In the 2017 NFL Draft, there is a group of four quarterbacks that are likely to be picked in the first round. They are all very talented and are deserving of the first round pedigree, and teams will likely be clamoring over them. For all the talk of a poor QB class (a racially charged comment most likely), there is talent at the top of this draft that is leaps and bounds ahead of the 2016 class. The aforementioned four all show traits that translate to the NFL, and their skill sets can lead them to successful careers in the NFL. Here we can see how the four of them stack up in terms of a few key aspects of the game. First I should identify what I mean in these aspects, as they are vaguely named.
Accuracy (/30): Ball placement with throws, ability to hit receivers, throwing mechanics
Arm (/30): “Arm talent”, power, ability to change velocity, touch throws, overall strength
Decisions (/20): Decision making, progressions, making accurate reads
Pressure (/10): Ability to handle pressure and make throws or escape the pocket
Movement (/10): Movement within the pocket as well as running/scrambling ability
4. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech
Pat Mahomes could end up being the top quarterback from this class if all goes well. His arm talent is extremely impressive, and he recorded the top speed at the NFL Combine at 60 miles per hour. While people knock him for coming from an “air raid” system in college, he clearly displays the ability to work through reads and progressions. He has some issues with accuracy, but that could also be traced to his receivers’ inability to make off-body catches. Mahomes is also a decent runner, and while he doesn’t have the same speed as the other quarterbacks in this class, he can make do with his ability to move out of the pocket. His best trait is his ability to make something out of nothing on broken plays where he breaks the pocket and makes a deep throw on the run. It’s a Manziel-esque ability that will not be a large part of his NFL game, but it definitely helps. Mahomes will likely be drafted in the second half of the first round, where he can sit behind an established starter for a year or two instead of making the dive into the pro game right away.
3. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
While his coach wouldn’t support him for most of the year, DeShone Kizer was still able to impress at times. He won the starting job in the season opener against Texas, where he led the team to overtime and suffered a loss, but he never looked back after that. He suffered an injury in the middle of the year which hurt his ability, but he still looked good at times. Kizer’s confidence often fell when he made mistakes in games, and it was clear he fell out of rhythm when this happened. He never seemed to lose confidence as a runner, and that was one of his best abilities, where he could use his breakaway speed to beat people out at the second level and beyond. Kizer has good arm talent and can throw a nice deep ball at times. His receivers were average for most of the year, but he benefited from a decent offensive line headlined by 2018 first round pick Mike McGlinchey. His best trait is his touch and deep ball ability, which was great when he had a strong deep threat in Will Fuller in 2015. Kizer is likely to be picked a bit before Mahomes, but he could also use a spot starter ahead of him to allow him to grasp the playbook and win the starting job. If the 49ers were to trade back, it would be a solid fit for him.
2. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
A one year starter after Marquise Williams departed Chapel Hill, Trubisky was a quick riser up the draft boards after he had a strong season for the Tar Heels. Even in his limited amount of time starting, he showcased some great abilities and traits that would allow him to be a mid to high level starter in the NFL. He showed good accuracy and arm talent when throwing the ball in 2016, and his ability when playing against pressure was decent. Trubisky is a good runner as well, and had the best 40 yard dash time of any of these quarterbacks (4.67). His mechanics could use some work, as he consistently shows an issue where he falls away from throws at times. If he fixes that and gets into a well-built offense, he could success early on and often in the NFL. The Browns with their reloaded offensive line and the Cardinals with an aging quarterback would be two teams to watch. Other teams include the Texans and the Bears would also be good fits for Trubisky.
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson is the best quarterback in the class by a few points, and it’s obvious why. He’s been a proven winner since joining the Tigers, and he helped lead a fourth quarter comeback against Alabama to win the 2016 College Football Championship to cap off his illustrious career. Watson shows great leadership traits on the field, and he has impressive quarterbacking skills to boot. His arm is apparently weak (clocked at 49mph at the Combine, under the “threshold” of 55) but he showcases great timing and anticipation to make up for it. He is a strong runner when asked to do so, and his ability to work inside the pocket while being pressured is impressive. He made questionable decisions in 2016, with 17 interceptions on the year, but not all of the blame can be placed on him. Watson is the best quarterback in the draft this year, and he should be in play for a top-10 pick if the right team is there. The Browns, 49ers, Bears, and Cardinals should all be looking into Watson and trying their best to get in on him.