Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Height: 6-6. Weight: 225. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2020): 1. 8/14/18: Sources who have already completed advance work on the 2019 NFL Draft's class say Herbert has big-time potential. He only played in eight games during 2017, but completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,750 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. The sophomore also ran for five touchdowns. As a freshman, Herbert completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Herbert displays good size and a strong arm with the ability to loft in touch passes. He can drop in passes with nice ball placement that leads his receivers and beats quality coverage with the location of his passes. With his height and size, Herbert can comfortably stand tall in the pocket and demonstrate the patience to let routes develop. Along with his arm talent, Herbert is a quality athlete who has the ability to pick up yards on the ground.
For the NFL, Herbert needs to improve in his field vision and at working through his progressions. His college offense often has him throwing to his first target or only focusing on one side of the field. Still, there is no doubt that Herbert has the skill set to start on Sundays and possesses plenty of upside to develop.
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Height: 6-3. Weight: 210. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2020): 1-2. 8/14/18: Stidham completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017 for 3,158 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Early in the season, Stidham had some struggles, but he steadily improved and threw more accurately while showing more comfort in the pocket. Stidham came through with some efficient games to knock off both undefeated Georgia and Alabama. He made real strides during the 2017 season.
"It's the tale of two tapes," said one scout. "I think [Stidham] could end up being worthy of a [first-round pick]. He wasn't playing with top bona fide receivers either [in 2017]. [The Tigers] say he is going to have more command of the offense this year. He has that side arm release, but he's a good player. He's a pretty good athlete, and he has some speed now. There are things for him to work on, but I believe he's worthy of a first-round projection entering the season."
Another NFC scout who was at spring games and attending spring practices was even higher on Stidham's pro potential. They were very effusive in their praise for Stidham and think he could end up being a high first-round pick. Here is how they summarized Stidham:
"Okay size; growth potential; high football IQ; good, but not great, arm with good mechanics and ability to change arm slot; better touch than power thrower; quick release to beat the rush. He improved his eyes versus pressure over the last nine games [of 2017]. He has a good mental clock; very mobile [with] excellent speed for a quarterback; [a] legitimate threat on the ground - he beat Alabama because he continually broke contain on crucial third downs. Plus, he's got an incredible story of perseverance that defines his mettle as a person. The kid is a legit winner. Those are all the types of positives that will make him grow quickly on general managers and directors as season wears on if he continues his ascent. He's built mentally and skill-set wise for the pro landscape and has the makeup and goods to run a franchise."
"Not as physically gifted as Herbert in Oregon, but [Stidham] can throw a good ball. He has very good mobility to execute flexible scheme design, and his football IQ is as good as it gets. He's a pro already in that regard and it was pretty easy to see. Guys like him acclimate quickly and win locker rooms not just with approach but he has a good skill set to back it up as a player also."
As a freshman at Baylor, Stidham flashed by completing 69 percent of his passes for 1,265 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. His freshman season was ended early because of injury, but he flashed serious ability with arm strength, athleticism and accuracy. After the scandal that claimed the job of Art Briles, Stidham eventually landed at Auburn after attending community college for a year.
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Height: 6-2. Weight: 203. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2020): 1-3. 8/14/18: Patterson transferred to Michigan after last season, and his game could really improve under Jim Harbaugh. In a tumultuous 2017 for Ole Miss, Patterson completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,259 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions before a season-ending knee injury. Scouting sources have told me that they think Patterson could be a stronger version of Johnny Manziel without all the off-the-field problems. Patterson (6-2, 203) completed 55 percent of his passes for 880 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in his three games of 2016. He has a good skill set and the talent around him to produce well in 2018.
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Height: 6-2. Weight: 214. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2020): 1-3. 8/14/18: Grier played well overall for West Virginia in 2017. He has a quality arm and can throw the ball with accuracy, but needs to improve his field vision and decision-making for the NFL. Grier was only in his first full season as a starter in 2017, so he was wise return to West Virginia for 2018 to improve before going pro. For 2017, Grier completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also had to have surgery after a finger injury sustained versus Texas. That caused him to miss the final two games of the year, against Oklahoma and Utah.
In 2015 playing for Florida, Grier completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He was impressive for the Gators before testing positive for steroids. That led to him transferring to West Virginia. Sources say that Grier and his family can be high-maintenance personalities who some teams are going to shy away from.
Jacob Eason*, QB, Washington
Height: 6-5. Weight: 235. Projected 40 Time: 4.80. Projected Round (2020): 1-3. 8/14/18: Eason was injured in the 2017 season opener for Georgia, and Jake Fromm remained the starter for the rest of the season. The Bulldogs didn't want to change their winning formula once Eason was healthy, keeping Eason as the backup. After the season, Eason transferred to Washington, and he will have to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Thus, Eason is more likely to be a prospect for the 2020 or 2021 NFL Draft.
I know some scouts who are high Eason, so he definitely would get serious consideration if he entered the 2019 NFL Draft, for which he will be eligible. Eason has excellent size and a quality arm with pocket-passing potential. He also got good experience working in an offense under a respected coordinator with Jim Chaney that correlates more to the NFL than the vast majority of college offenses being used. Kirby Smart said one of the sad parts about Eason leaving Georgia was that his growth under Chaney wasn't seen nationally. Eason completed 55 percent of his passes in 2016 for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.