This article is my personal breakdown of the 2019 draft class, pre-showcase games and specifically from tape review. I’m positive these rankings will change as the NFL Draft process progresses, but this makes for a great starting point. Let’s talk about them-let me know what you think on twitter!
For more on the fantasy football values of the 2019 Draft Class, check out the 48 Report: our 2019 Rookie Database
11. Gardner Minshew (6’2”, 220), Washington State
I wanted to like Minshew more than I did-he caught my eye and impressed me in what ended up being a bowl game loss to Iowa State. His 2018 stats will also catch your eye: his 4,776 passing yards were second only to Dwayne Haskins. He also threw 38 touchdowns, just 9 interceptions, and completed 468 of his 662 attempts (70.7%).
What wasn’t impressive is his arm strength and decision making. Minshew’s longest completion in the 3 games of tape I broke down was 48 yards. Other than that, the majority of passes fell in the 8-10-yard range, and his velocity fell off after the ball got 25 yards down the field. He holds onto the ball a while in the pocket and lacks the mobility to avoid defenders collapsing on him. Minshew also throws the ball into tight coverage a lot. His accuracy was his best strength, but it’s built on a foundation of short slants (like, a lot of slants). Seriously, so many slants. You want Minshew in one play? Here it is:
Minshew is raw, playing just one season with a Power 5 school after transferring from East Carolina University. He will be playing in the Senior Bowl, over other QBs I have ranked above him in this group-I think that says a lot about what the NFL believes his potential is. With a successful showing in Mobile, and a strong combine, we will be having a different conversation in April.
10. Jarrett Stidham (6’2”, 215), Auburn
Stidham led Auburn to an SEC West title in 2017, thrusting Alabama into the 4 seed in a move that served as refreshment for the 6 teams that have been held in check by for years by the SEC powerhouse. Since that moment, however, things have gone south for Stidham. In 2018, his production dropped across the board: he completed just 60.7% of his passes (66.5% in 2017), threw for 2,794 yards (3,158 in 2017) and held even with his 2017 total of 18 touchdowns.
Stidham has a great arm-he can throw a pretty, tight, spiral down the field for 50 yards with relative ease. I’m convinced this is why Stidham had 1st round chatter following his 2017 campaign. Although that hype has cooled, he’s still regarded well enough to earn a Senior Bowl bid. I don’t get the hype, though. I saw him struggle to consistently connect with his targets, even though Auburn’s offense is built on a foundation of short slants, curls, and screens. Stidham freezes under pressure and makes taking a sack seem like a routine part of the QB position. He’s totally immobile, but I don’t think anyone has told him that-because he makes a trend of attempting to scramble without getting back to the line of scrimmage.
The mechanics are there, so the potential is there, but I can’t see Stidham climbing up my personal board.
9. Jordan Ta’amu (6’2”, 212), Ole Miss
Ta’amu is a tough player to evaluate: he led the SEC in passing yards (3,918) in 2018 and tacked on another 342 rushing yards to that total. He combined for 25 touchdowns and threw just 8 interceptions. He also had one of the best supporting casts in the nation: A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and Dawson Knox.
Ta’amu has great arm strength-he can huck the ball downfield and put a real nice touch on it. His velocity is amongst the best of the draft class and it helped him find success in the Ole Miss offense. Here’s a little taste of what he can do:
He was accurate when hitting his first read, but struggled to progress through his reads-often resulting in a sack. He can be effective outside of the pocket-but his athleticism is capped-he’s limited to be a north/south runner. Ta’amu throws off his back foot a lot, short arms his release, and doesn’t control his body well on the run.
He does a lot good, but I don’t see anything great here. He will have the chance to prove me wrong, beginning with the Shrine game.
8. Tyree Jackson (6’7”, 245), University of Buffalo
You’re going to hear the phrase “I wish he would have gone back for another year” often when you hear talk of Jackson this NFL Draft season. I’ll be standing next to those guys nodding enthusiastically, because I really like what Jackson could be, but he’s seriously raw. Jackson completed just 55% of his 407 attempts his junior season (2018) at Buffalo. He totaled 3,131 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Add on 161 rushing yards on 55 attempts (3.8 yards/carry) and 7 rushing touchdowns to his stats.
Jackson very well may have the best arm of the draft class. He makes 50+ yard passes look easy, including a beautiful 60-yard touchdown pass vs Miami of Ohio where he perfectly led his wide receiver down the field and into the endzone (a popular trend for Jackson). Jackson has a great throwing motion, good velocity, and a relatively quick release (for his size) when he throws from the pocket. The issue, though, is that Jackson rarely stays in the pocket-an odd trend for someone who can so easily see over his linemen. Outside of the pocket, Jackson throws on the run and fails to set his feet-often resulting in passes off his back foot. That leads to inaccurate passes and poor decision making. Jackson throws into double and triple coverage a lot (a cringy amount for someone who wants to love his tape). He also has a habit of overthrowing his targets and missing them completely while throwing on the run.
Jackson earned a late bid to the Senior Bowl, and I’m excited to see what he can do with his week in Mobile. I’ll be cheering for him to impress from now until April, but I expect him to be a Day 3 pick that will benefit from a couple years of development in a organization that can hone in his potential.
7. Daniel Jones (6’5”, 220), Duke University
I get the Daniel Jones narrative-he’s big and he’s athletic, what more could you want? That’s what I thought going into my review of Jones, but all I could keep thinking was “I want more”. Let’s start with his stats: 2,674 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions in his redshirt junior season (2018). Jones also ran for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jones was a 3-year starter at Duke, but had a career highs in completion percentage (62.8%) passing yards (2,836) and rushing touchdowns (7) during his redshirt freshmen year.
Jones has good mechanics: he’s got a good release, get’s the ball out quick, is light on his feet, and can control his body when throwing on the run. He’s not particularly quick, but he is athletic. He can move away from the blitz and reset the pocket well. He has some burst and can turn broken plays into 20-40 yard gains but doesn’t have the quickness to beat defenders to the edge in the highlight fashion other quarterbacks in this class can.
His arm strength is less than satisfying for someone with his frame, and his decision-making skills are lacking. He throws into tight coverage often and makes bad passes when under pressure. Although he can move the pocket, Jones often hesitates too long under pressure, leading to sacks. He makes a habit of throwing into double coverage, and although it doesn’t always lead to interceptions and does result in his receivers taking some rough hits.
Jones is a Senior Bowl invite and has the measurables to impress NFL scouts. Chatter from the NFL Draft community has Jones being a candidate for 1st round consideration. Although it’s likely more a result of the weak draft class, a landing spot that presents Jones with an opportunity to start in the NFL will give him a significant bump on my board.
6. Brett Rypien (6’2”, 202), Boise State
Rypien was a 4-year starter on the blue turf; totaling 13,578 passing yards, 90 passing touchdowns, just 29 interceptions, and a 64% career completion rate. Rypien’s 3,705 passing yards in his senior season was 11th best in the nation, and his 30 touchdowns was 10th best. Rypien’s flying under the radar as a Mountain West prospect, but there’s a lot to like.
Rypien can throw at all three levels-although he appears much more comfortable with slants and short routes, he can also get the ball 40-50 yard downfield by perfectly leading his receiver with a tight spiral. Rypien consistently hits his targets in the hands and chest. He leads his receivers through double coverage gracefully and can drop dimes into the endzone. Rypien holds onto the ball too long, and takes a lot of sacks (that also lead to fumbles). He’s mobile enough to scramble, but isn’t particularly agile and won’t intimidate NFL defenses with his legs. Rypien has a quick drop back, good release, and fantastic velocity.
I’m not sure Rypien can be the best quarterback in this class, but I think he may be the first to earn a starting job. Rypien will be playing in the Shrine game, and with more exposure has a chance to impress throughout the draft process.
5. Easton Stick (6’2”, 222), North Dakota State University
Fair warning: I get real hype on quarterbacks that can run the ball. I’m higher on Stick than most, and I have no intentions of backing off the hype train. Stick took over for Carson Wentz at North Dakota State University-a FCS program. Stick’s stats have consistently increased over his three years as a starter there-a tenure in which he led the Bison to 41 wins. His progress led to a senior season where he threw for 2,752 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. He also racked up 677 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
Stick finds his receivers consistently in the short and mid field. He has good velocity on his ball and isn’t afraid to throw the ball deep-at one point in his tape review, I saw him throw 3, 50-yard passes in a row. Stick makes some stunning plays-including leading his receivers perfectly downfield on beautiful verticals and dropping 30 yard passes into the corner of the end zone through double coverage. Stick, however, is inconsistent with his passes; he tends to overthrow his receivers and miss throws when he’s on the run. Here’s what he can do with his arm:
I saved the best part for last: he’s seriously quick for a quarterback. He can burn linebackers to the edge and burst up the sideline, and he’s powerful enough to swipe defensive tackles off him when running through the A gap. He elusive too, he scored on two read options in the redzone in the 2018 FCS Championship game-once in between the tackles and once to the outside-he wasn’t touched on either run. Stick has a little too much confidence in himself, though; he often puts his head down and tries to power over defenders-leading to too many unnecessary hits. Still, Stick does a great job of looking to pass first, and deciding when to run. Here’s what what he can do with his legs:
Stick is an upside player to bet on, but if you watch the tape I think you’ll fall in love with his potential too. If we’re talking fantasy football-he’s a guy I need on all my dynasty rosters.
4. Kyler Murray (5’10”, 195), Oklahoma
Okay, I get it: I get why people are hype on Kyler Murray. He’s electric, and I’m not one to judge anyone for falling in love with an athletic quarterback. His stats look great, too: the 2018 Heisman winner completed 260 of his 377 attempts (69%), 42 touchdowns just 7 interceptions, and 4,361 passing yards. Murray also put up 1,001 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Murray doesn’t come without drawbacks, though. Try not to drool:
Murray doesn’t come without drawbacks, though. The conversation with Murray will likely always start with what I mentioned above, and then quickly transition to his size: at just 5’10” and 195 there’s legitimate concern for his ability to translate to an NFL offense. Watching him at Oklahoma, you can see he rarely throws from inside the pocket-and I believe he benefitted enormously from one of the best offensive lines in the country, great wide receivers, and some of the worst defenses in the Power 5 to play against weekly.
Murray is accurate when passing into the flat and short slants-which often times go for big plays based on the yards after catch (YAC) accumulated by receivers. Murray holds onto the ball a long time, a very long time-it’s a luxury he certainly won’t have at the NFL level. On most plays, Murray has the time to work through 2-4 progressions, another luxury he’s not likely to have. Even with more time in (out) of the pocket, Murray throws into double coverage often, and is bailed out by his talented wide receiving corps. Kyler also throws off his back foot consistently, short arms pass, and throws off balance-which all compound the issue he has throwing over his offensive line.
Those are the hesitations, and as fun as Kyler is-they need to be said. Here’s the upside: he’s got great velocity; when he whips a tight spiral downfield, he reminds me of a center fielding firing a ball to the cut off man. He can get the ball 60 yards downfield and makes it look easy. Those beauties are the reason people love Kyler, and why his highlight film is so tempting to cave in to. Even better: his athleticism. He can burn Big 12 linebackers to the edge and quickly work his way up a sideline. He has good vision and has the agility to bounce from the A gap to the outside-where he excels. He does well to avoid major hits, and has a great slide-almost like a baseball player would go hard into a shortstop turning a double play.
I’m not saying Kyler won’t end up as a top 3 quarterback drafted, but I’m skeptic of his ability to translate to the NFL-so for now, he’s outside of my top 3.
Even with Kyler declaring, Haskins is still heading into the combine as the top contender to be the first quarterback off the board in April’s NFL Draft. The 6’2”, 215 lbs. 21-year-old finished as the 2018 Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year, and 3rd in Heisman voting. He totaled 5,396 passing yards and 54 touchdowns in his one season starting as a sophomore for the Buckeyes. Haskins also completed 70% of his passes-impressing most with his ability to control Big 10 defenses.
Haskins is raw-but has the foundation to turn into a long-term NFL quarterback. He is light on his feet, has a great release, and has the frame NFL GMs appreciate. He controls his body well on the run and rarely throws the ball across his body. Haskins’ top feature is his arm strength-he hucks the ball downfield without effort. Haskins works the field with confidence-he can work the ball in the short and mid field with success. He does struggle, however, with accuracy when stretching the ball down the field, which is frustrating since his arm is his best feature.
Haskins looks great in Ohio State’s quick read offense, when he’s able to hit his first or second read. If he doesn’t find either of those two, however, things get tough. The pocket often collapses around and he’s not mobile enough to fight off blitzes with more than a basic 4 man-rush. His rushing attempts (108) are misleading-he’s unable to gain more than 2/3 yards per rush when keeping it on options. Mobility concerns aside, Haskins is a solid prospect who very well may work his way to the top of my list, based on opportunity from landing spot and a strong combine performance.
Grier is well rounded and can make an impact early on an NFL roster. After being suspended from the University of Florida, he threw for two 3,400+ passing yard seasons in his junior and senior years for West Virginia. In those two seasons, he’s accumulated 71 touchdowns and just 20 interceptions. He improved his 64.4% completion rate in 2017 for a 67% completion rate in 2018. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to like Grier this much, but here’s what I found:
His arm strength is just as impressive as Haskins or Murray: he leads his receivers flawlessly down field with 50-yard touch passes. Even more impressive: he gets the ball deep while throwing consistently off his back foot. He also has a Tim Tebow-like jump pass, that excited me more than it should excite any Tennessee Vol fan. Grier has great pocket presence: he was sacked just three times in the 3 full games I broke down his film. He consistently gets the ball out of his hand in 3 seconds or less, even though West Virginia’s offense has more pro-style elements than other quarterbacks on this list. Grier has a tendency to overthrows his targets, but consistently hits his man on slants and passes over the middle.
Grier lacks the mobility of other quarterbacks like Murray or even Jones, but he can scramble and move the pocket when needed. He sets his feet while in the pocket, has a conventional arm motion and a great release. Grier doesn’t appear to have too much chatter as a first-round pick, yet, but I believe he will be taken on the back end of Day 1 of the NFL Draft, and it’ll give him a very valuable landing spot.
1. Drew Lock (6’4”, 225), Missouri
Lock has more chatter than Grier as an early first round pick, and it makes a lot of sense. Lock comes off as pro ready: his arm strength, mechanics, and decision-making skills are going to be attractive for NFL GMs. Lock was a 4-year starter at Missouri: throwing for over 3,000 yards in his last 3 seasons. Over those seasons, he’s thrown for 95 touchdowns and just 21 interceptions, against SEC defenses.
Lock has a great arm motion, quick release, and stays on the balls of his feet. He has a great spiral and keeps his feet under him when throwing. He has great velocity and fits balls well into tight windows. He has great arm strength and a perfect touch on his deep ball. He can work a 50 yard vertical or drop a dime into his receivers chest through double coverage 30 yards down field. He can work all three levels of the field, and rarely leads his receivers into dangerous situations.
He makes things easy for his targets-rarely making them extend, and often hitting them in the chest or hands. He rarely takes sacks and controls his body well while throwing on the run. He can progress through he reads well and keeps even contested passes away from the hands of defensive backs. Lock has some mobility but chooses to stay in pocket as a first priority. When the play breaks down, though, he can get 10 yards down field and move quickly north/south. Lock’s tape was the impressive of any of these quarterbacks, and I believe he’s going to excel through showcase games and the combine. I’m not sure which NFL team will fall in love with Lock, but I know one will. Landing spot will be crucial to his final ranking for me, but for now: he’s QB1.