We are now under a month until the 2017 NFL draft.
And if history holds true, some lucky team is a month away from stealing a franchise QB from the rest of the league. Over the last six seasons, there have been twelve quarterbacks drafted who are either currently, or have at some point, played like a franchise caliber player. Of those twelve signal callers, five have been taken with either the first or second pick in the draft: Cam Newton-2011, Andrew Luck & RG3-2012, and Jameis Winston & Marcus Mariota-2015.
The other seven gunslingers all fell outside the first round. Derick Carr, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick all went in the second round. Russell Wilson fell to the third, while Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins lasted until round four. Tyrod Taylor became an absolute steal as a sixth round pick.
How do all these players slip through the cracks, while teams waste the third pick in the draft on Blake Bortles? Who could be this years sleeping giant? Buckle up those seatbelts and let’s go for a ride!
The art of quarterback evaluation/scouting is far from an exact science. Football is such a team oriented game that it’s difficult to pinpoint who’s at fault. When projecting college quarterbacks for NFL success, the job becomes even harder. Most colleges run spread offenses, which, while allowing players a great amount of collegiate success, doesn’t translate well to the pro game.
While the NFL has transitioned into a predominantly pass first league, most teams incorporate some spread concepts into their offenses. Most college spread systems operate exclusively out of the shotgun, use scaled down playbooks, and in many cases keep most plays as half field reads. They limit, quite smartly, how much information processing 18-23 year old college athletes have to do.
Most college quarterbacks rarely operate under center in a pro style offense. They don’t have to change protections at the line of scrimmage, and most of them don’t even call plays in the huddle. Many prospects enter the league with a steep leaning curve; learning new footwork, mechanics, verbiage, extra responsibilities, etc. All of these factors make an already tough job that much harder.
If talent evaluators didn’t have enough to overcome already, they also often have to deal with very small sample sizes as well. Many college quarterbacks only start one or two seasons, giving scouts anywhere from 12 to 20 games to base their predictions off. That’s how hidden gems fall through the cracks. The NFL is very much a copycat league, so who’s this years Dak Prescott?
That’s where Pat Mahomes comes in.
This years quarterback class has talent evaluators all over the place; teams have players rounds apart in their grades. While a good showing at the combine has created more buzz around Mahomes, it seems, baring an unforeseen circumstance, that he would be drafted in the late first or early second round.
Mahomes could conceivably be drafted as low as the sixth or seventh QB taken in this class, yet he has arguably the most upside of any passer in this group. The source of his tremendous potential lies in the cannon attached to his right shoulder.
The son of a former major league pitcher, Mahomes definitely inherited his dad’s fastball. Not only can he make accurate throws from inside the pocket, he can still fire missiles when forced out of it as well. There is no throw he can’t make and he knows it. And that Brett Favreesque mentality is why he may be available later in the draft. Very much like the similarly talented gunslinger Jay Cutler, he tends to trust his arm too much at times.
He definitely needs a team to help him develop better decision-making. In addition to his innate ability to spin the pigskin, Mahomes is also one of the more athletically gifted prospects in this years class. He excels at improvising something out of nothing.
Just like most LA ballers from the early 2000’s seemed to have a little Kobe in them, its obvious that this Texas kid grew up watching Tony Romo. While he hasn’t developed Romo’s otherworldly feel in the pocket, you see flashes of it when he’s in action. If you’re a QB needy team and this kids still on the board in the second or third round, potential payoff is more than worth the risk.
One month from now the pigskin meat market opens for business. Let’s see if your favorite team gets some clearance rack prime rib.