NFL Draft Talk Volume LV
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. Which day three quarterbacks could develop into quality backups and even serviceable starters? Most general managers and head coaches around the league believe that the second most, and in some instances the most important, person on a football team after the starting quarterback is the man that backs him up. With so much of the onus being put on the evolution of the passing game and the innovation of the high flying offenses that grace the gridiron in today’s NFL, the quarterback position is at a premium and since every player is one play away from being knocked out of a game or even lost for the year, the back up quarterback has become an important position. If a team can use a mid to late round pick on a young passer so that he can develop under their system, they won’t have to scramble and settle for whatever is on the free agent veteran scrap heap or trade for another team’s pricey No.2 QB. Here are some quarterbacks that are slated to come off the board on day three and could become a solid back up option or could even start or hold down the fort in a pinch: • Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: The former Tiger is gaining a lot of late buzz down the final stretch of the pre-draft process and with the draft just days away, he will be a popular name on day three of the draft and will likely be the first quarterback off the board in the fourth round. He is an efficient passer who averaged a completion percentage of 64.3 percent in college. Stidham’s athleticism and mobility inside as well as outside the pocket is an underrated element to his game that he uses to extend plays in the pocket or on rollouts. He can deliver accurate throws on the run, off his platform and even of his back foot when pressure is in his face. He isn’t afraid to stand tall in the pocket and even take a vicious hit if that’s what it takes to deliver a strike to one of his targets downfield. • Clayton Thorson, Northwestern: The former Wildcat definitely looks the part of a prototypical NFL quarterback at 6-4 and 226 pounds. He broke all the records for the quarterback position for the program and holds the record for most starts in Big 10 history with 53. Thorson’s completion percentage increased each year and was over 60 percent over his last two season. He’s going to have to cut down on turnovers and improve his touchdown to interception if he intends to succeed at the next level. He has good presence and awareness in the pocket to elude the rush and step up into his throws. • Gardner Minshew, Washington State: He transferred in from East Carolina last year and lit up the Pac-12 at the helm of the Cougars. He threw for 4,779 yards, completed over 70 percent of his passes, threw 38 touchdowns to just nine interceptions last season. His 367.6 passing yards per game, 433 completions, and 613 attempts led the FBS. The only thing more polarizing than his famous facial hair last year was his play on the field. Minshew has what many scouts and experts believe is the “it” factor when he lines up under center. He can galvanize his teammates and command a huddle with his strong leadership. His ability to read and diagnose defenses, quickly go through his progressions and find the open receiver or the check down will serve him well at the next level. • Easton Stick, North Dakota State: The Bison haven’t missed a beat since Stick took over for Carson Wentz, who was drafted second overall in the 2016 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was just as efficient in the team’s offense as his predecessor, finished with an overall record of 41-3 as a starter and led the program to two more NCAA Division I FCS national championships in back to back years in 2017 and 2018 seasons. Like Wentz, he’s a proven winner who is unfamiliar with defeat and is endowed with championship pedigree. Stick is a dual-threat quarterback who threw for over 2,300 yards and ran for nearly 700 yards in the last three seasons. • Tyree Jackson, Buffalo: The former Bull is being called a clone or carbon copy of Carolina Panthers’ franchise quarterback Cam Newton and Jackson even posted similar numbers to the former league MVP and Offensive Rookie of the Year at the Combine last month. However, some draft pundits believe that the comparisons are limited to their physique and athletic ability and not so much their playing style. Although Jackson has the capability to rip off big runs with his legs, he used his legs to buy more time to throw from the pocket and on the run more than putting the onus on himself like Newton did in college and continues to do in the NFL. He has a strong arm and isn’t afraid to let it rip down the field. While he is considered a bit of a raw prospect, he could be a nice developmental prospect for a team that takes a late flyer on him. Jackson showed out and impressed scouts at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January and was even named the MVP of the South team after finishing 13-for-21 for 165 yards passing and two touchdowns. • Brett Rypien, Boise State: He is a beautiful thrower of the football who delivers strikes, dime, and darts all over the field. Rypien was a prolific passer for the Broncos who hit receivers in stride as well as in traffic. He can thread the needle when his targets are sandwiched or bracketed between two or three defenders and he doesn’t shy away from unleashing his rocket arm down the field with great touch on the delivery. He was a highly efficient passer in college whose completion percentage never dipped below 61 percent. He was a four-year starter and as a senior, he set career highs in completions (301), completion percentage (67.3), passing yards (3,705) and touchdowns (30). Rypien has the potential to become a quality back up from day one and could be groomed into a legit starter behind an established starter and under the right head coach.