As the 2021 football season draws near, SI All-American continues to evaluate the nation's top prospects at every position in the class of 2022. The first wave of the evaluations are the 'Watch List' selections, also known as SI All-American candidates, to be released throughout the month of July.
It precedes the SI99 rankings, our preseason mark of America's top college football prospects regardless of position, to be released in August.
Naturally, the quarterback watch list is up first and it will be released in more detail than the rest. The 25 SI All-American candidates will be broken down in groups of five, with the top five revealed on Friday before other positions begin to roll out.
21. AJ Swann
Vitals: 6'2", 200 pounds
School: Canton (Ga.) Cherokee
Committed To: Maryland
2020 Stats: 2,505 pass yards, 60.3%, 23 TD, 6 INT
Landing Swann was vitally important for Maryland coach Mike Locksley. The Peach State signal caller has a lightning quick release and has a knack for making off-schedule plays. Swann throws extremely well on the run, he’s a gutsy quarterback that will take chances and he does an excellent job keeping his eyes downfield as the pocket is collapsing and when he’s on the run.
Swann shows good poise in the pocket and has impressive downfield touch from the pocket and when on the move. At times Swann will leave the pocket too early and he will need to be more effective on platform, but his combination of arm talent, guts and touch give him the projection to develop into an impactful pocket passer.
Swann is a quality athlete that can move the chains, but his running ability is used primarily to buy time in the pocket until he finds an open teammate down the field.
22. Zach Pyron
Vitals: 6'3", 205 pounds
School: Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley
Committed To: Baylor
2020 Stats: 2,314 pass yards, 54.5%, 23 TD, 11 INT - 306 rush yards, 3 TD
Pyron is an intriguing player that right now is more about projection than he is a polished quarterback. After playing in a hybrid shotgun/option offense his first two years of high school, Pyron is still learning the nuances of the drop back passing game, but he has tools that Baylor’s staff is going to like.
At times the ball jumps out of Pyron’s hand, which makes one think he has a bit more power than he often shows on film. With more experience as a passer I expect to see him start getting more consistent zip on the football. Pyron shows good downfield touch and accuracy, he thrives in the RPO (run pass option) game and he’s dangerous once he gets out of the pocket.
Pyron is a mobile quarterback that can make plays in the run game and his ability to extend plays out of the pocket add to his value. For Pyron to reach his full potential, however, he’ll need to become a better decision maker, improve how quickly he can work through progressions and protect the ball.
23. Holden Geriner
Vitals: 6'3", 215 pounds
School: Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine Military
Committed To: Auburn
2020 Stats: 2,770 pass yards, 67.8%, 25 TD, 3 INT - 116 rush yards, 5 TD
Landing Geriner in his first full class was a good way for Bryan Harsin to start his career in The Plains. Geriner is a big bodied quarterback that can get the ball over the top of the defense. His release is on the long side, but Geriner makes up for that by working quickly through the throwing zone with a whip-like motion coming from his core.
That long release can lead to some inconsistency from a release point, which could lead to some struggles at times with ball placement. Geriner had an impressive completion percentage in high school (67.8%), but if that is going to translate to the next level he’ll need to clean up his release point to a degree.
Geriner works quickly through progressions and throws with impressive timing and anticipation, as well as when on the move. Geriner’s size and above-average athleticism allows him to project at least as a quality chain mover in the run game and allow him to stay up in the pocket when the pressure comes.
24. Brady Allen
Vitals: 6'5", 200 pounds
School: Fort Branch (Ind.) Gibson Southern
Committed To: Purdue
2020 Stats: 2,556 pass yards, 55.1%, 31 TD, 7 INT
Allen impressed on film during his junior season and the things to like most about him also showed up in the Under Armour combine in Columbus this spring. Allen is a tall, skinny quarterback that should see a jump in velocity and power as he starts to fill out his frame in college, which is a reason he is slotted strongly in a deep class at the position.
Right now, however, Allen doesn’t have the big arm that other quarterbacks on this list possess, and he’s an average athlete. What makes Allen so impressive is his accuracy and football IQ. Allen throws with incredible timing and his ability to work through progressions is advanced for his age. This is important for him because his ability to quickly get the ball out and his top-notch ball placement helps overcome his lack of power.
Allen isn’t an over athletic player and he won’t scare teams with his legs, but he stays light on his feet in the pocket, he is willing to stand tall in the pocket as pressure mounts and he can quickly get the ball out to open receivers.
25. Tayven Jackson
Vitals: 6'4", 195 pounds
School: Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove
Committed To: Tennessee
2020 Stats: 1,756 pass yards, 62.1%, 17 TD, 5 INT - 191 rush yards, 6 TD
There are certainly things to like about Jackson, but he’s very much a work in progress as a passer. How well he can develop those aspects of his game will determine if he can turn his potential into production and allow the Indiana signal caller to outplay his ranking.
Jackson is a long quarterback with an impressive frame, one that should allow him to get over 210 pounds, which will help him be even more firm in the pocket. Jackson is a quality athlete that shows good balance and quickness in the pocket, but he must clean up his footwork.
At times Jackson shows zip and power that makes one think he should be much higher on this list, but its sporadic, and there are other times when he lacks the necessary zip to be an SEC caliber quarterback. His biggest issue is a lack of ideal accuracy. Without focusing on advanced things like ball placement, but simply being able to complete passes at a higher rate should be easier for a quarterback with his arm strength to complete.
QUARTERBACKS TO WATCH IN 2021
There are six quarterbacks that I’m going to have my eye on this season that could jump into the Top 25.
*** Michigan commit Jayden Denegal is all about projection right now. He’s got great size and arm potential, but he’s very raw mechanically. He needs to clean up his mechanics and get more experience, and if that happens he’ll jump up.
*** Boston College commit Peter Delaportas is an interesting prospect to break down. He has great size, he’s athletic and he has a very powerful arm. The issue, however, is that he’s incredibly raw, inaccurate and needs a ton of mechanical work, but the raw tools are impressive.
*** I’m really interested to see Jacob Knuth progress as a senior. The South Dakota native and Minnesota commit has size, arm talent and a lot of guts. If he cleans some technical parts of his game up I could see him making a big leap up the rankings.
*** South Carolina commit Braden Davis needs more seasoning, but he has some tools to work with. He’s athletic, mobile and shows flashes of a big arm, but his game is very erratic and he needs considerable coaching.
*** NC State commitment MJ Morris has been a known name in the industry since his early days in Georgia, but after a transfer and injury issue, he hasn't showcased the floor once considered can't miss. The ceiling, with his two-sport background, improving mechanics and overall athleticism, remains.
*** Uncommitted Tennessee passer Luther Richesson just made a name for himself at the Elite 11 Finals, finishing No. 11 in the SIAA composite metric for the week. He is big, athletic and proved accurate in the intermediate space well more than not out in Los Angeles. A strong senior campaign would complete one of the more feel-good stories of the cycle.