Quarterbacks/2020

2020 NFL Draft:  Top Rated Senior QBs

Sep 2018; Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) warm-ups before playing the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium. Photo: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

1. Justin Herbert, Oregon, 6-6/233

Had Herbert decided to turn pro last year, he quite possibly could have been the number one overall pick. He said one of the reasons he returned for his senior season was to help the Ducks win a Conference Championship. The odds look good, up to this point. Herbert has the Ducks sitting atop the Pac-12 North at 5-0 and ranked #7 in the nation with a 7-1 overall record.

Herbert has thrown an touchdown in 34 consecutive games, a streak that was broken last week vs Washington State. He’s thrown for over 9,000 yards in his career, with an 84-18 Td/Int ratio. He’s possesses an incredibly strong arm, and his passes look effortless – he throws the football as if it were a baseball. He has deceptive speed, when he chooses to use it. For the most part, he’s been primarily a pocket passes the last two seasons. There’s no reason Herbert’s stock won’t stay at the top of scouts draft boards.

2. Joe Burrow, LSU, 6-4/216

With one month to go until the Heisman is awarded on Dec. 14, Burrow became the clear front runner when he had 457 yards total offense and three touchdowns in a 46-41 victory over Alabama. He’s already put up over 3,000 passing yards for the season with 33 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.

LSU’s hiring of coach Joe Brady, the team’s passing game coordinator and receivers coach, has also been key to Burrow’s emergence. Brady was hired away from the New Orleans Saints last January to bring the vision and the scheme that has helped Drew Brees perform so effectively season-after-season.

Burrow, the son of a coach (Jimmy Burrow, defensive coordinator at Ohio University), was originally recruited to Ohio State University to run a spread offense similar to the one he runs now.

3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, 6-2/219

This season, Hurts is completing 73% of his passes for 2,742 yards and 24 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Hurts is also producing on the ground, as one of the top dual-threat snap takers in America Hurts has rushed for 869 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging nearly seven yards a carry.

“He’s an outstanding runner, first and foremost,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “He can run, both in terms of keeping plays alive, first in the conference in passing, and they do a lot of play-action. He’s able to move around and keep plays extended. … So they present a lot of challenges and a lot of that is a credit to him. He’s a great runner, has great vision, he’s accurate — he can do it in a multitude of ways.”

4. Anthony Gordon, Washington State, 6-3/210

Entering 2019, Gordon had thrown for all of 17 yards during three seasons at Washington State (one year was a redshirt). But Gordon has had plenty of experience throwing the ball up and down the field. As a junior at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, Calif., he threw for 3,410 yards and 32 touchdowns. Then, as a senior, he set the Central Coast Central Section record with 4,899 passing yards and 49 touchdowns.

Gordon, who pitched and played in the infield for Terra Nova, was drafted in the 36th round by the New York Mets in 2015.  But he picked football over baseball and went to City College of San Francisco. There he threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading his team to a 12-1 record and the state community college title.

So far, this year, Gordon has completed over 70% of his passes and is on track to throw for over 4,000 yards. He’s also on pace to throw 40 touchdowns. Gordon has been called a “gunslinger” by teammates. He loves to take chances and throw the ball downfield, with an arm that running back Max Borghi describes as “a cannon.”

But he picked football over baseball and went to City College of San Francisco to play football. There he threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading his team to a 12-1 record and the state community college title.

5. Shea Patterson, Michigan, 6-2/205

Patterson’s career at Michigan has gone the way most had figured. He hasn’t passed for 300 yards in a game since was the starter at Ole Miss in 2017. However, he did throw for 276 twice this year (vs Rutger and Penn State). He’s had some fumbling problems, fumbling five times in the season’s first three games and losing four; and he threw for a career low 100 yards on 12 attempts earlier this year in on a rainy night (Oct 26) in Ann Arbor against #8 ranked Notre Dame. He did manage to throw two touchdown passes and get the win.

Patterson led the Wolverines to a 10-3 finish last season, but then they were soundly beat down by Florida (41-15) in the Peach Bowl. A Big Ten East title was anticipated this year, if not a Big Ten Championship, but losses to #13 Wisconsin and #7 Penn State have already made this season a disappointment for the Maize and Blue faithful.

As a passer, Patterson can push the ball down the field. He is a good scrambler, and might make his best throws on broken plays. He flashes the ability to make some really fine touch passes downfield, and he can also throw the fastball down the middle. Patterson is a good athlete with excellent mobility to dodge sacks and extend plays with his feet. He is dangerous at picking up yards with his feet and improvising on plays to make something out of nothing thanks to his light feet and escapability.

*Wrote this on Friday, on Saturday, Patterson throws for 384 against Michigan state (Week 12).

6. Nate Stanley, Iowa, 6-4/242

Stanley is an old-fashioned pocket passer. In his four years at Iowa City, he has rushed for exactly -132 yards. Although, it should be mentioned, he did run the Wing T in high school. He is the Hawkeyes first three-year starter at quarterback since Ricky Stanzi graduated in 2010. From his junior to senior season, Stanley has raised his completion percentage every year, from 55.8 to 60.7. He threw 26 touchdowns in ’17 and ’18, but has only connected for 12, so far, in ’19. He also lost two of his favorite targets, Noah Fant and Noah Hockenstein to the first round of the NFL Draft at the end of last season. Stanley currently happens to be second in the Big Ten in yards passing with 2,158. While his quarterback rating is down (slightly) from previous seasons, Stanley is also not getting the protection he had the two years prior, causing him to force throws or throw the ball away more often. Stanley possess ideal size and plenty of arm strength for the next level.

7. Brain Lewerki, Michigan State, 6-3/214

Lewerki has been a bit of a puzzle. His best season was his sophomore year in 2017. He threw of 2,793 yards with a Td/Int ratio of 20-7. He also led the team to a 10-3 record. Lewerki started ’18 by completing over 64% of his passes, but he hurt his shoulder vs Penn State. After the injury, he only completed 43% of his passes. He finished 2018, passing for only 2,040 yards and had a Td/Int ratio of 8-11.

Big expectations were in line for Michigan State this year, and they didn’t live up to them. Lewerki’s performance this year isn’t wowing scouts. He’s completed a little over 55% of his passes for 2,012 yards and a Td/Int ratio of 12-7.

When healthy, Lewerki looks like he’ll have no problems playing at the next level. He has a quick release, can make the touch pass, or throw a dart to the sidelines. He has enough wiggle to avoid the rush and just enough athleticism to scramble for a first down.

8. Bryce Perkins, Virginia, 6-3/210

In just his second season in Charlottesville, VA, Perkins recently moved into fifth place on UVA’s all-time career passing list. He is just the seventh Cavalier all-time to pass for over 5,000 career yards. Earlier this year, on Nov 2, Perkins set a UVA school record with 490 total yards on offense (378 passing, 112 rushing) leading the Cavaliers to a win over North Carolina.

Perkins, at native of Queens Creek, Arizona, had originally signed with Arizona State. After sitting out the 2015 season at ASU as a redshirt and the 2016 season with an injury, Perkins transferred to Arizona Western Community College, where he helped lead the Matadors to the 2017 junior college national championship game.

Last season, Perkins and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray were the only two players in the country with more than 2,600 passing yards and 900 rushing yards. The most intriguing part about how good Perkins has looked over the last two seasons is that with just 23 starts as a Division I quarterback, he is just beginning to fully tap into his potential. He’s explosive and his straight line speed and elusiveness are impressive at his size. He’s got a rifle for an arm, a quick release, and surprising accuracy for a dual threat quarterback.

9. Jake Luton, Oregon State, 6-7/234

10. Ian Book, Notre Dame, 6-0/208

***

OTHER PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  • Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State, 6-5/232
  • Steve Montez, Colorado, 6-5/230
  • James Morgan, FIU, 6-5/221
  • Carter Stanley, Kansas, 6-5/215
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri, 6-4/220
  • Tyler Huntley, Utah, 6-1/205
  • Ty Storey, Western Kentucky, 6-2/220
  • Mason Fine, North Texas, 5-11/180
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State, 6-2/205
  • Jon Wassink, Western Michigan, 6-2/205
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane, 6-3/210
  • Khalil Tate, Arizona, 6-2/215

***

SMALL SCHOOL PROSPECTS

  • Kevin Davidson, Princeton, 6-4/225
  • Case Crookus, Northern Arizona, 6-4/200
  • Reid Sinnett, San Diego, 6-4/225
  • Deondre Francois. Hampton, 6-1/215
  • Jake Maier, UC Davis, 6-0/200
  • Tom Flacco, Towson, 6-1/208
  • Jayru Campbell, Ferris State, 6-5/215
  • Jackson Erdmann, St. John’s (MN), 6-4/215
  • Broc Rutter, North Central (Il), 6-2/195
  • Kenji Bahar, Monmouth, 6-3/190

***

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