The NFL Draft is on Thursday and as usual team executives have been busy running misdirection designed to keep the rest of us guessing about their true intentions.
And just like every year, despite all of the gifted players available, much of the pre-draft conversation has centered on the quarterbacks and who is ready to pounce on them.
This class is not as dominant as last year’s was. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson were all first-round picks and eventual starters. There is only one likely 2019 starter in this bunch and you know who that is.
Let’s take a look at the top five quarterbacks in the draft and who might be interested in them.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
The Heisman Trophy winner has everyone buzzing about his potential. He is Russell Wilson with a bit more mobility and a slightly more accurate arm. The guy is poised to make an immediate impact.
Of course, all of the conversation has been about his potential pairing with the Arizona Cardinals, who own the first pick. New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is a huge Murray fan and even though the organization already has Rosen, it might be willing to start over with Murray and figure out the rest later.
Murray is not quite 5-foot-11, so he doesn’t fit the current metric for his position. But he completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns and he threw just seven interceptions. He will burn defenses with his arm and his feet.
If the Cardinals decide not to take Murray, and go with Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, look for the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and, perhaps even the New York Giants and New England Patriots, to try and secure the second pick from the San Francisco 49ers in order to take Murray.
Drew Lock, Missouri
Lock had to fight for attention in the talent-deep SEC, but emerged after the Senior Bowl as a top prospect and one who better fits the positional mold than Murray.
The guy has a rocket arm, something Murray or every other QB in the draft does not have. He completed 61 percent last season for 3,498 yards, 28 TDs and just eight INTs and he ran for six more scores. One NFL scout told NFL.com he reminded him of Patrick Mahomes in the sense he might need a year of incubation before being ready.
Lock’s athleticism also impressed the scouts. He is a former basketball player and has the mobility to go along with his quiet, confident personality. He commands huddles and has the ability to convince his teammates to follow his lead.
Lock, who is just under 6-foot-4, completed 56.9 percent in 46 career starts, but finished up at 62.9 last season playing for his third offensive coordinator. He threw 99 TD passes, almost half of the for 20 or more yards.
The Redskins might be willing to take a shot with Lock and hope he develops as most believe he will.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Just the other day an NFL scout compared Haskins to Drew Bledsoe, which is an interesting take. You don’t see many quarterbacks like that anymore; devoted to the pocket and looking to sling it more than run it.
Haskins only started one season at Ohio State, but that shouldn’t be held against him when you consider Murray sat behind Mayfield before getting his chance. Haskins learned the position from Ryan Day, who just took over from Urban Meyer as the Buckeyes head coach.
Haskins is 6-foot-4, which likely accounts for his pass-first mentality. Then again, Allen came to Buffalo with the same gene pool and ended up running the ball with great effectiveness when he had to. Some scouts don’t believe Haskins has the ability to do that, so he’d have to play in an offensive scheme that doesn’t rely on much movement from the position.
Still, Haskins led one of the most productive offenses in the nation, completing 70 percent for 4,831 yards and 50 TD pass. The yardage and scoring throws were school records and led the NCAA last season. He saved some of his performances for Michigan State, Michigan and Washington (10 TD passes, no interceptions).
Look for the Cincinnati Bengals to take a look at Haskins.
Daniel Jones, Duke
In the 1990s, the Giants took a chance on a Duke quarterback named Dave Brown in the hopes he might someday be able to take over from Phil Simms. That didn’t turn out to well. Brown had trouble even beating out Kent Graham, who was far from Simmsian.
Well, word is the Giants might be willing to give another Dukie a shot. Is Jones the one who will eventually take the ball from Eli Manning and lead the Giants to another Super Bowl title?
One thing is for sure: Jones is huge, just over 6-foot-5. And that is one of the reasons some scouts are convinced he’s the best QB prospect in the draft. The term is “pro-ready.” He’s also a very bright guy who has been trained by David Cutcliffe, who coached both Eli and Peyton Manning and Mississippi and Tennessee.
Jones completed 61 percent for 2,674 yards, 22 TDs and nine INTs last season despite missing two games with a collarbone injury. He started 36 games at Duke and completed 59.9 percent of his throws. But Pro Football Focus tells us he completed only 44 of 157 passes of 20 or more yards for 15 TDs and 11 INTs. Those are not encouraging numbers, although some of it could be attributed to the quality or receivers he played with at Duke.
Will Grier, West Virginia
Grier is 24 years old, married and a father. So if you believe boys take longer to mature than girls, he should be a solid prospect, although most draftniks project him as a second- or third-round pick.
It seems that Grier does everything well, but nothing quite spectacular, which is another way of saying his future might be as a solid backup. After beginning his career at Florida, he played two full seasons for the Moutaineers and threw 71 TDs and only 20 INTs, completing 67 percent. Again, some scouts think that was more the result of their conservative offense than any superlative skill set.
Grier, 6-2 ½, did have some outstanding performances. He threw for 539 yards and four TDs in their highly entertaining 59-56 loss to Oklahoma. What might work against him was that we was suspended for one year for the use of performance enhancing drugs (steroids).