By Jim Weidner. Nobody will mistake this year’s group of quarterbacks to the quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft. That was the year quarterbacks John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, and Dan Marino were all selected in the first round. This year’s draft class has some capable prospects at the quarterback position, but aren’t viewed as elite.
Still, with teams in need of a franchise quarterback, one of these prospects will be drafted higher than he probably should. Because of the lack of patience and lack of ways to develop a quarterback prospect, a team or teams will force one or more of these prospects into action. In today’s NFL, a quarterback prospect must not only have talent, but must also have mental toughness.
This year, four quarterback prospects are in the conversation to be the first quarterback off the draft board. All have strengths and all have weaknesses. I asked Daniel Parlegreco of DTP Draft Scout how he would rate these four prospects: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson; North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky; Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer; and, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. Here is the order Daniel Parlegreco rated them and I have added comments about each prospect.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: There is a lot to like about Mahomes. He has an athletic bloodline as his father was a former pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. He has the arm strength and athletic ability to thrive in the NFL.
Mahomes put his big arm and athletic ability to use this past season at Texas Tech where he threw for 5,052 yards and 41 touchdown passes on just 10 interceptions. However, Mahomes offense at Texas Tech looks nothing like an NFL passing attack. The Red Raiders spread the field out and it seems like they pass on every single down.
Patrick Mahomes will need time to develop as his footwork isn’t where it needs to be and he needs to adjust to the pro game. If you are going off potential, there is an argument for Mahomes to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft But, if you are an NFL team looking for a starter right away, Mahomes isn’t your man.
2. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina: Trubisky’s name popped up as a possible first round pick late in this year’s college football season. This past season, his junior season, was his first full season as a starter.
Trubisky had a solid season for the Tar Heels throwing for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions. However, he was only a full time starter for just one season. Mitchell Trubisky has good size at 6’3” tall and 220 lbs.
Trubisky looks like he has the tools to flourish in the NFL but could be a risky draft pick in the first round of the NFL Draft given a lack of a track record.
3. Deshaun Watson, Clemson: There is a lot to love about Watson. This past season, he led Clemson to a National Championship over the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. The junior posted 4,593 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes on 17 interceptions. Waston also rushed for 629 yards and scored 9 rushing touchdowns. Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney said passing up on drafting Deshaun Watson first overall is like passing up on drafting Michael Jordan.
Although Sweeney’s comment might be a little overboard, there is a lot to like about Watson. He has the natural ability and leadership to be a very good quarterback at the next level. I will have to disagree with DTP’s assessment on this one, ranking him third out of this group seems low.
4. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame: Kizer, who is a junior like the rest of this group, finishes out the list. Notre Dame might have had a down season, but it is hard to blame Kizer. For the Fighting Irish, Kizer threw for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Kizer, like Mahomes, will need time to develop after playing for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly whose offense is a spread attack. I have a hard time believing Kizer will go in the first round. To me, he is more of a second round prospect.
This year’s NFL Draft does not look like it will provide the sort of great quarterback prospects we have seen in seasons past. But, there are teams out there who will be in the market for drafting one in the first round. Teams like the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, and Chicago Bears all appear to be in the market for a quarterback. Selecting a quarterback in the first round doesn’t mean your franchise will instantly turn things around. But, if he pans out, it will help.