NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top QBs

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 3, 2017

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top QBs

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    The 2017 NFL draft class features elite talents at the top of the board in Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette. After that? This is one of the deepest classes in the six years I've been scouting at Bleacher Report.

    Stacking the board top to bottom for the '17 class was no easy task. There are a record-breaking number of first-round talents on my board. Outside of Round 1, it was easy to imagine putting 60 of the top players into the top 40. If you can't find starters in Round 4 of this class, you're doing it wrong.

    So who is the best overall? How about the best at each position? The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to figure that out.

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

    Players were graded on strengths and weaknesses, 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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    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
    GradeLabel
    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
    5.30-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.10-5.25Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

14. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan

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    LM Otero/Associated Press
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'1"206 lbs5.02s9⅝"7.36s

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter with the accuracy and toughness every team wants in a quarterback, Terrell is a touch-passer with very good ball placement on intermediate and short passes. He has a natural understanding of where to put passes to increase yards-after-catch totals. He is a high producing passer with few career turnovers (13 INT last two seasons). On deep balls, he throws with pretty arc and trusts his playmakers.

    NEGATIVES

    Terrell is small and undersized for the NFL position. He doesn’t possess NFL-level arm strength. He was consistently bailed out by Corey Davis. Terrell doesn’t take chances down the field and loves the safe game. He has a habit of locking onto targets and never making his second read. With a small frame and small arm, Terrell has to put everything he has into throws requiring zip. Lack of size and arm will limit him to a backup role in the NFL.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys

    FINAL GRADE: 4.99/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

13. Alek Torgersen, Penn

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"218 lbs4.91s9 1/4"7.75s

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter and school record holder for passing touchdowns and total offense, Torgersen completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 2016. On the hoof, Torgersen passes the eye test with good height, bulk and athleticism. A shotgun-only quarterback, Torgersen isn’t afraid to stand in under pressure. He was utilized as a runner in the Penn offense and has enough agility to work in an offense featuring RPOs and designed quarterback runs. He’s quicker with some rushing power but won’t run past defenders. Torgersen has an easy, quick stroke with good accuracy down the field. An Ivy league kid, he should have no issue digesting an NFL playbook.

    NEGATIVES

    Torgersen's biggest hurdles are a lack of experience against pro-style defenses and in running a pro-style offense. He’s coming from a spread scheme against non-NFL caliber players and was often able to take the snap, make one read and then scramble for first downs. He rarely gets to a second read before moving his feet. At times he’ll develop a bit of a tomahawk throwing motion that causes the ball to sail. Overall, Torgersen is a developmental late-round prospect with a low ceiling caused by a lack of accuracy.

    PRO COMPARISON: Bryce Petty, New York Jets

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

12. Cooper Rush, Central Michigan

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'3"228 lbs4.93s9"7.23s

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter at Central Michigan, Cooper Rush has the experience, leadership and football IQ teams love. A two-time captain, Rush was allowed to make many decisions in the offense at the line of scrimmage. As the film showed, Rush went through second and third progressions and often worked sideline to sideline in his reads as he was dropping back. Compared to most college quarterbacks, Rush is way ahead of the curve on reading a defense. Rush throws with excellent touch and timing, and on underneath routes he can spin a beautiful pass to give his players time and room to make something happen after the catch. Rush plays like a veteran quarterback with excellent decision-making, patience, vision and poise.

    NEGATIVES

    Rush may have the weakest arm in the class. Without the arm or body strength to really push the ball, Rush struggles with the zip and speed needed to get the ball on target and on time. Any downfield passing attack will show his limited strength. Rush doesn’t project as a runner in the pros because of a lack of overall athleticism. He has a lean frame with no muscle mass. In the pocket, Rush must work to correct his base and throw with more balance and follow-through to improve his passes intended to go outside the hashes.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: T.J. Yates, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

11. Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'3"232 lbs4.89N/A

    POSITIVES

    Evans tore his ACL as a freshman at Air Force, which led to a transfer to Trinity Valley College. He then transferred to Virginia Tech and started one year in Blacksburg. A big, strong player with dual-threat production, Evans can spin the ball. The shotgun-only passer can reach downfield throws or power the ball through windows underneath. As a runner, Evans will make people miss in space and has enough power to be effective on RPOs running off-tackle or up the middle. If given time to sit and develop, Evans has some traits that could become starter-level, but he must improve his accuracy, timing and decision-making.

    NEGATIVES

    Evans' decision to enter the 2017 draft a year early shocked many in the football world. Evans lacks experience and played in a wide-open spread scheme that asked little of him from a decision-making standpoint. As a passer, he has a tendency to aim the ball and has a motion that pauses at the top of his delivery. Despite being quick and agile, Evans has inconsistent footwork. He seems to have an issue with ball control, as he bobbled many snaps and dropped the ball several times when hit in the backfield. Evans lacks situation awareness and never fully adapted to the speed of FBS football. He’s an athletic project but could easily end up out of the league early in his career.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

10. C.J. Beathard, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"219 lbsN/A9 3/8"6.76s

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Iowa, C.J. Beathard is the grandson of former NFL general manager Bobby Beathard and the brother of country music singer Tucker Beathard. Playing in a run-first, pro-style offense limited Beathard’s attempts and kept his numbers low (34 TDs, 15 INTs in two seasons) compared to other draft-eligible quarterbacks. Beathard will take what the defense gives him and is very safe and conservative with the ball. His timing and mechanics are excellent. A smart leader with excellent poise, Beathard projects as a solid backup quarterback in the pros and potential spot starter.

    NEGATIVES

    Arm strength is a major liability for Beathard. At times, Beathard becomes very robotic on the field. His delivery and processing can be slow. As a mover, he doesn’t offer the athleticism to threaten defenses with his legs and can struggle to even leave the pocket. Beathard doesn’t show great pocket awareness and will too often hold the ball unnecessarily in the pocket. Accuracy on underneath routes is serviceable, but Beathard struggles to push the ball down the field on time or with velocity. At the Senior Bowl he struggled to cut through wind on out routes. Overall, Beathard lacks the athleticism or arm strength to be considered a priority prospect.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Aaron Murray, Los Angeles Rams

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

9. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

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    Butch Dill/Getty Images
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"224 lbsN/AN/AN/A

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Ole Miss, Kelly transferred there after being dismissed from Clemson and leading East Mississippi Community College to a national title during the 2014 season. The nephew of former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly, Chad doesn't lack natural talent. He is blessed with an excellent arm and impressive movement skills in and out of the pocket. He’s a natural athlete with a quick release and enough arm to open up the playbook. From an arm-talent standpoint, Kelly’s strength and accuracy are impressive. He’s able to make off-platform throws and let the ball rip on the move with excellent arm angles and strength. He’s poised and athletic when pressured. Kelly’s timing in the pocket is exceptional, and he has a great feel for when to move, when to tuck-and-run and when to stand in and take a shot. A tough, strong player with a thick build, Kelly won’t get timid when pressured. In a scheme that allows Kelly to move and scramble, he could be very dangerous as a passer and as a runner. Kelly is at his best on the move.

    NEGATIVES

    Kelly was dismissed from Clemson, reportedly told a bouncer at a bar he would return with an AK-47 and "spray this place", ran onto the field during a high school football fight that his brother was involved in, was photographed on Snapchat in a room that appeared to have marijuana, tore his ACL as a freshman at Clemson and tore the other (right) ACL in November. The list of negatives off the field are enough that Kelly’s invite to the NFL combine was rescinded. With two ACL injuries in the past, Kelly’s mobility moving forward may be diminished. Kelly is a little bit of a backyard football player—opting to scramble around and make plays instead of making the easy play. He will look to be the hero instead of playing possession football. Kelly can miss big at times—both high and low—because he’s so rarely playing from the pocket and going through an actual delivery. Ball placement gets off, and he’ll struggle to get back in a rhythm. If you take away the off-field concerns, Kelly is an intriguing potential starter. Whether or not he can stay out of trouble remains to be seen.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Mark Sanchez, Chicago Bears

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Starter Traits)

8. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'3"216 lbs4.64s9 1/4"6.75s

    POSITIVES

    A starter for two-and-a-half seasons—including four games as a true freshman—Dobbs once looked like a candidate to change positions for the NFL. He's now seen as a solid developmental quarterback after a strong senior campaign and an excellent showing at the Senior Bowl and combine. Dobbs is a well-developed athlete with explosive qualities as a runner and thrower. Watching him throw live, you see sweet velocity and good movement on the ball when throwing with arc and touch. Dobbs has the instincts to put the ball in a place to let his receiver make a play on it—especially with deep balls. As a runner, Dobbs is good enough to be dangerous on RPOs and can also slide to escape pressure. An aerospace engineering major, Dobbs won’t struggle to learn the concepts of an NFL offense.

    NEGATIVES

    Dobbs doesn’t pass the eye test on Saturdays as a great quarterback, and there aren’t many guys winning games on Sundays who weren’t exceptional college quarterbacks. Dobbs was average in terms of accuracy on intermediate passes and can get baited into poor throws into coverage. His lower-body mechanics need a ton of work, as he’s too often over-striding and leaving his legs unbalanced and off target when throwing. Without having a rocket arm, Dobbs isn’t able to deliver off-platform throws on the money nor thread the needle. His decision-making has been unimpressive.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Robert Griffin III, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

7. Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL)

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    John Raoux/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"214 lbsN/A9 3/4"N/A

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Miami, Kaaya took over the job as a true freshman and is one of the few pro-style quarterbacks in the draft class. Under Mark Richt in 2016, he improved despite playing behind a leaky offensive line and in a new system. Kaaya’s football IQ is off-the-charts good. He understands concepts, coverages and blocking assignments. In his pre-combine training, Kaaya was able to get healthy, add weight and work on the lower-body fundamentals that caused issues in his play. You won’t see huge velocity from Kaaya, but he throws with enough power and can zip the ball in tight spots when needed. His downfield throwing is pretty, and the touch on passes he shows in spots is some of the best in the class. Consistency will be big for him, but Kaaya has the tools to be a future NFL starter.

    NEGATIVES

    Kaaya picked up some bad habits mechanically. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot while fading away from the line of scrimmage. Without having a top arm, this can cause his accuracy to suffer. Throwing across the field and to intermediate zones, Kaaya has been inconsistent and must improve his lower-body mechanics when there’s a defender in his face. Kaaya can get robotic in his movements and reads and doesn’t appear to be a great improviser on the field. It won’t be a surprise if NFL teams try to get the long, lean Kaaya to bulk up to the 225-pound range.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 6.25/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

6. Nathan Peterman, Pitt

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    Jared Wickerham/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"226 lbs4.82s9 7/8"7.14s

    POSITIVES

    Originally signed at Tennessee, Peterman transferred to Pittsburgh after failing to land the starting job for the Volunteers. With the Panthers, he started for two seasons in a pro-style, run-heavy offense. Peterman was famously benched after two series against Florida as a true freshman after throwing two interceptions in 11 attempts. Since then, he’s developed into a quick thinker and tough player. Peterman has an NFL arm, understands touch and timing and can adjust his velocity for the moment. His eyes as a passer are very good, and he’s able to work to second and third progressions. He’s athletic enough to move around the pocket and shows the athleticism to make passes to intermediate and deep areas from the go. Peterman is ready to play in the NFL right now thanks to his vision, arm strength and accuracy on intermediate and deep balls.

    NEGATIVES

    Peterman completed just over 60 percent of his passes in the last two seasons. Accuracy normally doesn’t get better in the NFL once you face faster defenders. Mechanically, Peterman’s legs get him into trouble. He’s very inconsistent as a strider and often throws without his base under him. Arm strength questions mostly come from Peterman not driving the ball with his hips and stepping into throws. Mixing that should eliminate some of the floaters he throws over the middle of the field. There are games (Clemson) when Peterman looks like a future NFL starter, but there are also stretches where his spot accuracy and touch simply aren’t good. He’s a project but could very well start early in his career.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots

    FINAL GRADE: 6.45/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

5. Davis Webb, California

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'5"229 lbs4.79s9 1/4"6.92s

    POSITIVES

    A one-year starter at California after transferring from Texas Tech, Davis Webb has the arm talent and football IQ to wow scouts. Webb took the starting job from Baker Mayfield at Tech as a true freshman and started half a season as a sophomore before Patrick Mahomes took over. A graduate transfer at Cal, Webb finally put a whole season on tape. A big, strong-armed quarterback, Webb has better athleticism than people expect for his size and can be functional moving the pocket or pulling the ball down to move. A shotgun-only quarterback, Webb can sling the ball all over the field with accuracy. The tools off the field with Webb are his most impressive trait. He’s a heady player with excellent character and work ethic.

    NEGATIVES

    When everything is good, Webb looks great. When the pocket breaks down or he has to get to his second read, he can struggle. His decision-making is often one-and-done. He’ll lock on to his primary target and will suffer when asked to move off that. For a big-armed quarterback, Webb’s passes outside the hashes can dive. Despite good combine numbers, Webb isn’t a threat to make plays as a runner. As a touch thrower, Webb is inconsistent and notably shaky down the field. The offensive systems Webb played in have not prepared him for the NFL. He’ll have to learn to call plays in the huddle, spit out long play names and operate under center.

    PRO COMPARISON: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

4. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'4"233 lbs4.83s9 7/8"7.40s

    POSITIVES

    A replacement starter in 2015 after Malik Zaire was injured, DeShone Kizer would take over the job full-time in 2016 after an early-season rotation. All told, he threw 695 passes over the last two years. Kizer has a very strong arm, and it shows when he’s dialed in. His ball placement will wow you at times, and he can spin the ball through traffic without any loss of velocity or sailing passes high. In the red zone, Kizer stands out as an elite performer. He has the size and athleticism to be a punishing runner in short-yardage situations and can also move his feet to extend the play. Mechanically, Kizer is the most consistent in the class. He has a smooth, quick delivery and doesn’t pat the ball or take unnecessary steps. His arm strength isn’t the best in the class, but it’s impressive. The Notre Dame offense is similar to an NFL system in terms of route-and-blocking combinations, which should help his transition. Kizer is a developmental prospect but has the goods to be an NFL starter in time.

    NEGATIVES

    Kizer didn’t win the job outright from Zaire until he got hurt, and even in 2016 they rotated for the Texas game and Kizer was later benched in favor of Zaire (only to return to the game) against Stanford. His eyes can be an issue at times, and he doesn’t show experience working to his second and third reads consistently. Kizer can be nonchalant in the pocket and must learn to play with urgency both as a thrower and as a mover out of the pocket to avoid pressure. Kizer’s 2016 was markedly worse than his 2015 season, leading to questions about his ability to elevate players around him after losing first-round picks Will Fuller and Ronnie Stanley to the NFL draft.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Donovan McNabb, retired

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

3. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech

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    John Weast/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"225 lbs4.80s9 1/4"6.88s

    POSITIVES

    The best arm in the 2017 draft class belongs to Patrick Mahomes II of Texas Tech. A two-year starter at Texas Tech, Mahomes pushed Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb out of Lubbock to earn the starting job. He is able to push the ball all over the field and can do so from multiple platforms with his great arm. A shotgun-only quarterback in college, Mahomes is athletic enough to learn to take snaps from under center. Velocity on all throws is very impressive for Mahomes, who understands how to dial up spin and get the ball through tight coverage. He’s a dual-threat player with the strength and speed to be effective as a designed runner or when getting free from pressure. A natural leader, Mahomes has the confidence and poise to be great under pressure. He’s rarely rattled, and it shows on the field. The son of a former MLB pitcher, Mahomes has great athletic genes. In 2016, he threw 41 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions and hit on 65.7 percent of his throws. Mahomes’ tools are the best of any quarterback in this class.

    NEGATIVES

    Mahomes has some Brett Favre in his game—the good and bad kind. He loves to launch off his back foot and throw without lining up his hips or shoulders. And while he has the strength to do this, his accuracy suffers on downfield throws when his body isn’t right. Learning to line up his body could fix this, but he has to prove he can do that when under pressure. You also don’t want to completely take away the gunslinger mentality and athletic traits and try to force Mahomes to become someone he’s not. Mahomes, coming from the Texas Tech Air Raid offense, will have to fight against a trend of unsuccessful quarterbacks in the NFL coming from that system. He’ll have to adjust to making play calls in the huddle and reading the defense on his own without the aid of the coaches holding up cards on the sideline. 

    PRO COMPARISON: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 6.95/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"221 lbs4.66s9 3/4"6.95s

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Clemson—and a two-time Heisman finalist—Deshaun Watson has been one of the best players in college football during that time. He led Clemson to a national title game victory over Alabama in his junior season after losing to the Crimson Tide in a jaw-dropping performance the year before. On the field, Watson is a very good athlete. He excelled as a runner in 2015 (1,105 yards, 12 TDs) before developing into more of a pocket thrower in his final year. He has a quick, smooth release and an over-the-top motion. He’s able to move his legs to set up passing windows and has enough arm to push the ball outside the hashes and down the field. Watson is an excellent leader and a high-character player. His teammates rallied around his toughness and poise throughout the last two years. Among the 2017 quarterback class, Watson is the most pro-ready. He’s a proven winner and playmaker.

    NEGATIVES

    When viewing Watson, his total of 30 interceptions in the last two seasons has to be discussed. Too often he struggled to identify zone coverage (see the Pitt, Troy, Florida State and Ohio State games) that led to poor interceptions or near-misses. Often, Watson throws the ball up and bets on his big receivers to make plays on the ball. His deep-ball accuracy is inconsistent. No quarterback in college football had more skill-position talent around him. Watson also had 13 passes batted down in 2016, most of all draft-eligible quarterbacks. If Watson intends to be a runner in the NFL, he’ll need to bulk up to add the power (especially in his lower body) to make plays. Overall, his accuracy is too inconsistent to be considered top-end. He’ll have to speed up his decision-making and improve his spot-accuracy to be a top-tier NFL quarterback.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

    FINAL GRADE: 7.00/9.00 (Round 1—Future Starter)

1. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 TimeHand Size3-Cone
    6'2"222 lbs4.67s9 1/2"6.87s

    POSITIVES

    A junior entry into the 2017 draft class, Mitchell Trubisky meets all the NFL thresholds for size, strength, mobility and football IQ. On the field he’s calm and collected both in the pocket and on the go—where he displays the athleticism to be featured as a runner and also as a scrambler when the pocket breaks down. A shotgun quarterback, Trubisky has the footwork and overall agility to operate under center with time. His arm talent is on the good-to-very-good scale, and he’s shown the ability to pinpoint passes to all levels of the field. Trubisky’s touch accuracy is impressive, and he’s able to mix up throws to fit the ball into coverage. In his one year as a starter, Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He had just four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in 449 attempts.

    NEGATIVES

    A one-year starter at UNC, Trubisky doesn’t have a ton of tape to evaluate. Mechanically, he can break down at times and will start to throw off-balance and from his back foot without the proper arm strength or hip alignment to make the throws on target. Trubisky’s numbers were good, but he was surrounded by top-tier athletes at the skill positions, which will bring up questions about how much of his success was based on the talent around him. Misidentifying underneath and zone coverages led to the few interceptions on Trubisky’s tape. I don’t view Trubisky as a Day 1 NFL starter. But he's a player who could operate in the right system if need-be in his first season.

    PRO COMPARISON: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 7.15/9.00 (Round 1—Future Starter)

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