Here is a taste of some of the rankings I will start churning out shortly. I have made a good amount of progress and I am close to halfway through the OT’s as of now, so given a couple more days I should be down to just OG’s and Centers before I am finally done with this mammoth of an offensive watch list. It is currently 66 pages (in Microsoft Word) of prospects with 5-10 lines summarizing what I know about the player and what I need to learn about them this year, so it is very long and it will get longer before I finish it up. Once I finish it I will be able to go back through and produce some rankings such as the ones I am about to post, so hopefully everyone will find that interesting.
Now to the matters at hand. Here are my QB rankings for the upcoming season as far as the NFL Draft is concerned:
1- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
2- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
3- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
4- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
5- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal
6- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
7- Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M
8- Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
9- Jacory Harris, QB, Miami
10- John Brantley, QB, Florida
11- Tom Savage, QB, Rutgers
12- Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas
13- Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
14- Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU
15- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Now, you will notice that I have a few players that are not eligible for the draft on this list. Most notably Matt Barkley, Tom Savage and Garrett Gilbert. I know Barkley is a true sophomore, but I am pretty sure that Savage and Gilbert are both true sophomores also. Putting them on this list just speaks to my expectations for their continued progression based on what I have already seen from them. I really liked what I saw from Matt Barkley last year and I think he is a truly special QB, so I expect him to take some big strides forward this season. I was impressed with what Savage was able to do as a freshman starter at QB last year for Rutgers, and he made some really impressive throws when I was able to watch them. And Gilbert showcased some of his ability in the National Championship game against Alabama when he led a comeback against one of the toughest defenses in the country. Sure, they didn’t prepare for him, but he couldn’t have possibly expected to get as much playing time as he did. He made some mistakes, but what freshman QB wouldn’t against that defense? I liked what I saw from him, so we will see how he progresses and if he turns out to be a better pro prospect than McCoy.
I really like the top 3 QB’s that I have listed here: Locker, Ponder and Luck. Locker and Ponder are both Seniors and Luck is a redshirt sophomore this year. I expect Locker to take some more big steps forward with another year of mentoring from Steve Sarkisian, and the experience he is getting in a pro-style offense will only help him in his development. Ponder really burst onto the scene last year (at least to me) and made me rethink my opinion of him as just a backup in the NFL. He led a furious comeback against the North Carolina Tar Heels when he was down 24-6 with 11 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and FSU came out with a 30-27 victory. Ponder put up 395 passing yards against a team that was being talked about as one of the best pass defenses in the country at the time, and he really made me a believer in that game. Like Locker I like his intangibles and his ability to lead comebacks and make timely throws. It will be great to see both of them during their Senior seasons this year before they leave for the NFL.
Luck is younger, but he is still very impressive to me. He had Gerhart taking a lot of pressure off of him, but no rookie QB should be expected to start from day 1 and not have anyone distract defenses from making his life a nightmare. Luck had Gerhart to take the heat off of him, and now he will need to step up and lead Stanford’s offense. It will be a test, but he is up to it. He has good size, arm strength, accuracy and he is tough, has good intangibles and I think he is going to be a leader on the team if he isn’t already. I expect him to take some big steps forward this year even if it doesn’t show in the stat column with gaudy touchdown numbers. I am excited to see him play.
There are some guys on this list that I am not entirely sold on. Ryan Mallett, Terrelle Pryor, Jacory Harris, Jerrod Johnson, Jordan Jefferson and Landry Jones are the guys that I am unsure of. Mallett strikes me as a guy who has a rocket arm but does not have the toughness, the leadership capability and the consistency to be a good or great QB in the NFL, and most importantly I am not sure he is a winner. He has a great chance to prove me wrong this year, so I will be paying very close attention to him this year. Pryor barely looked like a QB to me the past two years before he turned in the best performance he has had as a QB in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. He needs to play like that much more consistently this year if he is going to continue to convince me that he is actually going to be a QB in the NFL. Right now he is a terrific athlete with tons of ability that has not made the transition from a guy with tons of potential to a guy with tons of production. He may have turned the corner in the Rose Bowl, but I am certainly not yet convinced.
Harris was in hypothetical Heisman contention at one point last year, and he showed a lot of ability, but I am not really sold on his toughness and his ability to lead his team and win games at this point. He never looked comfortable against Wisconsin in their bowl game and the whole Miami team seemed to wimp out because the weather was in the 50’s, while the more weather-tested Wisconsin team was convinced they were playing in warm weather. Harris has good touch on his passes, but some of his throws lack zip, and I wonder how good he is at reading defenses. I will need to see more from him as a passer and as a leader if I am going to be convinced of him as a quality NFL QB prospect.
Jordan Jefferson and Landry Jones are young but both have shown flashes in their respective spread offenses. They will need to continue to develop, but because of the schemes they operate in I am naturally wary of projecting them to be successful in the NFL. Spread offense QB’s just have a longer learning curve before they adjust to the NFL, so they will have to really impress me to remove some of the doubts I have about them. I have similar concerns about Jerrod Johnson, though he has been incredibly productive in his offense. He got in a shootout against Texas and really showed what he could do as a passer. It doesn’t mean much for his NFL potential because of the offense he plays in, but it was still impressive and showed he has some ability worth developing even if he isn’t a NFL ready QB.
So those are my QB rankings. I didn’t involve freshman because there are a couple guys on this list that I haven’t seen play yet (namely John Brantley and Pat Devlin) and they are upper classmen. So involving freshmen that I have not seen play on the college level would just be a crap shoot, so I didn’t think it was worth my time to work them in. The sophomores I included I have seen play enough that I felt comfortable projecting them to continue to improve, so I put them on the list.
Hopefully you found them interesting, feel free to comment if you thought they were good or if you thought I should have ranked someone higher or lower, or if you think I mistakenly forgot someone that you thought would be on there.
Thanks for reading!