Quarterback is the most important position on a football team (besides guard, of course) and because of that, there is so much focus that is put into evaluating signal callers. This quarterback class is intriguing because no one can seem to agree on if there is a franchise type of player or who that guy is. Many lesser prospects have been pumped up by the media and likely will get over drafted by the NFL for various reasons, mostly for valuing the wrong traits. Without further blabbering, here are my top quarterbacks in this year's draft class:
- Paxton Lynch, Memphis: Besides being tall, there are plenty more traits to get excited about with Paxton Lynch. The 245 pound quarterback has a big arm that he does an excellent job of getting the ball down the field with. Lynch has great poise in the pocket and does a good job making plays under duress. His vertical ability as a passer, combined with his ability in and outside of the pocket makes him stand out above the rest of the class. There is a learning curve coming from a relatively simple offense and he will need to improve throwing to the middle of the field, but of all of these quarterbacks, Lynch has the best day one starting ability.
- Connor Cook, Michigan State: Connor Cook has been the guy in East Lansing for quite a few years now. The 6-4, 220 pound quarterback has a very solid arm and thrives off of a gun slinging mentality. Cook never lets his mistakes snowball and can make plays even when the seem like they are not. His aggressive passing style may lend itself to some mistakes, but also affords a team chances to score on any given down. Cook does a good job working outside of the pocket and throwing on the move, as well. His consistency will need to be tightened up in the NFL, but Cook has good tools and an outstanding on field mentality to be a good NFL quarterback.
- Vernon Adams, Oregon: Adams may have started the year out at Oregon with some hiccups, but it cannot be understated how impressive he was down the stretch. His not only picking up a new offense so quickly, but taking full control of it speaks to incredible intangibles. As a quarterback, Adams is incredibly accurate at all levels of the field, has excellent football intelligence and has Houdini-like escapability. Teams may be turned off by his 5-11, 200 pound frame, but it is worth noting that he has a higher BMI than Jared Goff or Connor Cook. That, combined with overall outstanding health in college (outside of an injury he sustained when he smashed his hand on a helmet during a throw) should dispel any concerns about his size hurting his game. Adams has all the tools necessary to be an NFL quarterback and is incredibly smart. There is some projection with him coming from a simplistic offense, but with how quickly he has been able to pick up play books in the past, it is only a small concern.
- Cardale Jones, Ohio State: The beleaguered Buckeye has received a lot of criticism over the last year. He took Ohio State on a tear through the playoffs, coming off the bench to lead the Buckeyes to a national title, but took a step back after losing Tom Herman last offseason. It is worth noting that Jones was not the only one who suffered a negative impact from losing Herman to Houston. The whole offense, even Ezekiel Elliot, took a huge hit. Jones still had moments of brilliance over the last season that make be believe in his ability to be an NFL quarterback. His size, athletic ability and other worldly arm strength are jut too enticing to pass up on. He has outstanding poise in the pocket and plays a tough, no holds barred brand of football. He suffers from inaccuracy issues and his aggressiveness can get him into trouble at times, but his peaks more than justify his valleys. If given some consistency with a coaching staff and put in a situation where he constantly has someone breathing down his neck for his job, I think Jones has a great chance to become something in the NFL. It is also worth noting that he was beloved by his fellow teammates and coaches, a testament to his outstanding intangibles. Do not let recency bias fool you, Jones has the talent to be an NFL quarterback.
- Jared Goff, California: Goff was anointed before the season as the golden boy of this draft and that still has not faded. While Goff does bring some very good qualities to the table, I have a hard time seeing him as anything close to a top prospect. Goff is a great facilitator type of QB who can play very well within structure. Of course he has moments where he flashes when the play breaks down, but Goff is not in the same class as Lynch, Cook or Adams in terms of working off script. Goff is a smart QB who does a great job seeing the field and it cannot be understated the importance to running an offense to the level of efficiency he did. Where Goff worries me is when plays get muddy. Goff's pocket presence is inconsistent at best and skittish at worse. When windows tighten up, Goff just doesn't have the arm or the aggressive playing style to compensate and he either turns into a turnover machine or Check Down Charlie. Goff needs everything to go to plan to function as a QB and that is a massive worry when projecting him to the NFL, especially considered that he seems physically maxed out as a prospect. I think Goff can be an NFL starter, but his ceiling is more Brian Hoyer than Aaron Rodgers.