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Will 5-star David Cornwell Be Best Alabama QB in the Nick Saban Era?

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Will 5-star David Cornwell Be Best Alabama QB in the Nick Saban Era?

David Cornwell, 5-star quarterback and recent Alabama commitment (Greg Ostendorf/ESPN.com), has the potential to be the best quarterback so far during the prestigious Nick Saban era of Crimson Tide football.

Lofty expectations? Sure. Such are the expectations at Alabama though, where good is not good enough and championships are the gold standard.

Cornwell is 6'5'', 230 pounds as a rising senior, so he has elite size.

He's built like a linebacker, but he has the agility and skill of a big-time college football quarterback. Therein lies the key to his potential. With defenders getting bigger, faster and stronger by the year, quarterbacks will have to follow suit in order to keep up and remain competitive.

Not only is Cornwell big enough to stand strong in the pocket, step up and make a throw, but he'll be hard to tackle, even at the SEC level. He also has the agility and quickness to evade the rush, get out of the pocket and make a play with his feet.

At 230 pounds with above-average speed for a quarterback, he could be a force running the ball in short-yardage situations.

Need a point of reference? Think Tim Tebow at Florida, but even bigger. According to Rivals.com, Tebow was 6'3'', 217 pounds heading into college.

The kicker is, unlike Tebow, Cornwell is a natural passer.

He has a fluid throwing motion and a phenomenal arm. Footwork is key for quarterbacks, and Cornwell's is crisp. He doesn't bounce in the pocket, and he does a great job of pushing off his back foot, stepping up into the throw and transferring his weight forward.

Cornwell seemingly flicks his arm and the football flies down the field, reminiscent of Matthew Stafford at Georgia. As far as a pro comparison is concerned, B/R's Full+Ride compares Cornwell to Green Bay Packers' superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers:

The comparison is spot on, especially in regard to throwing on the run.

Speaking of accuracy, Cornwell has a pin-point arm. His arm strength allows him to throw the ball on a line and fit it into tight windows where only his receiver can catch it. His intermediate throws are thrown with tremendous velocity, but he can heave it deep with great distance, touch and arc.

Cornwell can drop the deep ball on a dime, and his touch passes are spot on. He'll set himself apart at the college level with his ability to escape the pocket and throw without his feet set, and defenses will also have to honor his ability to tuck it and run.

Simply put, he's not your typical Alabama "game manager" quarterback, and that's what could give him the eventual edge over Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron—the two star quarterbacks of the Saban era.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Greg McElroy

This is not meant to be a slight against McElroy or McCarron, but more so a vote of confidence for Cornwell

McElroy was and now McCarron (Note: Albeit at a much higher level) is asked to manage the offense and make sure that everything stays on track. Hand off the ball to the running backs and complete the throws that you're asked to make. Rely on the talent around you and focus on protecting the ball and getting it into the hands of your playmakers.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Again, that's not a slight against either quarterback or the philosophy, because it obviously has been effective.

Cornwell has the talent to take over games and make big-time plays though, even if the running game or defense fail him.

Alabama's running game projects to be elite, so of course he'll be handing the ball off on many occasions, but if Saban and his staff wanted to, they could put the game in Cornwell's hands and ask him to make plays.

The Crimson Tide could open up the offense and add in a few wrinkles. Cornwell will be able to make any throw asked of him, and if Alabama was to spread the defense out with more receivers, that could really open the running game up. Quarterback option plays or even designed runs for Cornwell could also be effective, especially in short-yardage or goal-line situations.

Saban and his staff may never alter their game plan, but at least with Cornwell at quarterback, they'd have options.

He projects to be that good.

According to the 247Sports positional rankings, Cornwell is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class and a 5-star recruit. The 247Sports composite, which is an average of all the major recruiting service's rankings, ranks him as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback

Will Cornwell be better than both McElroy and McCarron?

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No matter the ranking, it's rather evident that Cornwell has the raw intangibles and physical abilities to be a star—and he's yet to play his senior season in high school.

Does that mean he'll be a superstar? Frankly, no it doesn't.

Potential is a fickle thing, and high school talent does not always translate to the college level.

That said, Alabama has a track record of producing great recruits, and Cornwell will be in the very best position to succeed.

 

Note: All scouting and analysis of Cornwell done by writer, via tape study of film provided on his 247Sports profile page.

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