Today is March 1st, which means time is closing in on the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft.
This years draft class is stacked with talent at the quarterback position, between Trevor Lawrence [Clemson], who is projected to be the No.1 overall pick, Justin Fields [Ohio State] or Mac Jones [Alabama] who are both expected to be taken early as well.
As NFL Draft analysts continue to dig into some of the best talents in college football this past season, it is only natural to reflect on who will be the next leaders in college football next year.
Former UCLA head coach and current ESPN and Sports Illustrated analyst Jim Mora Jr. shared his top three 2021 Heisman Trophy candidates ahead of the 2021 college football season.
No.1 Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler
Spencer Rattler will enter his third season with the Oklahoma Sooners in 2021 after redshirting back in 2019.
In 2020, Rattler had 214 completions, 317 attempts, at 67.5 CMP%, 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Phoenix native was a Davey O'Brien Award Semifinalist and named National Freshman Of The Year by CBS Sports. He helped the Sooners achieve a 9-2 overall record and a victory over Florida State [55-20] in the Cotton Bowl.
"His talent was evident from the second he took the field. He made great throws, he could run the ball. He could extend plays, but earlier in the year he was careless with the football. Late in the year he got that figured out. Really that was a just function of maturing as a player at a school like Oklahoma under a guy like Lincoln Reily and he was spectacular late [in the season].The way he can control his body in throwing the ball reminds me of a guy like Patrick Mahomes."
Mora went on to say, "In my mind he is the next best quarterback in the country."
No.2 Iowa State's Brock Purdy
Purdy another Arizona native, will enter his fourth year with the Cyclones next season. In 2020, Purdy had 243 completions, 365 attempts, 66.6 CMP%, 2,750 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He led Iowa State to finish first in the Big 12 with a 9-3 overall record.
"He is very productive, [and] he is a winner. He has done things in his career that no one has ever done at Iowa State. He has got a tremendous coach in Matt Campbell. He has got a toughness about him."
No.3 Alabama's Bryce Young
Bryce Young is a California native who originally committed to USC but later de-committed to join Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian down south. Although his touches were limited in 2020, as QB Mac Jones was the leading signal caller for the Crimson Tide, Young did see the field from time-to-time this past season. He is projected to become QB1 following Jones declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
During his freshman campaign Young had 13 completions, 22 attempts, 59.1 CMP%, 156 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
"I thought Nick Saban did a tremendous job this year of getting him some playing time so when he steps under center next year taking over for Mac Jones it wasn't all new to him."
So where does Kedon Slovis fit into Mora's list?
Slovis was ranked with a +1200 odds for winning the glorified Heisman Trophy next year according to BetOnline.
In 2019 he completed 282-of-392 passes, [71.9%] for 3,502 yards, he had 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He finished the 2020 year completing 117-of-264 passes, with a 67.0 CMP%, 1,921 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was best known for his composure during the down to the wire moments, as USC had several last minute victories last season.
Slovis finished No.18 nationally for completion percentage in 2020. Per ESPN, he finished No.11 nationally for QBR in 2019 and No.25 in 2020.
Mora believes that in order for Slovis to emerge as a leader in the NCAA, he needs to demonstrate consistency at a higher level.
"I think he could easily play his way on to my [Heisman] list...here is what I would like to see out of Kedon.
I would like to see him start faster, we know that he can close, we have seen him do that. I would like to see him [play with] a little more emotion and intensity. I'm not saying he is not an intense guy, I would just like to see him emote a bit more. He needs to improve protecting the football, he needs to make better decisions letting go of the ball, and throwing it to the wrong place at the wrong time because he panics a little bit."
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