Every year year at this time, everyone associated with professional football descends to Indianapolis for what is called the scouting combine. Collegiate football players who are about to enter the ranks of the NFL, gather together to be evaluated by the front offices and personnel departments of all 32 teams, for the purposes of scouting them for the better part of a week. The players are put through drills and agility tests, as well as mental tests and interviews.
The NFL does this because they are investing millions of dollars into these players and the process of doing so, has now reached the heights of entertainment as well. The NFL cable network is there to broadcast the drills live as they happen, complete with real time analysis, just like in a real football game. Every beat reporter in the country is there as well, to ask general managers and coaches their opinions of players, and where things stand with their teams, before the frenzy of free-agency starts in a little over a week. The draft takes place next month, after everyone goes home from Indianapolis and processes what they have seen, into ranking every player they can.
So much time and energy is spent to try and get things right for these NFL teams. And with quarterback being the most important position within each team, I have decided to test my own abilities as a talent evaluator in advance of this years combine. It’s really to analyze a statement made by Bears General Manager Ryan Pace a year ago, when he explained the rational for investing in, and drafting Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky the way he did. He traded three draft picks to move up one spot and draft the junior quarterback from North Carolina State, where he started one season.
Pace said that now was the time to draft the Bears quarterback of the future, because next years class of quarterbacks was going to be poor. Since the off season began across the league there has been a lot of speculating as to who will be drafted, where, and how many quarterbacks will go in the first round. Experts across the country are saying that as many as five quarterbacks could be drafted in the first round this year, with 3 or 4 taken before the Bears pick 8th. How could this be? Is Ryan Pace wrong about this years class? Did he just fall in love with Mitchell at last years combine and risk blowing the Bears future to acquire him? The answer to both those questions is yes!
Now if you love Mitchell the way Ryan does, you can stop reading my blog, don’t waste your time. But if you rate Pace’s scouting abilities as suspect, keep reading, because I will reveal in evaluating last years and this years quarterback classes, that Trubisky rates no higher than the 11th best prospect at quarterback.
The top prospect is:
Deshaun Watson, drafted 9 picks after Trubisky. A no brainer really. Since he stepped in to play in relief, after halftime of the Houston Texans first game this past year, Watson played like no other rookie quarterback EVER! They lost that season opener to Jacksonville at home 29-7. But Watson went down the field in his first ever series and threw a touchdown. He would start the next 6 games and went 3-3 as a starter. He won his first start on the road against Cincinnati 13-9, and nearly beat New England (33-36) in his second start on the road.
Then the rampage started.
He threw 10 touchdowns in the next 2 games, a victory at home, 57-14 against the playoff bound Tennessee Titans, and lost to the then unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs 42-34. Houston then thumped Cleveland 33-17, before going on the road to Seattle and losing 41-38, in spite of throwing for another 5 touchdown game. The next week he hurt his knee in practice and was done for the season. After having 3 games in his first six, where he threw for five touchdowns in each game, and 18 touchdowns overall, I would rate him as a much better prospect than Trubisky. PRO Comparison: Drew Brees
Patrick Mahomes II, drafted 8 picks after Trubisky. Is taking over the starting job in Kansas City, one of the best teams in football. The Chiefs traded Alex Smith, last years top rated quarterback to make room for Mahomes. Mahomes won his only start of the year when he led the Chiefs backup players to victory over Denver 27-24, in last years season finale, in which Kansas City was resting several players for the playoff’s. His general manager Brett Veach, has called Mahomes, “one of the best prospects he has ever seen!” Mahomes was a two sport star (baseball) at Texas Tech, and threw for 351 yards per game over his 32 game career. He threw 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions over his career, which started as a freshman by playing in 7 games. He came out for the draft as a junior after setting the NCAA records for most yards in a game (819) and most yards passing (734) in a game. His junior year, Texas Tech only went 5-7, but further analysis shows, that the defense gave up 55 points per game in the rough Big 12 conference. He possesses, arguably the strongest arm ever measured at the combine, where he threw a football clocked at 60 miles per hour, a combine record! PRO Comparison: John Elway
Baker Mayfield, will probably be chosen before Bears 8th pick this year. Cinderella story, undersized, cannon for an arm, former walk-on turned Heisman Trophy winner, that’s all. Natural born leader, arrogant, charismatic, controversial and more swagger than any quarterback in a very long time. Believed to be the only true walk-on freshman to ever start his first game at division 1 level at, get this, Texas Tech. Yes, Mayfield started his first few games at Texas Tech and was setting records game by game, until he got injured. He transferred after the season, due to a miscommunication regarding his scholarship, and sat out the 2014 season so he could play at Oklahoma. A senior, who is best known for planting the Oklahoma flag at midfield, after a victory in Ohio State to start the 2017 season, an action he apologized for. Mayfield threw for a completion percentage of 71% his last two seasons at OU, and 129 touchdowns and only 29 interceptions in his four-year college career. He was also arrested for public drunkenness and fleeing cops in Arkansas a year ago, and did 35 hours of community service. No wonder his teammates love him so much. PRO Comparison: “Broadway” Joe Namath, he is expected to be drafted by the New York Jets, who select 6th this year.
Kyle Lauletta, rumor mill says he is on Patriots radar for 2nd round. This is my reach pick, a reaction to watching the Senior Bowl a month ago, and being blown away by the games MVP out of Richmond. He threw 3 touchdowns in the Senior Bowl, and threw 66 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in 31 starts over three years at Richmond. At 6 ft 3 inches tall and 210 pounds, he’s big enough to play in the NFL. At the Senior bowl he was quick and decisive with his decision making and had nice touch on his throws all over the field. Throws the deep ball very well and always seems to hit his receivers in stride. Could rocket up draft boards with a strong showing at the combine, where he’ll be side by side with other top quarterbacks from big programs. He looks fluid when he drops back, has good footwork, a natural throwing motion and seems to get rid of the ball quickly. Has pocket presence and escapability, has good vision down field, is aggressive and almost never throws short of the markers. That alone makes him better than Trubisky. PRO Comparison: Jimmy Garropollo
Davis Webb, the forgotten man this off season, was drafted a year ago by the New York Giants in the 3rd round. He was also the Texas Tech quarterback who chased Baker Mayfield off to Oklahoma, when Baker got injured and never got his job back from Webb. Deja vu! Same thing happened to Webb when he got injured and a true freshman named Patrick Mahomes II came in to play, and never yielded the job back. I’ll say this for the Texas Tech program though, their players go to school. Mahomes was an Academic All-American, and Davis Webb was 9 credits short of graduation after his junior year. So Webb went to summer school to complete his degree and enrolled at the University of California at the end of the summer as a graduate student, which meant he could play right away since he had already graduated. His senior year at Cal was noteworthy, as he broke almost all the school records for a single season. In 12 starts for Cal he completed 382 passes in 620 attempts for 4,295 yards passing and 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. For his career he had 83 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, including three seasons at Texas Tech. At 6 ft 5 inches tall he has the size that new head coach Pat Shurmer desires. Shurmer and GM Dave Gettleman have already stated that the Giants did well drafting Webb and look forward to developing him as Eli Manning’s heir apparent. That means the Giants are open to trading out of the 2nd spot in the draft and will build towards the future with Webb. PRO Comparison: Aaron Rodgers
Lamar Jackson, the wild Cardinal, youngest ever Heisman trophy winner as a sophomore for the Louisville Cardinals. I say wild card because there are a lot of old school evaluators who think Jackson should change his position to wide receiver. They may be right, he might be the fastest player in this draft and he could translate into being the best receiver as well. But I believe he will be even more determined to be a quarterback after hearing that he should change positions. I’ve watched a lot of tape of Jackson and believe he may be as good as Deshaun Watson if he ends up in the right situation, with the right coach. Even factoring in his freshman season, Jackson completed 57 % of his passes in his career. He threw for 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in three years. He ran for over 4,100 yards and 50 more touchdowns in those three years. People will compare him to Robert Griffin III, who had one great season, and had his career cut short due to injury. Jackson is a lot better than RGIII ever was. He’s tougher, quicker and more intelligent in his decision making, throwing and avoiding contact. He has never missed a game in college, where RGIII was always nicked up. Too much athletic ability to pass up, might be too risky for a top 10 pick, but that’s ok. Some playoff team will gamble on him because his ceiling is so high, you can’t even see it. He’ll still go first round, maybe Buffalo at 20 or 21, Arizona maybe at 14, Jacksonville and New Orleans possibly later first round? PRO Comparison: Michael Vick
Josh Allen, the prototypical dream quarterback… maybe. Right now ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Allen rated as the top pick, going to Cleveland, in his latest mock draft leading up to the combine. They love the fact that he’s 6 ft 5 inches tall. They say he’ll break the combine record for arm strength held by Mahomes. So how come he got outplayed by Kyle Lauletta at the Senior Bowl? Where was that arm strength, it wasn’t apparent during the Senior Bowl. He played at small school Wyoming, which, by the way, his favorite target the previous year, was Bears receiver Tanner Gentry, so you know he’s on the Bears radar. If it weren’t for Trubisky already being in Chicago, this would seem like the kind of player that Ryan Pace would be all over. Is Allen the the reason for Pace downplaying this years quarterback class, a little misdirection, hoping he would be there later in the draft. Hmm! Gigs up if Kiper rates him that high. Outside of a disastrous showing at the combine, the Bears won’t get their shot at Allen, who has been compared to Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles superstar in the making. Players from small schools often struggle to find their balance in the NFL, especially when they are chosen by bad teams with bad coaches. Allen feels like that guy who takes a couple years to make it, with probably his second team. Think Testaverde, Gannon, Plunkett, this past year it was Case Keenum. PRO Comparison: Joe Flacco
Josh Rosen, has been the consensus #1 quarterback in mock drafts so far. Having mock drafts before the combine and before free agency is kind of foolish though. Rosen has a reputation for being cocky and standoff-ish, to put it kindly. He has all the physical tools but his attitude is bound to turn off a lot of GM’s. He comes from money and acts like it. Rosen wasn’t spectacular at UCLA, posting completion percentages at 60 % while throwing for 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in 30 games. The concern is because he doesn’t need the NFL, that he may half ass his career, just to get paydays and contracts. Buyer beware! Like a lot of the quarterbacks I’m profiling here, Rosen has better size, tools and more experience than Trubisky. Played against better competition as well in the Pac-10 conference, so he might be the best prepared quarterback coming out for the NFL. PRO Comparison: Good Jay Cutler
Mason Rudolph, is a dark horse prospect who elected not to play in the Senior Bowl. He is graded for the middle of the first round, and has already interviewed with the Buffalo Bills who have the 20th and 21st picks in the draft. May be the most experienced quarterback in the draft. Three year starter who also played as a freshman. In 41 games he threw for 90 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. Hub Arkush, the editor of Pro Football Weekly, says he may be the best quarterback in the draft. I have not heard that elsewhere but have no reason to doubt Arkush, who likes steady producers, who aren’t flashy, but are winners. Outside of Watson and Mayfield, Rudolph has probably had the most team success going to three bowl games in each year he was a starter, in the tough Big 12 conference at Oklahoma State. Considered to have a weaker arm, it will be interesting to see how he compares against his draft class. A lot of scouts believe he is better suited to being a backup. PRO Comparison: Eli Manning
Chad Kelly, the notorious nephew of one of my football hero’s, Jim Kelly. The Denver Broncos drafted Kelly, 251 picks after Trubisky in 2017, as Mr. Irrelevant, that’s what they call the last pick of the seven round draft. Kelly missed his entire rookie year after having surgery to repair his throwing wrist, no doubt after probably punching people or inanimate objects. Kicked out of Clemson University his freshman year, Kelly played his sophomore year at a Mississippi junior college and won the National Junior College Championship with an unbeaten season. His junior year at the University of Mississippi, Kelly completed 65% of his passes for over 4,000 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ole Miss would go on to a 10-3 record and Kelly became the first Ole Miss quarterback to ever beat Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season. Mississippi crushed Oklahoma State and Mason Rudolph 48-20 in the Sugar Bowl to end their season. Kelly’s senior year ended with a torn ACL and meniscus in his knee with three games left. After the season ended, Kelly was arrested after getting into a fight outside a Buffalo area bar, and plead guilty to disorderly conduct. His invitation to last years scouting combine was rescinded by the league. John Elway still drafted Chad Kelly, and said recently that the Broncos still have plans to develop Chad. If I were the Bears GM, I would’ve drafted Kelly in the seventh round, just to give Trubisky some competition and develop a future backup quarterback. PRO Comparison: Jim McMahon
Mitchell Trubisky, selected number 2 overall to the Chicago Bears. General manager Ryan Pace swapped picks and traded two others to move up one spot to take Trubisky, a college junior with 13 starts. His last season at North Carolina State he completed 67 % of his passes for 30 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. His first season as a pro he threw 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 12 starts. When you consult web pages dedicated to scouting, they either love him, and compare him to Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, or, they question his mechanical breakdowns under pressure, that lead to inaccuracy on throws over the middle, and balls getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. His strength is outside of the pocket, and being on the move, but that leads to him being difficult to block for. Which leads to the additional problem of him sometimes being unaware of the pass rush, and leaves him open to injury. I believe the biggest problem’s are his lack of experience, and expectations, based on some scouts not gauging his size or arm strength correctly. Multiple scouting services have his size pegged wrong. They say he is 6 ft 3 inches tall across almost every site. But at last years combine he measured at 6 ft 2 inches. I only saw this disparity with Trubisky…weird! Some scouts compared his mechanics to Blaine Gabbert, who, you might ask? Exactly! Pro Comparison: Andy Dalton
Sam Darnold, USC quarterback, who has been topping mock drafts along with Josh Rosen up until this week. Seeing mock draft after mock draft come out with Darnold, either first or second, has been mind boggling to me all off season. I saw USC play several games at the end of the year and all I saw was interceptions at the goal lines. This guy has bust written all over him, and his people had the nerve to tell Cleveland, along with Rosen’s people, that they didn’t want to play there. Don’t think they will have to worry about that now though. The arrogance has lead to Darnold sticking his foot in his mouth again. Now he says that he will not throw at the combine. That whoosh sound you heard was this dumb ass flushing millions down the toilet. Now he will be the last quarterback standing in the green room on draft night, he is clearly not healthy or up to the competition. PRO Comparison: Bad Jay Cutler
Luke Falk, Mike White and Kurt Benkert are all starter capable quarterbacks in this years draft, and Cleveland may someday get the best out of DeShone Kizer. They all just might be as good as Trubisky, but for a much lower cost.
Time will tell whether Ryan Pace was justified or foolish to expend so much draft capital to move up one spot, especially a year later, when after releasing so many veteran free agents, the Bears have so many holes to fill.
More on Pace’s lack of sense next time…
Thanks for reading!