The 2017 NFL Draft is approaching quickly, with the Combine and pro days in the rearview mirror. Between now and the opening of the first round, all draft analysts and team scouts will make their final player evaluations. Thus, I’m putting out my top five positional rankings, starting with the most important position of them all, quarterback.
1) Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Trubisky is the most pro ready quarterback of this class. He may have only one season as a starter under his belt, but he was excellent in his one year. Trubisky consistently carved up opponents secondaries, finishing the season with 30 touchdown passes compared to just six interceptions. But what is most impressive is Trubisky’s 68.0 completion rate. Trubisky was tied with Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. for fifth in the nation in terms of completion percentage (Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma finished first).
While on the surface Trubisky may look like a prototypical pocket passer, he actually has a lot of athleticism. Coming out of high school, Trubisky was rated as a dual threat quarterback prospect. This was reflected at the Combine as Trubisky posted a 4.67 time in the 40 yard dash. Trubisky will provide more of an immediate impact to whichever team drafts him compared to anyone else in this year’s class, and he has the potential to develop into a star.
2) Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Deshaun Watson is a proven winner. No other quarterback in this year’s class can match the big game experience Watson will bring to the NFL. Watson won two ACC championships, played in four College Football Playoff games, and won the 2017 National Championship. Watson played Alabama in the national championship game in each of his final two seasons, and he shredded the vaunted Crimson Tide defense both times. Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in Clemson’s 2016 loss to Alabama, and threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson’s 2017 victory. To post 825 total passing yards in just two games against Alabama is absolutely unheard of. In his two years at Clemson as a full time starter, Watson has 28 wins and just two losses. Watson’s resume is by far the most impressive in the Draft.
It is also well known that Watson has dual threat ability, and he showed that he has good speed for a quarterback with a 4.66 time in the 40 yard dash at the Combine.
Watson did struggle with his field vision in his final season at Clemson, which is the only reason why he isn’t number one in these rankings. Watson had 17 interceptions in 2016, which is far too many. However, he did have a 67.0 completion rate, just one percent lower than Trubisky, in 2016. Watson may have the highest ceiling in this class, and he can reach it as long as he cuts down on the interceptions.
3) DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Once viewed as the number one quarterback in this year’s class, Kizer’s stock has progressively sunk. Kizer has all the pieces to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, especially size and arm strength. However, he has never been able to put it all together. Kizer has drawn many comparisons to Cam Newton for his size, running ability, and canon of an arm. However, his accuracy was very inconsistent in 2016. This deficiency reappeared at the Combine, as Kizer wasn’t able to consistently put the ball right on target.
Kizer's inconsistent footwork left him spraying ball. Even on relatively simple right curls, ball went high, mid, low on 3 successive throws— Rob Rang (@RobRang) March 4, 2017
A situation like what the Arizona Cardinals or New York Giants present could be good for Kizer, who really needs time to develop. If he can work out his accuracy, and put his various talents together into one product, he has a chance to be a successful starter.
4) Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech
I think Mahomes has some similarities to the Texas A&M version of Johnny Manziel for his uncanny ability to make crazy plays. Like Manziel, Mahomes is able to use his feet to create time in the pocket, often having to juke pass rushers like Manziel would, but he can also use his feet to take off downfield. Mahomes has made plenty of crazy throws on the run while rolling out of the pocket, like Manziel always did. Mahomes is a dynamic playmaker.
Plus, Mahomes has the biggest arm in the class. Against Oklahoma, Mahomes threw for over 750 yards. At his Pro Day, Mahomes uncorked an 80 yard bomb to show off his arm strength.
But Manziel, despite being an unbelievable playmaker in college as well, failed in the NFL, and for more reasons than just off the field struggles. Manziel had a hard time on the field in the NFL too because a system where a quarterback can run around and make crazy plays like Manziel and Mahomes had in college doesn’t translate to the NFL. I’m not sure I’ve seen a play where Mahomes lines up under center, he will have to learn to do that in the NFL. Mahomes surely has talent, but he will have to undergo a transition from a free-wheeling college offense to a structured NFL one. It may take some time.
5) Davis Webb, Cal
Webb hasn’t shown an ability to throw the ball downfield, but he still has potential in the NFL. He is tall, standing at 6’5”, and uses his height to his advantage in the pocket to survey the field. He is poised under pressure. Plus, he is always looking to get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible, and into the hands of one of his playmaking receivers. However, as previously stated, Webb didn’t look downfield that often in 2016. Thus we don’t really know how good his arm is. Webb also has accuracy concerns. But he looks to be more of a prototypical QB, so the transition of systems may be slightly easier for him, despite playing in a spread offense, which will allow him to focus on his accuracy more.
That’s it for this edition, look for running backs coming next.