Author’s note: I’ve been doing these draft previews in some way, shape or form almost for as long as I’ve been at Barstool. I’ve kicked around the idea of doing positional breakdowns of the entire draft, regardless of team, but I would never pretend to understand what the 31 GMs are thinking or what they’re going to do. I read mocks as much as the next Draft Nerd, but as Patton said about fixed fortifications, they are a monument to the stupidity of Man. Every mock in the country is blown to smithereens faster than your March Madness bracket. I would not deign to predict what the Cardinals, 49ers and Jets will do. I’m The Belichick Whisperer, and claim to be nothing else. Who understands his system, his methods, his player “types” and quite frankly, his soul. And who has used that understanding to build a track record of successfully predicting his picks I will stack up against anyone’s. Picks such as Darius Butler, Brandon Spikes, Nate Solder, Dont’a Hightower Dominique Easley, last year’s third pick Duke Dawson and the Tight End Who Shall Not Be Mentioned. And this year I plan to add to the ever-growing list.
I’m taking these in no particular order, but it never hurts to go with the most high profile position in the game. The one that’s as glamorous, badass and sexy as a Captain Marvel hair blow
Kicking things off with Quarterback:
Current Roster: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling
Positional overview: It’s stating the obvious that the Pats will need to get crack-a-lacking drafting Brady’s successor. Or at the very least, the guy who’ll be his successor until Brady is still winning and in three years when he’s nearing the end of his rookie deal they can trade away for a 2nd rounder and he’ll become the highest paid QB in the league. The problem with evaluating this position remains that it’s impossible to identify exactly what they value in a quarterback. Etling was the 10th QB they’ve drafted since 2000. Among those 10 are tall guys and short, big schools and small, mobile and slow, early rounds, mid rounds and late rounds. I mean, when it comes to punters, you know Belichick loves ‘em left-footed. But with quarterbacks, he’s like The Bachelor, who gives out roses to contestants of every size, ethnicity and hair color. (Except homely ones, obviously. But then neither does Belichick with his QBs.) I suppose you could say what they’re really looking for is personality, but then that wouldn’t explain taking Ryan Mallett in the 3rd round of 2011, since the knock on him was he’s a dink.
If I had to narrow it down, and clearly I’ve backed myself into a rhetorical corner and have no choice, I’d say they value accuracy and decision-making above all else. Above arm strength and mobility and all those other factors. It’s hard to find an example of a guy who came into the league struggling to hit short- and intermediate throws and then turned himself into an accurate passer through hard work and good nutrition or whatever. As Mike Leach has said, give him the shortstop who can put the ball on the money and he’ll turn him into a quarterback. But he can’t coach accuracy.
The Consensus Top QB Pick:
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma. 5′ 10″, 207 lbs, 4.65 40-time (projected)
By way of full disclosure, for the sake of consistency I’m going to strictly by NFL.com’s numbers. And when they jotted down Murray’s weight, he must’ve just loaded up on Olive Garden bread sticks because every other site has him at least 10 lbs lighter than they do. Anyway, you can’t be aware that there is a thing called the NFL Draft if by now you don’t know the big question Murray is a prejudice that has existed since I was a kid and still pervades the NFL even to this day. And that is the biased thought that you can’t have quarterback who’s short. Doug Flutie had to fight it. Drew Brees. Russell Wilson. And now in 2019 Murray has to overcome Height Privilege. No one doubts his decision making. His arm. His ability to make throws at all levels. In fact, he’s considered a better thrower than Wilson. No one but Charley Casserly seems to have a problem with his personality, and we can all be sure Casserly only criticized his Combine interviews because he didn’t take the seminar entitled “How to Give Good Combine Interviews the Charley Casserly Way While Giving Tons of Money to Charley Casserly.” But any offense that builds around Murray is going to have to account for his 5-10ishness. Put him in shotgun. Give him space to see the whole field. All but eliminate under-center 3-step drop throws, and so on. So it’s pretty much up to the evaluator whether Murray simply represents the latest evolution of the position and all offenses are going in that direction, or if it’s too much to saddle a coaching staff with. As of the middle of March, it looks Kliff Kingsbury is going to be the one to find out, since he wanted dibs on Murray and now he has him.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Wilson
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State. 6-3, 231, 5.04
If a Sith Lord secretly ordered a clone army of quarterbacks to crush all opposition to a Galactic Empire, the prototype they’d use would look just like Murray. He’s strong. He’s got arm power. What he lacks are experience and refinement. Like Mitchell Trubisky, he’s only a 1-year starter. And also like Trubisky, what kind of coaching he gets will be huge. If he also lands with a Matt Nagy type, or say the way Jared Goff found his game once he ditched Jeff Fisher for Sean McVay, he has potential through the roof of a dome. Generally speaking, he’s the most accurate arm in his class. His problems mainly come from stretches lousy mechanics, where his footwork breaks down and his aim goes all to hell. But he played well enough to crush Michigan, win Big 10 OPOTY and a Big 10 title. So he could very well develop into a classic pocket passer at the next level. It’ll all come down to who he gets for a coach.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Dak Prescott
Drew Lock, Missouri. 6-4, 228, 4.60
Simply put, Lock is the best arm talent in the draft. He also has the distinction of four years of experience and a completion percentage that went up each of those years. Which is even more impressive when you factor in he got a new coordinator in his senior year, Derek Dooley, who runs a complex scheme, and then impressed scouts with the way he picked up the offense at the Senior Bowl. He was considered kind of a lousy interview early on (and God forbid a college underclassman not be the most pleasant guy in the world to talk to) but is now considered a kind of natural leader (Kyrie Irving, take note). In 2017, Lock set an SEC record with 44 touchdowns. He’s mobile enough, but has to get better at moving in the pocket because he has a tendency to either drift or step up into pressure when he should plant his foot and throw. So he’s got a lot of similarities to Haskins in that there’s plenty of raw materials here for the right coach to build a solid 10-year starter with.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Matthew Stafford
Daniel Jones, Duke. 6-5, 221, 4.81
Yup, just another high draft pick out of that Duke football factory. He’s got a bit of a pedigree in that his head coach was David Cutcliffe, who has guru’ed the Manning brothers. There was talk at the Senior Bowl that he’d rise up to maybe the top spot on teams’ QB draft boards, but apparently that’s news to the people who set QB draft boards. But he didn’t hurt himself, either. He’s a biggest film room nerd in this class, with a reputation for quick reads – both pre- and post-snaps, thanks to all that studying. So think that guy who saw Captain Marvel and is mad because the way they portrayed the Skrull-Kree War is not at all the way it was in the comics. Only tough enough to come back and play college football only three weeks after breaking his collar bone, with the help of a 3-D printed cast. Pretty cool. But I digress. He’s got enough mobility to not only make second reaction plays, but rush for 300 yards each of the last three seasons. One concern is that he only had 6.4 yards per attempt in his career, which might indicate he’s limited somewhat to either dinking, dunking, or a combination of both. Anyway, he almost went to Princeton and got his degree in economics with a year to spare, so we can presume his Aunt Becky didn’t pay anyone a half a mil to pretend he’s a football player.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Nick Foles
Probably Day 2 Picks:
Ryan Finley, NC State. 6-4, 213, 4.73
Wolfpack staffers have been saying they expect Finley to be a 2nd round pick, but he didn’t do himself too many favors at the Senior Bowl. He’s kind of a Captain Intangibles as far has character qualities and so on, but with a limited upside as far as being a dynamic throwing footballs such that his teammates might catch them. He sort of leveled off after expectations were really high last year. Still, he takes care of the ball. Seems to have a good grasp of route concepts and his progressions. He could also stand to get on the league-approved GNC shakes and add some bulk.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Kirk Cousins
Will Grier, WVU. 6-2, 217, 4.84
Early in the 2018 season there was Heisman buzz around Grier. But with all due respect, Heisman buzz isn’t all that hard to generate. Felicity Huffman bought her daughter a month’s worth of Heisman buzz for only $250,000. (OK, that’s the last one. I promise. For now.) His family has a reputation of being high maintenance, and he transferred out of Florida after he tested positive for PEDs. And when you can’t meet the moral standards of the Gators, that’s a red flag for sure. I was at the Mountaineers game against TCU and after taking a while to get going on offense, he led them to like 31 points in 10 minutes off the game clock or something outrageous like that. (Details are sketchy. My son goes there and we had done a LOT of tailgating.) He does flash brilliance at times. But the knock on him that seemed to be more and more prevalent as the season wore on was his lack of arm strength. He doesn’t seem to deliver deep balls with velocity unless he can really step into his throw like a kid doing Punt, Pass & Kick. And those types of pockets don’t come around much in the NFL. He got exposed by Iowa State’s blitz packages and later at the Senior Bowl when his lack of arm strength stood out against the higher competition. But when he’s running a controlled passing game and making quick decisions, he can efficiently move the chains.So like most of the QBs this year, he’s a project. An Eye of the Beholder player.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Andy Dalton
An Injury Concern Who Could Drop:
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern. 6-4, 222, 4.75
He was getting a lot of underclassman hype from Mel Kiper among others. He put up impressive sophomore numbers of 22 TD and 9 INTs before regressing to 15 TDs and 12 INTs. Any thoughts he had about declaring after his junior year were torn apart along with his ACL in the Music City Bowl, so he had to return for a Senior season. After that he seemed to lose some of the velocity on his throws, which could be related to his lower body mechanics being a little shot after the knee injury. And a high ankle sprain a the Senior Bowl kept him restricted at the Indy Dog & Pony Show. The damned shame of it is, prior to that he had a Big 10-record 53 straight career starts. He’s been effective in a ball-control offense that lets him take advantage of his short- and mid-range accuracy, and as a senior put together impressive wins over Michigan, on the road at Michigan State and a last-minute comeback to beat Nebraska. But he also threw two horrible picks against Wisconsin backpedalling away from pressure. The question is whether some staff feels they can locate the Potential Stone he carried around early in his career and recapture that early promise.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Mitchell Trubisky
Small School Guy/Funny Namer:
Easton Stick, North Dakota State. 6-1, 224, 4.62
The heir to the throne of Carson Wentz led the Bisons to a 49-3 record and three national championships in the FCS or FTC or STDs or whatever they’re calling DII football now. To go along with impressive numbers that prove what a dual threat QB he was: 29 TDs passing, 11 rushing and just five INTs. If you think that would be enough to get him a Senior Bowl invitation guess again, as he was seated at the kid’s table of the East-West Shrine instead. He’s led both pro style and RPO offenses. As you might figure for a smallish passer, he doesn’t have lot of power on his deep throws. But he excels at putting his receivers in a position to catch passes in stride as opposed to throwing a lot of hospital balls. He’s one of the most athletic and mobile physical specimens in this group, with a 6.65 in the Patriots favorite drill, the 3-cone, which was .35 faster than anybody else. The obvious question is how teams value a QB who’s playing a JV schedule all his life. But based on what Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo are getting paid, plus Stick’s resume and reputation for being a team leader, it’s fair to say someone will take him on Day 2.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Alex Smith
Small School/Huge Quarterback:
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo. 6-7, 249, 4.59
Probably the most powerful arm available in 2019. And he can run. But he’s a project. His delivery has a lot of moving parts, with bad lower body mechanics that make him at times be Stormtrooper-level scattershot. But he can launch a ball 70 yards like’s tossing a paper airplane. He’s fast for a guy his size and his tough to bring down. For a coach willing to spend a lot of weekends under this guy’s hood with a lot of parts lying around on padded blanket in the driveway, he develop into a legit NFL starter with a full skill set.
Compares to the Leading Brand: Logan Thomas (who’s no longer a quarterback)
The Perfect Patriot: Daniel Jones. This is really hard to gauge but I think he’s got that combination of talent, arm accuracy and intelligence that would make him a fit for a team that drafts offensive tackles like Cameron Fleming who studied astrophysics at Stanford. I just don’t think Jones will be available at a spot where they’re making QB a priority. If he somehow falls to them when they’re on the board with their late 2nd or any of their 3rds, it’d be a steal and they’d jump on it.
Whom the Patriots Will Take: Easton Stick. Stick just seems too much like Jimmy Garoppolo, both in terms of the competition he faced but also his upside. And Wentz has paved the way for Stick in the same way Tony Romo paved the way for Jimmy G. Except they’ll be able to draft him with one of their three 3rd rounders. Easton Stick: Your Patriots quarterback of the future (until they trade him). Book it.