There is no shortage of talented quarterbacks in the ACC this season. Names like Sam Howell, D.J. Uiagalelei and D’Eriq King will likely steal most of the spotlight, as they should. However, one player that shouldn't be overlooked is Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec.
Last season was Jurkovec's first year as a starter after transferring from Notre Dame with a waiver for immediate eligibility. He passed for 2,558 yards and 17 touchdowns with strong performances against No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 North Carolina. Most have Jurkovec as a borderline first-round pick or a high second-round steal in NFL draft circles. Below we will examine his pros and cons and whether he merits a first-round selection.
What Jurkovec does well
The first thing notice about Jurkovec when turning on the tape is his size and athleticism. At 6-foot-5, he has no issue standing in the pocket and firing darts to his playmakers downfield. His pocket presence is something to be admired from a scouting standpoint. Jurkovec shows a great feel for the defenders around him, knowing when to step up, and never afraid to take a big hit to make a throw.
When he does get time to sit and read the field, Jurkovec has enough arm strength to make any NFL throw. He excels with touch passes when it's needed and putting the ball where only his guy can make a play. Head coach Jeff Hafley runs a pro-style offense that highlights Jurkovec’s ability to process and go through multiple reads.
Nothing ever goes according to plan in football and improvisation is a critical skill for the modern game. Luckily, this is another area where Jurkovec shows consistent next-level ability. He can escape pressure easily and shrug off most arm tackles to keep the play alive when things break down. What he does well is scrambling to throw and not to run by keeping his eyes focused downfield.
Where Jurkovec needs to improve
While he does possess the necessary arm strength to make any throw, no one will mistake him for Patrick Mahomes. Some of this can be attributed to his mechanics that do need some refinement. His footwork isn’t terrible, but he has a false step that could be eliminated from his dropback.
Accuracy tends to be a bit of an issue, but passes are usually out of harm's way when he does miss. Also, Jurkovec is a bit nonchalant in his style of play and still leaning on his superior athletic ability. Playing in rhythm is another hang-up that can be chalked up to a slight lack of sense of urgency.
So, is Phil Jurkovec a First-Round Pick?
As long as Jurkovec doesn’t regress this year and plays at a similar level as last year, he should be gone by Round 2. What he struggles with can easily be fixed by more experience and better coaching at the next level. The pro comparison that fits for Jurkovec is Ben Roethlisberger, and it is hard not to see why.
There are a few quarterback-needy teams that could use a player of Jurkovec’s caliber. The most obvious choice would be the Pittsburgh Steelers to fill the void left once Roethlisberger decides to retire. The Tennessee Titans could be another intriguing landing spot because he excels at what they do best: run and play-action. Regardless of where he goes, it will likely be in the first round, and no one should be surprised.