Elite 11 2016: Power Ranking This Year's Finalists

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJune 28, 2016

Elite 11 2016: Power Ranking This Year's Finalists

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    Tua Tagovailoa aims to become the second Alabama commit in three years to earn Elite 11 MVP honors.
    Tua Tagovailoa aims to become the second Alabama commit in three years to earn Elite 11 MVP honors.Credit: Student Sports

    The 2016 Elite 11 class of quarterbacks returns to action July 5 at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. These competitors qualified from a group of 24 passers who attended the Elite 11 Finals from June 3-5, and they will now reunite in the Northwest with greater stakes. 

    Elite 11 coaches challenged this collection of coveted recruits to delve into deep playbooks and depart for Beaverton prepared to execute during drills and a star-studded seven-on-seven tournament. The competition continues through The Opening, which ends July 10.

    All 12 quarterbacks already earned induction to the Elite 11 fraternity, but only one will claim MVP honors, a feat accomplished in recent years by standouts such as Jameis Winston, Blake Barnett and Shea Patterson. Here's how we break down the top contenders in this class, taking into account past performances in Elite 11 settings and high school film review.

12. Sam Ehlinger

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Westlake (Austin, Texas)

    Size: 6'1 ½", 215 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 6 dual-threat quarterback; No. 152 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Texas

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    The Longhorns' future offensive ambitions look substantially better these days with Sam Ehlinger set to join 2015 Elite 11 finalist Shane Buechele on campus next year. A prolific producer at the high school level, he exudes leadership and boasts one of the nation's most accurate arms.

    When the mechanics come together—from dropback to release—his passes are crisp and on the money. Still developing enhanced zip on deep balls, Ehlinger is at his best when attacking intermediate areas across scrimmage. 

    Perhaps most importantly, he is a young man who was hellbent on reaching this stage of competition. Ehlinger initially competed at the Houston regional but needed to embark on a quick turnaround trip to New Jersey in order to attend another regional and punch his ticket for the Elite 11 Finals, where he edged out a talented crowd for his spot in The Opening after delivering several successful drives during the seven-on-seven session.

    While he isn't the physical monster some other members of this list are, Ehlinger is strong at his base and uses that platform to get the ball out with some explosiveness. His high school stats warrant attention, as he accrued 6,133 passing yards, 2,082 rushing yards and 103 total touchdowns in 2014 and '15.

11. Chris Robison

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    Credit: 247Sports

    High School: Horn (Mesquite, Texas)

    Size: 6'2", 192 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 7 pro-style quarterback; No. 172 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Oklahoma

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Consistency will be key for Chris Robison, who flashed excellent power with highlight passes during various stretches of the finals. He can ramp up velocity when attempting to drill a dart through seams in the defense, though that can be a risky proposition when dealing with premier linebackers and secondary standouts in Oregon.

    We love the level of swagger Robison brings to a huddle, and that confidence can prove contagious for those around him. He's proved himself as a gamer in the challenging Lone Star State high school football landscape, sealing victories with a tantalizing blend of textbook tosses and improvisational efforts.

    Robison earned regional Elite 11 MVP honors this spring in Dallas, where he dealt with less-than-ideal conditions.

    "I think where I saw him shine was when we got outside and the wind started to blow," Elite 11 instructor Matt James told Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles. "He has a good arm and he cut through the wind."

    Robison tallied 5,959 passing yards and 74 total touchdowns over the past two seasons.

10. Sean Clifford

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio)

    Size: 6'2", 210 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 8 pro-style quarterback; No. 199 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Penn State

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Sean Clifford's Elite 11 journey began with regional MVP honors in Columbus, Ohio, where he was steady and poised as rain fell. That showing carried over into finals action, where he emerged as a no-doubt invitee for The Opening.

    Clifford, a tough competitor who doesn't back down under defensive pressure, is sturdy in the pocket and makes big-time throws by patiently surveying options, even as opponents approach. His anticipation sets him apart from many peers, as he executes play calls with decisiveness and swiftly identifies matchup advantages. 

    "He was very impressive in the pocket, and his drops were fluid, smooth," Elite 11 coach Matt James said after Clifford's regional effort. "He can drive the ball down the field, and it spins out of his hands really nice. His game film showed some of his athleticism, but it was nice to see him get out of the pocket and make a few throws that impressed."

    His downfield arm strength is still progressing, and as that attribute develops, it will further augment an above-average range of accuracy. If Clifford gets hot in seven-on-seven competition, he's a dark-horse candidate to emerge in the MVP conversation.

9. Tommy DeVito

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, New Jersey)

    Size: 6'2", 185 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 26 pro-style quarterback; No. 615 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Syracuse

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Tommy DeVito will attempt to cap off an underdog story in Beaverton one month after arriving at the Elite 11 Finals as the lowest-rated contender (No. 121 among all quarterbacks and No. 1,626 overall). He shattered expectations at the event, earning Elite 11 induction without much debate from coaches. 

    His recent surge in composite rankings can largely be attributed to that accomplishment, but perhaps folks should have been paying closer attention earlier in the process. DeVito helped halt a three-year state championship drought during his first season as starter at national powerhouse Don Bosco last fall, throwing for 1,689 yards with 17 scores, according to Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com (per NJ.com).

    His footwork, accuracy and decision-making were the stuff of a top-five talent at the Elite 11 Finals.

    "For me, he was one of the biggest mysteries coming into [the Elite 11 Finals], but he checked all the boxes for me," Student Sports president Brian Stumpf said during Bleacher Report's selection special. "From the combine interview to the pro-day workout, and then taking the playbook—which is completely different than what he runs at his high schooland taking it to the field [Sunday] and acing the seven-on-seven competition."

    A repeat performance at The Opening would put him in the running for a highly unexpected MVP award. Competing alongside longtime blue-chip recruits, DeVito is ready to prove he belongs.

    "I try not to let rankings affect me at all, but it does stay in the back of my head and pushes me to compete at a high level," he said.

8. Myles Brennan

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    Credit: Student Sports

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

    Size: 6'3", 180 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 18 pro-style quarterback; No. 384 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to LSU

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Few Elite 11 finalists impressed more than Myles Brennan, who was mentally and physically sharp throughout the three-day session. He brings a gunslinger's mindset to the field but keeps things under control with top-tier technique. 

    From a footwork standpoint, there are few contemporaries in this class, and deliberate lower-body mechanics help create a violent finish upon release. Brennan was selected as the Elite 11 Finals' "strongest arm" by counselors, and we expect him to stretch the field with consistency when seven-on-seven showdowns take center stage in Beaverton.

    "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 orchestrates one of America's most explosive offensive attacks at St. Stanislaus, where he collected 5,248 passing yards and 53 touchdowns through the air as a junior.

7. Jake Fromm

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Houston County (Warner Robins, Georgia)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 224 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 3 pro-style quarterback; No. 41 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Georgia

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jake Fromm was forced to transition from a lengthy state title run in baseball to stake claim to one of 12 slots during the Elite 11 Finals. It wasn't a cakewalk, but the Bulldogs pledge did plenty to validate his presence in the fraternity.

    He excelled during pro-day workouts, gaining crucial momentum throughout the event's final stretch. Fromm, who operates smoothly in the pocket, displays great understanding for the game while working through progressions and delivers spirals with compact mechanics.

    He generates substantial power from a sturdy base and belongs in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in this class who can straight up sling it to expose defensive lapses. Fromm, a former Alabama commit who threw for 4,099 yards and 36 scores last season, drew professional comparisons from Elite 11 head coach and Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer.

    "You get guys - I would put Chase Daniel in his group - I would put Drew Brees to a certain degree," he told Luke Stampini of 247Sports (h/t Kipp Adams of 247Sports). "Guys who are just natural passers. Throwing is easy - he knows how to change speed on the ball. He is a big, thick kid, that gives you a lot to work with. He's prepared for that physical part of it."

6. Jack Sears

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: San Clemente (San Clemente, California)

    Size: 6'3", 200 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 10 pro-style quarterback; No. 205 overall

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

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jack Sears follows the footsteps of former San Clemente standout and second-year USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold to The Opening, where he is set to be the lone uncommitted quarterback in attendance. Fresh off an even-keel effort in the finals, Sears has a chance to establish himself among America's premier passers and surpass his current composite ranking.

    His focus seems unflappable, even when under duress from the defense, as he delivers clean passes at a high level inside the pocket and beyond. Sears is an exceptional athlete who rushed for 862 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015, but it's his ability to identify defensive looks and drive the ball downfield that will turn heads in Oregon.

    The evidence can be found on the field—he completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,697 yards, 37 scores and just two interceptions last season—and behind the scenes. Elite 11 counselors pointed to him as the quarterback with the highest football IQ.

    "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 following Sears' regional MVP performance in Oakland, California.

5. Dylan McCaffrey

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Valor Christian (Littleton, Colorado)

    Size: 6'5", 196 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 pro-style quarterback; No. 22 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Michigan

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Dylan McCaffrey is a gifted athlete who possesses the physical frame and leadership skills college coaches covet under center. The son of former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey and younger brother of star Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey has quickly created a name for himself.

    While he is still far from a finished product, Elite 11 staff members project him to potentially gain approximately 30 pounds during the course of his college career. Increased power would add to an arsenal that already includes elite accuracy, length and efficient footwork.

    Elite 11 coaches were blown away by McCaffrey's playbook comprehension during the finals, so anticipate him to be game-ready when competition resumes in Beaverton. Counselors at the finals also identified McCaffrey as the group's strongest leader, which bodes well for his future under the tutelage of former Wolverines quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

    "He's a unique competitor," Elite 11 coach Yogi Roth said on B/R's selection special. "What he embraces, I think, is the lonely work. ... 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 his pass attempts in 2015, tallying 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

4. Davis Mills

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    Credit: Student Sports

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

    Size: 6'3", 192 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 4 pro-style quarterback; No. 55 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Stanford

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Davis Mills is a safe bet to remain in the alpha group of Elite 11 rankings in Beaverton after sitting atop the coaches' list throughout finals action. In a loaded class of Georgia quarterbacks, the Cardinal commit continues to state his case as the Peach State's finest passer.

    "I'm a big fan of Davis Mills," Notre Dame commit and fellow Elite 11 finalist Avery Davis said. "He's a freak. That dude can rip it."

    Selected by Elite 11 Finals counselors as "most likely to be a top NFL prospect," expectations are mounting for Mills. Along with an exemplary wire-to-wire effort in his most recent Elite 11 foray, this field general is in total control of a Greater Atlanta Christian attack in which he produced 5,088 passing yards and 51 touchdowns during the past two seasons. 

    Mills is as consistent as they come in this class, placing passes on receivers with outstanding touch and precision. He's fearless and accurate when aiming for teammates in tight windows, providing evidence of his accelerated evolution as a premier prospect at the position.

    His ability to operate on the run should also prove key at The Opening, as designed roll-outs can set the stage for Mills to torch defenses. He gained 577 yards and scored 14 touchdowns on the ground as a junior.

3. Tate Martell

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)

    Size: 5'10 ½", 203 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 dual-threat quarterback; No. 33 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Ohio State

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Tate Martell can legitimately be categorized as a "winner," whether it comes to an illustrious high school career at a national powerhouse or his penchant for decimating opponents in a widespread competitive seven-on-seven scene. He's racked up championships in both landscapes and has yet to lose a game since taking over as starter at Bishop Gorman in 2014.

    The former Texas A&M and Washington commit has been on the recruiting radar since middle school, never shying away from the spotlight during a high-profile process. Martell, the most impressive prospect in this class when called upon to improvise, became Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer's latest quarterback pupil with a mid-June pledge.

    Recent Elite 11 MVP winners have gone on a tear during the seven-on-seven tournament, and it's a setting that suits Martell well. He'll also have best friend/go-to target Tyjon Lindsey alongside him on Team Alpha Pro, presenting a level of offensive rapport that projects to be practically incomparable among other quarterback-receiver connections.

    Martell takes coaching instructions well and is an athlete who approaches his craft seriously. A long, arduous week in Beaverton annually causes some quarterbacks to taper off, but don't expect that to be the case with the well-conditioned and laser-focused Las Vegas phenom.

    His past two seasons were nothing short of spectacular, as Martell accumulated 5,145 passing yards, 1,037 rushing yards, 86 total touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

2. Tua Tagovailoa

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: St. Louis (Honolulu)

    Size: 6'1", 215 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 dual-threat quarterback; No. 60 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Given his recent commitment to reigning national champion Alabama and a challenge issued by Trent Dilfer, perhaps no passer entered the Elite 11 Finals under more of a microscope than Tua Tagovailoa. He dominates in a spread attack at St. Louis, which produced Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, but coaches aimed to measure his ability to adapt.

    "I told him [at a May regional camp in Oakland], 'Hey, Tua, the way you play the position, even though it looks great, doesn't translate to the next level. It lacks discipline. It doesn't benefit the way you move in the pocket. You can't throw in tight spaces. You have to work on this,'" Dilfer recalled during Bleacher Report's selection special.

    Tagovailoa emphatically delivered.

    "I have never seen a kid since I've been doing this change more in two weeks," Dilfer said.

    We'll now witness how much further the dynamic playmaker has progressed. There's plenty to live up to in the aftermath of a finals performance that featured the highest pro-day score and a scintillating seven-on-seven display (14-of-15 passing with seven scores).

    Tagovailoa, a dangerous weapon in the run game, looks capable of winning games with his arm and should vie to become the second Crimson Tide commit to claim Elite 11 MVP honors since 2014. He collected 2,583 passing yards, 576 rushing yards and 33 touchdown tosses as a junior, per MaxPreps.

1. Hunter Johnson

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    Credit: Student Sports

    High School: Brownsburg (Brownsburg, Indiana)

    Size: 6'3 ½", 201 lbs

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 pro-style quarterback; No. 17 overall

    Recruitment Status: Committed to Clemson

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Despite departing midway through the Elite 11 Finals for a state track competition back home in Indiana, Hunter Johnson managed to make a strong impression during his two days of work.

    "He killed it in just about everything," Cal commit and fellow Elite 11 finalist Chase Garbers said.

    Immense athleticism and a calm demeanor pair perfectly with his polished skills as a passer, and it was no surprise Johnson earned serious respect from peers. Elite 11 coaches asked all 24 finalists which quarterback they would prefer to implement as the cornerstone of a college football program, and no other prospect matched his tally among responses.

    Johnson, who previously pledged to Tennessee prior to his junior season, is surgical when delivering spirals downfield. His ability to locate and hit receivers in stride through solid coverage could create fireworks when seven-on-seven action begins in Oregon.

    He isn't a demonstrative athlete, but teammates gravitate toward Johnson's talent and confidence. Johnson, identified by Elite 11 Finals counselors as the quarterback most likely to flourish in any offensive setting, threw for 2,545 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2015, 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.