We are just two weeks away from the NFL Combine. For draft-nicks it’s the best time of the year. Players with little hype will have a tremendous showing and jump up team’s draft boards. Others get popped for weed or don’t prepare and lose millions of dollars by sliding down a round or two.
We are going to rank the 18 quarterbacks invited to the 2016 NFL Combine. This year there are three guys who are clear cut first round picks while some other QBs are fighting just to get noticed. Let’s get started.
18. Joel Stave Wisconsin
Stave left Wisconsin with the most victories by a QB in program history. Last season he threw for 2687 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and struggled against Alabama in their opening game. Stave’s best season in Madison was 2013 when he had Mevin Gordon in the backfield. He threw for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions that year.
17. Josh Woodrum Liberty
Woodrum is the least known QB commodity heading into the Combine. He threw for 2,772 yards and 12 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions in 2015 at Liberty. It’s easy to put up big numbers against FCS opponents. In Liberty’s only game against a Power 5 school he threw for 280 yards against West Virginia. Last month in the NFLPA Bowl Woodrum was 3 of 4 for 46 yards. Woodrum owns every Liberty passing record but will need to put on a show at the Combine to keep from having to go the unsigned free agent route.
16. Trevone Boykin TCU
Boykin is a question mark heading into the NFL Combine. Despite throwing for 3,575 yards and 31 touchdowns and rushing for 612 yards and 9 touchdowns many scouts think that the former Horned Frog will need to move to receiver or running back to make an NFL roster. At 6’2, 205 pounds he doesn’t have the size (or pocket presence) to be a QB in the league. When you factor in his arrest for fighting with a police officer before the Alamo Bowl some teams may be scared of him. If Boykin gets drafted it will be on the last day of the draft.
15. Vernon Adams Oregon
Adams is a poor man’s Russell Wilson. In his only season at Oregon Adams threw for 2643 yards and 26 TDs with only 6 interceptions. Against USC he had 407 yards passing and 6 touchdowns. He has a great arm and can make all the throws but at only 5’11 he will scare off some teams. Adams is projected to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round.
14. Nate Sudfield Indiana
Sudfeld didn’t have a lot of help around him at Indiana. He did throw for 3573 yards and 27 TDs with only 7 interceptions. A lot of his big number came against Southern Illinois, Maryland and Rutgers. When the Hoosiers faced Ohio State last October Sudfield had his worst game statistically of the season with only 134 yards passing. At 6’6, 240 pounds he has the size and arm that scout love. He’s an intriguing prospect that may hear his name called on the last day of the draft.
13. Jeff Driskel Louisiana Tech
After inconsistent play and injuries Driskel lost the starting job at Florida in 2014 and headed to Louisiana Tech where he emerged as a legit NFL QB prospect last year. Driskel blistered lesser competition in Conference USA throwing for at least 300 yards in 8 games last year. The former Gator/Bulldog did have big games against Kansas State and Mississippi State last year and went wild in the New Orleans bowl throwing for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the Senior Bowl he went 8 for 9 with 108 yards passing and a touchdown on the last play of the game. Driskel might get drafted in the sixth or seventh round but may have to sign as an undrafted free agent.
12. Cody Kessler USC
Kessler had a good season last year passing for 3536, 29 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He showed up in big games against Oregon and Notre Dame. The knock on Kessler is that there are questions about his arm strength. But he did a lot last year despite having little help around him due to a loss of scholarships from NCAA violations. The former Trojan QB had a respectable showing at the Senior Bowl going 4 of 10 passing for 45 yards and a rushing TD. It’s thought that Kessler will be drafted on day three of the draft.
11. Cardale Jones Ohio State
Cardale Jones probably should’ve come out after last year’s National Championship Game. After coming off the bench to lead Ohio State to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon his draft stock was at an all-time high. Unfortunately he was benched by Urban Meyer in 2015 after some shaky starts early in the season. The former Buckeye has a big arm and is surprisingly mobile considering he is 6’5, 245 pounds. Jones has a lot of potential and will likely get drafted in the later rounds of the draft.
10. Christian Hackenburg Penn State
Hackenburg is still living off his reputation at Happy Valley as a freshman when he threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns. The last two years the Nittany Lion QB was inconsistent and suffered from NCAA sanction and penalties with no help around him. In the first game last season Hackenburg was sacked 10 times against Temple and it was all downhill from there as defenders lived in the Penn State backfield all year. There are questions about his accuracy and he has been knocked for being a statue in the pocket but he will likely hear his name called on day two of the draft.
9. Kevin Hogan Stanford
Hogan had a good year in 2015 at Stanford passing for 2867 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Cardinal QB led the team to wins over USC, Notre Dame and UCLA last year. He’s been a star in Palo Alto the last three years and quietly built one of the best resumes of all the QBs in the NFL Draft. In the Senior Bowl Hogan went 3 of 4 passing and had a big run for a key first down. At 6’2, 215 pounds he will need to put on some size but he will still get drafted in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
8. Connor Cook Michigan State
Cook had some big games last year against lesser competition but when he played Alabama in the College Football Playoff he was shut down completely. Still he passed for 3,131 yards with 24 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions leading the team to wins over Michigan and Oregon. At 6’4, 220 pounds he has the prototypical size that the NFL looks for in a quarterback. Scouts also like the fact that he ran a pro style offense. His draft stock took a hit when he turned down an invitation to the Senior Bowl but he will have a chance to regain some momentum at the Combine.
7. Jacoby Brissett
Brissett flew under the radar for most of 2015 but had a good season at NC State. He threw for 2,662 yards with 20 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. Brissett also ran for 370 yards and 6 touchdowns and is elusive, able to escape defenders in the backfield. The Wolfpack QB was hot and cold at times during the season having big games against Clemson but then getting shut down against Virginia Tech and Mississippi State. Brissett had a good showing at the Senior Bowl going 5 out of 6 for 50 yards. Many scouts think that he could be the sleeper QB in the draft. Brissett will likely get picked up in the mid rounds of the draft.
6. Brandon Allen Arkansas
Allen was known as a game manager as a junior but had a monster year last season in the SEC West. The former Arkansas QB threw for 3,440 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. He threw for 442 yards and 6 touchdowns against Ole Miss and topped it two weeks later by throwing for 406 yards and 7 touchdowns. At the Senior Bowl Allen was 7 of 10 for 106 yards despite having the smallest hands of all QBs. He has good pocket presence but can scramble when the play breaks down. Allen probably won’t get drafted until the later rounds but he could end up being a steal.
5. Brandon Doughty Western Kentucky
Doughty threw for an insane 5,055 yards and 48 touchdowns last season for the Hilltoppers. Though he did pad his numbers against Conference USA foes Doughty still lit up LSU last season for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns. The WKU QB probably won’t get drafted until the 6th or 7th round but he is a guy that could be a backup in the league for years to come.
4. Paxton Lynch Memphis
Paxton Lynch really burst onto the scene last year throwing for 3,776 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 4 picks. He led the Tigers to an upset win over Ole Miss last October by throwing for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lynch threw for over 300 yards in eight straight games but faltered down the stretch. When he facd Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl the Tigers completely shut him down holding him to only 106 yards passing. Still, many scouts consider him one of the top two or three QB prospects in the 2016 draft. At 6’7 245 pounds the former Memphis QB has great size. Lynch will likely go in the middle of the first round.
3. Carson Wentz North Dakota State
Wentz was thought to be a late first round or early second round pick until he went to the Senior Bowl. During the practices Wentz caught the eyes of all NFL personnel and his draft stock shot through the roof. Depending on which mock draft you look at the former North Dakota State QB is the first or second QB on the draft board. Despite missing part of last season with a broken wrist Wentz will head to the Combine as the guy to watch. It’s situations like this that could push Wentz to the top of the draft or he could have a bad showing and wind up falling down draft boards.
2. Dak Prescott Mississippi State
Prescott is a boom or bust kind of prospect. With that said, we really like him and believe that he could be the best quarterback in this class. He has been compared to Tim Tebow and Donovan McNabb with his big arm and ability to make plays with his feet. Prescott is built like a defensive end and doesn’t go down after first contact in the backfield. The former Mississippi State QB was 7 of 10 for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Senior Bowl and turned a lot of heads with his performance that overshadowed Carson Wentz. Last year Prescott threw for over 300 yards against LSU and Alabama’s defense. Against Arkansas he blew up for 508 yards and 5 touchdowns passes. He won’t go in the first round but Prescott could be the steal of the draft.
1. Jared Goff California
Coming into the Combine Goff is the hands down #1 QB on the board. He lit up PAC-12 defenses all year and torched Air Force for 6 touchdowns in Armed Forces Bowl last December. You may roll your eyes and say, “Yeah that is against Air Force”. Goff threw for 386 yards and 2 TDs against a good Stanford defense last year. At 6’4, 210 pounds he will need to put on some weight but he is pretty shifty in the pocket and can make things happen by scrambling. The former Cal QB ran the offense out of a shotgun and will need to work from under center if he wants to be a legitimate starting QB in the NFL.