2016 NFL Draft Rankings: Quarterback

mflannery
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
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8.) Nate Sudfeld, Indiana (6’6 | 240 | 4.90) – I’ve only watched two full game tapes on Sudfeld and seen a handful of live Indiana games the last two seasons, but right now Sudfeld is the most under-rated QB in this draft. He has ideal size, an effortlessly powerful arm, nice touch when needed, patience in the pocket, the ability to step up in the pocket and take a hit in order to get the pass off, and enough mobility to escape the pocket when necessary.

He’s far from a perfect prospect obviously, Sudfeld’s mechanics aren’t consistent which leads to some accuracy issues. In the two tapes I watched, he overthrew plenty of open receivers each game. His accuracy numbers weren’t bad overall though (61%) and his suspect receiver core dropped a lot of passes. Sudfeld was able to put up very solid numbers over the last two seasons (5,707 yards, 45 TDs, 14 INTs) despite playing on an offense with very little talent around him.

The draft projections on Sudfeld range anywhere from the 4th round to an undrafted free agent, but if he’s still there in the 4th the Bears should pull the trigger.

9.) Christian Hackenburg, Penn St (6’4 | 234 | 4.87) – Was considered a possible #1 overall pick after being the B1G freshmen of the year, but had awful sophomore and junior seasons. Many draftniks blamed it on a poor Penn St o-line, but Hackenburg wasn’t any better last year despite improved blocking. He still has ideal size, arm strength, and mobility but only completed 54% of his passes and had inconsistent accuracy, footwork, and decision making.

There are also rumors about locker room issues and Hackenburg not being a good teammate / leader. On a positive note, Hackenburg did occasionally flash elite talent only to have passes dropped or big plays called back by penalties. The big plays just didn’t happen as much as they should have for a guy with his talent level.

Some draftniks think Hackenburg’s innate talent will get him drafted much higher than his production deserves, possibly even on day 1, while others think he’s a day 3 pick at best. I wouldn’t even consider Hackenburg until the 4th round.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

10.) Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky (6’3 | 220 | 4.86) – One of my favorite late round QB prospects who doesn’t get enough love from scouts due to the QB-friendly offense that WKU runs. Doughty put up monster numbers the last two seasons. He led all FBS QBs in passing yards for two seasons in a row with 9,885 yards, 97 TDs, and just 19 INTs over the last two seasons.

Regardless of conference, those numbers are crazy. Doughty has decent size for an NFL QB, a lightning quick release, the willingness to step up in the pocket and take a hit to deliver the ball, and very good accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws.

What Doughty lacks is a elite arm strength. He is never going to be a great deep ball thrower, but how many of those are there at the NFL level? He occasionally stares down receivers, his footwork is inconsistent under pressure, and he holds the ball too long at times.

Those flaws are almost universal among young NFL QBs. Doughty has an NFL skill-set and I disagree with most of the analysts who have him pegged as a career backup at best. I think Doughty has starter potential and worst case will be an instant offense reserve in the NFL.

11.) Jacob Coker, Alabama (6’5 | 230 | 4.88) – Coming off a win in the National Championship game, Coker’s stock is as high as it’s ever been. A former top high school prospect, the fact that Coker couldn’t win a starting job until his 5th year of college was a mark against him. But he played his best football in the second half of the 2015 season, led Bama to a title, and has some tools that could interest NFL teams.

Coker has ideal size, completed 67% of his passes in the always challenging SEC, has a cannon arm, is tough to bring down in the pocket, and can move a little when needed. There are a bunch of mechanical and technique issues that need work, but the core skills are there for Coker to eventually become a starting caliber NFL QB.

12.) Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (6’4 | 234 | 4.68) – Former five star high school recruit who started off his career with an awesome freshmen season at Florida (10 TD / 2 INT), then slowly regressed over the next three years including multiple benchings during his time with the Gators.

After four seasons in Florida, Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech where he rebuilt his draft stock with a solid season. With the Bulldogs Driskel completed 62% of his passes for a whopping 4,026 yards and 27 TDs, which is more than he threw for in four years combined at Florida, and a 150.2 passer efficiency rating which was in the top 25 nationally.

It’s hard to get a read on Driskel, who looked like a sure-fire first round pick after his freshman year at Florida then a player who had no chance of being in the NFL just a few years later. Driskel wasn’t on many radars when he transferred to LTU, but he had such an impressive season that the book has been reopened on Driskel.

He still has the physical skill-set that made Driskel a 5-star prospect coming out of high school. He has good length, enough bulk to take a beating, and a powerful arm that can make all of the NFL throws. Driskel also has the speed to make things happen on the ground as he showed at both schools with just under 1000 yards and 14 rushing TDs.

His Florida tape is a mess, but his most recent tape at LTU is pretty impressive. There are no doubts that he has a powerful arm, but he showed the ability to throw with accuracy and touch both in the pocket and on the move. Driskel’s ugly Florida career will hurt his draft stock, but some team could get a steal if he falls to late on day three of the draft.

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