East-West Shrine Game: Quarterbacks
The group of quarterbacks heading down to St. Petersburg for the annual East/West Shrine Game is a peculiar bunch. The list includes a four year starter who reigned at Boise State, an undersized quarterback who battled for his job through 2017 at Purdue, and a JUCO transfer that ran the #1 high school quarterback recruit out of Mississippi. In a moment I'll dive into the group, but first I'd like to introduce the grading system which you'll see included for the players.
Now with that out of the way, we can get into the quarterback prospects at the Shrine Game. If you click on the bolded names it will take you to a full scouting report on each of the prospects, so feel free to do that as you read through each of the blurbs.
First up we have Boise State's Brett Rypien, who comes in as one of the most productive passers to ever touch the blue turf. His mechanics are as clean as they come, and he is one of the smartest decision makers in this senior crop. Rypien demonstrated mastery over the Bronco offense as he consistently went through progressions and found open targets at all levels of the field. He is not physically impressive from an arm strength or size standpoint, but the total package of processing speed, ball placement, and near flawless setups make him a top guy in this class. It's stunning that he did not get the invite to Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
Another player who has some draft media clamoring for an appearance in Mobile is North Dakota State's Easton Stick. Stick is the most physically gifted quarterback appearing at the Shrine Game this year, but there is good reason he did not receive an invite to the Senior Bowl. Stick can make throws to any level of the field, pick up large chunks of yardage with his legs, and occasionally flash pinpoint accuracy. However, he did not go beyond his first option on tape, instead trying to extend the play with his legs when things went south. Stick's tendency to lock onto one guy and refuse to budge forced unnecessary throws that were in danger of being intercepted, but the FCS level of competition allowed him to get away with it. The talent is undeniable, but he'll need time to grow as a backup if there is going to be a chance of becoming a starter. He'll be a fringe guy as a pro, but right now the concerns are valid.
The heir to Mason Rudolph in Stillwater, Taylor Cornelius beat out Hawaii transfer Dru Brown for the starting job, and for good reason. Although I graded Brown as a fifth round talent in the summer, it is clear that Cornelius was the right choice while Brown adjusted to the new offense. Cornelius stands out immediately on the field as a 6'6" giant who looms in the pocket. His size alone is going to draw the eyes of scouts, but he is more than just your typical tall quarterback. His mobility is not great, but he is able to throw off platform with the velocity to get the ball wherever it has to go. He's more physically gifted than Rudolph was, and his odds of succeeding as a pro player may even be higher. Cornelius did not elevate the offense from a mental perspective, but kept it business as usual like Rudolph by attacking vertically and throwing 50/50 balls up for his talented receivers. He has starter tools and could gain the most of any quarterback participating in the game.
It's not every day that a former #1 quarterback recruit out of high school is forced into transferring because they lost the starting job. That's exactly what happened to Michigan's Shea Patterson when Jordan Ta'amu emerged from the JUCO ranks and showed up late in 2017 for the Rebels. Ta'amu was supported by an NFL caliber group of targets the made life easy for him. His decision making was often confined to just chucking up deep balls and allowing his stars to run under it, but he did them no favors with his accuracy issues. The major selling points for Ta'amu are going to be an average arm and the speed to take off as a runner.
Marcus McMaryion has gained attention due to his productivity at Fresno State, but the ceiling is rather low for the former Oregon State quarterback. The arm talent is below average and his mechanics will need significant refinement as he transitions to the league. He was one of the most interesting case studies this year at the position, as he tries to compensate for a lack of natural pass velocity by using upper body rotation to create it. It has been unsuccessful, which should prompt him to focus more on using his footwork and lower body to create throwing power. He is not particularly accurate or decisive, which pulls his stock down further. The occasional glimpses of pocket control and finding secondary reads will likely draw him a camp spot, but he'll be a tough sell for more without an outstanding Shrine game and testing performance.
David Blough battled with underclassman Elijah Sindelar throughout the 2017 campaign for the Boilermakers, as Sindelar proved himself to be more impressive physically. However, Blough ran with his opportunity when Sindelar went down with an injury early on in the season. Posting career numbers as a senior, Blough led Purdue to a key victory over the highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite these accomplishments, his on-field performance against the Buckeyes was abysmal. Blough was unable to make plays beyond a dozen yards downfield due to how limited his arm is. Against Michigan State he carelessly put the ball into the path of defensive backs, allowing for multiple interceptions. He measures in at just over 6'0" with almost nothing to hang his hat on as a prospect. It's surprising that Blough got the call over some other seniors like Brent Stockstill, Taryn Christion, and Kyle Shurmur.
Although there are still over a dozen quarterback reports on deck, I'm well on my way through the group's scouting reports. Here's a look at how the class currently stacks up.
If you want to read the rest of these reports you can find them by clicking here and accessing the quarterback tab of the 2019 database. Feel free to contact me on Twitter with any comments or thoughts you'd like to share about this article or the quarterback class in general. Thanks for reading!