Top Quarterbacks in NFL Draft: Best of the Rest

Bill Huber

Looking for a quarterback who could be available in the third round and beyond?

6. Jacob Eason, Washington (6-5 7/8, 231): Eason went from starting as a true freshman at Georgia to suffering a knee injury to losing his starting job to Jake Fromm to transferring. After sitting out the 2018 season to comply with NCAA transfer rules, he completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions in 2019.

Eason might have the biggest arm in the draft but had only a 70.5 passer rating when under pressure, according to Sports Info Solutions. Scouts will have to weigh the superior arm talent with the inferior pocket presence.

He said it: “It’s everything from football IQ to proving I’m a passionate player and that I love this game. I’m going to work hard to be the best I can be. Arm strength can only get you so far. Obviously, I can rely on that in a lot of situations on Saturday, and it can allow me to do some pretty cool things with the ball, but I’ve been working on all the other things that go along with that to make me a more complete player.”

7. Jake Fromm, Georgia (6- 1 7/8, 219): Fromm, who hit three home runs and struck out 11 of the 18 batters he faced during the 2011 Little League World Series, was a three-year starter who threw for 8,236 yards with 78 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. During his final season, he completed a career-worst 60.8 percent of his passes but had career-best totals in passing yards (2,860) and interceptions (five).

He might not make a lot of eye-popping plays but he doesn’t make many bad mistakes, either. According to Pro Football Focus, he had only seven turnover-worthy plays. His passer rating was 122.5 vs. zone but 79.9 vs. man, according to SIS. His 5.01 in the 40 was the slowest at the Scouting Combine. His 8 7/8-inch hands probably will fall short of some teams’ parameters.

He said it: “I probably had as much or more as any college quarterback as far as what I could do at the line of scrimmage. The coaches really trusted me a lot. I could change a run to a pass, a pass to a run. This play to that play. I was really grateful for the kind of power they gave me with the offense. It was awesome It was a great learning curve for me. It’s really going to prepare me for this next level and what I can do and how I can communicate.”

8. Anthony Gordon, Washington State (6-2 3/8, 205): Gordon replaced Gardner Minshew and became the latest Mike Leach-coached Air Raid legend. In his lone season as the starter, Gordon completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 5,579 yards with 48 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He led the nation in completions and was second in yards and touchdowns behind only Joe Burrow, and set Pac-12 single-season records for passing touchdowns, passing yards, total offense (5,559) and completions (493).

His on-target rate of 80 percent ranks fourth in the draft class, though his stats were fattened by a barrage of screens. He completed just 53.2 percent of his passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield. In games against Utah, Oregon and Washington, he had four touchdowns vs. six interceptions.

He said it: “The whole Air Raid quarterback stigma has kind of been getting broken down the last few years. I think the last few years there's been a Super Bowl representative from the Air Raid, each of the last three years (Nick Foles, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes). Very fortunate for the guys that have been breaking that stigma down. You know, Gardner has been doing a great job breaking that down, as well.”

9. James Morgan, Florida International (6-4, 229): Morgan spent three years at Bowling Green before going to Florida International for his final two seasons. He threw for 5,312 yards with 40 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions at FIU. His best year was 2018, when he completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards with 26 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. Morgan grew up in the Green Bay suburb of Ashwaubenon. He grew up wearing Brett Favre’s No. 4 before switching to Aaron Rodgers’ No. 12 for high school and college.

RELATED: MORGAN IS HOT NAME

In four seasons, he never posted an under-pressure passer rating of 75-plus. On passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield in 2019, he completed only 44.4 percent. His arm strength will give him a shot, though.

He said it: “(Favre) was my hero growing up. I remember that Monday night game the day after his dad died, I was up late watching that, my parents let me stay up late, I was just mesmerized with how amazing that was and the performances he consistently put out. Just the gunslinger mentality I’ve tried to emulate with my own game. I’m not scared to make any throw. At the same time, you mentioned Rodgers. You’ve got to have the Rodgers kind of, it might be safer here to take the checkdown or something instead of trying to force it. I take a little bit from both of their games but definitely an inspiration for me.”

10. Nate Stanley, Iowa (6-3 3/4, 235): Only the second player in program history to be a three-year team captain, Stanley ranks second in Iowa history with 8,302 passing yards and 68 touchdown passes. As a senior, he threw for 2,951 yards with 16 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions and 59.4 percent accuracy. His 27-12 career record includes 3-0 in bowl games.

In three years as a starter, he never completed 60 percent of his passes. As a senior, his under-pressure passer rating was a hideous 34.6. His arm strength, however, is not in question.

He said it: “I think the biggest thing is I think I can make every throw. I feel like I have a very strong arm. I also feel that I have really good control of the offense. I feel that the system I played in in college really lends well for me to be able to lead an offense onto the field and make adjustments pre-snap.”

11. Jake Luton, Oregon State (6-6 1/4, 224): Luton threw for 5,630 yards with 43 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions in three seasons at Oregon State. As a senior, he completed 62.0 percent of his passes for 2,714 yards with 28 touchdowns vs. only three interceptions. Including a redshirt year at Idaho in 2014, the NCAA gave him a sixth year of eligibility after missing most of his first season at Oregon State (2017) with a spine injury and most of 2018 with an ankle injury and concussion.

He’s got a good arm and had only nine turnover-worthy plays, but is a statue in the pocket with a career under-pressure passer rating of just 50.0.

He said it: “I think the big thing is just preparation. We did a great job throughout the week every week of making sure that we’re on the same page, making sure that I understood the defense really well. But I think also, it was the first time in my career that, as a starter, I had the same OC back-to-back years.”

12. Cole McDonald, Hawaii (6-3 1/8, 215): McDonald threw for 8,010 yards and 69 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter. In 2019, he completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 4,135 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. McDonald was lightly recruited and figured he was headed to Division II as Signing Day approached. He played in a run-and-shoot offense, which he believes will benefit him as he takes his career to the NFL.

For his career, he averaged 6.3 yards per rush and his passing stats weren’t fattened up by a bunch of screens. He saw more pressure than any quarterback, and that corresponded into 29 turnover-worthy plays – worst in the nation. His 4.58 in the 40 was the fastest among the quarterbacks, just ahead of Jalen Hurts’ 4.59.

He said it: “It’s a lot of progressions. A lot of times in college, quarterbacks are just throwing to guys and spaces and they don’t have to read a defense. For us, reading a defense is key in terms of reading the coverage pre-snap. A lot of teams would disguise it and go to something different post-snap, so being able to read a defense and execute at a high level is something that can help me in the future.”

13. Steven Montez, Colorado (6-4, 231): In four seasons, Montez threw for 9,710 yards with 63 touchdowns vs. 33 interceptions. He approached the 3,000-yard mark in each of his final three seasons, with 63.0 percent accuracy, 2,808 yards and 17 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions as a senior. His father spent a year as a quarterback for the Raiders.

Montez ranked seventh in the draft class with an on-target rate of 76 percent but had a career passer rating of just 64.4 when under pressure.

He said it: “In my opinion, I think I have all the arm talent in the world. I can make every single throw on the football field, but what made me inconsistent was my footwork and my feet. My feet were so inconsistent that it was hard for me to have the same stroke every time. So, that is something that me and Jordan (Palmer) have been working hard on this offseason is just trying to get those feet in the ground and make sure I stay balanced.”

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