The Dolphins will give Ryan Tannehill one more chance in 2018 after not drafting a quarterback. Tannehill will have failed if Miami has the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, so it'll be looking for a new franchise signal-caller.
Shea Patterson completed 64 percent of his passes during the 2017 campaign. League contacts have told Charlie Campbell that Patterson compares favorably to Johnny Manziel, but without all of the off-the-field concerns. I think Patterson will have a realistic shot of being the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if Jim Harbaugh is able to coach him up.
General manager Dave Gettleman passed on Sam Darnol, but I have a feeling that he'll stubbornly eschew the signal-callers again, opting to always go the veteran route. I could see him going after Nick Foles as a free agent next offseason. Still, this is definitely an option.
Justin Herbert played in just eight games last year, but has some major potential. He was accurate, completing 67 percent of his passes, and he also has nice size at 6-6, 225.
Rd. 1, Pk. 15
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Jaguars gave Blake Bortles a new contract, but it's a team-friendly deal they can get out of easily. I imagine they'll want to after the 2018 season.
Drew Lock has a great arm and can make any throw, but he really needs to work on his field vision and accuracy.
The Patriots failed to find a replacement for Tom Brady this past April, so here's their next potential quarterback.
Clayton Thorson is an underrated prospect because of his supporting cast. He has plus mechanics, and he can make any pass, fitting throws into tight windows. He has a nice arm, and he's also smart and athletic. He could be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if he recovers from the injury he suffered in his postseason exhibition game.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Days ago, I reported that the Browns had spoken with the Jets about trading from No. 12 to No. 6 in order to get Trubisky. I think Cleveland is motivated and has the ammunition to get Trubisky. I think the Browns will get it done and get their guy.
Trubisky looks like a second-round caliber prospect, but that doesn't preclude teams from reaching on him in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft. Some teams graded Trubisky in the second round, but teams across the league believe he will go in the top 10. One team picking in the top 10 that could take a quarterback told me Trubisky is the only quarterback prospect they would take that high. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was very efficient in 2016, flashing good decision-making and good accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field. He has a decent, but not great, arm and some athleticism. However, across the history of the NFL, there have been very few 1-year college starters who turned into good pro starters. His accuracy going downfield is also something he needs to improve.
The junior beat up on some weak secondaries in 2016, but it still is impressive that he had three straight games throwing for over 400 yards without throwing a single interception. On the season, Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
With Tony Romo deciding to retire, the Texans are desperate at quarterback. I think they like Deshaun Watson and Pat Mahomes. I wouldn't be surprised if Houston trades up a few spots to make sure it gets its guy. I think the lean would be toward Mahomes if both are available. Both quarterbacks have great intangibles with work ethic and leadership. I believe that Houston would lean toward Mahomes, because he is more accurate, throws fewer interceptions, and could have more upside.
Mahomes played in a gimmick offense that won't translate to the NFL, but he has a powerful arm and flashed accuracy and mobility. He is also a real gunslinger who wants the ball in his hands and is a confident play-maker who is a hard worker off the field. Mahomes completed 66 percent of his passes in 2016 for 5,052 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He notched 12 rushing touchdowns, too. In 2015, Mahomes completed 64 percent for 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Some team sources are intrigued by Mahomes, while others are skeptics.
Mahomes (6-2, 225) is tremendous at improvising and making big plays when things break down. He clearly has the arm to make any throw in the NFL, plus has good mobility to throw on the run. Mahomes is going to need to improve his decision-making as he threw across the field too much at Texas Tech. He will need to do a lot of development on his footwork as well. Working under center and calling plays in the huddle will be other big jumps for Mahomes coming from the Red Raiders' offense. Thus, he has a good skill set with some grittiness as a player, but he is a project for the NFL.
The Steelers could start planning for life after Big Ben. Sources have told me Pittsburgh likes Kizer.
Of the quarterback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, Kizer has the best skill set and the most upside. The 6-foot-4, 233-pounder has a strong arm that can make all the throws for the NFL. He has also flashed superb accuracy and an ability to make accurate touch passes downfield to beat good coverage in tight windows. Kizer can also make beautiful passes in the face of a pass rush. Additionally, he has the mobility to buy time for his receivers, bail out his offensive line, and pick up yards with his feet. The big problem for Kizer is consistency as he is a streaky passer and player. He also had issues late in games with critical mistakes in crunch time, so his decision-making needs to improve.
In 2016, Kizer completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for seven touchdowns. His completion percentage was thrown off by playing a game in the midst of Hurricane Matthew and his receivers consistently dropping well-thrown passes. He also was hurt by losing his No.1 receiver (Will Fuller), left tackle (Ronnie Stanley), center (Nick Martin), and running back (C.J. Prosise) to the NFL before the season. In 2015, Kizer completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He picked up 520 yards with 10 scores on the ground.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Let me preface this pick by saying I think Chicago will move back into the first round for Watson. The Bears have shown a ton of interest in him, and he could develop for a year behind Mike Glennon. Trading back into Round 1 for Watson would give Chicago a fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which could be massive savings if he pans out.
In 2016, Watson completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,593 yards with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He had nine rushing touchdowns as well. Watson turned in underwhelming performances during the year against Auburn, Troy, Georgia Tech and Louisville. However, he played much better during the final month of the regular season and in the postseason. Watson can start games slowly, but plays his best when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter.
A problem for Watson in 2016 was poor accuracy in the first two-thirds of the season. He has lots of room for improvement with his field vision and ball placement. Watson missed wide-open receivers for scores throughout 2016. Watson also throws a lot of interceptions, and some of them come from forcing passes rather than reading the field. He also will have to make a huge jump to a pro-style offense, which will entail learning to work under center and call plays in the huddle. The Clemson offense predetermined where Watson would throw pre-snap, so he will need to learn to make reads in the NFL. Watson is great off the field with work ethic, character, quiet leadership skills, and loving football. His accuracy was better late in the year and in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
As a sophomore, Watson (6-2, 221) made some beautiful passes and was a big-time point producer. Watson played really well in 2015 to lead Clemson to the National Championship game. In 2015, Watson completed 68 percent of his passes for 4,104 yards with 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. On the ground, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 1,105 yards with 12 scores.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Davis Webb, QB, California
The Cardinals grab their understudy for Carson Palmer.
In 2016, Webb completed 62 percent of his passes for 4,295 yards with 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The graduate transfer has a strong arm and can make some well-placed passes downfield. He also has good size and stands tall in the pocket. Webb shows some field vision to work through his progressions, but he doesn't have mobility for the NFL. In terms of the critical characteristic of accuracy, Webb has potential. Sources say Webb (6-4, 229) can be erratic, but that they like him enough to think of him as a potential second-day pick. California's offense does a poor job of preparing quarterbacks for the NFL - see Jared Goff -, so Webb will have to learn calling plays in the huddle, working under center, traditional footwork for a pro quarterback, and running NFL plays instead of California's Bear Raid college plays.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
The Chargers grab a backup quarterback to develop.
The Browns could use take multiple quarterbacks with the all the picks they have in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
Andy Reid loves developmental quarterbacks, while Kelly has a skill set that would appeal to Reid. Additionally, Kansas City is willing to take on players with character concerns. The team also hosted Kelly on a pre-draft visit.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
The Bucs could use a backup quarterback, and Evans has a good skill set to develop. Perhaps they could turn him into a commodity they could trade for draft picks.
<i> 2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 3/26): Da'Ron Payne, DT </i>
Considering Kirk Cousins had no interest in signing a long-term contract with the Redskins, they made a smart move in trading for Alex Smith because they are picking too low in the 2018 NFL Draft to land one of the top quarterbacks. Washington can get out of Smith's contract whenever it wants, and the deal sounds more like a 2-year period. Come the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins could be looking for their quarterback of the future. Here is a prospect with an interesting skill set. <br> <br>
Stidham completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017 for 3,158 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Team sources have said that Stidham (6-3, 210) has a lot of ability and that they are eager to see him develop. They think Stidham has the upside to be a special player. He displayed improvement in his accuracy and decision-making over the course of the 2017 season. <br> <br>
Stidham flashed as a freshman at Baylor, 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 following a stint attending community college for a year.
<i> 2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 11/17): Ronnie Harrison, S </i>
Pittsburgh will have to take its replacement to Ben Roethlisberger before too long. <br> <br>
Francois battled hard against Alabama in the 2017 season opener, completing 19-of-33 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Unfortunately, Francois suffered a season-ending patellar-tendon injury, which required surgery. That injury will probably ensure that Francois will return to Florida State in 2018 and be a prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft.<br> <br>
Francois (6-2, 205) isn't a tall quarterback, but he has a powerful arm and is a tough signal-caller with athleticism. In his debut season as a starter, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It wouldn't be surprising if Francois builds on that over 2018. In speaking with scouts at multiple teams, they are pretty positive about Francois and his potential for the NFL.
The Jaguars extended Blake Bortles, but it wasn't a contract that marries them to him for many years to come. Before long, Jacksonville will probably be looking for an upgrade. <br> <br>
Lock set an SEC record with 44 touchdown passes as a junior while completing 58 percent of his passes for 3,964 yards and 13 touchdowns. There is no doubt that Lock (6-4, 225) has some arm talent and can pick apart a defense. He wisely returned to school for the 2018 season, because he could stand to improve his accuracy and footwork before going pro. While Lock's 2018 production might decline, he could end up becoming a better quarterback prospect for the NFL.
<i> 2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 9/29): Connor Williams, OT </i>
Before long, the Giants are going to need a replacement for Eli Manning. Davis Webb has a year or two to prove that he is up to the challenge, but he could easily end up being more of a career backup, like Ryan Nassib. The Giants going for a first-round quarterback over the next few years is entirely possible. <br> <br>
Eason was injured in the 2017 season opener and hasn't played since. He has returned to practice, so his return to the field could be coming very soon. <br> <br>
I know some scouts who already love Eason. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder was a top recruit who flashed as a freshman starter for Georgia. He has excellent size with a quality arm with pocket-passing potential. He also is getting 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. <br> <br>
In 2016, Eason completed 55 percent of his passes for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has the potential to break out as sophomore and junior to be a future high first-round pick.
<i> 2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 11/17): Mike McGlinchey, OT </i>
The Jaguars might give Blake Bortles the 2018 season considering they are likely to make the playoffs in 2017. However, I think Jacksonville could be a flash in the pan that falls back next year, in large part because of Bortles. Before too long the Jaguars should look for an upgrade over Bortles. <br> <br>
It has been a tumultuous year for Ole Miss, and Patterson completed 64 percent of his passes in 2017 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 as a junior.