If there's a position that's difficult to really gain perspective with at the NFL Combine, it is the quarterbacks. All of the "good stuff" takes place behind closed doors. The quarterback position is one that is largely cerebral. There are physical issues at play, but throwing in the Combine setting isn't especially conducive to drawing any conclusions with substance.
Why? Because these passers are throwing to guys they've never really seen before (in most cases). Many routes are based on timing, which can be difficult to gauge when you're throwing to brand new targets.
Where does the value lie for evaluating quarterbacks on the outside in Indy? It lies with measurements, interviews and to the slightest of degrees, athletic testing. Here are my personal winners and losers from the 2019 NFL Combine at the quarterback position.
Winner: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Kyler Murray entered the 2019 NFL Combine and weighed in at 207 pounds. That is, in itself, a big win for him. There's been lots of debate and lots of concern whether or not Kyler has the frame to hold up at the NFL level. Checking in at a greater weight than what Russell Wilson did several years ago (as the next closest comparison from physical stature) is a win for the Murray camp.
Murray, who elected not to participate in any of the throwing sessions or on-field workouts, accomplished his primary objective: he weighed in effectively in an effort to alleviate the narrative about his size.
Add in the growing hoopla about Murray being in play for the number one overall selection and Murray's name is red hot as he exits the icy cold mid-west.
Loser: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
But here's the thing: Kyler's playing weight last year wasn't 207. And the odds are, part of the reason he didn't work out was to stay focused on bulking for the Combine. Adding this kind of weight won't translate to functional athleticism and mobility, at least not in a short term window. Murray isn't out of the woods regarding the size narratives just yet. This was a great start, but we'll need to see what Kyler weighs and how well he can perform and throw at his Pro Day later next month.
Murray is a polarizing player and for those who were skeptical of him as a prospect entering the week, it's hard to envision a "hefty" weigh-in and sitting out of the drills changing much.
Winner: Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
Upside, upside, upside. Jackson is that raw, untapped potential that will make you swoon. As a matter of fact, we've heard at least one team regarded Tyree as a candidate to go in the top-100. His on the field product as is pretty rough around the edges. But he showed great athleticism to go with all of that untapped potential.
Jackson was also a little jazzed up throwing the ball, so much so that Steve Smith had to go help out the receivers and ask Jackson to stop hammering throws at the target during the gauntlet drill.
Jackson checks the kind of boxes that get quarterbacks drafted high, even if they're not quite ready for that kind of valuation:
- Strong Arm
- High upside
Loser: Trace McSorley, Penn State
So the Penn State passer hasn't had a favorable projection to the NFL for quite a while. It's no surprise to hear that teams requested that he work out at defensive back in an effort to gauge if he could extend his playing career by moving to a different position.
McSorley declined. WELP.
The fact that McSorley, oft regarded as a UDFA target (and not just by us here at The Draft Network), is being asked to consider changing positions is a red flag for his hopes to play quarterback in the NFL. But to decline an invite to prove you can do something other than play a position that many teams don't even feel you can play at the next level?
Trace was well within his rights to decline the request. But he's putting nails into the coffin by doing so if he hopes to play at the next level.
Winner: Daniel Jones, Duke
Jones was billed as a big, athletic pocket passer who can make you pay with his athletic ability if he's flushed from the pocket. Jones didn't show anything to suggest otherwise during the course of his week here in Indianapolis.
Along with his David Cutcliffe pedigree, Jones (like Jackson) offers the right kind of goods to demand attention throughout the pre-draft process. I don't think Jones is especially promising as a quarterback, but my conversations with those in attendance reference that Jones is really good when he's identified his proper read at the line of scrimmage and can operate on cruise control after that.
It's an accurate assessment of Jones' current confidence as a passer and I wouldn't be surprised for teams to try to bet high on those variables and target Jones earlier than they probably should.
Loser: Stephen A. Smith
Renowned scrambling quarterback Dwayne Haskins ran a...*squints*... 5.04 40-yard dash today. And you know what? That's fine, because Haskins isn't the kind of passer who will bank on his athleticism to defeat pressure with his legs all that often. No one with two eyeballs and thirty seconds of free time to watch a few plays would believe anything otherwise.
Haskins had a fine day today in Indianapolis. I think his projection is pretty "safe" and while his inexperience yielded a lot of negative plays against pressure, there's most certainly a foundation to be a quality starter in the NFL.