SI All-American: Ranking the 10 QBs in the Class of 2021

SI All-American kicks off its positional rankings series with a look at the top quarterback prospects in the college football recruiting class of 2021.
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After compiling several months worth of data in addition to cycling back for a closer look at the 2019 football season, SI All-American has put pen to paper at the game's most important position -- quarterback. 

As we work towards the preseason SI99, ranking the top college football prospects regardless of position, establishing a top 10 ahead of the 2020 season for each position group plays paramount. For the quarterback group, junior season production, athletic traits, technical traits and upside serve as the key discussion points within our team. 

1. Caleb Williams, Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College

6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Committed to Oklahoma

Williams earns the mark as our top passer, as he grades out highly in most, if not all, of our position-specific and critical factors. Blessed with an above-average frame and bulk, Williams’ athleticism is elite. However, his arm talent is downright special. From being able to alter his arm slots, manipulate ball speeds and delivering throws with proper ball placement and accuracy to all levels, he can fit in many different offensive structures that call for him to play in and out of the pocket. Williams has Gumby-like body flexibility to execute off-platform throws, along with excellent functional mobility to also threaten defenses with excellent run traits. Should he continue to develop, Williams projects as a high-end college starter.

2. Brock Vandagriff, Bogart (Ga.) Prince Avenue Christian

6-foot-3, 200 pounds

Committed to Georgia

Possessing a promising frame that appears to have gotten even stronger this offseason, Vandagriff is an elite decision-maker with ideal physical tools. The Peach State native has plus arm strength and seamlessly ties his lower-half with his eyes and arm while clicking through his progressions from the pocket. Not to be restricted, Vandagriff possesses a good feel for perimeter pressure and enough athleticism and mobility to maneuver through traffic and produce off-schedule. He has a good 2-count release that allows him to drive the ball to targets through the third level and from the boundary to the field. Vandagriff projects well as the trigger man in an offense with 3-step and 5-step rhythm concepts in its passing game.

3. JJ McCarthy, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

6-foot-2, 190 pounds

Committed to Michigan

McCarthy won’t wow anyone on the hoof, yet he impresses many with his skill set on tape. The Michigan commit can click quickly through progressions before triggering to pitch to targets with plus velocity and anticipation, as the ball spins well from his hand. He has maximum confidence in his right arm, which allows him to threaten all three levels each snap. His quick feet and strong base allows him to be comfortable in the pocket with a good feel, yet he can attack the edges in the reactionary phase of and throw with accuracy on the move. He shows a very quick transfer from passer to runner and can keep an offense on the field with his legs. McCarthy has the arm talent and mental processing ability to fit well in Wolverine offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ system predicated on blending RPO concepts and shot plays.

4. Ty Thompson, Gilbert (Ariz.) Mesquite

6-foot-4, 200 pounds

Committed to Oregon

Thompson impressed our SI Staff on-hand at the Elite 11 Finals in Nashville earlier this month, which only fortified what he displays on tape. He commands attention just from his prototypical size and frame, alone. However, there’s more to the Oregon commit than his physical stature. Thompson has exceptional arm strength and a powerful stroke, which allow him to naturally drive throws downfield. He can distribute with good anticipation in mid-range concepts, as his velocity affords him to also attack tight voids. His above-average functional mobility and solid feel for pressure lead him to factor in the reactionary phase, where he can alter his arm slot while on the move. He has the physical tools and skill set to shine in the vertical passing game, while allowing the Oregon offensive staff to scheme up multiple shot plays each week.

5. Drake Maye, Charlotte (N.C.) Myers Park

6-foot-5, 210 pounds

Committed to North Carolina

Blessed with ideal size and plus athleticism, Maye has the potential to blossom into an all-conference starter in college. He can click from reads 1 to 2 quickly with good mental processing, while standing tall in the pocket with a strong lower base. The future Tar Heel has a tight trigger and can push the ball vertically downfield with good placement. Maye can reset when moved off his midline and has the lower-half flexibility to alter his launch points. With his basketball background, he possesses a solid transfer from passer to runner with a good stride and enough quickness to elude threats in his linear track. Maye has the tools to project well as an instinctive distributor in an offensive structure featuring quick-game concepts, which UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo prefers, while blending in vertical passing concepts.

6. Sam Huard, Burien (Wash.) Kennedy Catholic

6-foot-2, 180 pounds

Committed to Washington

Although he possesses average size, Huard is regarded as perhaps the best deep-ball passer in this class. He’s a left-handed thrower with a smooth, classic release and the ball achieves an excellent spin rate from his mitt. The Washington commit has outstanding mental prowess in the pre-snap phase, where he leverages coverages and alignments versus his route concepts and protections. Huard is most comfortable working in the pocket at his set launch point and delivers deep balls with appropriate arc, trajectory, ball speed and proper placement. He’s rhythmic in the mid-range game and has just enough functional mobility to threaten defenses on the move or as a fair runner in the reactionary phase. His mental processing, skills as an anticipatory passer and ideal deep-ball execution on shot plays project him to be a prime fit for Washington’s new offensive structure.

7. Tyler Buchner, La Mesa (Calif.) Helix

6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Committed to Notre Dame

Despite a torn ACL in 2018, Buchner has a strong lower-half that allows him to make explosive movements inside and outside of the pocket. He can elude the rush with solid feel, get off his midline and either reset quickly to pitch or deliver well when flushed. While his stroke and delivery can be inconsistent at times, the Irish pledge possesses plus arm strength. Buchner has solid mental processing in mid-range concepts, along with the ability to pitch to perimeters with anticipation. His lower-half also affords him excellent transfer quickness from passer to runner and allows play-callers to scheme up QB-designed runs in its rushing attack due to his run traits. Buchner has the skill set to execute RPO concepts and zone-read, read-option or even QB-power concepts in the run game.

8. Kyle McCord, Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph’s Prep

6-foot-3, 205 pounds

Committed to Ohio State

McCord is among the most pure rhythmic passers in this year’s class. He is a natural and classic ball-distributor with good mental processing in the pre-snap phase. The Philly native understands route combinations, concepts from various sets and pre-snap coverage alignments. He is decisive in the pocket, often reaching his launch point with his eyes and lower half in sync with his trigger before delivering with good anticipation and timing. The future Buckeye can change ball speeds well and be dynamic in mid-range concepts with a blend of touch and ball-placement skills to deliver a consistent runner’s ball to targets. McCord fits best in an offensive structure designed with an emphasis on defined quick-game and mid-range passing concepts built on rhythm and timing.

9. Miller Moss, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei

6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Committed to USC

Possessing a quick setup and delivery, Moss is a natural passer who is at his best from inside the pocket. He generates a good spin rate and can show ideal accuracy in intermediate and quick concepts. His standard feel for perimeter pressure sees him unafraid to climb up in the pocket while staying disciplined to maintain his eyes downfield and continue navigating to throwing lanes. The USC pledge is quick and decisive when clicking through his half-field reads and delivers with consistently appropriate ball speed, arc and placement. While he doesn’t possess elite physical tools, Moss projects well as a trigger-man who excels with rhythmic and timing-based concepts in a defined mid-range passing game to the middle of the field.

10. Preston Stone, Dallas (Texas) Parish Episcopal

6-foot-2, 205 pounds

Committed to SMU

Stone is one the most exciting offensive players in this class. He is more playmaker than disciplined passer, at this point, as he will take some chances with the football and generate boom or bust plays. He is an athletic dual-threat type who can alter his arm slot with plus release quickness and shows good second and third-level vision. Stone is great in the reactionary phase, as he almost prefers to be off-schedule to allow more room for his creativity and mobility. He possesses impressive run traits and can elude defenders to reel off chunk plays with above-average speed in the run game. The SMU staff will likely be able to continue to run a quick, up-tempo passing attack while blending in QB-runs with the confident Stone.

Over the coming weeks, SI will unveil its preseason top 10 for 13 additional position groups. SI will unveil its initial top 99 ranking, the SI99, on August 24.

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Edwin Weathersby contributed to this feature


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