Written by: Alexander Amir
Baker Mayfield. Sam Darnold. Josh Allen. Josh Rosen. Lamar Jackson. Those are the 5 quarterbacks we saw taken in the first round of the 2018 draft. The 2018 Draft is already considered one of the deepest QB drafts ever, and while some of these prospects have struggled this season, they all have the talent to become stars in this league. The 2019 Draft is a bit different. Every QB prospect has clear, fundamental flaws that must be remedied before stepping out onto the field, making each player a high risk, high reward pick. Nevertheless, this year’s quarterbacks boast potential that is off the charts, and with the right coaching and mentorship, any of these players can become the NFL’s next star. Now, let’s take a look at the top five quarterback prospects of the 2019 NFL Draft!
1. Dwayne Haskins: Ohio State
Career Statistics: 20 Games Played (12 as Starter)
Career Record: 11-1
Passing Yards: 4,646
Completion Percentage: 69.1%
Yards Per Attempt: 9.1
Passing Touchdowns: 46
Rushing Attempts: 87
Rushing Yards: 213
Rushing Touchdowns: 4
After a redshirt freshman season in 2016, Haskins entered 2017 as the backup to starter J.T. Barrett. He played sparingly yet effectively, and became the starter for this season. He finished 3rd in Heisman Trophy voting this year, and was named First Team All-Big Ten, Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year. He has also set numerous passing records at Ohio State. Haskins is being highly touted for his 69.1% career completion percentage and his gaudy touchdown to interception ratio. While Alex Smith is really the only Urban Meyer quarterback to have success in the NFL, Haskins has the potential to become the first great one.
Despite starting for the first time this year, Haskins already seems to have the tools to become the best pure drop-back passer in this class. His greatest asset is easily his arm strength, as the ball can reach all areas of the field regardless of his base or delivery. His short range accuracy is outstanding, as he keeps the ball away from defenders and can hit targets while he’s on the run. He also adeptly hits targets in stride in the intermediate areas of the field. Haskins is also comfortable stepping up in the pocket and can deliver the ball while being hit. Beyond the arm talent, however, what really stands out is his ability to go through reads and make the pre-snap diagnosis. He sees blitzes before the play and audibles, and while Ohio State’s offense may be predicated on screen passes and short plays, Haskins has shown that he can survey the field and take what the defense gives him. Most importantly for a 1-year starter, Haskins showed significant improvement as the year went on.
Haskins' biggest need for improvement is his mechanics and delivery. His throwing motion needs to get shorter and quicker, and he struggles mightily when throwing off his base. The Ohio State QB is also much more limited physically than the other QBs in the class. He doesn't have the quickness or speed to escape pressure, and struggles when he is pushed off his base. He can also hold on to the ball a split second too long when under pressure, which seems to be due to slightly delayed decision making. Haskins is also a very erratic deep-ball thrower, often overthrowing, and the lack of touch extends to the intermediate game when he is asked to drop the ball in a receiver's breadbasket.
There are aspects of his game that he needs to refine, including mechanics, deep ball accuracy, and quick decision making, which are imperative to becoming an NFL passer. However, the fact that Haskins improved so much week to week over the course of the season tells me that he is willing and able to learn. I believe he is just scratching the surface of his potential, and that with the right mentorship and coaching he can become a very good QB. He will likely go in the top 5 of the NFL Draft.
Projected Round: 1st round
Team Fits: New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins
NFL Comparison: Alex Smith
2. Daniel Jones: Duke University
Career Statistics: 35 Games Played
Career Record: 16 –19
Passing Yards: 7,778
Completion Percentage: 59.5%
Yards Per Attempt: 6.3
Passing Touchdowns: 47
Rushing Attempts: 400
Rushing Yards: 1,329
Rushing Touchdowns: 16
Daniel Jones entered Duke in 2016 as a walk-on QB, a redshirt freshman 3rd on the depth chart. When starter Thomas Sirk ruptured his Achilles tendon, Jones stole the starting QB role and hasn't looked back since. He actually posted his best completion percentage and yardage totals in 2016, with 62.8% and 2,836, respectively. I suspect, however, that his low completion % this year is influenced by the lack of talent around him, as Duke’s #1 receiver is ranked just 13th in the ACC in receiving yards. Jones is pro-ready in many respects, and while his stock dipped a bit after a poor Senior Bowl performance, he is still expected to be drafted within the top 15 picks of the draft.
Jones is almost a complete NFL prospect. He has an excellent QB body, with a 6’5”, 220 lbs frame and great athleticism. He has NFL level poise in the pocket. Pressure doesn’t rattle him, and he’s very comfortable navigating and stepping up in the pocket while it’s collapsing, in large part thanks to his bouncy feet. This poise is a plus because it gives his receivers more time to get open, creating big play opportunities. Jones is fearless, as he will take hits while delivering the ball accurately. Further, his recognition of the defense lets him find the right receiver more often than not. He does a good job of generally not telegraphing his throws. He ran a combo spread/read option system at Duke and excelled at both, and he’s overall a smart decision maker when both passing and rushing. Finally, Jones probably throws the prettiest deep pass of all the QBs in this class. His command of touch is outstanding, and he really knows how to get trajectory and distance on a deep ball. This touch also serves him extremely well in the mid-range game when throwing fades or sideline corner routes.
There is one huge weakness that Jones possesses, and it’s probably the most important trait of all for an NFL QB — velocity. He doesn’t get nearly enough zip on his throws, which is a big reason for his low completion %. He overcomes this deficiency in the deep passing game with form, touch, and trajectory, but his short- and mid-range accuracy suffer because of the lack of velocity. His balls usually have good placement, but they simply don’t reach the receiver fast enough. Jones often doesn’t engage his whole body in the throw, especially when the pocket is collapsing, so that could be a source of the velocity issues. Even so, the instances in which Jones really steps into his throw and whips his arm yield inconsistent results in the velocity department. Aside from this problem, Jones also sometimes holds on to the ball for too long and doesn’t feel blindside pressure. His footwork and accuracy outside the pocket also isn’t always there, as his base gets a bit narrow.
Like I said, Jones is close to pro-ready. His intelligence, competitiveness, and toughness are all there (if you ever need to be convinced about his toughness, Jones had surgery for a broken collarbone on his non-throwing shoulder and returned nine days later). Unfortunately, velocity is an issue that is so hard to fix that I don’t know if Jones will become a top-flight NFL QB. His Combine workout will be extremely important because that’s where Jones will be able to show that he can make all the throws. At this point, I see Jones as a 2nd round talent simply because of the velocity issues, but one that will go in the first round anyway simply due to lack of demand. A good Combine or Pro Day would send him skyrocketing up draft boards.
Projected Round: 1st
Team Fits: Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins
NFL Comparison: Mason Rudolph
3. Kyler Murray: University of Oklahoma
Weight: 195 lbs
Career Statistics: 29 Games Played (17 started)
Career Record: 14-3
Passing Yards: 5,406
Completion Percentage: 67.4%
Yards Per Attempt: 10.4
Passing Touchdowns: 47
Rushing Attempts: 207
Rushing Yards: 1,478
Rushing Touchdowns: 13
Kyler Murray exploded onto the football landscape in 2018, taking over as the Oklahoma quarterback for Heisman Trophy winner and 2018 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield. The Sooners wouldn’t miss a beat, as Kyler Murray shredded college defenses with his legs and arms and led Oklahoma to a 12-2 record, a CFP semi-final berth, and picked up a Heisman Trophy himself along the way. Murray is a fascinating prospect who many thought wouldn’t even declare for the NFL Draft — he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics 9th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. Nevertheless, he will be available for NFL teams to select in April. Murray represents an uber-athletic QB with a massively high ceiling, but also could be a huge liability due to his size. As of now, his draft position is least predictable of any QB in the draft.
The word “electric” fits Kyler Murray perfectly. He can easily win a foot-race against an entire defense and his feet are lightning quick. His escapability makes him so tough to bring down in the backfield, and his excellent balance lets him make throws while on the run and extend plays long enough to exhaust a secondary. But Murray’s electricity doesn’t stop with his legs, as his arm talent is significant as well. He has a very quick release and throws with great velocity and zip. It’s clear that his baseball skills have helped him, as he can make throws even when his hips and shoulders are out of position (which they are too often for my taste). Murray is generally pretty accurate, and rarely ever misses the easy throws. He’s also shown the ability to hit receivers on the boundary and also to high point the ball. He has good poise under pressure and navigates the pocket comfortably. Finally, Murray is able to compensate for his size to an extent by effectively finding throwing lanes and by using his quick feet to shift around the pocket.
Murray has weaknesses as a football player, but the two biggest risks lay outside the realm of his talent. First and foremost, his size will be a giant red flag. He’s listed at 5’10”, 195 lbs, which would easily make him of the smallest QBs in NFL history alongside Doug Flutie. In the NFL players are stronger and faster. Kyler doesn’t have the build to take many hits, and relative to the rest of the league, his speed doesn’t give him as much of an advantage as it did in college. The other big risk is his willingness to play football. Murray was the 9th overall pick by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft, and is an outstanding baseball player. He did come out on Twitter and say that football is his future, but if he's unhappy with his situation in the NFL there is nothing stopping him from joining the MLB.
In terms of Murray as a football player, he is very inconsistent in going through his progressions, very often locking on to a receiver. When a receiver isn’t clearly open Murray can rush his throws, forcing them off target. When faced with interior pressure or defenders in his line of sight, Murray can have trouble adjusting, often rushing his throws as well, and misses the mark. Alabama was able to contain him by generating good interior pressure with the front four and then keeping a spy to prevent Murray from running. Kyler often had ample time to throw playing behind a very strong Oklahoma offensive line, and sometimes looked for running lanes too soon rather than waiting for an open receiver, though not because he was scared of pressure — perhaps it was just him being greedy. Murray’s touch on deep balls leaves more to be desired. His delivery is inconsistent when doing so, and he has a tendency to throw off his back foot or shorten his delivery too much as if he’s not in control of his arm.
High risk, high reward. That’s what you’re getting with Kyler Murray. Some NFL talent evaluators believe Murray is the breed of QB that the NFL is transitioning too. With a short, small Baker Mayfield being drafted #1 overall and also being successful, the NFL might be transitioning away from its stigma against short QBs. Other NFL personnel, however, do not feel comfortable taking the amount of risk that Murray brings. While Murray is similar to Russell Wilson, he is less refined than Wilson was. The Oklahoma quarterback’s pre-draft process will be fascinating to watch, and his draft status will likely be a mystery right until the clock starts ticking.
Round Projection: Mid-late 1st round
Team Fits: Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins
NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson
4. Will Grier: West Virginia
Career Statistics: 28 Games Played
Career Record: 21–7
Passing Yards: 8,556
Completion Percentage: 65.7
Yards Per Attempt: 9.1
Passing Touchdowns: 81
Rushing Attempts: 147
Rushing Yards: 148
Rushing Touchdowns: 7
Will Grier has been one of college football’s most electrifying players, particularly this year, during which he was frequently been mentioned in the Heisman Trophy race. Grier started his collegiate career with the Florida Gators as a redshirt freshman in 2014, and took the starting job in the 2nd game of 2015. Unfortunately, Grier tested positive for Ligandrol, an illegal substance in the NCAA but one that’s not on their list of banned substances. Nevertheless, Grier served a one year suspension. During his time off he transferred to West Virginia in the hopes of improving his QB skills, and burst onto the national scene once he returned to the field in 2017. He decided to stay another year at WVU instead of declaring for the NFL draft. Scouts’ opinions on Grier have been a mixed bag, but after the success of Baker Mayfield so far this season, they aren’t as eager to dismiss an undersized, average-armed QB as they were before.
In a clean pocket, Grier is an extremely technically sound quarterback and incredibly smooth. He has quick, balanced feet, which lend themselves well to both establishing a strong base and maintaining accuracy on the move. He is mechanically sound almost every time he delivers the football, with a high release point that helps mitigate the effects of a slightly smaller stature. He opens up his shoulders and follows through after most throws, while his upper and lower body work in tandem very gracefully. He also has shown many times that he can step up in a collapsing pocket and deliver a strike. But Grier’s greatest asset has to be his accuracy. He puts balls wherever he wants to all levels of the field, and has outstanding touch on over the shoulder throws. His escapability in the pocket is very good, and while he isn’t quite as fast as someone like Russell Wilson, he can extend plays and never gives up. Compared to other college QBs, Grier is more advanced in scanning the field and going through progressions. While that aspect of his game obviously isn’t pro-ready yet, he is further along than some others.
All that being said, Grier has two main issues, and they both are apparent when he’s under pressure. The first is his lack of arm strength. In a clean pocket Grier can set his feet and have a clean delivery, mitigating his average arm. But when throwing off balance or without a full follow-through he loses some juice, causing the ball to either fall short or sail. His trajectory and touch on deep balls does let him complete those passes with high success, but he won’t be able to air it out 60+ yards downfield. The second big issue is that Grier makes poor decisions when under pressure. He’s a great improviser but tries to do too much. This leads him to either float balls into the thick of the defense or lose much more sack yardage than he would have otherwise. He also gets skittish in the face of a blitz, despite having shown that he can be poised when necessary. He needs to just become a more consistent decision maker, because most of the athletic tools are there.
The similarities between Baker Mayfield and Grier extend beyond their physical stature and average arm strength. They both have excellent accuracy, played in spread systems, and have a unique escapability from the pocket. They both have had minor run-ins with the law, and are both confident leaders. Grier may have a higher level of maturity since he already is married and has a daughter, while Mayfield was a more polished prospect in that he was a better decision maker and calmer under pressure. I firmly believe that Grier has the mental makeup to reach Baker’s success level. While he may be picked later than some other names on this list, I think Grier will be a very strong QB that can start sooner than most.
Round Projection: Mid 2nd round
Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins
NFL Comparison: Baker Mayfield
5. Drew Lock: West Virginia University
Career Statistics: 49 Games Played
Career Record: 24 – 25
Passing Yards: 11,820
Completion Percentage: 56.8
Yards Per Attempt: 7.8
Passing Touchdowns: 96
Rushing Attempts: 196
Rushing Yards: 407
Rushing Touchdowns: 9
Drew Lock was a four-star recruit out of high school and boasts numerous achievements from his 2017 season, including the SEC single season TD record (44), FBS Passing Touchdown Leader, and First-Team All SEC. He posted just a 49% completion percentage in his freshman year but has steadily increased that number since then. He’s also put up some gaudy touchdown and yardage numbers year to year while mostly limiting his turnovers. Lock was considered by many to be the 2nd best QB in the 2019 draft early in the draft year, but with Haskins and Murray both declaring, he may drop down the draft board. He has some big issues, but the reason he's rated so highly by some is his arm talent, athleticism, and college production.
Lock’s arm strength is outstanding and allows him to make any throw on the field from multiple arm angles. He has pinpoint accuracy when he focuses on his delivery and mechanics and boasts a beautiful deep ball, implementing impressive trajectory. Lock can often have great command of touch, completing passes that look impossible. Even when throwing into coverage he places the ball away from defenders, making it hard for them to reach. His great athleticism for his size lets him extend plays and pick up yardage with his legs. He’s pretty tough and willing to take a hit, and has delivered in the face of pressure. Most importantly, as a testament to Lock’s work ethic and intelligence, he has shown improvement each year and has become a smarter football player.
The big knock against Lock is his lack of consistency. His footwork, mechanics, and delivery are so inconsistent that they often get in the way of his accuracy. He has a bad tendency to throw off his back foot, even when not under pressure, and needs to follow through more while the pocket collapses. Lock’s arm gets loopy and his movements aren’t precise, and it really just looks like he’s being lazy. His footwork is inconsistent too, as he can get flat-footed to the point that he’s barely even moving. In general, he needs to engage his entire body far more often when throwing the ball. Lock is not stable under pressure, as he has a negative tendency to retreat backwards and force terrible throws. He is also indecisive when blitzed and doesn’t feel fully comfortable staying poised in the pocket. Mentally, Lock takes a long time to process coverage. He stares down his receiver, which creates much tighter coverage than there should be.
Lock could easily be the best QB to come out of this draft simply due to his arm talent and athleticism. But the mechanics issues combined with his inability to go through progressions means he is much more of a project than people realize. It is a bit concerning that these issues are still so prevalent in his senior year of college, but it’s good news that they are fixable with the proper coaching. Lock is in the top 5 QB rankings based off of his enormous potential, but the mental and mechanical mistakes must be rectified before he can step onto an NFL field.
Projected Round: Mid 1st Round
Team Fits: Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins
NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler