2017 NFL Draft – QB Preview (Part 2)

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

11.) Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (6’4, 220)

Has regressed a little since a stellar freshman debut where he led the Vols to a 4-1 finish in five starts. Dobbs showed promise as a sophomore as well with 26 total touchdowns and just five interceptions and came close to pulling off a few major upsets. Much was expected of Dobbs in 2016, but he hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed early in his college career.

Dobbs hasn’t been bad with 23 total touchdowns in nine games, but his interception total has over doubled with 11 already. The Vols play in a spread type offense, so Dobbs stats should be much better considering what other top QBs have done in similar systems.

Dobbs is a lanky QB but with enough strength to break tackles in the pocket or on the move. He has plenty of arm strength, his hard spiral is a thing of beauty, and elite speed (4.67) to make things happen on the run. At times Dobbs has shown the ability to progress through reads, look off safeties, and deliver the ball with zip to a place that only his receiver can get it. The problem is that he’s been doing that less in 2016 than he did earlier in his career with the Vols.

All the tools are there for Dobbs to become a legitimate NFL QB, but his inconsistent accuracy this year and a slight hitch in his delivery make him a less than ideal prospect. He’s also an aerospace engineer which reflects well on his mental capacity.

Dobbs reminds me a bit of Jacoby Brissett last year, a prospect with all the tools but needing refinement and more consistent accuracy before he can become a successful NFL quarterback.

Projection: 3rd-4th round

12.) Brady Gustafson, Montana (6’7, 230)

The next Carson Wentz? Gustafson has a bit in common with Wentz in that they are both FCS quarterbacks from winning programs, who didn’t start until late in their college career, and have ideal size, arm strength, and athleticism.

Gustafson has a great arm with an over-the-top release and easy power. He can also move well for his size and looks faster than his timed 40-speed (4.87). At times he looks like a first round pick and at others looks so raw that he’s barely draftable. Gustafson is still a bit awkward physically and his footwork fails him too often, but the talent is there for him to become a quality NFL quarterback.

Gustafson’s accuracy was a legitimate problem during 2015 with a sub 60% completion percentage generally caused by bad footwork and a tendency to panic under pressure. In 2016 Gustafson is up to 67% accuracy and has thrown 24 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions. He’s made significant improvements in his footwork, decision-making  and ability to handle pressure.

He’s still not asked to make protection calls, change routes, or call the plays, but Gustafson has added some much-needed polish to his game this season and combined with his natural physical tools looks like a lock to be an early-to-mid round pick in the 2017 draft.

Projection: 3rd-4th round

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

13.) Seth Russel, Baylor (6’3, 220)

A midseason neck injury ended a very impressive 2015 for Russell (35 TD / 6 INTs) but he has played well for the most part so far in 2016 with 27 total TDs and six INTs. In 15 games as a starter, Russell has accounted for 62 touchdowns and just under 5,000 yards from scrimmage.

Baylor’s gimmick offense has a lot to do with Russell’s prodigious production, but he has a lot of traits that should interest NFL teams. Russell has enough arm to make all the throws in the NFL route tree, has 4.6 speed, natural running skills, and pretty good accuracy despite a completion percentage under 60%.

Russell may have the size and the physical tools necessary to be an NFL quarterback, but his completion percentage should be much higher in a QB-friendly offense like Baylor’s. As a frame of reference, Bryce Petty was over 62% in both his seasons as a starter for Bears. Russell misses on too many relatively easy throws due to inconsistent mechanics and while he looks good throwing on the run the results aren’t as productive as they should be.

The accuracy problems are an issue, but the main knock on Russell is his injury history. Neck problems are nothing to take lightly and he’s suffered a bunch of minor knocks as well. If Russell proves that he can stay healthy for awhile, he has the size, arm strength, and natural QB ability to be a day two pick.

UPDATE: Russell left today’s game with an injury and is expected to be done for the season (11/12)

Projection: 4th-5th round