As promised it’s time for a follow up on the NFL Draft column and this time we need to talk quarterbacks. First and foremost, we’ve already spent a decent amount of time talking about this quarterback class, it appeared promising in the pre-season but has been slightly disappointing during the year. Despite that the intrigue still remains and with some strong finishes and a few added names to the list this isn’t a bad signal-caller class. Depending on how many declare we could easily have six or seven players taken in the first two rounds, what’s lacking in this class is a clear cut top prospect, one that inspires franchise leader type potential.
Of course, in saying that we must also acknowledge that in this past draft class there’s been a player, Dak Prescott, who didn’t appear to be a top caliber franchise quarterback either. Yet he’s beginning to show otherwise in a brilliant rookie season that has some clambering for an MVP award.
Throughout this draft process, few prospects have been linked to the Broncos as much as Prescott has. The former Mississippi State star is quite interesting, as he’s gone from a true duel threat running quarterback to becoming a much more accomplished and trusted passer over the course of the 2015 season.
Prescott has a compact build, almost like a fullback, he’ a powerful runner, and succeeded in these types of plays often in his college career. He’s shown great poise in the pocket over the course of last season and his throwing motion has become more compact while his release has become faster. He’s shown some good accuracy and touch and even flashed some nice throws down the sideline. Prescott has also been a top college performer in the SEC he doesn’t shy away from the challenge.
He isn’t your typical signal-caller prospect, though. His release is still a bit slow and windy, and I’m still not sold that his arm is that of a potential top NFL quarterback. Prescott also comes from the same offense that turned Tim Tebow into a college phenom, and will have to adjust to a more pro-style attack.
Recently, Prescott was charged with a DUI which should hinder his stock. He’s on the second to third round bubble and has some nice tools, though his upside as a pure passer might be a bit limited.
In retrospect, little of that has changed. Obviously, Prescott has quelled some of his arm concerns and adjusted incredibly quickly to an NFL system - though lots of credit needs to be given to the Dallas Cowboys staff in helping him with great play calling.
The interesting part of reviewing Prescott’s evaluation in retrospect is realizing that the evaluation was spot on, but it’s the importance that was given to his skills that were off.
Of course, lots still has to be written on Prescott’s actual NFL talent but given the positive results, it’s time to remember the Dak effect on QBs even with us having given him a day two grade.
With that, there are two talented and intriguing quarterbacks in the rocky mountains that have gained some real steam in Draft circles and need to be talked about. The first is a known name for our Colorado College Football fans who’ve seen Sefo Liufau grow in four years as a starter.
The other is a lesser known prospect up in Wyoming who’s big time upside is getting him noticed. If the redshirt sophomore were to declare, Josh Allen could quickly become a household name for Draftniks by April.
Liufau has some Prescott to his game while Allen is almost the opposite, dripping with upside but still far from being a finished product. Here’s my scouting report on them, going back and watching film on both, with fresh eyes.
Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
Like Prescott Liufau is big and built like a bull with close to prototypical size for a QB. He’s played in several different offensive systems at CU and has experience under center while also showing the ability to succeed in a spread offense.
His throwing motion and release have become more compact this past season with a quicker release. He’s also been much better in getting rid of the ball faster showing better poise in the pocket and improved sped up decision making.
The big improvements this season from Liufau have come in his arm as he’s made some important throws against NFL caliber defenders. His game against Michigan stands out above all, his release and decision making were spot-on but more than anything he was threading the needle deep in tight windows making some outstanding throws.
Sefo possesses an intriguing package of skills. His accuracy and ability to anticipate throws isn’t at the level that Prescott showed in his final season with the Bulldogs but he has shown a bigger arm and flashed more deep ball magic on film than Dak ever did.
The now Buff legend will be attending the Senior Bowl - with defensive back Chidobe Awuzie - and as he’s still a bit unknown to national media types he should impress. Liufau isn’t the type of QB who’ll amaze playing against air in basketball shorts but as a gamer, a nice performance in the game could significantly raise his stock. We’ll be keeping a close watch throughout.
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Wyoming redshirt sophomore is only in his first season as a starter and has had some up and down performances. But with a hot second half of the year leading the Pokes to one of their best seasons in ages he’s certainly impressed.
More noteworthy Allen has all the tools and some to be a phenomenal quarterback. The big athletic kid has a rocket arm reminiscent of Paxton Lynch; in big upset performances against San Diego State and Boise State he was making off balance throws on a rope downfield for big-play completions. He’s also an excellent thrower on the run and is very athletic plus a strong runner.
He’s shown the ability to lead targets and some nice downfield accuracy. Though in general, his accuracy can be quite erratic. His footwork could also use work and he’ll need to be careful in getting into the habit of always throwing off balance. He certainly didn’t receive much help from his line so he did the best he could.
Another intriguing factor about Allen is that he’s played in a pro-style offense implemented by Craig Bohl, the architect of the North Dakota State dynasty who’s system allowed Carson Wentz to become a top prospect in last years draft.
As of now coming off a tough outing in his bowl game against BYU Allen is reportedly on the fence about taking the Draft route. If he does declare - it might be too soon for him - teams will be scared off by the inconsistencies but few will be able to resist his rare skills and upside.
Certainly, one to keep an eye on.
Here below is my updated quarterback rankings for the 2017 class:
1. DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
2. Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
3. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
4. DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
5. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
6. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
7. Brad Kaya, QB, Miami
8. Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
9. Davis Webb, QB, Cal
10. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss*
As shown in our last updated Big Board the top six QBs are all very closely grouped together.
That’s the update on the quarterbacks for the 2017 class, stay tuned for more draft content as we get closer and closer to the NFL offseason and full blown Draft season.