NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Quarterbacks for 2016

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 5, 2016

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Quarterbacks for 2016

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The 2016 NFL draft class doesn't feature two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at the top like last season's did with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited about this year's class. With this draft set to be dominated by defensive linemen and small-school studs, not many people know as many names as they did last year. The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to change that.

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use), and oftentimes, we saw every play by a player over the last two years. That led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on positives and negatives, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade in our top 400. 

Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    David Madison/Getty Images

    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and as a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15 Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.50-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.40-5.49Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00-5.39Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

17. Blake Frohnapfel, UMass

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'5"230 lbs4.75s10⅝"7.28s


    A transfer from Marshall, Blake Frohnapfel landed at UMass with two seasons of eligibility left. In that time, he threw for 6,264 yards and 39 touchdowns after being thrown in to a new offensive scheme.

    Frohnapfel is a big body with above-average athleticism. He stands in the pocket and is always ready to fire with his eyes down the field. His awareness and instincts are developed for a two-year starter, and he does well to sense and feel pressures in the pocket. He's shown enough athleticism to slide or step up and get away from blitzers. You don't see panic from Frohnapfel when things turn south.

    A touch passer with enough arm strength to get the ball down the field, he has a feel for the deep ball. He can throw with ideal placement to either side of the field and does not get locked in throwing to the right side as a right-handed quarterback.

    There's enough upside in Frohnapfel's game—arm, size, character, football IQ—for him to be more than a camp arm. He has the tools to be a No. 3 quarterback and could develop into more.


    A lack of development by Frohnapfel will be the major key to his draft stock. NFL teams want to see quarterbacks improve in college, and his senior season was statistically worse than his junior campaign. A lack of production in terms of touchdowns (39 in two seasons) is also a red flag.

    Mechanically, there is enough of a hitch in Frohnapfel's delivery to give teams pause. It's more of a windup, but the extra motion slows him down and can give defenders time to jump routes. 

    As a big quarterback, Fronhapfel's arm strength is not on par with other top passers. This is caused largely by poor step timing in the pocket, which can be fixed with proper coaching. He has the athleticism to speed up his footwork in pass drops and time his front steps better to load the ball. 

    PRO COMPARISON: Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

16. Vernon Adams, Oregon

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    5'11"200 lbs4.83s9⅛"6.82s


    Vernon Adams spent four seasons at Eastern Washington before transferring to Oregon as a graduate student prior to the 2015 season. That left him little time to learn the system, but he was the Week 1 starter and played well. Most encouraging was that he improved throughout the year and ended the season as a legitimate threat at quarterback.

    Adams dominated at Eastern, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns to just 31 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,232-plus yards and 11 touchdowns in those three seasons.

    On the field, his athleticism shines in his footwork and mobility. Adams is a bouncy player in the pocket and can quickly evade a rusher or tuck and run for plus yardage. He's agile and quick in short areas and will look to move to find new passing windows on the edge of the pocket. He can be dangerous on rollouts and packaged plays given his run/pass threat.

    Adams has a serviceable arm. Though he's short in stature, the ball comes out high and with good velocity. He's not Russell Wilson with a 6'3" release point, but Adams compensates for his height with his release. While not a velocity thrower, he has the touch to get the ball down the field and throws a catchable ball on underneath routes.


    Adams fails to meet acceptable NFL standards for height, weight and hand size. There are exceptions to every rule, but he goes against every threshold for size the NFL uses.

    In his one year at Oregon, he was routinely banged up—something you can use either as a reason for his inconsistent performance or to point out he was not able to stay healthy against FBS talent. Having played almost exclusively in the shotgun during his career and given his lack of height, Adams will be put to the test if forced to go under center. Finding passing windows won't be as easy in a tighter NFL offense, either.

    Adams' motion can be slow to develop, which highlights that he's slow to read defenses and identify his targets. This could be chalked up to a new scheme, but Adams seemed paralyzed in the pocket at times when scanning the field. This led to unnecessary pressures and sacks and also to him getting happy feet and bailing out of the pocket to run. Too often, Adams gave up easy throws for scrambles. He is a timing-based passer who fit perfectly in the Ducks system, which is designed to get the ball out quickly and to space. He wasn't asked to read the field, and yet he still showed poor anticipation skills and accuracy.

    With small size, an average arm and questionable accuracy outside of quick slants and crossing routes, Adams projects as a developmental, bottom-of-the-roster quarterback.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tajh Boyd, Out of NFL 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

15. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky

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    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'3"213 lbs5.22s9⅛"7.49s


    Brandon Doughty is a super-productive quarterback with NFL size and smarts. He spent his last season at Western Kentucky as a sixth-year senior after two injuries.

    Doughty's numbers in the Hilltoppers offense were ridiculous. He threw for 593 yards against Middle Tennessee State (on 66 attempts in 2014) and for eight touchdowns against Marshall (on 50 attempts in 2014). In 2015, he led the nation in passing yards (5,055) and touchdowns (48). (He did the same with 4,830 and 49 in 2014.) And just to rub it in a little, he connected on 71.9 percent of his passes. Doughty did all of this while leading WKU to its first conference championship and a Top 25 ranking.

    A 38-game starter in college, Doughty's footwork can be good in a clean pocket. He'll step up to rifle the ball down the field and will challenge defenses. Doughty is smart at the line of scrimmage and will use his experience and his pre-snap reads to key on cover men and find a mismatch. He'll also hold safeties to the middle of the field with his eyes and does not tip his hand with tunnel vision.

    Whether it's a go route up the sideline or a comeback against man coverage, Doughty's accuracy and timing are pro-quality. He's not afraid to put some air under the ball and let a streaking receiver run under it, but he can also generate enough pop to throw a rope to the boundary.


    Doughty lost most of two seasons (2011 and 2012) to knee injuries and will enter the NFL as a 23-year-old prospect and 24-year-old rookie. The knee shouldn't be an issue given that he has played three full seasons since the injuries.

    Footwork is an area in which Doughty has to be coached to stop seeing ghosts. When there is traffic around his feet, he'll panic and become off-balance and erratic in his movements. He must learn to step up and out of the pocket to avoid these situations.

    Athletically, Doughty is average. He's not going to run past defenders or run over a tackler. He can do the minimum to move on rollouts, but he's much better as a dropback quarterback. This shows up when he's given chances to scramble for yards and doesn't.

    From an arm perspective, Doughty's strength is on the low end of what's realistic for an NFL passer. He has to put his whole body into out routes. When he's off-rhythm, this becomes an issue because his feet aren't set and he can't let it rip.

    Doughty looks like a solid backup quarterback for a team with a West Coast offense in which he can make timing passes and won't be asked to air it out often.

    PRO COMPARISON: Matt Barkley, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

14. Jake Coker, Alabama

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size 3-Cone
    6'6"230 lbs5.12sN/AN/A


    Jake Coker has something few quarterbacks have: a national championship ring.

    The former Florida State quarterback transferred to Alabama to work with Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin, and in turn helped the Crimson Tide to another title. On the field, Coker fits the build of an NFL quarterback and has the arm and size to make you think he can be an NFL passer.

    Coker pops off the tape with his footwork as a scrambler. He's agile and can move with ease on rollouts or when the pocket breaks down. Mechanically, his feet are good. He's an easy mover going back in his steps and has played both under center and in a shotgun at Alabama. Coker steps into his throws and generates torque with his whole body and not just his shoulder. 

    When it comes to arm strength, Coker can dial up heat and throw with velocity on underneath routes. There's some juice to his game, and he's not afraid to challenge anyone down the field. His deep passes are on target and on time, and he uses the field ahead of receivers to their benefit. 

    Coker's accuracy was above average in 2015, as he connected on 66.9 percent of his passes while throwing just eight interceptions to 21 touchdowns. As mentioned, he can lead receivers to space on downfield throws and is generally accurate on underneath routes. He avoids double coverage well and uses his eyes to hold the safety.


    Coker played behind two first-round picks at quarterback (EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston) at FSU, but it's a concern he couldn't beat out Blake Sims for the job at Alabama in 2014. With just one season of starts under his belt, Coker lacks playing time and game experience.

    When pressured by SEC defenses, Coker didn't hold up. In our charting, he threw five interceptions under pressure (with a defender in his face) and hurried too many of those throws. It's worth noting that four of Coker's interceptions came deep down the middle of the field.  

    If an NFL coach could speed up everything Coker does from the time he hits his plant foot, it would greatly help his cause. He's not fast reading the field and took too many hits and sacks by standing in against pressure an unnecessarily long time. Like AJ McCarron before him, he's stiff and robotic when making decisions and uncorking the ball.

    Coker's leadership qualities and winning record won't be overlooked by NFL scouts, but his average arm and accuracy cement his status as a backup-caliber quarterback.

    PRO COMPARISON: Josh McCown (Cleveland Browns) 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5-6—Backup Caliber)

13. Cody Kessler, USC

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    David Madison/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size 3-Cone
    6'1"220 lbs4.89s10⅞"7.32s


    A 22-year-old from Bakersfield, California, Cody Kessler started three years at USC and threw for 10,339 yards.

    Kessler isn't a top-tier athlete, but he moves well within the pocket and can slide his feet to evade rushers.

    An accurate quarterback in a pro-style offense, Kessler holds the Trojans record for career completion percentage (67.5) and has torched opponents on underneath routes. He's a smart, conservative passer who never threw more than seven interceptions in a season.

    Kessler's toughness was put to the test behind a bad offensive line, but he never backed down. He's poised in the pocket when pressure is in his face and shows touch and accuracy when forced to make hurried throws.

    Despite having average arm strength, Kessler tosses a pretty deep ball and shows good touch on passes down the field. USC receivers scored seven touchdowns on deep throws over 40 yards thanks to his ability to lead them into daylight over the top.


    Kessler won't impress you on the hoof. He's a shorter quarterback with average arm strength and slightly above-average movement skills. A lack of size and arm strength already puts him behind his peers as a prospect.

    On film, Kessler doesn't generate the heat on passes needed to thread the needle. Many of his attempts outside the hash fail to travel on a line and instead loop into receivers' hands. Perhaps the biggest red flag is his tendency to be late throwing over the middle. Of Kessler's seven interceptions, six of them were on throws down the middle of the field. He simply lacks the strength and accuracy to connect when the field gets crowded.

    As a mover inside the pocket, Kessler is agile but gets happy feet and will throw off-balance and from uncoordinated positions because he wants to get the pass out fast. He doesn't have the quick wrist to get the ball out of his hand well on the move despite having huge hands. 

    Kessler was a chain-mover at USC and took what defenses gave him. The "system quarterback" label will be applied to him by NFL teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Aaron Murray, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

12. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

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    Adam Hunger/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'6"234 lbsN/A9⅞"N/A


    Nate Sudfeld landed at Indiana by way of Modesto Christian School in Modesto, California, where he was a two-year letterman. A 26-game starter in college, Sudfeld offers athleticism, upside and an arm NFL teams are looking for.

    Sudfeld has good athleticism and shows quick feet in the pocket. He can move up in the pocket or out of it without getting off-balance. For a big player, he's a fluid mover when he's asked to come off his spot.

    Indiana wide receivers did Sudfeld no favors, dropping 31 passes last season, per Pro Football Focus. That contributed to him completing just 60 percent of his attempts. Sudfeld isn't afraid to throw outside the hashes and can spin the ball with juice on out routes. He understands timing and will wait for plays to develop before panicking in the pocket.

    Sudfeld comes from an athletic family. His brother Zach is a tight end for the New York Jets, and his sister Juliana plays college volleyball. Teams will value his toughness and leadership skills as much as his athleticism or arm strength.


    Sudfeld missed half of the 2014 season with an injury to his left shoulder, which means he's coming into the draft with less experience than most senior quarterbacks.

    Mechanically, Sudfeld needs some help. He has a delivery that is inconsistent and sometimes goes full-on sidearm. He carries the ball low in the pocket (around his breast bone) and has to raise it to pass, which slows his delivery. Sudfeld is an arm thrower and doesn't create torque with his core to power the ball—instead muscling it out with just his arm.

    The Indiana offense featured a ton of comebacks and quick routes in space on the boundary. This allowed Sudfeld to make few reads in the middle of the field. He struggles to pick up underneath coverage and threw three of his seven interceptions on underneath routes over the middle.

    Accuracy issues haunted Sudfeld in 2015—even if some of the blame can be shared by the talent around him. He often led receivers into traffic with errant passes and was routinely high on balls thrown to the right sideline.

    PRO COMPARISON: Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

11. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"234 lbs4.56s9¾"7.19s



    After beginning his career at Florida, Jeff Driskel took advantage of NCAA rules to finish with one year as a graduate transfer at Louisiana Tech. He started in 2012 and played 29 games in four seasons for the Gators. But he became an NFL quarterback prospect with the Bulldogs.

    Driskel is a big, strong, fast athlete for the position. His speed allows him to make plays in space as a designed runner on read-options and on quarterback leads from the shotgun. He's also elusive when pressured in the pocket and can pull the ball down and scramble for big gains.

    Rollouts and throws on the run are all in the game plan with Driskel at quarterback. He moves with speed and balance and is athletic enough to adjust his body to throw on the go. In the pocket, he'll step up to deliver strikes over the middle of the field.

    Driskel's arm strength is inconsistent. He has enough juice to throw a fastball when he needs to but is primarily a touch passer. He's able to loft the ball in between defenders on vertical routes but is at his best throwing slants and quick hitters underneath.

    If you want toughness, he has it. Driskel isn't afraid to hang in the pocket until the last second and took a pounding in 2015 as he stood in behind a poor offensive line.


    Driskel's passing mechanics need work. When pressured in the pocket, he will turn away his upper body while throwing, which causes him to both lose sight of the target and have trouble being accurate. On top of that, his arm sometimes comes away from his body while throwing, which affects his velocity and slows down his delivery.

    The ball spins out of Driskel's hand well, but his velocity on outside routes was inconsistent. He can dial up a heater but will also throw a changeup that sails on the way to the sideline. He's at his best throwing short and underneath and has trouble when asked to time a deep throw and lead the receiver up the field.

    Driskel is a spot thrower who goes to the primary read right after the snap. A shotgun-only quarterback, he is still learning how to operate in a passing offense after four years at Florida trying to be Tim Tebow. Driskel needs a ton of reps to get up to speed on timing and rhythm as a passer.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brett Hundley, Green Bay Packers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

10. Kevin Hogan, Stanford

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'3"218 lbs4.78s10¼"6.90s


    Kevin Hogan started 46 games at Stanford in his four seasons at quarterback. During that time, he played in a pro-style offense, both under center and in a shotgun formation, and showed off his athleticism as a designed runner on various read-options and short-yardage keepers.

    Hogan's mechanics are nothing to write home about, and won't be discussed as positives, but he has an uncanny ability to get the job done despite having a cumbersome throwing motion. Stanford's 36 wins during his run speak to this ability. Whether you like quarterback wins as a stat or not, Hogan is a winner. He's a fiery competitor whom coaches and teammates love.

    His arm strength is limited, but he has enough power to get the ball over the top and lead receivers down the field. He's also able to dial up heat on underneath passes and find space to fit the ball between defenders. His accuracy will wow you on underneath and intermediate routes, and given his ability as a runner, he's able to manipulate defenders on those routes with his eyes and body.

    Hogan has all the requisite smarts that come from being a quarterback at the college level for five years. But in speaking with those around him, he's loved by his teammates and will have NFL coaches going to bat for him as a backup because of his personality and gamer mentality.


    God bless the quarterback coach tasked with fixing Hogan's mechanics.

    Starting with his footwork, Hogan is all over the map. He has a super-wide foundation in his stance and often throws with his shoulders horizontal to the target instead of vertical on the field. His delivery is long and slow, and he consistently pats the ball once before throwing it. The ball is never close to his body, and his elbow is way out wide and stressed in his motion. When dropping back and unleashing the football, it nearly touches his waistline before coming back up to be thrown. While other quarterbacks play up on their toes, Hogan's feet are cemented to the ground and rarely come off the turf in his motion.

    All of these mechanical issues lead to an arm that looks taxed and worn down. Hogan doesn't generate velocity on intermediate routes to thread the needle and throws a Peyton Manning-esque wobbler on out routes.

    Timing-based throws are an area of weakness for him. Some of this is from the mechanical issues—especially that patting of the ball—but he also has to see the field much faster than he did at Stanford.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

9. Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"231 lbs4.94s9¾"7.17s


    In a pickup game of football, Jacoby Brissett would be one of the first selections. He's a big, strong, athletic quarterback with the arm strength to impress in shorts. He can move around to find rushing lanes, evade the rush with his feet and is a high-character, high-intelligence quarterback with two seasons of starts under his belt after transferring from Florida.

    Brissett is a good athlete with the foot quickness and agility to get in and out of the pocket. He moves well on rollouts and has the power to be effective in short-yardage situations. In an offense that utilizes his running skills, Brissett could have a nice impact around the goal line.

    When asked to drive the ball through traffic or down the field, Brissett is able to generate power from his legs and core. His arm strength is sufficient to reach every level of the field without losing velocity. He trusts his ability to thread the needle and shows the touch to lead receivers into space on underneath routes.

    A credit to the North Carolina State offense is that Brissett was asked to make reads from within the pocket. He did well, throwing just six interceptions in 2015 and showing he understands underneath and deep coverages. Brissett anticipates openings and doesn't rely on receivers to get open before unloading the ball to them. That's a skill that translates to the NFL very well.


    Brissett's production for the Wolfpack was wildly inconsistent. He flashed potential with big throws and nice runs but could fall apart on the next series. He's a hot-and-cold player.

    Mechanically, a team will try to fix Brissett's tomahawk throwing motion. He has to also learn to step into throws instead of living off his back foot—especially when pressured. Those off-balance throws with defenders at his feet lead to incompletions in college and interceptions in the pros.

    A good quarterback can get away with some back-foot throws, but Brissett loves them, though he's not talented enough for them. His first throw against Mississippi State was an off-balance attempt on a broken play that went right to a defender for an interception. Brissett has to find the happy medium between gunslinger and protector.

    Brissett took a beating in 2015 as N.C. State executed rollouts and half-rolls at a high level. His toughness should be praised, but he has to learn to protect his body better by getting rid of the ball faster and limiting the hits he takes as a runner.

    Brissett doesn't show awareness on the field at the level of a Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. Many times in 2015, he was beat before the snap on blitzes and coverage swaps. He needs time to learn how to be a quarterback who makes reads pre-snap.

    Overall, Brissett's accuracy is average. He shows good touch on certain routes (slants, outs, comebacks) but struggled to connect on vertical routes and when there was any kind of safety help over the top. Brissett's ability to make plays often overshadows missed opportunities that come because he doesn't read the entire field or get through his progressions to find mismatches.

    PRO COMPARISON: EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

8. Cardale Jones, Ohio State

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    G Fiume/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'5"253 lbs4.81s9¾"N/A


    Cardale Jones is the most intriguing quarterback prospect in this year's draft. Given his arm strength, size, athleticism and the flashes of success he had during Ohio State's national title run, he can't be overlooked.

    Jones' footwork is a work in progress. He has a wide base in his throwing stance and shows quick feet in the pocket. He doesn't let his feet go dead when scanning the field and isn't in a big hurry to tuck the ball and run if his first read isn't open. In the Buckeyes offense, he was a designed runner, and he could be dangerous in short-yardage situations.

    Mechanically, there's room to grow, but Jones does a lot of things well already. The first thing you notice is that he has a clean delivery and the ball jumps out of his hand with great velocity. He can manipulate his arm angle to fit the passing window and is athletic enough to launch the ball both deep and underneath while on the move.

    Jones checks all the boxes when it comes to arm strength. He has a big right arm and can launch the ball down the field with ease. That became the Ohio State offense during its playoff run in 2014, and Jones had a knack for ball placement that created chunk plays down the field. On underneath routes, he can throw fastballs and has no trouble fitting the ball into tight windows with velocity. If anything, he has to learn to take something off his throws underneath.

    When asked to rip a deep ball, Jones shows remarkable placement and an understanding of timing and space. He excels at leading receivers down the field on throws of 20-plus yards and can drop the ball over the defense and into a bucket. His touch, arc and timing on deep passes is a sight to see.


    The biggest concerns in Jones' projection to the NFL are accuracy and decision-making. He completed just 61.7 percent of his passes in an offense designed to create easy completions on crossing routes and bubble screens. On timing-based throws underneath, he struggles to lead receivers and puts too much trust into his arm to throw through coverages.

    Many of the accuracy issues plaguing Jones can be explained by his mechanics. He doesn't square his feet, hips and shoulders when throwing from the pocket and too often trusts his arm to do the work his body could be doing for him to generate velocity. Jones' left hip (his back foot) is often turned away from the target and doesn't allow for a full torquing of his core when he throws.

    You want Jones on the move, but this is where his accuracy really falls off. On tape, you see him struggling to keep the ball up when working to his right out of the pocket. This could be fixed by helping him to better rotate his core and open up his hips when he throws on the move.

    Jones was essentially asked to make one read and then run in the Buckeyes scheme, which means it will be a tall task for him to execute in an NFL offense. He's not someone who will play in Year 1 and should be brought along slowly to improve his mechanics and football IQ. Given his struggles reading coverages on slants and crossing routes, Jones needs a crash course in QB 101.

    Jones' 11 college starts will be a major hurdle for NFL scouts who like him and want him on their team. The fact that he lost his starting job doesn't help either. Some scouts I've spoken with excuse Jones' poor play in 2015 by citing Urban Meyer's struggles to develop the Ohio State offense, but others point out that Jones played on a team with as many as eight first-round picks on the field—more talent than he may have with him in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

7. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'1"217 lbs4.84s8⅞"7.06s


    The pride of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Brandon Allen stayed close to home to play for the Razorbacks. There he started for three seasons, showing rapid improvement during his senior year, throwing for 3,340 yards and 30 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. Toughness, leadership, a football bloodline and undeniable work ethic are all traits you find in Allen.

    On the field, his small frame won't wow scouts, but his ability to move in and out of the pocket as a passer should. Allen can execute rollouts, drop back from under center or be a classic dropback thrower. He's a solid athlete with quick feet and the confidence to make plays under pressure.

    Whether driving back from center or playing in the shotgun, Allen has shown the footwork of an NFL quarterback. He can set up on the move to throw both with and against the grain and has the core strength to power the ball off one foot or when neither cleat is in the ground. While he doesn't have a top-tier arm, he can generate push on the ball from the ground up.

    Allen doesn't mess around in the pocket. He has a clean, quick setup and fires the ball with a tight delivery. From the second he takes the snap, no movement is wasted.

    On the accuracy chart, Allen does well on intermediate passes and was able to show nice timing when throwing to lead receivers into space. He had some attempts miss their intended targets, but more often than not, they were still catchable.


    Scouts will not overlook Allen's lack of size. His height didn't hinder him at Arkansas, but his hands are under the NFL threshold for the position (9") and could be a detriment when combined with his sub-6'2" height.

    Allen's accuracy is spotty at times. When throwing to his left, he often had issues setting up his feet to swing the ball to the sideline. When he passed to the wide side of the field, he liked to check down to an easier throw. This brings into question his arm strength and his confidence in his arm.

    The Razorbacks did not ask Allen to do much work with his eyes or to execute often on play action. He'll have to learn to turn his back to defenses and then whip around ready to fire. On that same note, he's never been asked to manipulate a defense with his eyes and can get tunnel vision when working in the pocket.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kirk Cousins, Washington

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Future Starter)

6. Connor Cook, Michigan State

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"217 lbs4.79s9¾"7.21s


    A three-year starter from Hinckley, Ohio, Connor Cook was the Offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl in 2014 and the Big Ten quarterback of the year in 2015. He's accomplished—a winner—with 9,194 yards passing and 71 touchdowns to just 22 interceptions. He's run a pro-style offense. There are many things to like when viewing his tape.

    Cook is a solid athlete with the footwork under center and in the pocket to move around and find the best passing windows. He's one of the few quarterbacks in the class with real experience taking snaps under center and executed five- and seven-step drops at Michigan State. He's agile enough to roll out to the left or right and make a throw on the go.

    Cook's arm is solid but not great. He has a tight throwing motion with good weight transfer and a crisp follow-through. You won't find wasted motion in his release. He has enough juice to get the ball through tight windows on underneath routes and can change it up and throw a rainbow down the field with good placement and timing. As a decision-maker, Cook trends toward conservative but will put the ball in the air to challenge defenses deep.

    On the mental side, Cook was asked to make some reads and audibles at the line of scrimmage, but it wasn't always a strength of his game.


    Much has been made of the fact that Cook wasn't voted a team captain at Michigan State—and it is worth noting—but the bigger issue is his accuracy. Cook completed just 56.1 percent of his passes in 2015, and in the last three seasons, he never completed 59 percent of his attempts. While statistics can be misleading, this is a concern because it matches the tape.

    Cook played through a shoulder injury in late 2015 before shutting his arm down for the Senior Bowl—an event to which he declined an invitation. The shoulder was 100 percent healthy as of Cook's pro day and shouldn't be a concern moving forward.

    Cook is too often off-balance and out of rhythm while throwing. His arm motion is super tight, but his lower body motion is often wide open and inconsistent in his hips and feet. Most quarterbacks need their shoulders and feet square when throwing, but Cook doesn't set to this position consistently in the pocket. That leads to poor, and unpredictable, accuracy. Cook will need to be coached to fix the timing of his stride in the pocket.

    When under pressure, Cook struggled to step up and make throws. The film shows him wilting when defenders get around his legs. He reads blitzes well and makes quick strikes, but this is more about what he does in a muddy pocket, and it wasn't pretty. When defenses made Cook progress to his second and third reads, he got frazzled and would go to checkdown mode.

    PRO COMPARISON: AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size 3-Cone
    6'2"226 lbs4.79s10⅞"7.11s 


    A two-time All-American and two-time All-SEC quarterback, Dak Prescott left Mississippi State with the third-most total yards in SEC history (11,985) and fourth-most touchdowns responsible for (114). In 33 career starts (49 games), Prescott led the Bulldogs to 23 wins and 10 losses. He will turn 23 before his rookie season.

    In Prescott's five years with the Bulldogs (one as a redshirt), he showed tremendous growth and potential as a quarterback. His first two seasons on the field were spent primarily as a run-pass threat before he developed NFL-level passing traits before his junior season in 2014. One of the most impressive attributes on Prescott's film is that he improved every year as a passer—and he is still young enough to keep improving with good coaching.

    On the hoof, Prescott is impressive with a sturdy, athletic frame. NFL teams concerned about knee and ankle thickness will like his running back-esque legs and trunk. And when it comes to hand size, Prescott is off-the-charts good. His frame matches his playing style, as Prescott is an accomplished runner both on designed plays and when the pocket breaks down. That's something he worked to improve over the last two seasons, and it shows in his poise and timing in the pocket.

    Prescott cut his interceptions down from 11 in 2014 to five in 2015 while increasing his attempts from 396 to 477. He also moved his completion percentage up to 66.2 from 61.6. Those numbers are obvious on film, as his field vision clearly improved and his passing mechanics became more consistent, which in turn made his accuracy much better on timing routes.

    Mechanically, Prescott's motion is clean with a small wasted motion as he brings the ball up to throw. That windup isn't hurting his accuracy or release speed, though, and won't have to be tweaked. His footwork can be smooth and quick, and when there isn't trash around his feet in the pocket, he'll step up to drive the ball down the field.

    In talking to coaches and NFL scouts, they've all raved about Prescott's leadership qualities and football intelligence. The belief is he'll take to NFL-level coaching faster than expected, and one person even compared him to Russell Wilson.


    Prescott is a project. His footwork needs to be adjusted and then drilled over and over again to erase years of bad technique. A good quarterback coach will focus on not just taking drops from center but also on finding a consistent launch point on every three-, five- and seven-step drop so those steps are always at the same depth and same speed.

    Right now—and some of this is due to how he was used at Mississippi State—Prescott stares down pressure in the pocket. This leads to a hesitation in his reads down the field, and in the NFL, that's a sack. After four years of running the ball and playing behind suspect offensive lines, the last thing Prescott needs is to absorb more free hits in the NFL. He has to learn to use his feet to evade the rush while staying true in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield to scan for targets.

    Can Prescott learn to throw on time and to space instead of to receivers? In the Bulldogs offense, he dominated with dink-and-dunk routes while struggling on downfield routes. He has the arm to push the ball deep but wasn't accurate enough to be a serious threat there consistently. NFL coaches must be patient while fixing his mechanics, which will in turn improve his accuracy. One of the great traits of Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston when they were prospects was their ability to anticipate routes and coverages, and Prescott doesn't show that yet.

    After his pro day, Prescott was arrested and charged with DUI in Starkville, Mississippi.

    PRO COMPARISON: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 6.10/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

4. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"223 lbs4.78s9"7.04s


    Christian Hackenberg is one of the most polarizing players in the 2016 NFL draft class—in part due to a fantastic start to his career under then-head coach Bill O'Brien (now of the Houston Texans) and his regression under new head coach James Franklin. Scouting Hackenberg requires some imagination as to what he can be.

    The positives are great. Hackenberg has an NFL body and is a classic, prototypical dropback passer. He doesn't scare easily in the pocket and will hang in traffic to make throws down the field. Hackenberg is also athletic enough to execute rollouts and can evade the rush and move around to either extend plays or pick up a few yards with his legs.

    The arm is what you'd expect. Hackenberg can drive the ball down the field and also changes velocity to throw with touch on underneath routes. The ball jumps out of his hand and has the spin to heat up when he needs to jam it into tight spaces.

    When it comes to the mental part of the game, it's a two-sided coin. When given time, Hackenberg showed he can work through progressions and get to the right read. But having time—and confidence in his receivers—wasn't always guaranteed. This is an area in which he could impress teams, but it's also an area in which they'd be betting on his confidence returning.

    A two-time captain and three-year starter, Hackenberg has seen it all in the Big Ten. He's worked in two different offensive systems and was asked to handle checks, audibles and protections since he was 18 years old. Hackenberg excels in football IQ, toughness and leadership and is a top-tier quarterback in those areas. He has football bloodlines, too, as his father played at the University of Virginia.


    The departure of O'Brien to the NFL was devastating to Hackenberg's draft stock. The quarterback spent the last two seasons running a spread offense under Franklin that lived on screen passes and didn't take advantage of the skill players on the roster. Hackenberg's numbers and play dropped off significantly in 2014 before rebounding slightly in 2015, but it's rare that a top-tier quarterback gets worse in college and is still considered an early-round pick.

    Accuracy became a consistent problem for Hackenberg in the Franklin offense. He regressed to the point where even simple bubble screen passes weren't sure things. Some of that can be attributed to lazy route-running by receivers who didn't attack the football, but overall, a lack of footwork and follow-through on passes across the board plagued Hackenberg's tape.

    Mechanically, poor protection up front doomed Hackenberg. He started throwing off-balance and even changed his release point over the last two seasons as he tried to hurry the ball out of his hand. With 82 sacks in the last two seasons, he took a beating, and it affected his internal clock. When the season ended, Hackenberg was seeing ghosts in the pocket. His NFL team must be patient while re-establishing his presence in the pocket and hoping his poise and consistency in his mechanics returns.

    In a tape-based evaluation, Hackenberg went from bright to bad in a hurry, but his traits are still solid enough to warrant a third-round grade. Based on potential and what he showed early in his career, Hackenberg is someone teams could develop into a starter.

    PRO COMPARISON: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 6.20/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'7"244 lbs4.86s10¼"7.14s


    A three-year starter at Memphis, Paxton Lynch is a big, strong quarterback prospect with impressive dual-threat skills. Lynch showed marked improvement in each of his three years, earning first-team All-AAC honors in his final season.

    Lynch has impressive quickness for a player of his size. He's nimble in the pocket and easily slides or steps up to evade pressure. When need be, he can pull the ball down and run to pick up plus yardage. On designed runs from the pistol or shotgun, he's fast and strong as a ball-carrier. Lynch's footwork will stand out as a huge positive. He has a balanced, strong base and keeps his feet anchored underneath him at all times. Because of this, he's quick to throw and is able to fire the ball at any time with little setup needed.

    Lynch's arm strength and mechanics are promising. He has enough zip to push the ball down the field, but this can be a spotty trait of his because of some inconsistencies in how he loads his legs to throw the ball. Lynch has poor weight transfer at times—he's lazy in shifting from his back foot to his front leg during his motion—and that causes him to lose speed on the ball and accuracy at the same time. This is listed as a positive, though, because there are times when Lynch's arm strength looks fantastic, so the potential is there—his footwork just needs to be fixed.

    Lynch doesn't have the tightest motion in his release, but he does have a quick trigger and can whip the ball out in a hurry. He's proven himself to be a fast thinker on the field and a good decision-maker with the ball. He has been able to test defenses while still protecting the ball (just four interceptions in 2015) and is productive in the red zone given his ability to fit the ball into tight spaces and his capability as a runner.


    As mentioned above, Lynch's inconsistent footwork as a passer is the first thing that needs to be addressed by NFL coaches. Assuming that can be ironed out, his arm strength will level off above the line.

    Lynch's struggles on the field came against his stiffest competition, and that raises question marks about his ability to translate to the NFL. The pressure defenses of Navy and Auburn gave him fits—he completed just 53.2 percent of his passes in those games—as he struggled to read coverages and put the ball in catchable spots for receivers. Overall, accuracy is the biggest reason for concern. He often struggles to lead receivers and will instead throw to the body so his teammates have to adjust to the ball. This led to completions on screens and intermediate passes, which won't be the case in the NFL.

    For a talented athlete, Lynch's accuracy and ball placement suffer when he's asked to move his feet. Whether that's on a designed rollout or when he's leaving the pocket, he has to learn to square his hips, core and shoulders to the target. For now, he's erratic when forced to move.

    The Memphis offense is the final question mark for Lynch. He wasn't asked to work through multiple progressions, nor was he asked to make decisions at the line of scrimmage. So much of what the Tigers did was a tunnel screen or one-read route, so Lynch had his hand held in terms of decision-making. The transition from Memphis to the NFL is a big one, and combined with his accuracy and footwork issues, it makes him a second-round prospect.

    PRO COMPARISON: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 6.90/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

2. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State

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    MIKE STONE/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'5"237 lbs4.77s10"6.86s


    A two-year starter for North Dakota State, Carson Wentz checks every box in terms of size, arm strength, intangibles and athleticism. He's built like a franchise quarterback, throws like a franchise quarterback and can move like a franchise quarterback.

    A proven winner on the field, the Bison lost just three games with Wentz under center over the last two seasons and won the FCS national title for the fifth straight year.

    Wentz's toughness cannot be questioned. After breaking his wrist in the first half against South Dakota, he finished the game. He's also an able and willing runner, showcasing his wheels on designed read-options and also scrambling to extend broken plays.

    In terms of arm strength, Wentz has a big arm and can hit every level of the field without strain. For those who saw him for the first time in the FCS title game or Senior Bowl, he was likely less than 100 percent given the wrist injury. On film, Wentz shows he can effortlessly push the ball up the field and can do so without a steady base under him.

    Accuracy can be tough to judge against lower-level competition, but Wentz was asked to make NFL throws and consistently did so on time and on target. He understands space and knows where to put the ball so his receivers can make plays on it. He's able to throw guys open and will not struggle with tight passing windows against NFL defenses.

    Mechanically, Wentz is tall in the pocket and has a high release point that allows the ball to come out quickly and with total control. His motion while throwing isn't loose, and there are no concerns about hitches or wasted space. The ball is tucked high and tight to his body.


    Wentz started just 23 games for the Bison. It's an open question whether those contests against FCS competition properly prepared him for the NFL—or properly showed his traits and abilities to NFL teams.

    A wrist injury to his throwing hand isn't a major issue given he came back and played in the FCS title game and has since thrown at the Senior Bowl and combine, but Wentz does have a history with injuries. He had arm and shoulder issues in high school form playing baseball, and while they've not affected him at NDSU, anything throwing-arm related has to be vetted.

    For all his athleticism, Wentz's footwork can be spotty. He had a tendency, especially before breaking his wrist, to fade away from throws in the pocket and launch off his back foot. This left him off-balance, and the ball floated at times. Wentz is strong enough to account for poor balance, but in the NFL, that extra air can lead to interceptions. He has to learn to settle his base—both in the pocket and on rollouts—to control his velocity and arc.

    The other red flag was Wentz's tendency to get tunnel vision. He did this more in 2014 than during his senior season, but it's still there—even in great games against Northern Iowa and Jacksonville State. He likes to go straight to his first target but sometimes doesn't progress in his read. That's a fixable issue, but it's one that's harder to project success with.

    PRO COMPARISON: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 7.20/9.00 (Round 1—Franchise QB)

1. Jared Goff, California

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"215 lbs4.82s9"7.17s


    Jared Goff is one of the smartest quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in the past five seasons. In Cal's Bear Raid offense, he was tasked with reading defenses pre-snap and making line calls and audibles out of plays if those defenses gave him a different read than what was expected. Goff was also asked to read defenses post-snap, with his receivers often breaking off their routes based on the coverages they saw. Goff had to read this too, make the right decision and throw based on his read—not necessarily on which receiver was open.

    While not a great athlete, Goff is mobile enough to move in the pocket or pick up yards as a runner. It's his poise in the pocket that truly stands out, though. He doesn't get rattled when there is pressure in his face or around his feet and excels at keeping his vision down the field instead of on the defenders around him. Goff is smooth in his backpedal and has a quick, fluid motion as he takes his drop steps. He stands tall in the pocket but moves with great agility when side-stepping pressure.

    From an arm perspective, Goff is good enough. He's not on par with Cam Newton or Joe Flacco but compares well to players like Marcus Mariota. He had no issues throwing deep outs against Texas or Stanford and is able to thread the ball through tight windows over the middle. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is his ability to drop the ball into a bucket over defenders. He and wide receiver Kenny Lawler had great chemistry on these types of throws—particularly on fade routes into the end zone.

    Goff is as close to NFL-ready as a college quarterback can be in the age of spread offenses. He has a high football IQ, started three seasons for the Bears and has all the athletic tools needed to succeed at the position.


    The lack of an NFL build will concern teams as they dig in on Goff, who was listed at 185 pounds before his junior season at Cal. Whether his body can take the beating of an NFL career will be heavily scrutinized, especially since he has thinner legs than many teams would like.

    Goff's hand size has been mentioned often, and while his mitts are considered "above the line" at nine inches, they have to be evaluated since they're right there on that line (most teams have a nine inch cutoff mark).  Teams that play in cold weather may weigh this more heavily than others.

    On film, Goff was at his best when he was running the two-minute drill or in pressure situations, as these allowed him to get into a rhythm and not overthink at the line of scrimmage or in the pocket. Having played largely from the shotgun, he's spent the offseason working on playing from under center in the event his NFL offense features less shotgun.

    Goff played under tremendous pressure at Cal, was sacked 81 times in three seasons and lost 11 fumbles. Coupled with his smaller hands, those fumbles could be an issue for teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    FINAL GRADE: 7.50/9.00 (Round 1—Franchise QB)


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