With the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl less than two weeks away, the TDN staff is hard at work studying tape for the upcoming event. As a result, we're able to compile our annual (we did it last year at NDT) Senior Bowl Superlatives pieces on every position group.
Today, we dive into the quarterback class, with each evaluator offering their take on which quarterback is their top guy coming into the week, who has the most to prove and who is the sleeper out of the group.
Top Prospect: Drew Lock, Missouri
Lock began the season struggling a bit in Derek Dooley's offense, but adjusted nicely down the stretch to finish with his first signature win over Florida. The senior may have been at his best in the Tigers' bowl game against Oklahoma State, and he'll look to build on that during what should be a strong week in Mobile. His biggest focus should be on keeping consistently sound mechanics throw-after-throw, especially in his base.
Most to Prove: Ryan Finley, N.C. State
I could have easily picked Clayton Thorson or Jarrett Stidham for this category, but both of them have better physical tools than Finley, which will probably boost their stock in the eyes of the NFL. Finley has to prove his arm strength is good enough to be a preferable starter in the NFL, while also showing consistent accuracy down the field, where he was spotty most of his college career.
Sleeper: Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
There really aren't any quarterbacks in this group that could be classified as sleepers, so I changed the question in my mind to which quarterback will see their stock rise coming out of the week. Given Lock and Daniel Jones' status is already reportedly high in the eyes of the NFL, and Gardner Minshew, Trace McSorley, Finley and Will Grier's average physical skill sets and inconsistent accuracy, I believe either Jarrett Stidham or Clayton Thorson will get the biggest bump in stock by the end of Senior Bowl week.
Thorson is a strong leader with good intangibles, an impressive work ethic and good enough physical tools to check the box. I definitely would not call myself a fan, but I think the NFL will feel better about him than the media coming out of the week.
Top Prospect: Daniel Jones, Duke
Drew Lock is the better prospect right now, but Jones has the most upside. Scouting prospects is about projecting what players can become and I like Jones' ceiling the most of any quarterback at the Senior Bowl. He has really improved as a vertical passer, hitting spot throws down the field and executes quick game with good rhythm. That, combined with his dual-treat ability, makes him my top guy in Mobile. NFL scouts I have talked to rave about his intangibles and I expect them to shine throughout the week.
Most to Prove: Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Tall... sturdy frame... smart... you've hard the cliches with quarterback prospects and Thorson embodies a lot of them. I like his quick rigger and ability to execute in rhythm but his tape doesn't reveal much success hitting throws down the field. We need to see Thorson illustrate better ball placement overall, but especially on targets greater than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Sleeper: Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
I am not super high on Stidham but I expect him to be lights out at the Senior Bowl and generate some buzz even if it's not deserving based on his film resume which truly matters. When things are on schedule and there is not pressure, Stidham does some pretty things in terms of mechanics and ball placement. Going against air, 7-on-7 and team drills that feature vanilla defenses, I expect Stidham to look like a million bucks in Mobile. He's a sleeper in that most people are down on Stidham right now but I anticipate a really strong showing at the Senior Bowl.
Top Prospect: Drew Lock, Missouri
I really think the answer to this superlative comes down to a choice between three young men: Drew Lock, Will Grier or Daniel Jones. Those are the three that have the chance to go the highest in this year's class, and the reason for that is because they are the most talented. Where each analysts believes each prospect is compared to their ceiling is what will determine whether they're in the Top Prospect category or the Most to Prove category.
Lock's fantastic final game of the season in the Liberty Bowl is what gives him the nod here, for me. I think the NFL is higher on Jones than they are with Lock and Grier, and for that they might disagree with me, but the ceiling Lock has in his arm talent if he could just fix up some of his tendencies and mechanics with footwork and falling away from passes makes him the top guy.
Most to Prove: Will Grier, WVU
As stated before, one of those three is likely the correct choice for the most to prove, simply because they have the highest ceiling of a potential first round selection.
Grier seems to be the biggest stretch for first round consideration, and that's why I am going with him. Grier has a great arm, and he can do some good things with it, but the style of quarterback he plays is not very reliable. He throws too many 50/50 passes up there and often plays with reckless abandon with no fear of consequences. I want to see the NFL coaching staff he's going to work with get in his head that he needs to live to throw another pass on drives. I want to see how comfortable he can be taking smaller stuff and playing within structure.
Sleeper: Trace McSorley, Penn State
Oh boy. McSorley, huh?
Trace McSorley likely won't be a starter in the NFL, but you know what, I saw him make some awesome plays and even awesome throws under pressure and in big games this college football season, and that tells me he has the capability to do it, at times. He doesn't have the best arm and his accuracy is not as consistent as it needs to be, but in his junior season he completed 66 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Now, that was with Saquon Barkley to aid him, but I'm just saying that he can get it done.
I think he's a backup in the NFL, but in terms of sleepers, I'll take him going into Senior Bowl week.
I wasn't wowed by Lock in my early tape study, but he's begun to grow on me a little with his play down the stretch this season. Maybe it just took some time for him to adjust to a very different offense under Dooley? I still want to see more from him in Mobile, but right now he's my top guy at an event without a great option at quarterback.
Most to Prove: Daniel Jones, Duke
What's so impressive about Jones? That's what I'll be looking to figure out during Senior Bowl week, because what I've seen of him in game action is pretty average. How many high-degree of difficulty throws can he make during the week, especially considering the setting? We know he can execute the simple stuff, but now let's see him make some tough tosses into tight windows.
Sleeper: Gardner Minshew, Washington State
I think Minshew's arm is better than most, and recent schematic changes moving through the NFL could play to his strengths more readily. That being said, his accuracy is erratic, he comes from a simple, stat-inflating system and his mental processing is not where it needs to be. Still, in a weak quarterback class, his intangibles and charisma will impress teams in this setting.