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2019 Senior Bowl Quarterbacks
By Walt – @walterfootball
Jan. 27, 2019
The Senior Bowl tends to have a big impact on where players are drafted, given that NFL general managers are getting a close look at these prospects for the first time. This is especially magnified for quarterbacks. Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Joe Flacco and E.J. Manuel all enjoyed outstanding Senior Bowl performances in the past and had improved their draft stock as a result.
There are four quarterbacks projected to be first-round picks this year. Two weren’t eligible – Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray – but the other two, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones, were able to participate. All eyes were understandably on them, but some of the other “lesser” signal-callers were able to have an opportunity as well.
I do this every year: I’m going to take a look at how each of the signal-callers performed in the Senior Bowl and what each of their draft range is. This will be followed by a poll at the bottom of the article.
Ryan Finley, QB, N.C. State
Ryan Finley doesn’t have a great arm, but he’s very accurate and could be a decent game-manager in the NFL. Think of him as a potential Alex Smith, but with slightly less mobility.
Finley did well in Mobile and arguably was the second-best quarterback during the game. His first pass was a smooth-looking completion for about 20 yards. He then showed off his scrambling skills by picking up 12 yards on the ground, though he had a potential long completion available. That was very Alex Smith-esque as well.
Despite the blunder, Finley put together some nice, long scoring drives. His key play was converting a third-and-long with nice pocket movement. He should’ve capitalized with a touchdown pass at the end of that possession, as he made a nice pass into the end zone with great ball placement, but his receiver dropped a potential touchdown.
Finley finished 7-of-11 for 83 yards, but should’ve had a touchdown. There’s a good chance he’ll be chosen on the second day of the draft.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Round 2-3
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Some in the media are pushing Will Grier to be a first-round pick, but he has average arm strength and can’t drive the ball well at times. He could be a product of West Virginia’s system.
Grier didn’t do very well in the Senior Bowl practices, and his mediocre play continued in the actual game. He began well, zipping in a sharp slant to Deebo Samuel, but then followed that up with a poor throw downfield to Hunter Renfrow on a pass that should’ve been a touchdown. Despite this blunder, he was able to lead his team to a touchdown on the opening drive.
Unfortunately for Grier, he was worse as the afternoon progressed. He completed a long pass to Renfrow, but was extremely lucky that the pass wasn’t intercepted, as he threw the ball way late across his body. An illegal hands penalty would’ve nullified the pick, but it was still a horrible decision.
Grier wasn’t as fortunate after that. He overthrew Samuel twice for potential touchdowns to end his afternoon.
Grier finished 4-of-8 for 61 yards. One incompletion was dropped. Grier looks like he should be a third- or a fourth-round pick who could develop into a solid backup in the NFL. However, because teams are desperate for quarterbacks, Grier could be chosen in the second frame.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Round 2-3
Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
People in the NFL thought Tyree Jackson should have stayed in school for one more year, but I liked his decision to declare. Jackson could capitalize off what Lamar Jackson did in Baltimore this past season, and besides, he was eligible to play in the Senior Bowl, so he was given the chance to impress teams while going up against Division I-A athletes.
And Jackson certainly did impress, at least on his first throw. Jackson launched a bomb to receiver Greg Jennings for a 54-yard bomb on his initial attempt. He kept the drive alive by scrambling on a third-and-10, then followed that up by zinging in a dart on a slant for a touchdown.
Jackson remained hot on the next drive, firing a laser on a third down to move the chains. The receiver had just one foot inbounds, but the lack of replay at the Senior Bowl allowed the play to stand.
Jackson’s final drive saw him lead his team into the end zone. He converted a fourth-and-9 by throwing way across his body over the middle of the field. The NFL Network analysts chastised him for this, despite the ball being complete, but Jackson had no choice, given that it was fourth down in desperation time. He finished the possession by lofting a beautiful back-shoulder touchdown to receiver David Sills.
While Jackson made some highlight plays, he was also guilty of some blunders. He threw an interception while escaping pressure, though this occurred on a fourth down, so I wouldn’t criticize him too much for it. Jackson also fired a ball over the head of a teammate in the flat.
Jackson finished 13-of-21 for 165 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to go along with an 11-yard scramble. He showed off his tremendous upside. He has a cannon for an arm, as well as some stellar mobility. He’s a raw product with much to work on, but there’s no doubt that a coach will be interested in attempting to develop him. I expect Jackson to be chosen early on Day 3, but it wouldn’t shock me if he snuck into the third round.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Round 3-5
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Daniel Jones seemingly came out of nowhere to emerge as a first-round prospect. Jones was coached very well at Duke, and he’s been lauded for his arm strength and accuracy. He also can put great touch on the ball when he needs to. The NFL Draft Advisory Committee recommended him to declare, labeling him as a first-round prospect.
Jones, however, struggled in Mobile. Teams were disappointed with how he looked in practice, though he interviewed well. However, his decisiveness and field vision came under heavy criticism. Those weaknesses were prevalent in the game as well, as Jones took two sacks because he held the ball too long in the pocket.
As for Jones’ actual passing, it was mostly positive. Jones opened with a nice pass to a tight end on a bootleg, then fired a completion to a receiver to move the chains on a third down. Jones drew a pass interference on cornerback Rock Ya-Sin’s coverage on receiver Terry McLaurin. Jones ultimately scored twice; once on a rushing touchdown and another time when he threw a short pass to receiver Andy Isabella, who did a great job to break a tackle to sprint into the end zone.
Jones made one bad throw on the afternoon. He fired the ball high on a play-action bootleg pass in the red zone, which sailed right into the arms of a defender. Luckily for Jones, the defensive back dropped the pass. Jones should’ve been intercepted, but got away with the mistake.
Jones finished 8-of-11 for 115 yards and a touchdown. He won MVP of the Senior Bowl, though that was a questionable choice, to say the least. The passing was mostly positive, but Jones has issues with the mental part of the game. The thing is, he’s been coached very well in college, so one has to wonder how high his ceiling is.
That said, Jones will be chosen in the top half of the opening round. Charlie Campbell reported in the Senior Bowl Rumor Mill that the Redskins like Jones, but fear he won’t be available to them when they’re on the clock at No. 15 overall.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Top-15 Pick
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Drew Lock has some questions about his field vision, but he enjoyed a great week of Senior Bowl practices. Lock has all the tools of an NFL starting quarterback, and teams liked his gritty attitude.
Lock did not disappoint during the Senior Bowl game. He began the afternoon with a completion to receiver Terry McLaurin on a play-action bootleg. Some drops disrupted his initial possession, and that was the case on the second drive as well when McLaurin dropped a ball on third down. However, Lock had everyone buzzing when he threw a Patrick Mahomes-esque underhanded pass for a completion of eight yards. Lock followed that up by converting a fourth-and-1 (sneak) and fourth-and-4 (pass) and then made some nice, quick completions.
Lock made just one poor throw on the afternoon, as he fired a ball off his back foot. However, he made up for it right after that. He made a great pass down the seam to McLaurin that looked like it would be a touchdown, but McLaurin was guilty of a drop.
Despite the three drops – one of which could’ve been a touchdown – Lock finished 9-of-14 for 57 yards. He was the best quarterback in both the practices and the actual game. Charlie Campbell reported in the Senior Bowl Rumor Mill that the Broncos like Lock more than any other quarterback, so I wouldn’t expect him to escape the top 10.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Top-10 Pick
Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
Trace McSorley was very productive at Penn State. He’s also a gritty player with a solid arm. However, he’s undersized and has accuracy issues. The latter problem was prevalent during the Senior Bowl game.
I counted six poor passes from McSorley on Saturday afternoon. The first was a throw behind his receiver. The second was another pass behind the target on what should’ve been a touchdown to an open receiver. The third was a pass fired into heavy traffic, which should’ve been intercepted. The fourth was an overthrow to an open receiver in the end zone. The fifth was an incomplete pass that occurred because McSorley released the ball off his back foot. The sixth was a sailed pass over receiver Terry McLaurin’s head by a mile.
McSorley finished 7-of-13 for 59 yards. This was an ugly showing from him. He made a couple of decent passes, but didn’t look like a draftable prospect.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Round 7-UDFA
Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
The thought process prior to the Senior Bowl on Gardner Minshew is that he is a Mike Leach system quarterback who is going to have a difficult time sticking in the NFL. Nothing in Mobile did anything to change that opinion.
Minshew began the afternoon by overthrowing Deebo Samuel. He was then nearly intercepted while he panicked under pressure. Minshew’s third drive lasted the longest, but he spent time sailing passes and ultimately failing to connect on a back-shoulder throw on third down.
Minshew finished with a hideous stat line, going 1-of-8 for four yards. One pass was dropped. Minshew was the worst quarterback at the Senior Bowl, and he’ll need a miracle to be drafted at this rate.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: UDFA
Jarrett Stidham had a strong finish to his 2017 season. He was expected to parlay that into a great 2018 campaign, which may have vaulted him into the opening round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead, Stidham struggled for the most part. Nothing changed in Mobile.
Stidham’s first pass was a great one, as he showed nice arm strength. However, he wasn’t able to maintain drives because of two turnovers. On both occasions, he lost a fumble on a strip-sack because he held the ball for an eternity in the pocket.
Stidham finished 4-of-5 for 30 yards. We didn’t get to see much of him; each quarterback played three drives in this game, and two of Stidham’s possessions ended prematurely because of his careless ball security and poor pocket awareness.
Stidham needed a great Senior Bowl week to help counter his poor 2018 season, but he did nothing in Mobile to quell the concerns teams have about him. Still, his upside could get him drafted on Day 2.
2019 NFL Draft Projection: Round 2-4
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2020 Senior Bowl Weigh-In: Defensive Backs
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