Ranking Top QB Recruits After Elite 11 Finals

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJune 6, 2016

Ranking Top QB Recruits After Elite 11 Finals

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    Clemson commit Hunter Johnson continues to prove he belongs among the nation's elite.
    Clemson commit Hunter Johnson continues to prove he belongs among the nation's elite.Credit: 247Sports

    Premier quarterbacks can provide pivotal building blocks for college football recruiting classes, solidifying future offensive efforts and giving coaches a potential leader who can rally other athletes to join them on campus. Just like at the professional and collegiate level, top-tier high school passers command a spotlight that challenges their ability to handle physical and mental scrutiny.

    We've grown familiar with the prized playmakers at the position in an impressive 2017 cycle, evaluating prospects through multi-season film review and in-person camp assessment. Bleacher Report was in attendance for the Elite 11 national finals June 3-5 at Redondo Union High School in Los Angeles County, California, checking the pulse of this group.

    Here's a look at how America's most impressive prep quarterbacks stack up months shy of their senior high school seasons, placing emphasis on accuracy, arm strength, athleticism, leadership and improvisational skills. 

10. Ryan Kelley

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Basha (Chandler, Arizona)

    Size: 6'3", 188 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Arizona State

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Ryan Kelley didn't receive an invitation to Elite 11 finals in Los Angeles but managed to make an impression during regional competition. There's an abundance of intriguing evidence in his high school film. This former Oregon pledge pushes the ball downfield with top-notch velocity, as the sound of his tosses often stands out even on a crowded field.

    He matches that velocity with above-average timing on complex progressions, and it's difficult to derail him even with pressure in the pocket. Kelley keeps his eyes focused forward while evading defenders and can climb the pocket with shiftiness before sending a pass streaming toward the target.

    His most meaningful improvements will occur in the accuracy department as coaches help him establish increased consistency at the point of release. Kelley collected 5,714 yards through the air during the past two years, compiling 58 total touchdowns (passing and running) in the process, according to MaxPreps.

9. Lowell Narcisse

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: St. James (St. James, Louisiana)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 224 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to LSU

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Lowell Narcisse, a left-handed passer who initially pledged to Auburn, missed the entire 2015 regular season with a torn ACL before returning to guide St. James during a deep playoff run (10 total touchdowns and no interceptions in three postseason victories, per MaxPreps). Just months after suffering the knee injury, Narcisse still exhibited enough mobility to impact games as a rusher, though we look forward to watching him operate at his 2014 level, which resulted in 1,402 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.

    His health seemed to be in order at Elite 11 finals, where event counselors named him "most improved" competitor. Narcisse displays a developing compact delivery that enables him to send darts with increased accuracy as his senior campaign approaches.

    He's the smoothest open-field runner on this list, which makes him a candidate to rack up substantial yardage on the ground throughout his collegiate career. Narcisse uses his mobility on roll-out plays that extend him beyond the pocket, and he provides consistent ball placement that creates space for receivers to extend.

    In his most recent full season (sophomore year), Narcisse threw for 3,124 and 31 touchdowns. There are more gifted passers in this cycle who don't appear on this list, but that doesn't outweigh Narcisse's dynamic skill set.

8. Myles Brennan

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: St. Stanislaus (Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi)

    Size: 6'3", 180 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to LSU

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    It's easy to admire Myles Brennan's demeanor as a potential leader in the offensive huddle and locker room overall, as he's among the most focused quarterbacks you'll find in the country. His killer instinct resonates with the players around him, and from a physical standpoint, he boasts big-time talent.

    Brennan, whom camp counselors selected as the Elite 11 finals' "strongest arm," can shred defenses deep or intermediate. He has an excellent base in the pocket, maintaining balance whether he's stationary or on the move, and follows through with ferocity upon delivery.

    "I'm always trying to attack defenses anytime there's an opportunity," he told Bleacher Report. "My goal is to make the other team pay for every mistake, so that makes preparation so important."

    Brennan tormented opponents on a regular basis last fall, racking up 5,248 passing yards and 53 touchdown tosses. He added 497 yards and eight scores on the ground.

7. Jake Fromm

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Houston County (Warner Robins, Georgia)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 224 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Georgia

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jake Fromm grades out as a top-tier talent across the board, bringing impressive mechanics, size and accuracy to the table. He does his best work inside the pocket, where he settles in while surveying his options before exploding through with strong lower-body work and a consistent release.

    His patience in the pocket pays off with big gains, as he's willing to wait to pull that trigger until he identifies defensive strain. Fromm finds open receivers with regularity as he reads progressions, though he isn't afraid to sling the ball inside a tight window where traffic would otherwise deter some passers.

    A prototypical pro-style prospect, the former Alabama commit is more than a stationary quarterback and can buy time by shrugging off defenders or rolling out. Fromm, who also helped lead his high school baseball team to a state title this spring, recorded 4,099 passing yards and 36 touchdown tosses in 2015.

6. Jack Sears

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: San Clemente (San Clemente, California)

    Size: 6'3", 200 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; contenders include Cal, Duke, UCLA, USC and Tennessee

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jack Sears continues to make significant strides as a passer, and he augments those efforts behind center with exceptional athleticism. He took ownership of starting duties at San Clemente following the departure of 2015 USC signee Sam Darnold, and the ensuing progression has been rapid.

    His ability to deliver throws doesn't change whether Sears is operating within the pocket or exploring options on the run. He's a strong athlete who can punish opponents with rushing efforts (862 yards and nine scores in 2015) when called upon, which makes him a difficult cover in manageable third-down situations. 

    "I just had this vibe when he came on all of a sudden, and it’s like, ‘Does he kind of look like what Andrew Luck looked like?’ He has such a wide base, such a great arm and he’s a great athlete," Elite 11 instructor Yogi Roth told B/R's Sanjay Kirpalani after Sears earned regional MVP honors in Oakland.

    Beyond elite physicality, Sears is among the true quarterback savants of this class and was selected as the prospect with highest football IQ by Elite 11 finals counselors. He completed 71 percent of pass attempts as a junior, tallying 2,697 yards, 37 touchdowns and just two interceptions. 

5. Dylan McCaffrey

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Valor Christian (Littleton, Colorado)

    Size: 6'5", 196 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Michigan

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Dylan McCaffrey checks off just about every category you might examine when assessing a standout quarterback prospect. From family pedigree—father Ed McCaffrey starred at receiver for the Denver Broncos and older brother Christian is a Heisman Trophy contender—to physical projection, he has the makings of a future national star.

    Elite 11 coaches expressed excitement about the possibility of McCaffrey's frame expanding into the 230-pound range during his collegiate career. This growth would enable him to further establish enhanced power that could complement outstanding accuracy that gives only his receiver an opportunity to pull down pass attempts.

    He is sturdy in the pocket and maintains ideal posture even when flushed outside of his comfort zone. McCaffrey also showed off his mental aptitude at the Elite 11 finals by acing playbook install evaluation. Event counselors acknowledged him as a competitor who exhibited the strongest leadership qualities in attendance.

    "He's a unique competitor," Elite 11 coach Yogi Roth said during Bleacher Report's Elite 11 finalist reveal show. "You follow (brother) Christian, you follow anyone in the family, he's an elite competitor. What he embraces, I think, is the lonely work. He's going to work with Jedd Fisch as his quarterback coach, Jim Harbaugh is going to develop him, as well. This guy has all the things we don't see to give himself an opportunity in the Big Ten to shine and have a chance to be the No. 1 pick."

    He completed 65 percent of throws as a junior, totaling 2,800 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

4. Davis Mills

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Greater Atlanta Christian School (Norcross, Georgia)

    Size: 6'3", 192 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Stanford

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Davis Mills sat atop the Elite 11 staff rankings entering national finals and didn't do much to dispel that sentiment during his latest efforts. He served up more evidence of a skill set that should have Stanford's coaching staff thrilled about future offensive possibilities.

    This even-keeled field general finds receivers in tight spots, unleashing some of the finest spirals you'll find in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Mills makes difficult throws appear routine and provides plenty of touch on attempts that take his target toward boundaries, allowing teammates to gain an edge in positioning with exemplary ball placement. 

    Mentally, he seems to turn the page each play whether his previous pass attempt resulted in six points or an interception. Mills' mobility is above-average at his size, and he should prove to be a tough collegiate runner (577 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last fall) with continued physical maturation.

    He collected 5,088 passing yards and 51 scores through the air during his past two campaigns. Elite 11 counselors selected Mills as "most likely to be a top NFL prospect."

3. Tate Martell

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)

    Size: 5'10 ½", 203 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; contenders include Cal, Colorado, Ohio State, UCLA and USC

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Vaulting into the national recruiting spotlight at a young age, Tate Martell continues to validate the long-standing hype. Though he is the shortest member in this group, his efforts in the weight room have paid off by establishing a formidable physical base. Perhaps no quarterback in this class rivals his penchant for creating game-changing improvisational plays.

    Martell flourishes when flushed outside the pocket, and designed roll-outs should be an element of any offensive attack he leads. When sticking to script behind center, he's a decisive passer who doesn't lock onto targets and keeps defenders guessing while mulling options and anticipating windows.

    A true student of the game, Martell has worked to develop polished mechanics that hold up under duress. An offered recruit since seventh grade, he seems as capable as any 2017 quarterback of contributing immediately in college.

    Martell hasn't lost a game since taking over as the starter at Bishop Gorman, spearheading the program's presence as a No. 1 overall national ranking contender. He tallied 5,145 passing yards, 1,037 rushing yards, 86 total touchdowns and just eight interceptions during the past two seasons while also dominating the seven-on-seven circuit.

2. Tua Tagovailoa

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: St. Louis (Honolulu)

    Size: 6'1", 215 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Tua Tagovailoa answered any questions about his ability to adapt and thrive in various offensive settings at the Elite 11 finals. Challenged by Super Bowl champion quarterback Trent Dilfer and his staff to sharpen the approach in a pro-style setting, this Crimson Tide commit rose to the occasion and largely exceeded expectations.

    Tagovailoa registered the highest score (45) among two dozen contenders in Saturday evening's pro-day testing, and then he took things to another level Sunday. He was sensational in seven-on-seven action, completing 14 of 15 pass attempts with seven tosses resulting in touchdowns.

    His only incompletion was the result of a receiver's drop in the end zone. If Elite 11 finals had concluded with an MVP award, it would have gone to Tagovailoa.

    This dominant performance augments what we've seen from him in a spread offense at St. Louis, where Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota once starred. Tagovailoa, who also seemed to be a gravitating force for fellow Elite 11 finalists, posted 2,583 passing yards, 576 rushing yards, 33 touchdown tosses and just three interceptions last season, per MaxPreps.

1. Hunter Johnson

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Brownsburg (Brownsburg, Indiana)

    Size: 6'3 ½", 201 lbs

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Clemson

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    At an Elite 11 finals filled with alpha dogs, Hunter Johnson was held in high esteem by his contemporaries. When event staff polled the 24 competitors about which quarterback they would choose to build a college program around, he proved to be the runaway choice.

    Johnson, who initially committed to Tennessee, throws the prettiest spirals in this class, and they come in great frequency. He's grown to trust his arm over the past year, finding receivers in contested areas with well-timed passes that produce the blend of touch and zip that scouts covet.

    Johnson is a compelling athlete who can create opportunities by prolonging plays, and he actually flew home in the middle of Elite 11 finals for a state track meet in Indiana before returning to California for the conclusion of camp. The guy is a gamer who can rally his huddle, stand tall in the pocket and make all the throws required of a quarterback capable of carrying a college attack to lofty heights. 

    Elite 11 counselors pointed to Johnson as the quarterback most likely to succeed in any offensive scheme, providing a tip of the cap to his versatility. He fired 31 touchdown tosses in 2015 while totaling 2,545 passing yards, per MaxPreps.

    Quotes and observations obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player information is courtesy of 247Sports.

    Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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