Browns, NFL Draft

WFNY’s 2017 NFL Draft Coverage: Joe Gilbert’s Top Five Quarterbacks

We finish up my 2017 NFL Draft position rankings with the most important position on the team, quarterback. The Cleveland Browns have been looking for a quarterback since 1999. Currently, Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler are at the top of the depth chart. In my opinion, neither player is the answer to be the Browns starting signal caller. The Browns will definitely be in the market for a quarterback and will probably look earlier on in the draft to find their answer. This year’s class of quarterbacks has been called average or unappealing. But, the class has potential franchise-level quarterbacks who can lead a team. They may need some time, but there are quarterbacks in this class that can change a team. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at my top five quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Joe Gilbert’s 2017 NFL Draft Position Rankings: Safeties, Cornerbacks, Inside Linebackers, Edge Rushers, Interior Defensive Linemen, Interior Offensive Linemen, Offensive Tackles, Tight Ends, Wide Receivers, Running Backs

1. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

Stats: In 12 games last season, he completed 65.7% of his passes for 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while also rushing 285 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Patrick Mahomes is my No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft. The first thing you have to talk about in regards to Mahomes is his amazing arm talent. He has the arm strength to make every throw on the field and makes throws only a few quarterbacks in the league can make. His arm talent is so good that he can vary his throwing speed, depending on where he has to throw it. He has natural accuracy to all levels of the field, meaning he can accurately put a ball in the right place without using perfect throwing technique. He is able to complete passes on the run and off balance. Mahomes has the best deep ball passing in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. He has the arm strength, touch and accuracy to connect with receivers on passes down field. The throws he can make are astounding. At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he has the size and bulk that teams like in their signal caller. The former Texas Tech star has solid athleticism, allowing him to make some plays with his legs. He is elusive to avoid tacklers both in pocket and on the run. Against pressure, he is able to throw and complete passes without being flustered by the oncoming rush. He avoids the rushers, while keeping his eyes down field to look for open targets. He also keeps his eyes down field when scrambling, looking to pass before he runs. He has a quick throwing motion. Overall, he is a smart quarterback. His offense at Texas Tech reportedly allowed him to switch plays at the line of scrimmage and that the offense was more complicated than the usual Big 12 pass-happy Air Raid offense. He is able to scan the entire field, running through his progressions. And, he uses eye manipulation to draw the coverage away from the player he is intending to throw.

Mahomes has some weak spots in his game. The biggest flaw in his game is his wild temperament both in terms of mechanics and decision-making. He is frequently throwing the ball with just his upper body, leaving his lower half behind. His base needs to get more in-sync with his throwing motion to get his entire body behind the throw, limiting his chances of misfire. He needs to try and get on a more stable throwing platform. His decision-making can also be risky, throwing into tough spots. He needs to learn to better use his dump off option underneath. In the pocket, he can get happy feet and leave the pocket when there is no pressure on him. He is able to handle pressure and throw in the pocket against it, but he still tends to want to leave the pocket too often. He may need some time to develop his skills and work on these flaws. Nevertheless, Mahomes has the talent to be the best quarterback in the draft and a franchise quarterback in the NFL.

2. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

Stats: In 13 games last season, he completed 68% of his passes for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions, while rushing for 308 yards and five touchdowns.

Mitchell Trubisky has the makings of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. At 6-foot-2, 222 pounds, he possesses the prototypical height of a NFL quarterback, along with good bulk to handle the physicality of the NFL. He is a highly accurate quarterback on the short and intermediate passes, throwing to the receiver with good ball placement to allow for the player to run after the catch. His arm strength is also good. His arm allows him to make any throw on the field, including pushing downfield on deep passes. The former North Carolina star throws the ball with good zip. His release is quick, allowing to swiftly get the ball out of hands and to his target. Overall, he is a really good athlete with the ability to make plays with his legs. He has good speed and elusiveness to avoid tacklers, along with good strength to be tough for defenders to bring down. His athleticism helps him in the pocket. He has good feet to go along with his athleticism to move around the pocket to avoid the pressure. In the pocket, he keeps his eyes down field even when he is threatened with pressure. His eyes remain down field when he is scrambling, looking to throw before running. He uses the entire field, scanning the field through his progressions. He shows some occasional eye manipulation that can help open up throwing lanes for him. He will run through his progressions and not be afraid to dump it to his underneath safety valve. Trubisky is calm player with the ability to play well in the biggest parts of the game.

But, Trubisky has some weaknesses in his game. His deep ball throwing is a work in progress. Though he has the arm strength to make any throw, he does not have great accuracy on the deep passes. He is inconsistent on being able to accurately connect on the down field passes and even if he does connect, they do not always have good ball placement for the receiver to remain in stride. His lower half can be off sync, not always driving through his throws to keep his passes accurate and with the right speed. He will need to learn the NFL offense and playing under center, which he did not do in college. When under pressure, rather than throw it out of bounds, he can float the ball to his target to battle with his defender on the 50/50 ball, which is highly risky. Lastly, he only has one year of starting experience, which is not ideal for a quarterback coming out of college. But, his size, athleticism, accuracy and calm demeanor makes him a top quarterback prospect and potential franchise quarterback.

3. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Stats: In 15 games last season, he completed 67% of his passes for 4,593 yards, 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, while also rushing for 626 yards and nine touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson is one of the most productive and most prolific winners in the draft, after leading his Clemson team to a National Championship this past season. He is a player who plays his best in the biggest games and when the lights are brightest. For the quarterback position, he is a great athlete with ability to be a dual threat in the NFL. He has elusiveness and speed to avoid defenders and break big plays with his legs. His athleticism allows him to avoid rushers both in the pocket and when scrambling. He moves well within the pocket, keeping his feet moving despite traffic in the pocket. He is a tough player who is not afraid to take the hit and take on the oncoming pressure in order to complete the pass. He can complete passes under pressure. Overall, Watson has solid arm strength to make throws all over the field. His ability to vary his pass speeds is a real asset for him. He can put touch on throws or lazer a pass into a small window. The former Clemson star is able to complete passes in small windows, showing the confidence and accuracy to complete the passes. He is able to throw with anticipation, rather than waiting for the receiver to get open before unleashing the pass. His mechanics are clean and quick with lively feet and an over-the-top throwing motion that can get balls out quickly. He throws with his entire body, using hips to drive through the ball. His size is solid for the position, too.

But, Watson has some flaws in his game. Overall, he is very inconsistent with his accuracy to all levels of the field. He can miss open receivers and easy throws that should be made. His ball placement is not great either. He can throw off target on the short throws, hurting his receiver’s ability to make plays after the catch. Watson’s receivers really helped him by making the tough catches. His accuracy can be great, but he is too inconsistent in his accuracy. He can struggle with his passes getting tipped at the line of scrimmage, too. The offense in Clemson ran a simple one read system. He locks onto one receiver and does not show a consistent ability to scan the field and work through his progressions. While staring at one receiver, he can have tunnel vision, missing defenders underneath or out of the picture who are able to get to the throwing lane and make a play on the ball. When he has to scramble, he has tendency to look to run rather than keeping eyes down field. Nevertheless, Watson’s athleticism, winning demeanor and ability to make the tough throws, could allow him to become a starting quarterback in the NFL.

4. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

Stats: In 12 games last season, he completed 58.7% of his passes for 2,925 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while also rushing for 472 yards and eight touchdowns.

DeShone Kizer has one of the highest ceilings of all the quarterback prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, he has the size and bulk teams dream about in their quarterback. At that size, he is pretty darn good athlete, with the ability to make big plays with his legs. He is elusive enough to avoid tacklers on the run. In the pocket, he moves well, shuffling his feet to avoid oncoming rushers and extend his time to throw. The former Notre Dame star has a rocket for a arm, allowing him to make any throw on the field. He is able to throw the ball with different speeds, depending on the situation. His throwing motion is clean with an over-the-top action. His ability to make a hard pump fake is an asset to his game. He has good accuracy on his deep passing, showing the ability to complete passes to his receivers in stride deep down field. He can really zip it down the field and make some great accurate throws in tight windows. His toughness is pretty good, not shying away from throwing the ball while taking the big hit. His eyes remain down field when he is pressured or when he is scrambling. He is a smart player, who was tasked to run a complex offense and call out pre-snap reads in college. The quarterback also shows the ability to use the whole field and run through his progressions.

But, Kizer has some weaknesses in his game. His accuracy is very inconsistent, especially in the short to intermediate passes. He can just flat out miss a wide open receiver, even when he is throwing with good mechanics. His feet can get too wide and not be going with his throws. Though he can use the whole field and run through his progressions, he is often times taking too much time staring down his first read and not moving on to another option. This leads to one of his bigger issues, holding onto the ball too long. He can take far too long to get rid of the ball, allowing the rush to get to him. His timing on when passes need to be delivered is late too often. He can create sacks, when he holds onto the ball or when he gets happy feet to try and leave the clean pocket. His decision-making can be questionable. He will not get rid of the ball when a receiver is open and he can throw some bad interceptions. His ball security is another thing he must improve on. In the end, Kizer has the potential with his great size, athleticism and arm to be a starting quarterback in the league with more experience and development.

5. Davis Webb, California

Stats: In 12 games last season, he completed 61.6% of his passes for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while also adding six rushing touchdowns.

Davis Webb is a developmental quarterback who has the skill set to possibly start in the NFL. At 6-foot-5, he has ideal height for a signal caller. He is an OK athlete with the ability to move in the pocket and shuffle his feet to avoid rushers or scramble out of the pocket. His arm is really good. The former California star has the arm strength to make any throw on the field. His throwing looks effortless with the ability to throw down field with ease. He has the ability to vary his throwing speeds depending on the situation, showing both touch and zip on the ball. He has good touch to drop passes in over the top, like in corner end zone spots. When he is set and the pocket is clean, he is accurate with the ability to fit balls in tight windows. He shows the ability to accurately throw the deep ball when his platform and mechanics are ideal. He does not hold onto the ball very long, getting the ball out quickly before the pressure can get to him. He makes quick decisions and is not afraid to make the tough throw. His quick decision-making is also aided by a quick release. He does show the ability to scan the entire field for throwing options. Webb is a smart player who has the tools to improve with the right coaching.

But, Webb has some drawbacks in his game. Though he has good height for the quarterback spot, he lacks the bulk needed to take on the physical game. His college offense did not give him any favors. The system called for an extreme number of short throws and not many progressions. His accuracy and ball placement is inconsistent to all levels of the field. He can complete passes, but be off target, hurting the receiver’s chances of running after the catch. Pressure can really affect him. His accuracy is hurt under pressure because he rushes his throws and his mechanics. His accuracy is just far too inconsistent at this point of his career. He also predetermines throws quite a bit, which can get him into trouble. He forces balls into places they should not be thrown. Overall, he has questionable decision-making and vision. He far too often misses the underneath defender, throwing it right into the defender’s path. The quarterback makes too many risky decisions at times. But in the end, Webb is a developmental quarterback who has the arm, size and intelligence to develop over time and possibly become a starting quarterback in the NFL.