We have not quite finished shoveling the last bit of dirt on the 2018 NFL Draft. That is not going to stop us from looking too early into the 2019 NFL Draft class with a watch list of the Quarterback position. Five QBs were selected in the first round this year, tying for the second-most all-time in the first round.
Not every team that needed a passer (or will need one soon) took one early enough to dissuade you from thinking they will not take one early in 2019. The New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Chargers are prime examples of teams that desperately need to get a plan in place for their near-retirement gunslingers. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals are two teams that may need to move on from their average-to-below average quarterbacks if they hope to elevate their respective teams to the next level.
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at a handful of quarterbacks that I think could be contenders to go high in the 2019 NFL Draft at this point in time.
QUARTERBACKS TO WATCH
JUSTIN HERBERT, 6’5” 225, JR, OREGON
Herbert has the size and the build you crave. He has an accurate arm, makes good decisions, and has more than enough arm strength to make NFL throws. In his career thus far, Herbert has thrown for 3919 yards, completed 65% of his attempts, and has thrown 34 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. He broke his collarbone midway through the Ducks campaign a year ago but came back to lead his team to the Las Vegas Bowl. For Oregon, it was bad timing because he was hurt during the meat of their schedule. He needs to show he can stay healthy for the entirety of 2018 and keep his accuracy and decision-making strong.
DREW LOCK, 6’3” 205, SR, MISSOURI
Lock is considered by some to be an early top-10 pick next season but I am not there yet. Lock has a good arm but he needs to improve his accuracy and decision making. He is a career 55% passer. Lock has thrown for 8695 yards, with 71 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions. He padded his numbers against inferior competition but struggled more in SEC play. The positive for Lock is that he has started every game he has played in at Mizzou. I want to see how what he does to improve his accuracy this year and how he handles conference play.
JARRETT STIDHAM, 6’2” 210, JR, AUBURN
Stidham has the tools to be a very good prospect but I worry about the offensive systems he has played in. Stidham transferred from Baylor after starting there as a true freshman. He got injured and moved on after the whole Baylor program became a mess. Stidham became the Auburn starter in the fall of 2017 and lead them every game. He is a career 67% passer with a 30/8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. I worry about his frame, which to the eyeball test, doesn’t look like one that will hold up to the rigors of the NFL. I also want to see him in another full season at Auburn, to see if he shows enough NFL traits to make him worthwhile.
JAKE BENTLEY, 6’3” 223, JR, SOUTH CAROLINA
Bentley graduated high school a year early and enrolled with the Gamecocks, where his father Bobby is the RB coach. Bentley took over the starting job as a true freshman and led Carolina to a bowl game. He has thrown for 4214 yards in 20 starts with 27 touchdowns. Now the negative part of his game. Bentley has thrown 16 interceptions. This is partly because he doesn’t always set his feet before he throws. Bentley sails a lot of passes high. He has the size and arm strength to be an NFL starter. Bentley just has a good bit to fix mechanically. South Carolina is going to a more up-tempo, quick decision making based offense in 2018. I am curious to see if that, coupled with better mechanics, can make him a better prospect.
WILL GRIER, 6’2” 204, SR, WEST VIRGINIA
Grier is one of the more productive and accurate passers available for the 2019 draft. He is a career 65% passer with 4692 yards. He has thrown 44 TDs to only 15 INTs. Grier gets through his progressions quickly and throws a very catchable pass. He has a frailer frame than Stidham. He was also suspended from Florida (where he subsequently transferred from) for testing positive for P.E.D.’s. Grier broke a bone on his throwing hand late in the 2017 season trying to dive for the pylon against Texas. He will also be a 24-year old rookie. Other than adding on about 20 pounds, there isn’t much that Grier will be able to do to elevate his stock any higher than what it is already. Either a team will like him for he is, or they won’t.
WILD CARD: TYREE JACKSON, 6’7” 245, JR, BUFFALO
Get ready to tune into some MAC-tion this year! Jackson is built like a tank and runs like a gazelle. He has a big arm. He needs to improve his accuracy (only 56% career). He missed four games last year with a knee injury. When Jackson returned over the last four games of the Bulls season he completed 63% of his passes, threw for 1363 yards, with 9 touchdowns. This tells me the best could be yet to come for him. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a potential first-round pick to throw to with WR Anthony Johnson. Jackson has a funky windup motion when he throws but that is something that can be cleaned up. If you were looking for a potential dark horse candidate at quarterback to be drafted in the first round next year, Tyree Jackson may be your guy.
OTHERS TO WATCH:
Nick Fitzgerald, 6’5 230, Sr, Mississippi State
Taryn Christion, 6’2 215, Sr, South Dakota State
Ryan Finley, 6’4 200, Sr, NC State
Clayton Thorson, 6’3 215, Sr, Northwestern
Brett Rypien, 6’2 195, Sr, Boise State
Easton Stick, 6’2 215, Sr, North Dakota State
Justice Hansen, 6’3 218, Sr, Arkansas State
Shea Patterson, 6’1 193, Jr, Michigan
Nathan Stanley, 6’4 212, Jr, Iowa
I hope you enjoyed my first column here at INSC. I look forward to bringing you much more NFL Draft content throughout the year.