiffin
Trevor Knight | Texas A&M