Since the 2001 NFL Draft, there has only been one year (2013) that saw the quarterback position go untouched in the first three picks. Unquestionably the premium position in the NFL today, it has never been safer to assume that at least one quarterback will be gone in the first five picks of the draft, with a strong chance that two come off the board in that range.
The potential 2019 class is currently lacking one thing: any established, consensus order or value amongst the quarterbacks. We’ve got edge pass rushers, interior defensive linemen and offensive tackles that would be first round picks if the draft started today, but the quarterback room hasn’t been this up-in-the-air for a long time.
Each week I’ll be looking at the quarterbacks with potential to be high draft picks in the 2019 class, evaluating where their stock has moved based on their performance the previous week, and highlighting the important upcoming matchups for their evaluation that should be on our radar.
Drew Lock, Missouri
This was supposed to be the game for Drew Lock, but instead his teammates bumbled it away, and he wasn’t good enough to make up for their mistakes down the stretch. Say what you want about the drops and fumbles, but Lock had his struggles as well, specifically in moving through progressions and playing under pressure.
Too often Lock remains zeroed in on his primary read, waiting for it to open up. There is very little eye manipulation or nuance to his game, even from a clean pocket. He’s typically afforded good protection, but Georgia whooped up on his offensive line and put him under duress. The response wasn’t exactly encouraging by Lock, who showed spotty ball security, a slow internal clock and an inability to throw accurately off-platform, or when he has to reset his base.
Lock still has tools worth developing, but he’s running out of opportunities to be regarded as QB1 in a class that still doesn’t have a clear-cut leader at the position.
Will Grier, WVU
What to make of Will Grier…
There is no question Grier’s profile in the national media is continuing to grow, and he’ll likely be one of the more polarizing prospects in the upcoming class. He threw two passes on the Mountaineers opening drive that should have been intercepted (the second one was), but then came back to shred their pass defense to the tune of 356 yards and five touchdowns.
One of those plays was an 82-yard dime to a receiver while getting hit, further revealing Grier’s ability to make high-degree of difficulty plays. He’s definitely developed as a pocket passer this season, and I’m excited for the bigger tests that await him.
Ryan Finley, N.C. State
Not much of a test for Finley, but in the snippets of this game that I saw, he looked fine. Clean pockets are essential for him, and he threw with good timing and general accuracy. He’s really the same quarterback week-to-week, outside of some up-and-down ball placement at times. The physical traits are unimpressive and he’s not going to make many special plays, but if the situation is ideal, he’s typically pretty competent.
The Redshirt Juniors
Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
There is absolutely no defending some of Lewerke’s throws. His placement and trajectory can be uncanny at times, as they were in his nine route down the sideline and touchdown toss to his tight end in the first half. He is a really savvy passer, and I love how he moves through progressions for a young starter.
Unfortunately, Lewerke is still a heavy mix of good and bad. Some of his pocket movement under pressure is just terrible, constantly trying to spin out of the back of the pocket and taking huge sacks as a result. His mechanics are still inconsistent, which causes the ball to come out differently depending on the throw.
Will Lewerke enter the draft or take his final year of eligibility? I think he’s one of the more promising quarterbacks in a weak group, but we’ve got two weeks until his big tests arrive in the form of Penn State and Michigan.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Well, Auburn put the handcuffs back on their offense, but it’s hard to blame them given Stidham’s play when they take them off. The redshirt junior threw for 134 yards on 15-22 passing, the vast majority of which came on bubble screen YAC plays by his receivers. Arkansas secondary isn’t very good, and I’m surprised Auburn didn’t challenge them more down the field.
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert’s performance against Stanford was the best I’ve seen from a draft-eligible quarterback this year. He showed pinpoint accuracy to all levels of the field, fearlessness to take deep shots and challenge tight windows, and even moved through progressions without losing his composure. He’s still developing into the nuances of the position, but his arm and accuracy have been outstanding this year. He’d be crazy not to declare for the draft in my opinion.
Shea Patterson, Michigan
The Michigan offense remains pretty QB-friendly, and Patterson didn’t have to do much with the Wolverines jumping out to a huge early lead and dominating at will on the ground. Still, Patterson looked comfortable, showed mostly good mechanics and was accurate with the ball. He’s getting in a groove and stringing together impressive performances, but the big tests are still to come.
Nate Stanley, Iowa
Stanley can definitely spin it, but the finer points of the game are still lacking. Field vision, decision-making and progression work are all aspects of his game that just don’t seem like they’re arrived yet. He looks like the classic case of a player with talent, but not enough to declare early given his lack of polish.
Sleeper: K.J. Costello, Stanford
Costello isn’t crazy gifted like Herbert, but he’s smart, tough and has the look of a reliable backup quarterback in the NFL. He got a lot of help from his receivers, but his late-game poise and ability to test Oregon vertically was a dimension of Stanford’s offense they haven’t always had before. With the run game bottled up, Costello’s performance was critical to the team’s success.
The Redshirt Sophomore
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
21-24 for 304 yards and five touchdowns in the first half sure looks like a good day in the box score, and boy was it ever. What amazes me about Haskins is his ability to throw with touch and velocity to all levels of the field and still be consistently accurate. There are some minor ball placement issues on occasion, but he has the look of a naturally accurate quarterback with an outstanding arm as well.
Are there finer points to the game where Haskins can improve? Yes. He is still slow to move through progressions and the eye manipulation to keep defenses from jumping his routes isn’t there yet. Pressure has been few and far between as well, but with Penn State on the road this weekend Michigan State and Michigan in November, we’ve got the game we need to learn a lot more about Haskins before this season is over.