Lion’s Den: Too Early NFL Draft QB Preview

The Lion stops to take a photo with his favorite quarterback of the 2015 nfl draft class oregon duck marcus mariota

Be more racially ambiguous Marcus Mariota, I dare you.

Back by popular demand, (thanks to both of you, haha) the Lion is going to get the jump on Kiper and that clown McShay and rank this years college players way too early. I will start with the QB class. Just a reminder, I am basing my evaluations on  four categories;

  1. Measurables
  2. Important Statistics (I will explain later)
  3. Accomplishments, and of course,
  4. The Eye Exam
One of the things I noticed this year is that my list looks a lot like last years list. I have never seen so many consensus first round QBs return to school.
THE FAMILIAR FACES
 
Marcus Mariota Oregon:  This guy is probably the Heisman favorite right now. He has surprisingly good measurables.  He is listed as 6’4 (I don’t believe that though) and 215.  He is pretty fast and probably runs better than he throws.  I expect him to run a low 4.6 high 4.5 40 yard dash. Last year I was concerned that I didn’t see a high enough completion percentage from him. I want to see over 65% from a college QB. His extra year of seasoning has helped, he is now completing just over 67 percent of his passes. Last year I was concerned I hadn’t seen him throw downfield enough. This year he LEADS the NCAA in yards per attempt, at 10.  He has 29 TDs and only 2 interceptions which is nice. He has improved enough that I think its time to go to the NFL, especially considering his proclivity for injury. Best case Mariota shows he is a slightly better Kaepernick type player, worst case, Jake Locker, often injured, a little inconsistent with accuracy.
Brett Hundley UCLA: This is another guy who I said needed another year of seasoning, and actually listened to me. The NFL loves his measurable, He checks all the boxes. 6’3” 220, fairly athletic. Big arm, completing over 70% of his passes. I expect him to run a high 4.6 at the combine. He is confusing because some games he looks like a more athletic Andrew Luck, and other he looks lost. My biggest red flag with him is his tendancy to overthrow people. A lot of it has to do with his AWFUL OL. I expect GMs to fall in love with him at the combine and watching him in t-shirts and shorts. He has a higher upside than Mariotta and NFL guys LOVE upside.
James Winston FSU: Ok its true, I didn’t write about him last year in this column. But, it was because he was a redshirt freshman and therefore not allowed to declare for the NFL draft. Not so this year. If it weren’t for the off-the-field concerns, Winston would be the hands-down first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is a better pocket passer and is more accurate than Marcus Mariota. He is 6’4 230 and ran run enough. Not as fast as the above two guys but more mobile than fast. He is completing 66% of his passes. However, the possibility of Winston sabotaging his NFL career with off-the-field run-ins is a real concern. He also has 11 picks this year. I question his decision making. I can see him going to a team who perpetually takes risks like the Jets. He has bust potential written all over him, but somebody will take him.
Successful but Flawed:
Dax Prescott Miss St.: As I write this, Dax is still undefeated and a Heisman trophy candidate. I have my doubts about this continuing after Bama this weekend. Still, he is getting looks by the pundits because of his success and his size. He is 6’2 230lb. He is pretty athletic. Lots of red flags though. He isn’t as fast as the guys above him on this list. I expect him to run a 4.7 plus dash. He is only completing 61 percent of his passes, and his attempts are lower than any qb on this list. He has black Tim Tebow written all over him. Best case he is a homeless mans Cam Newton. Meh. Not a first rounder. I wouldn’t take him in the second either.
Bryce Petty Baylor: He stormed on to the scene last year putting up video game numbers in the high flying Baylor offense.  Petty completed 62 percent of his passes last year for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and three interceptions. He ran for 339 yards and 14 touchdowns as well. That is insane.  When you see he is about 6-3, 230, you would think he would be a sure fire first round pick. Unless you noticed the Red Flag the Lion does. Accuracy. He can’t complete 65 percent of his passes in that offense? This year, he is only completing 55 percent. I question his accuracy and pocket presence.  Not a first or second rounder.
Sleepers:
Connor Cook MSU: The Lion has discussed this earlier, but surprisingly there are a ton of Spartan QBs in the NFL right now getting playing time for teams. Foles transferred from MSU. Kirk Cousins played there as did Drew Stanton. Cook has played better than any of his predecessors in Green and White and seems to be continuing to improve. What I like about him is his big arm, pocket presence, the mobility to avoid rushers and roll out, and the ability to make some precision throws. Cook plays in a pro-style system and has shown steady improvement with his ability to function out of the pocket while working through his progressions. He is a nice size at 6-4 218. He hasn’t put up video game numbers like some of these other guys, but he makes big throws to win games when needed. If he continues to improve and show improved accuracy, I can see him being a late riser on team’s boards.
Garret Grayson Colorado St: It seems like the trend in the NFL now is back away from the mobile QB. The highly touted young guns, Newton, Kaepernick, Wilsono and RG3 are getting injured or just regressing. Grayson plays for an awful team in a bad conference but stat wise he is actually more efficient than Cook, completing 65 percent of his passes for 2,456 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is a little on the small side at 6-2, but he is thick at 220. He has a pretty big arm, and decent enough mobility for a pocket passer. I can see him being this years Carr on the right team. 2nd rounder at best, but most likely 3rd or 4th.
Coming Soon…Running Backs
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