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Top 10 Quarterback Rookies - NFL Draft Preview


The 2018 NFL Draft was highlighted by the quarterback class that went on to do some nice things during their rookie seasons. The incoming class will not be much to write home about in terms of star potential. You will see some names come off the board early, but expecting Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson-type seasons out of these prospects will be a reach.

You have the Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray, and other intriguing players like Haskins and Lock at the head of the group. But, with the pros, each also has cons that are easily apparent. The remainder of the top 10 in this class could fluctuate as we head into the NFL Combine later this month. Players like Will Grier and Daniel Jones have a pedigree but have had rough starts to begin the pre-draft process.

As we head into the scouting combine, let's take a look at the top prospects to keep an eye before the NFL Draft. With some positive workouts in Indianapolis coupled with great Pro Days, some of these quarterbacks could see their stock on the rise as we approach April.

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1. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Coming off of a stellar season with the Buckeyes, Haskins is far and away the top prospect at the position. He has the physical traits that most teams look for in a signal caller (6-2, 214 lbs). His above-average arm strength and accuracy will allow him to excel in a suited offense. Where he can tend to fail is with his poise and placement on deep throws. He will be a good fit with a team that plays close to the line of scrimmage with short to intermediate throws. He's the only prospect I see as a starting-caliber quarterback in year one.

Fantasy Spin: Haskins is undeniably the top quarterback on the board in dynasty formats. He'll be worth stashing with some potential punch late in year one ala a Josh Allen. He could help you win right away, but certainly is a player to build around in the coming years based on the landing spot.

 

2. Drew Lock, Missouri

Drew Lock checks all the boxes in terms of size, tools, and poise in the pocket. He can make nearly every throw on the field. Also, coming from an up-tempo offense at Missouri will allow Lock to lessen the learning curve in the NFL. By comparison, I see Lock with some qualities similar to Jared Goff. He has the ability to extend plays which allows for shots down the field; he certainly has the arm strength to hit on those. The only knocks on him will be his streaky accuracy and tendency to pre-determine a throw. Lock has the capability to succeed in the league but will need time to acclimate behind a veteran.

Fantasy Spin: Lock will be worth a mid-round pick in rookie drafts for 2019. Depending on the team in which he is drafted to, his value may not be noticeable until year three. Has a ceiling as a low-end QB1 if fit into the right scenario.

 

3. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is an intriguing prospect coming into this draft. He has tools to work within the right offense (speed, elusiveness, arm strength, and playmaking ability). But make no mistake about it, he is no Baker Mayfield. His ability to read progressions will come into question as the draft draws near. His size and ability will be picked apart by the process. Murray will be selected by a team that will allow his skills to fit into their system. Don't look for him to be added to a team that is a balanced offense. He will best fit into an offense that spreads things out and runs a lot of RPO (similar to Russell Wilson).

Fantasy Spin: The last of this year's rookie crop that may have immediate fantasy value. Murray is also a mid-round pick in dynasty drafts. He will have a learning curve as a passer similar to Lamar Jackson, but his running ability adds impact as early as this season.

 

4. Brett Rypien, Boise State

He is a clean prospect that has plus mechanics and above-average velocity to work with. He can deliver a very catchable ball but struggles at times with his accuracy. Rypien does have scrambling ability and likes to get the ball to his receivers in open space. Can read through progressions as long as he is poised in the pocket. But, he can tend to get rattled at times, causing forced throws and mental mistakes. He projects out as a backup quarterback in the league with some upside to start for the right team.

Fantasy Spin: Rypien has late-round appeal in rookie drafts but his immediate value in fantasy will not be felt. He is destined to be a player that will get spot starts in the league due to injuries. He could flash potential early on and earn a job, but that is a bit of a stretch.

 

5. Will Grier, West Virginia

Will Grier plays with a gunslinger's mentality. What he lacks for in true arm talent he makes up for with his knack for extending and making plays. He is strictly a rhythm passer that can be affected by quick pressure to get him off his initial read. The less he holds onto the ball the better. Grier has played primarily as a shotgun quarterback and could struggle to make the move under center. At times he can flash Baker Mayfield traits while others he appears more like Blake Bortles. The inconsistencies will turn some teams off during this process.

Fantasy Spin: Grier will turn into the wild card of this rookie class in terms of fantasy potential. He is draft-worthy in dynasty this year but I'm not sure that he will see the field in 2019. His ceiling is very high but his floor is very low as well. He could make an impact by year three and be a quality starter in fantasy or will be just another guy on the waiver wire.

 

6. Daniel Jones, Duke

Going by looks alone, Jones is the prototypical NFL caliber QB. He has the size and stature that most teams salivate over which is what made him a valued prospect to begin the 2018 season. But after failing to make a leap in progression this past season, coupled with a poor Senior Bowl week, Jones' stock has fallen. He has a lively arm and some ability as a runner, but he struggles with consistency. He will fit best in a west-coast type of offense that utilizes quick throws to receivers in space. His inability to control the precision of his passes downfield could hurt his value in the early stages of his career. Although things looked promising early in his collegiate career, the fact that he never truly grew as a passer will potentially limit him as a career backup in the NFL.

Fantasy Spin: In rookie drafts, Jones is a player worth a late-round flier only if you have a spot to burn on your bench. If he is thrust into game action too soon into his career he will falter and bounce around the league. Given ample time to learn the pro game, Jones could become a bye week filler at QB by year three.

 

7. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo

Tyree Jackson is a big-bodied prospect that has shown potential off and on throughout his career. Following a very solid 2018 season and positive reports from the Senior Bowl, he is starting to move up the draft board. Outside of his size, Jackson is still very raw as a prospect. All the tools that you covet in a quarterback are all things that Jackson will need to polish at the pro level. His arm strength is adequate but accuracy can be an issue as well as locking onto a receiver. He relies too much on athleticism and tends to escape the pocket too quickly when he feels pressure. He projects out as comparable to an E.J. Manuel at this level - someone that can come in and play in lieu of an injured QB but is better suited in a backup role.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson will be a project player with no real value in redraft or dynasty drafts in 2019. But keep an eye on him moving forward as he could progress with the right team to become a player you could start in the right matchup.

 

8. Ryan Finley, N.C. State

The senior from N.C. State will be a prospect that goes in the later rounds of the draft and is likely destined to bounce around the league as a depth chart filler. Not a lot stands out about Finley outside of his size and experience. He is a heady player that could be useful in the film room but applying that to the field is the problem. His arm strength is below average, accuracy as well, and his poise under pressure struggles. As a six-year player in college, there may not be much more that he will get better at in the NFL. But some teams will give him a chance based on experience alone.

Fantasy Spin: One of the final players in this group, Finley has no real value in fantasy whether it be redraft or dynasty. He becomes a name you will see on waivers for years to come.

 

9. Jordan Ta'amu, Mississippi

Jordan Ta'amu is an intriguing prospect coming into this draft. He was a surprise in 2018 with a very solid season at Ole Miss. He showed plus arm strength and accuracy as long as he was not rattled. He could hit passes at numerous levels on the field and flashed the athleticism to extend plays. The only knock I have on him is that we saw this for just one year. He could be a flash in the pan or he could be on the verge of big things in the NFL. If he continues to progress with the right coaching and scheme, Ta'amu comps to a lesser Marcus Mariota. But if the speed of the NFL proves to be too much, he could quickly find himself out of the league.

Fantasy Spin: A one-year wonder in college that must prove he is NFL ready. This makes him no more than a waiver option in any format right now. By the team Ta'amu could be ready, you would have dropped him off your roster for better options elsewhere.

 

10. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Playing at Auburn in a very run-heavy offense, we did not see the full extent of what Stidham has to offer as a passing prospect. He has shown glimpses of above-average arm strength with plus ball placement. He can hit spots versus zone coverage better than against man and shows more confidence with short to intermediate routes. Where he struggles is when the pressure is on. He panics when the pocket collapses and his judgment causes poor throws and turnovers. He has some upside in the league with the right coaching but I project him out as similar to Jeff Driskel. A player that will rely on his first read in the passing tree then bail out of the pocket.

Fantasy Spin: Similar case to Ta'amu, Stidham is no more than a wait-and-see prospect for fantasy. He will be dependent solely on the team he is drafted to and scheme that they run. But for now, you must steer clear and leave him to the waiver pool.

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