2020 Senior Quarterback Rankings
Updated: May 19, 2019
Welcome back to a new season of content as I start churning out some #taeks on this next class. While a lot of the buzz around this upcoming quarterback class is around underclassmen, it would be wrong to not discuss the crop of senior signal callers.
Let's get this off the table first though.
This group is not good.
It goes Justin Herbert, a couple of developmental options, a couple of backups, and then a whole bunch of laundry detergent salesmen. Here's how my list stacks up at the moment, although there are going to be a few more additions before the summer is over.
The small writeup for each player comes directly from my summer notes, so it's just hard notes without much article flair. I hope you enjoy it either way.
1. Justin Herbert Oregon
Excellent size; looms over the pocket. Surprising speed in the open field. Should run in the 4.7s at worst; scrambling ability is exciting. Clean feet through the throwing process. Nice weight transfer. Has the arm strength to make throws to all levels of the field. Good velocity keeps the ball on pace. Aligns towards his target. Pocket control is a work in progress. Runs himself into trouble by overcommitting with his steps. Arm slotting is a bit inconsistent and it gets too low. Ball placement is beautiful at times. Processing speed needs to take a step forward in the pros. Average getting through his reads, but can do it. 1st Round Summer Grade.
2. Brian Lewerke Michigan State
Upper echelon velocity on his throws allows him to make anything work if he times it right. Able to pick up yardage as a scrambler even though he isn’t going to outrun linebackers. Footwork is clean setting up for his throws. Release point is a tad low. Accuracy is inconsistent, but there are flashes of it. Able to get beyond his first read when given sufficient time, but has to speed it up. Good feel for pressure; identifies where guys are coming from in a timely manner. Lacks touch on his downfield shots, and would benefit from better trajectories. Got benched in 2018 due to poor performance. Decently quick release. 3rd Round Summer Grade.
3. Riley Neal Vanderbilt
Good size at 6’4”. Looks the part of an NFL quarterback with his stature. Anticipation has to take steps forward if he is going to be a pro quarterback. Footwork is relatively clean. Has some significant medical red flags in his background with lower body injuries. Tries to pick up yardage with his legs when nothing is available, but does run himself into big hits. Stands in through hits and delivers his pass. Climbs the pocket with comfort. Accuracy isn’t outstanding, but he can put the ball into his receiver’s leverage. Arm talent doesn’t jump off the screen, but he can make expected throws. Mechanics and overall process need tightened up; questionable play speed gets him into trouble. Able to get beyond his first read if needed. Still developing at it, but can hold defenders with his eyes. Not going to find much success outside of structure. Pure pocket passer. 4th Round Summer Grade.
4. Bryce Perkins Virginia
Remarkable athleticism allows him to get out of trouble at every turn. Somewhat slender frame could draw concerns about his health. Good velocity on his passes should allow him to make most throws. Arm strength for downfield shots is fine. Accuracy is better than expected for a quarterback with wheels. Very limited experience with pro style decision-making. Release point is rather low, but he can manipulate it. Feel for pocket is iffy so far. One read quarterback right now. 6th Round Summer Grade.
5. Nathan Stanley Iowa
Looms over guys in the pocket; looks the part. Release is decently quick, but it is still a bit looping. Stands in the pocket through the tide; calm in the face of big hits coming. Lacks mobility to get outside of the pocket and make plays outside of structure. Able to generate serious velocity when he wants it. Accuracy outside of the short game is an absolute mess. Puts passes in extreme danger with his placement, and doesn’t seem to have control over it. Unafraid to rip it when there is pressure in his face. Timing is not even close to pro level. Clock needs to speed up. Late to make his decisions and it closes windows. 7th Round Summer Grade.
6. Shea Patterson Michigan
Below average size stands out immediately and does affect some of the passing lanes available to him. Speedy release gets the ball out in a timely manner and helps to make up for mental lapses. Velocity on the ball is only average. Comfortable working on the run and throwing outside of structure. Downfield shots weren’t accurate against Notre Dame. Release point is a tad low, but he is able to alter it if necessary. Mechanics off platform are impressive. Placement in the short game allows him to play the point guard role. Downfield shots can get some heat behind them if he winds up; might have hidden arm talent. Not a great athlete but can scramble if needed. Pressure was a bit crippling at times for him. Rollout king. UDFA Summer Grade.
7. Khalil Tate Arizona
Not an overly elusive runner, but can get out of the way of danger inside the pocket. Arm strength is good enough to take downfield shots. Off platform throws take a little long to get out, but he can make most of them. Running ability was drastically overestimated coming out of his sophomore season. All-arm thrower who doesn’t generate power from his base. Unreliable release point. Usually a one read and done decision-maker. Average processing speed. Inaccuracy is a problem. UDFA Summer Grade.
8. D'Eriq King Houston
Athleticism allows him to peel out of the pocket without getting caught. Stands under 6-foot tall and it affects his play. Too quick to get outside of structure and put himself in the line of fire. Arm strength is below average and may not be enough to meet NFL thresholds in terms of velocity. Flashes some touch on downfield throws. Able to arc and change trajectories, but his height does make throwing straight-liners tough. Might be able to find some hidden throwing power with improved lower body mechanics. Not enough long speed to turn the corner. Accuracy fluctuates. Comfortable in pocket for his size. UDFA Summer Grade.
9. Shane Buechele SMU
Only listed at around 6’1” but looks bigger with the way he holds the pocket. Deep ball accuracy doesn’t wow. Comfortable sliding around within the pocket. Average running ability can get him out of some sticky situations. Able to get off of his first read, but it isn’t particularly pretty. Dips his shoulder and weaves through traffic with control. Able to make throws from uncomfortable platforms. Arm talent is only modest, but it usually doesn’t hold him back. Improvisational ability is exciting. Accuracy isn’t perfect, but it’s respectable for the short game. Unafraid to take a shot during his throwing process. UDFA Summer Grade.
10. Elijah Sindelar Purdue
Listed at 6’3” and 230 pounds but might be even bigger. Checks the height/weight box that teams want from a quarterback. Willing to climb the pocket but moves with heavy feet. Couldn’t beat out a middling quarterback in David Blough for the starting job. Process takes too long. Windup on his throws is significant and will allow windows to close on him in the pros. Mechanically sound despite how slow he goes. Steps into the throw. Adjusts his position in the pocket to find easier throwing lanes. Below average processing speed. Struggles beyond his first read. Downfield accuracy is unreliable. Throws can cut through the elements. Tore his ACL in November of 2017 and played on it to finish season. Pro velocity but it kills his aim to rev up. UDFA Summer Grade.
11. Jake Bentley South Carolina
Heavy-footed guy who is going to have a hard time winning outside of structure. Comfortable working beyond his first read like few other quarterbacks in this senior group. Mechanical processes are very weighted down. Size does make him a very sturdy player. Marginal arm talent, especially for his size. May not have the juice on his passes to hit downfield windows. Willing to stand in through a hit to deliver it. Ball placement isn’t bad, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Internal clock is on the slower side. Trusts his arm too much. Misses some lurking defenders. SERIOUS DeShone Kizer vibes but without the arm talent. UDFA Summer Grade.
12. Tyler Huntley Utah
Only 6’1” and it shows standing behind the line. Comfortable changing his arm slotting to avoid traffic in the throwing lane. Fleet-footed and able to make fast adjustments while working inside the pocket. Good feel for the space around him. Comfortable working on the run. Wait and see approach allows windows to close on him. Improvisational ability is exciting. Athleticism is going to be his hallmark as a quarterback, but run first approach limits his game. Arm is somewhat average. Primarily worked the short game against Washington, and looked uncomfortable on downfield shots. Average accuracy. UDFA Summer Grade.
13. Brandon Wimbush Central Florida
Can get some serious heat on the ball if he revs up and transfers his weight properly. Not going to make every throw, but he should be able to make most of them. Doesn’t respect the defender’s leverage enough. Wants to see his target open before letting his passes fly. Able to change trajectories and arc throws up over cornerbacks. Accuracy is all over the place; doesn’t meet thresholds that teams are going to want. Not a burner on the ground but can extend plays with his legs. Decent at climbing the pocket. One read and run style gets him in trouble. Hesitation is a massive issue. Timing is messy. Good upside. UDFA Summer Grade.
14. Joe Burrow LSU
Setup takes a little bit of time to get through. Delivery is on the slow side and may allow windows to close on him. Has some flashes of touching throwing in redzone situations, but needs more general consistency with his accuracy, Average athlete who should not be expected to win his own yardage. Has an unreliable feel for pressure and doesn’t sense it from the backside. Ball placement isn’t always pretty, but it should get the job done. Needs to speed up his process quite a bit if he’s going to make it in the pros. For the most part a one read and done quarterback. Rushing stats were scheme assisted. Average velocity. UDFA Summer Grade.
15. Blake Barnett South Florida
Funky mechanics that end up with a lower release point than necessary. Baseball style whip to the ball rather than coming cleanly over the top. Release takes a little bit of time to get to; must speed up his throwing process to avoid windows closing. Decent size at around 6’4”. High/low variance with his ball placement can make layups difficult for receivers. Velocity allows him to make the expected throws, but stuff to the far side of the field doesn’t come easily. Won’t wow as a scrambler, but can pick up some yardage with his legs if he gets a hole. Has to see it before he releases it. Iffy processing ability. UDFA Summer Grade.
16. Deondre Francois Undecided (formerly Florida State)
Looks taller than his listed 6’0”. Arm strength is good enough to make most throws, but he needs to be more consistent with his velocity. Quick release allows him to make throws from uncomfortable platforms. Accuracy is high variance. Average athlete but willing to take off and run. Decision making process was ruined at times by pressure. Willing to step up in the pocket if he gets a lane. Mechanics can get a bit funky. Serious medical and character red flags; dismissed from Florida State. UDFA Summer Grade.
17. Steven Montez Colorado
Able to change trajectories and arc passes over the top of defensive backs. Great size at 6’5” 235 pounds and it shows on the field. Not overly elusive but can take off scrambling if he needs to. Release takes a bit of time to get through. Velocity is good enough to get through tight windows. One read and done decision-maker for the most part. Not a natural improviser. Downfield accuracy is scattershot. Internal clock is iffy. Play deteriorates significantly under pressure. Nebraska game was primarily screens and dump-offs. Takes a lot of juice off his passes with bad footwork. Mechanics are unreliable. UDFA Summer Grade.
18. Mason Fine North Texas
Listed at 5’11” and 185 pounds, which is far below the thresholds most teams will want. Has a ton of passing lanes sealed off due to his height. Able to throw the intermediate ball with both timing and accuracy. Arm strength isn’t phenomenal, but he can make most throws as long as there is anticipation. Gets overwhelmed by pressure and shrinks inside the pocket. Able to elude some pass rushes, but he’s not a high level athlete. Arm loses a lot of juice because of mechanical flaws. Flashes of arcing passes over the top of corners. Compact body allows for easier throws on the move. Ball needs to come out earlier. UDFA Summer Grade.
19. Josh Love San Jose State
Operated within clearly defined lines as a passer. Has some moments of touch on the deep ball. Only listed at 6’2” and might be smaller than that. Tips off defensive backs by staring down his target. Late to start his throwing process and gets into trouble as a result of it. Bouts of hesitations are crippling. Arm strength isn’t anything special, but his velocity will allow him to make pro level passes. Too many batted balls are the result of his size. Has the guts to take downfield shots if he sees it; won’t get timid when big throws are on the table. Mechanics aren’t outright bad, but he could use his lower body more for power generation. Can throw on the run if needed. Stares down the barrel and doesn’t budge. Throws a clean back-shoulder pass. UDFA Summer Grade.
20. Ben Hicks Arkansas
Mediocre arm is likely going to get him into trouble at the next level. Undersized at only about 6’1” and it shows on the field. Steps into his throws properly and generates his power from the ground up. Understands the need to arc passes and change trajectories to put it over defensive backs. Comfortable working with pressure in his face. Downfield shots are always in danger of getting undercut. Has a feel for pressure but can’t adequately avoid it. Accuracy is high variance. Easy release even when he’s working on the run. Willing to scramble but speed isn’t great. Usually one read and done, but has offensive control. UDFA Summer Grade.
21. Nathan Rourke Ohio
Listed at 6’1” but looks closer to the 6’0” line. Misses layups that no pro quarterback should be missing. Got benched at points during his junior season due to poor performance. Not a great athlete but can pick up yardage with his legs if needed. Wants to see it before he throws; won’t let the ball out until the break is already through. No corner turning speed. Flashes of pocket movement and control. Velocity is dependent on his mechanics, and it gets pretty rough if he doesn’t step into the throws. Willing to take risky throws that might not be there in the pros. Runs with a little bit of wiggle. Likes to lean on his legs if things aren’t easily identifiable as a passer. Comfortable working on the move. Reliant on leaving structure. Two bad ones for every good one. UDFA Summer Grade.
22. Dru Brown Oklahoma State
Might be a touch under six foot tall. Not a burner on the ground but has more than enough speed to break off long runs. Uncomfortable when the pocket begins to collapse, and may fold under pressure as a pro. Moments of hesitation are disconcerting. Able to find some success outside of structure. Average to below average arm is going to make downfield shots difficult. Lower body mechanics aren’t reliable or great at generating throw power. Can get beyond his first read if given plenty of time to do it. Turns into a pocket statue. Timing is solid but accuracy fluctuates quite a bit. Arm maxes out around 50-55. UDFA Summer Grade.
23. Jon Wassink Western Michigan
Willing to take off and run if nothing is available downfield, but doesn’t have the speed to pick up much yardage. Average size isn’t going to do him any favors. Too much high/low variance with his placement. Velocity isn’t anything special, but the spiral stays tight. Willing to attack tight windows and put the ball through traffic, but it might be a task too tall as a pro. Release motion is rather snappy. Sacrifices accuracy and control to make up for average arm. More of a survivor in the pocket than a manipulator of it. Only really has heaters in his arsenal; not a touch thrower in the slightest. Better deep ball than intermediate ball. Processing speed is not up to par, and he’ll need to make decisions faster as a senior. UDFA Summer Grade.
24. Alex Hornibrook Florida State
Inconsiderate of linebackers sitting underneath on throwing lanes. Lefty. Average arm strength could be a concern. Doesn’t throw passes that cut through the air. Usually a one and done decision-maker who can’t get beyond his first read. Brass balls both help and hurt him; attacks windows that are tough to hit. Turns into a runner when the pocket collapses. Movements in the pocket are robotic. Accuracy is an absolute mess. Struggles outside of the pocket. Flashes of leading his target. UDFA Summer Grade.
25. Dan Ellington Georgia State
Able to get beyond his first read, but doesn’t do it fast enough to make decisions in a pro offense. Will wait until his throwing lanes are already closed off to try and fit the ball through. Has too much faith in his arm talent. Schemed usage as a runner isn’t going to translate easily. Eyes stay downfield when he rolls out of the pocket. Passes sail in the intermediate and arrive late to the target. Decent at climbing the pocket, but size gets him engulfed. Has to see the route break finish before he is willing to let it fly. Weight transfer is fine but he tends to loop his passes. Active feet stay ready to make adjustments. Not a viable deep ball passer given his below average arm talent. Game attitude gets him some surprising wins as a runner. Limited touch. UDFA Summer Grade.
26. Jalen Hurts Oklahoma
Long and loopy motion does damage to timing and accuracy. Deceptive runner in the open field. Not going to turn short gains into long runs, but he is able to hold his own in a foot race against linebackers. Tips off defenders with his setup. Able to get beyond his first read on rare occasions. All arm with his throws; doesn’t incorporate lower body mechanics. Elusive enough to get outside of the pocket and extend plays. Overly reliant on his legs to bail him out of tough situations. Lost the starting job in the middle of the National Championship. Incredibly unorthodox style is a bit tough for defenses to prepare for. Arm talent isn’t special, but he can send it downfield with heat if needed. Footwork is way behind schedule. Accuracy improved in 2018. UDFA Summer Grade.
27. Buckshot Calvert Liberty
Only listed at around 6’1” but seems to stand taller than that in the pocket. Usually gets stuck to his first read and won’t go beyond that. Slides around in the pocket to create better throwing lanes and open up opportunities. Somewhat low release leads to batted passes. Understands how to change trajectories and arc passes over the top. Too willing to attack unfavorable leveraging because he believes in his arm. Accuracy deteriorates on downfield shots. Got bailed out by Antonio Gandy-Golden a fair amount. High/low variance is worrisome. Mediocre arm talent. Lacks timing and anticipation as a passer. UDFA Summer Grade.
28. Mike Glass III Eastern Michigan
Drastically undersized. Listed at 6’0” but might be closer to 5’10”. Unorthodox upper body mechanics take extra time for the ball to get out. Doesn’t throw with much velocity, and will have NFL throwing lane slam shut on him. Looks to run prematurely when the pocket begins to break down. Mostly an upper body thrower; needs to incorporate his base better if he wants to create power. Has some moments of surprising deep ball accuracy. Able to get beyond his first read on occasion, but it isn’t very pretty. Reliance on his legs won’t work when speed of play increases. Better placement than most low end quarterbacks. UDFA Summer Grade.
29. Kaleb Barker Troy
Decent speed allows him to get out into space as a scrambler. Average arm doesn’t allow him to fit the ball into tight windows, but there may be some hidden strength that isn’t uncovered due to mechanical flaws. Willing to throw into dangerous situations and put the ball where it doesn’t need to go. On the borderline of six foot tall and could be off the board for some teams as a result of it. Ball placement tends to fluctuate. Overly reliant on his legs and it gets him into trouble. Questionable timing. UDFA Summer Grade.
30. Gage Gubrud Washington State
Undersized and doesn’t look the part. Average arm talent is going to limit his deep passing. Not enough velocity to really test defenses. Power isn’t generated from his base, although his mechanics don’t have any major flaws. Usage as a runner was schemed; not a good enough athlete to create for himself outside of structure. Able to throw on the move without major discomfort. Decision-making was very constricted in the Eastern Washington offense, although it might have been out of necessity. Acceptable ball placement in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Ceiling is very low as a prospect. UDFA Summer Grade.
31. J'Mar Smith Louisiana Tech
Not a very big guy and it shows when he is trying to throw over the line. Willing to put passes into extreme danger without consideration of the defender’s location. Footwork is uninterested and doesn’t set up the process well. Timing is late and gets him into trouble. Arm talent doesn’t jump out on tape. Able to elude some pass rushers and dodge guys in the pocket, but it lacks control. Not fast enough to scramble to freedom. Fails to step into his throws. Iffy accuracy. UDFA Summer Grade.
32. Kelly Bryant Missouri
Lacks the arm talent to make difficult throws, and will be limited to the short game as a passer. Size and play strength will be concerning. One read and done passer for the most part. Unsurprisingly lost the starting job to Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Dink and dunk passer who ran a ton of screens. Running ability won’t create big plays, but he can get himself out of trouble with it. Power doesn’t come from his lower half as a passer. Ball placement won’t cut it as a pro. UDFA Summer Grade.
33. Mitchell Guadagni Toledo
Funky mechanics that don’t generate power from the lower body. Release point is going to get him into trouble with batted passes. Goes after targets that are well covered rather than looking elsewhere. Somewhat winding motion takes time to complete and get the ball out. Comfortable using his legs to get out of tough situations, but doesn’t have the athleticism to make plays with them. Usually resorts to one read and run process that won’t fly as a pro. Benched during junior season due to poor performance. Arm talent is marginal at best. Not much of an anticipatory thrower. Questionable ball placement. UDFA Summer Grade.
34. Brady White Memphis
Listed at 6’3” and 205 pounds, but he looked undersized against Missouri. Velocity on the move is underwhelming. Mediocre improvisational ability. Offensive line didn’t do him any favors against the Tigers, but he struggled to stay composed. Mechanics are a bit messy. Accuracy isn’t good enough for the pro level right now. Throws some real ducks due to lack of velocity. Must learn to succeed inside of structure. Unable to win with athleticism. Release point varies too much. UDFA Summer Grade.
35. Tommy Stevens Mississippi State
Imposing size helps him out as a runner. Doesn’t have excellent long speed, but can gain a fair amount of ground when he gets space. Will always look to use his legs when he gets into difficult situations. More of an athlete than a quarterback at this stage. Throws sometimes just seem to float into the abyss because of how inaccurate he is. Size generally allows him to fall forward. Will likely have to test will and convert positions if he wants to stick in the league. Play strength is below expectations for his weight. Must take a more physical approach to the game if he is going to succeed as a runner. Average arm talent. Doesn’t meet thresholds in regards to accuracy or decision-making. UDFA Summer Grade.
36. Ty Storey Western Kentucky
Looks taller than his listed height of 6’1”. Willing to attack against leverage and put the ball into danger. Willing to use his legs if necessary, but his play strength is modest at best. Has trouble surviving the storm of a pass rush, and he doesn’t have the elusiveness to make plays beyond structure. Decision-making process is too slow. Would rather throw into traffic than search for backup options. Arm talent is average at best, and he won’t be able to make difficult throws at the next level because of it. Was in and out of the starting lineup with Cole Kelley at Arkansas. Accuracy is general not specific. UDFA Summer Grade.
37. Quinten Dormady Central Michigan
Lost the starting job at Tennessee, then couldn’t take it away from D’Eriq King at Houston. Lackluster arm talent prevents him from attacking the deep ball. Slow processing speed. Likes to leave the pocket prematurely rather than hold his ground. Size is a positive quality, as he stands around 6’4”. Chucks it up into unfavorable coverages rather than getting past his first read. Fails to incorporate his lower body into his mechanics; all-arm thrower most of the time. Accuracy is scattershot at best and amateur at worst. Doesn’t possess the athletic gifts to make plays with his legs. Ceiling is incredibly low. UDFA Summer Grade.
Thus concludes the first of many summer rankings articles. If you have any questions or comments feel free to hit me up on Twitter @WhatsOnDraftNFL. If you like this work and want to see more of it in the future, please consider donating to What's On Draft or becoming a subscriber on Patreon.