2019 NFL Draft Position Review: Quarterbacks

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2019 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
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This page was last updated March 14, 2019. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Quarterback Class
Early-round talent: A-
Mid-round: D
Late-round: D-
Overall grade: B

Merging the 2019 and 2018 prospects
Baker Mayfield
Sam Darnold
Josh Allen
Josh Rosen
Dwayne Haskins
Kyler Murray
Daniel Jones
Drew Lock
Lamar Jackson
Ryan Finley
Clayton Thorson
Mason Rudolph
Will Grier
Jarrett Stidham
Kyle Lauletta
Mike White
Luke Falk
Tyree Jackson
Kyle Shurmur
Tanner Lee
Danny Etling
Logan Woodside

Just to be clear this article and series is all my opinion based off my own study and information I’ve gotten from general managers, directors of college scouting, national scouts, area scouts, and NFL coaches who know way more than I do.

Any of the top-four quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft all would grade out as the top quarterback in the 2019 class. However, the four signal-callers of Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, and Drew Lock are likely top-20 picks who would probably be selected ahead of Lamar Jackson if he were in this year’s draft.

On Day 2, Ryan Finley and Clayton Thorson are better prospects than Mason Rudolph was last year. Will Grier and Jarrett Stidham could be late third- or fourth-round picks similar to Kyle Lauletta. Tyree Jackson and Kyle Shurmur are late-round prospects who would fit in with the late-rounders of 2018.

Safest Pick: Daniel Jones, Duke
Previous Picks:
2018: Sam Darnold
2017: Pat Mahomes
2016: Carson Wentz
2015: Jameis Winston
2014: Derek Carr
2013: Geno Smith

My track record here is pretty good. The 2013 class was a wash because there have been zero good quarterbacks to emerge from that year, so I’m not beating my chest that Geno Smith has managed to stick in the NFL as a backup. At the time, however, I was smarter than the Bills brain trust that took E.J. Manuel with the 16th-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. I’m proud that I picked Derek Carr over Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, who all wrongly went ahead of Carr in the 2014 NFL Draft. Derek Carr has turned into a quality starting quarterback, while the other three were disappointments for the teams that drafted them.

Jameis Winston is a quality starter, although he may not be as good as Tampa Bay expected. Carson Wentz helped get Philadelphia a Super Bowl championship and is a franchise quarterback. Mahomes is already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. I’m proud I picked Mahomes over Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson. Sam Darnold flashed as a rookie, and I think he’s going to be a good starter in the NFL.

This year, my choice came down to Drew Lock and Daniel Jones. Dwayne Haskins is too raw and inexperienced to be a safe pick. Kyler Murray’s lack of height, size and inexperience are scary. Lock and Jones both have NFL skill sets with success and lots of starting experience at the college level. Ultimately, I went with Jones. He has a good arm, size, intelligence and athleticism, plus received good coaching from David Cutcliffe. Lock has some rough spots to improve in his game, and I think Jones has less bust potential given his performance for Duke.

Biggest Bust Potential: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Previous Picks
2018: Mason Rudolph
2017: Mitch Trubisky
2016: Connor Cook
2015: Brett Hundley
2014: Johnny Manziel
2013: Mike Glennon

My track record here is pretty good. Obviously, it is too early to make a judgment on Rudolph or Trubisky, although Trubisky has shown signs of becoming a quality starter. Cook fell out of the NFL, but as a third-day pick, he was only expected to be a backup, so he really isn’t considered a bust unless he can’t hack it as a backup, and he’s probably headed to that status. Hundley is a backup, at best, in the NFL. I was right about Manziel being a bust. Glennon was a bust as a starter. At best, he is a backup.

Murray stands out to me as the riskiest quarterback of the potential first-round picks. At 5-foot-10, Murray is extremely short for the NFL. He is too short to be under center and do quick passing off of three-step drops. Thus, the offense is going to have to be built around him and he is not a quarterback who can be plugged into any NFL offense. That also presents some problems for his pro team in finding a backup quarterback who can execute the same plays. Therefore, it is going to take a team that is willing to commit to Murray and go all-in on building the offense around him.

Murray has gained some weight to top 200 pounds, but he still is much smaller and thinner framed than most NFL starters. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is prone to injury.

On top of the size issues, Murray only started one season of college football. While he was excellent for Oklahoma, he played in a conference that is the arena league of college football and devoid of good defenses. I think Murray has the most bust potential of the four quarterbacks likely to be first-round picks.

Quarterback Rankings by Attributes

NFL prototype: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  1. Dwayne Haskins
  2. Kyler Murray
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Ryan Finley
  5. Drew Lock
  6. Will Grier
  7. Clayton Thorson

Recap: The most important characteristic for any quarterback in the NFL is accuracy. Not only do accurate quarterbacks reduce turnovers and maintain time of possession, they increase the opportunities for skill-position players to make a bigger impact. Thus, accurate signal-callers will give teams more return on their dollars with high-priced wide receivers. It takes an accurate quarterback to be a weapon as a pocket passer, and the elite quarterbacks are able to beat good coverage with precision passes into tight windows.

Haskins shows the potential to be an accurate passer with his strong arm. He can loft in some beautiful passes downfield while also firing fastballs into tight windows. Of the 2019 prospects, he also had the highest completion percentage last year at 70 percent.

Murray has above average accuracy and can throw guys open with his ball placement. There are times when he has some surprising misses of some throws, and he missed a lot more than Baker Mayfield did running the Oklahoma offense. Murray can get a little loosey-goosey at times, but for a college quarterback entering the NFL, his accuracy would best be described as above average but not good.

Jones has an accurate arm and shows the ability to be a rhythm thrower. On top of being accurate on the short to intermediate throws, he can loft in touch passes downfield. Jones’ accuracy is also improved by his intelligence, as he knows where his receivers are going to be on any given play, and that led to him being able to complete some passes in the face of the rush. Jones does have some room for improvement, and I believe his accuracy will get better in the NFL with more talent around him than he had in college with a supporting cast that was average at best.

Even though Lock set the SEC single-season touchdown record in 2017 with 44 scoring strikes, he had some throws get away from him. As a senior, he showed improved accuracy with better ball placement and being a more consistent passer. In speaking with team sources that have watched Lock closely, they say that Lock has above average accuracy entering the NFL.

Finley is an accurate passer. Consistently, he demonstrated good ball placement to complete passes and keep the ball away from the defense. Finley is very good at throwing slants, digs, and crosses- the staple routes of a west coast offense. With his timing and precision, Finley has very good ball placement to help throw his receivers open. Finley would be an excellent fit for an NFL west coast offense.

When Grier has a clean pocket, he is an accurate passer who can hurt defenses with his ball placement. He throws a very catchable ball with the ability to lead receivers open. However when Grier has to move and throw off platform, his arm strength dies, and that leads to him having throws fall incomplete. Of all the 2019 prospects, Grier’s accuracy could be harmed the most by the transition to the NFL, where he will see a lot more pass rush and tighter coverage than he typically saw at West Virginia.

Thorson can make throws that show some superb accuracy. There were times when he fit the ball into a window the size of a shoe box to complete a pass due to his receivers being awful and really struggling to separate. Thorson is an accurate rhythm passer who can throw open his receivers. Occasionally, Thorson can have a throw get away from him, and his tape shows him miss badly on some routine throws that should be easy completions. Thorson’s accuracy got better in college, but he still has room for improvement for the NFL.

Arm Strength:
NFL prototype: Matthew Stafford, Lions
  1. Dwayne Haskins
  2. Drew Lock
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Clayton Thorson
  5. Kyler Murray
  6. Ryan Finley
  7. Will Grier

Recap: The quarterback with the strongest arm doesn’t always mean that much, but in this group, the top five all have quality arms. Haskins has rare arm talent. He has a cannon that can make all the throws required with an easy ability to get vertical. Haskins displays a serious fastball and can really spin the football.

Lock has an excellent arm. He stands out with the way the ball explodes out of his hand and the tightness of his spiral. Lock has an elite arm that can make all the throws required with the ability to beat good coverage via the velocity of his passes. His powerful arm is very unique, and he will instantly be one of the stronger-armed quarterbacks in the NFL.

Jones has a strong arm and can really spin the ball. That was clearly seen by area scouts early, and then the rest of the league at the Senior Bowl. Jones has the arm to make all the throws for the NFL. He can rocket some fastballs into tight windows.

Thorson displays a strong arm with the ability to beat defenses via the speed of his passes. He has easy arm strength to throw some frozen ropes and fire the ball on deep outs. Scouts who have seen Thorson in practice say there is no doubt that he has a strong arm for the NFL.

Murray does not have elite arm strength or a cannon, but he has a good arm that can make all the throws for the next level. At times, he would make some unbelievable passes that demonstrated some power from his arm.

Finley’s arm strength is rather average for the NFL, and Grier is below average in his arm strength.

Field Vision:
NFL prototype: Tom Brady, Patriots
  1. Daniel Jones
  2. Clayton Thorson
  3. Drew Lock
  4. Ryan Finley
  5. Will Grier
  6. Dwayne Haskins
  7. Kyler Murray

Recap: Field vision is one characteristic that separates the elite quarterbacks of the NFL. Quarterbacks who throw a lot of interceptions are inclined to lock onto their primary reads and stare down receivers. Signal-callers with good field vision can quickly work through their progressions and see more than one wide receiver on a route. They also can help get wideouts open by looking off safeties and playing games with their eyes. Many college quarterbacks enter the NFL with subpar field vision and have to improve this at the next level.

Jones and Thorson are the best of this group, as they are skilled at reading defenses and working through their progressions to find the open receivers. Jones and Thorson are basically tied for first with this attribute. In the face of a rush, Jones stands tall and keeps his eyes downfield while the rush closes in on him. With good coaching, Jones also knows where his receivers are going to be on any given play.

What really stands out about Thorson is his ability to stand tall in the pocket, read the field, work through his progressions, and deliver the ball. Thorson really has advanced field vision. He is not the type to run if his first read is covered, and he is comfortable working off his primary read. Thorson has good size and pocket presence. He is calm in the pocket, doesn’t get happy feet, and stand tall to deliver the ball with his eyes downfield while the pass rush is bearing down on him. He displays good composure in the face of the rush and shows impressive comfort in the pocket.

Lock and Finley display field vision to move their eyes and work off their primary reads. Lock’s field vision is advanced, as he moves his eyes to work through progressions and does not lock onto his primary target. Finley also is calm in the pocket to get to his second and third reads.

Grier moves his eyes and can work off his primary read, although his college offense led him to throwing to that first option quickly on a large amount of attempts. Haskins does show field vision, but there are times when he can lock onto his primary receiver. With more playing experience, Haskins’ field vision should improve.

Field vision is a concern with Murray because of his lack of height. Here’s the partial quote from one general manager on Murray, “He’s too short, so you can’t put him under center and do a three-step drop. He’s too short to see through 6-foot-5 offensive linemen and defenders getting their hands up. Those west coast offense plays are out the window with him.” When playing in shotgun, Murray has better field vision and can work off his read. Still as a pro, his height is always going to be an issue and could lead to him not seeing some defenders downfield.

NFL prototype: Tom Brady, Patriots
  1. Daniel Jones
  2. Kyler Murray
  3. Dwayne Haskins
  4. Will Grier
  5. Drew Lock
  6. Ryan Finley
  7. Clayton Thorson

Recap: None of these quarterbacks are particularly bad in their decision-making. Jones is smart quarterback who makes good decisions overall and is cognizant of ball security. Murray showed impressive ball security in his first year as a starter for Oklahoma.

Haskins has room for improvement in decision-making, but it isn’t a crushing weakness heading into the NFL. Ditto for Grier. He had only eight interceptions last year, but that number should have been more as he benefited by playing a lot of bad defenses and was fortunate to have a number of potential interceptions dropped.

Lock is a gunslinger-style quarterback who sometimes suffers from what I call, “big-arm syndrome,” where he can have some flaws in decision-making because he trusts his arm too much. That leads to him throwing some passes he shouldn’t into coverage. Lock is a smart player, so he can learn and be coached out of that in the NFL. His revolving door at offensive coordinator did him no favors in this aspect of his development.

Finley and Thorson are last in the list as they had more interceptions than the other quarterbacks, although I would not ding them too hard for their decision-making. Both of them had to force some throws last season, especially Thorson, and that was the case for him in 2017 as well. Thorson had to take some chances or Northwestern couldn’t move the ball. His margin for error was extremely slim because his receivers were awful and had zero ability to separate. Thus, he had a lot of passes contested that led to some interceptions and tipped balls. His decision-making is better than his total of 15 interceptions illustrates.

NFL prototype: Cam Newton, Panthers
  1. Kyler Murray
  2. Drew Lock
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Clayton Thorson
  5. Ryan Finley
  6. Dwayne Haskins
  7. Will Grier

Recap: Mobility is important to help a team’s offensive line and wide receivers. As read-option, spread-offense, and up-tempo concepts continue to grow in the NFL, mobility will increasingly be a sought-after attribute for quarterbacks. The top-four signal-callers in this group all have good mobility.

Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft, Murray clearly offers the most in terms of mobility and athleticism. He is very dangerous when plays go off script, as he can make things happen with his feet and allow his receivers to break off their routes with his ability to buy time. Getting him out of the pocket and using his feet to make things happen on the ground and through the air will be an essential part of Murray’s game in the NFL. His mobility and ability to make plays with his feet is very similar to Russell Wilson’s.

Lock is a better athlete than one would expect. Scouts say that comes across the more one watches him, and his athleticism is a surprising plus for a big-armed quarterback. Multiple team sources say that Lock’s athleticism is legit and in digging deep, they found out that his athleticism is illustrated by him being an excellent basketball player.

Jones, Thorson and Finley all are able to do some damage with their feet. They don’t look to run first, but they have enough athleticism and quickness to pick up yards on the ground when needed. Thorson showed more athleticism in 2017 and 2016. Last year, he was not quite the same as he was not 100 percent after suffering a torn ACL in the bowl game against Kentucky to conclude his junior year. His mobility and athleticism should come back as he gets further from the injury. Still, Thorson notched nine rushing touchdowns as a senior.

The bottom pair lack mobility for the NFL. Haskins will move around to buy time and can run a little bit, but in the NFL, he won’t beat defenses or run away from defenders with his mobility and speed. While he can buy some time with his feet, he is not a dynamic runner or athlete to help compensate for his arm being a weakness.

NFL prototype: Drew Brees, Saints
  1. Clayton Thorson
  2. Ryan Finley
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Dwayne Haskins
  5. Drew Lock
  6. Kyler Murray
  7. Will Grier

Recap: There isn’t a bad quarterback in the 2019 class in terms of intangibles. Of the quarterbacks, team sources have raved the most about Thorson’s intangibles. They say that while Thorson is a devout Christian, he knows how to be one of the guys and get along with the different groups in the locker room. He is a hard worker and team leader who pushes his teammates to play above their talent level. Thorson is the only quarterback prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft to have taken his team to new levels of success, having carried Northwestern to the Big Ten Championship for the first time in the history of the program.

Murray has an ego to him, and one general manager told me after their interview that Murray’s play recall and football I.Q. were average. Others said it was fine. Murray’s ego might rub some the wrong way, while others won’t be bothered by it.

The rest of the quarterbacks all are quality players for intangibles. Grier had a performance-enhancing-drugs suspension that led to him leaving Florida. His family is also said to be high maintenance, but multiple team sources said Grier has interviewed well and they feel comfortable with his intangibles for the NFL.

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