Blog written by Dave-Te Thomas – ‘The NFL Draft Report’ a regular contributor for TonySoftli.com

 

PRESEASON QUARTERBACK ANALYSIS – PART I

 

With Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota leaving school early for the National Football League, it appears that a season-long battle to stake claim to the top quarterback spot in the 2016 draft class is about to commence. One look at the reports being filed by our scouts indicate that there will not be a consensus for the number-one slot on our power poll, as opinions vary on what can be a very promising class that could produce at least four first round draft selections at this position.

 

Most scouts feel that the most talented of the bunch is Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, but he is not suited for the offensive scheme used by head coach James Franklin, having completed just 56% of his passes in 2014 for a team that ranked 117th among the 125 major colleges in rushing, 110th in scoring and 111th in total offense last season.

 

Hackenberg is surrounded by a highly suspect offensive line that placed 119th nationally for sacks allowed (44) last season. He also has no established skill-set players and is playing in a league that is certain to see the QB have to scramble out of the way of pass rushing demons Joey Bosa of Ohio State and Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State giving him a “run for his money.”

 

Still, other scouts are jumping on the bandwagon for another Big Ten Conference signal caller, Calhoun’s teammate with the Spartans, Connor Cook. One of the few FBS quarter-backs to operate in a pro-style offense, Cook has shown good scrambling ability and an NFL-caliber arm, but lacks great accuracy, completing just 58% of his tosses last season. His ability to use the field and distribute the ball to his targets will be further tested this year, as he loses tailback Jeremy Langford and starting wide-outs Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphrey to the NFL.

 

Staying within the Big Ten Conference ranks, scouts will closely monitor fall camp in Columbus, Ohio. Cardale Jones proved that he has Daunte Culpepper-like ability, making for a pleasant problem for the coaching staff. Listed third on the depth chart when 2014 fall camp began, he moved up a spot when Braxton Miller was lost for the season. J.T. Barrett was a revelation as a starter before also going to the infirmary by the time the bowl season arrived.

 

Jones showed big-play ability with the long ball, and also with his feet, during his three-game audition. Now, he will have to fend off the return of two injured starters. He threw for 860 yards with seven touchdowns as a starter, but is far from being a polished prospect. He can be rattled under a heavy pass rush and at times, he looks very hesitant making his reads. He needs to be more alert to pressure and has to get rid of the ball quicker to avoid the costly sack, leading this scout to see more of “Josh Freeman” in his game than that of Culpepper.

 

Since California produced Green Bay’s All-Pro, Aaron Rodgers, there have been lean years for the Bears at the quarterback position. That could change in 2014, as Jared Goff looks like the most legitimate blue chip passer in a conference (Pac-12) loaded with mid-round types. The lanky signal caller will not be confused for the second coming of Rodgers, but both are verified scramblers with the accuracy excellence NFL teams crave. In his debut as a starter, he threw for 3,973 yards with 35 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, helping the team rise from a 1-11 2013 season for a 5-7 2014 campaign.

 

One wild card in the race for first round status is Indiana’s injured star, Nate Sudfeld. A shoulder injury knocked the junior out of action with six games left on the schedule. He was averaging 191.4 aerial yards per game and led the Tevin Coleman-featured attack to a 4-2 record before he was hurt. With Sudfeld sidelined, the Hoosiers won just one of their final six contests, averaging 91.0 yards per game passing without their top signal caller.

 

Wondering how good this unknown star really is? He was labeled to have the most pure passing motion of any college quarterback at the Manning camp and his arm draws comparisons to Peyton Manning in that category, even though others say his arm strength rivals that of the Ravens’ Joe Flacco.

 

Moving away from the quintet that features four from the Big Ten Conference, the two other conferences that feature the next level of quarterback talent are the Pac-12 and Southeastern. Out west, Stanford is hoping that Kevin Hogan can rebound from yet another inconsistent season. He did make 66% of his throws for 2,792 yards and 19 touchdowns, but more often than not, he killed scoring drives with his penchant for throwing into traffic (eight interceptions, 38 pass break-ups), in addition to being a big culprit as the team turned the ball over thirteen times via fumbles.

 

Southern California’s Cody Kessler enters the 2015 season as the top-rated passer in the Pac-12, emerging from a 2014 preseason battle vs. Matt Wittek to complete 71% of his passes for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdowns, to go with just four interceptions. The knock on the Trojan is that he is undersized at 6:01 and is not the most elusive under a pass rush (4.95 speed). Hoping to earn some recognition from scouts this year, the league also has valid draft prospects at this position in Utah’s oft-injured Travis Wilson.

 

In the Southeastern Conference, a second half slump and a few nagging injuries knocked Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott out of the 2014 Heisman Trophy race, but he returns as the league’s top-rated passer, even though he should expect competition for that honor from Kentucky’s Patrick Towles and Alabama’s Jaob Coker, with Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs bringing up the rear. Mauk could be out of the picture if he stumbles “out of the gate,” as scouts think that backup Corbin Berkstresser is by far the better pro prospect.

 

Prescott’s chances for being a first round pick took a hit when scouts began comparing him to Tim Tebow. Built more like a running back, Prescott hit on 61% of his throws for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also scored 14 more times on the ground last season, but he also operates in a system that Dan Mullen used when he was Tebow’s offensive coordinator. Like the former Gator, there are serious questions about Prescott’s ability to operate as a pocket passer and if he fails to “amp it up” in 2015, he could do a “Bryce Petty” type of slide into the mid rounds by draft day.

 

Kentucky’s Patrick Towles has all the tools teams want in a pro quarterback, drawing comparisons to Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles. He’s a 6:05, 238-pound passer with great field vision, pocket awareness and a rifle arm, just lacking the talent at the skill-set positions to effectively perform without being under constant pressure. With better protection up front, he should improve on his 2014 figures of 2,718 yards, 14 touchdowns and a .570 pass completion percentage.

 

Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs is an underclassman to keep an eye on. His 2014 numbers (1,206 yards passing with nine touchdowns and six interceptions) fail to impress, but he did connect on 63% of his throws after he was thrust into the lineup for the final five games on the 2014 schedule. He is still raw as a downfield passer, but has the arm strength and size to develop.

 

THE REPLACEMENTS

With Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston looking to establish themselves as NFL passers in 2015, they leave behind teams looking for answers at the quarterback position. While their backups are sure to get consideration for the number-one job, both schools also took advantage of the NCAA senior-graduate rule to add some veteran talent into the picture. Eastern Washington’s undersized standout, Vernon Adams, joins the Oregon program.

 

Notre Dame castoff Everett Golson leaves behind the Irish program to again search for a starting job, this time, with the Seminoles. He was benched for the Music City Bowl after returning to the team from a 2013 suspension, but like Adams, there is little chance that either will make the impression their current teams’ former quarterbacks did.

 

While he is not a new Crimson Tide player, Jacob Coker now gets the chance to start for Alabama, with Blake Sims having graduated. Jameis Winston’s former backup at Florida State joined the Tide last season, hoping to win the starting job that eventually went to Sims. Now, he gets that chance to prove he is not this year’s version of “Matt Cassel.”

 

VERNON ADAMS, JR.     University of Oregon    5:11.2-190-4.64

The NCAA Football Championship Subdivision’s leading active passer with an efficiency rating of 173.80, the former Eastern Washington product will be plying his wares as a possible replacement for Marcus Mariota. Adams joins the Beavers having thrown for 10,433 yards on 701-of-1081 attempts (64.85%) that included 110 touchdowns vs. 31 interceptions through three seasons. He also scored eleven times on 297 carries that netted 1,232 yards (4.15 ypc) in 37 games.

Adams’ Competition…Despite his impressive numbers, Adams is not a certain lock to earn the starting job in 2015 fall camp. In fact, based on his spring performances, junior passer, Jeff Lockie, made a solid bid in his case to replace Marcus Mariota as Oregon’s starting quarterback, as he went 9-of-9 passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the Ducks’ Spring Game, leading his Team Pathway to a 35-29 victory over Team Oregon.

“Jeff’s had a great spring,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scott Frost said. “He does exactly what I hoped for, which is to be a leader and take control. I like the way he operates.”

Lockie’s self-effacing demeanor was on display postgame, when he was asked about going a perfect 9-for-9 passing. “Sometimes that’s just kind of the way it goes, whether it be the plays called or how it works out,” he said. The performance was typical, however, of a player who prides himself on making smart decisions and not turning it over. Those skills were on full display Saturday, and perhaps come fall as well.

Other quarterback prospects include sophomores Taylor Alie and Ty Griffin, and redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak and freshman Travis Jonsen, who went by Travis Waller in high school and is already enrolled at Oregon.

Jonsen, a dual-threat quarterback who has been compared to Dennis Dixon, passed for 1,797 yards and 12 touchdowns while also running for 815 yards and 13 scores as a senior at Servite High School in Southern California. Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said the quarterback situation would shake out over the fall, joking that he didn’t see maintaining a “five-way” competition.

 

EVERETT GOLSON     Florida State University Seminoles     6:00.1-198-4.73

Much like Adams, Golson faces an uphill battle in what is becoming his annual attempt to become a starting quarterback. When the 2014 regular season ended, Golson was boasting a 17-6 record as a starter for Notre Dame and was ranked eighth in the nation for points responsible for. By the time the Music City Bowl commenced, the signal caller was replaced in the lineup by Malik Zaire. Irish head coach Brian Kelly informed Golson that Zaire would enter 2015 spring camp as the starter, leaving the once number-one QB on the trails looking for a new home before settling for a possible backup role with the Florida State Seminoles.

“After much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to graduate from Notre Dame and transfer to another school effectively immediately,” Golson said in a statement released to Fox Sports. Golson thanked Notre Dame fans for their support and asked for privacy during what he called a life-changing moment. A call to his cellphone by The Associated Press wasn’t immediately returned.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly issued a statement thanking Golson and wishing him well. “He had many significant achievements, including helping us to an undefeated regular season and berth into the national title game,” Kelly said.

In 25 games at Notre Dame, Golson completed 443-of-745 passes (59.46%) for 5,850 yards, 41 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. As a ball carrier, he scored 14 more times on 208 attempts for 508 yards. His 29 touchdown tosses ranked 13th in the major college ranks last season, finishing 18th with 3,445 aerial yards.

Golson, a dual-threat quarterback that Florida State hasn’t seen in years, missed the 2013 season because of an academic violation but returned with a vengeance last season, passing for 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also rushed for eight touchdowns. In the Fighting Irish’s loss to the Seminoles in 2014, he was 31-of-52 passing for 313 yards and three scores. Fisher said about Golson. “He’s a great young man. I really enjoyed getting to know him. Good player – played really good against us.”

Golson’s Competition…With Jameis Winston sitting out with injuries and a suspension last year, Sean Maguire stepped in to hit on 25-of-49 passes for 339 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions through four appearances – hardly starting caliber material. Still, he is the presumed favorite to take the reins of the Florida State offense this season. He made a few nice throws during the team’s annual Garnet & Gold Game, but there were also a few that the fourth-year junior would like to have back. His final numbers – 22 of 44, 289 yards and two interceptions – suggest an uneven performance. But they also don’t reflect a second quarter in which Maguire deftly led the Garnet offense on three scoring drives.

“We got in a rhythm and we had some great drives coming out,” Maguire said. “The two touchdown drives, the field goal drive … that was when our offense was flowing.”

FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher declined to name a full-time starting quarterback after the game, saying only that the Seminoles “are going to stay right where we’re at.” Still, he said he was pleased with Maguire’s overall progress this spring, and noted that Maguire had performed better in FSU’s two previous scrimmages. “I’m not unhappy with Sean at all,” Fisher said. “He has some work to do, but he’ll be all right.”

 

JACOB COKER     University of Alabama Crimson Tide     6:04.4-230-4.78

Coker was in a heated battle with Winston for the Florida State job back in 2013, as they took the competition up to the final minute of fall camp before coach Jimbo Fisher went with the red-shirt sophomore over the five-star recruit from the state of Alabama. Having already graduated, Coker decided to head home and enrolled at Alabama, where he is eligible to play immediately under recent changes to the NCAA transfer rules.

Still, he is a bit of an unknown, having missed the end of the 2013 schedule due to a knee injury that required surgery. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was expected to come out and anoint Coker as his starter heading into 2014 fall camp, but Blake Sims all but eliminated the need for competition after he seized the starting job during spring drills, faltering near the end of the 2014 schedule.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher put the transfer under the media microscope recently when he called his former student the “best” quarterback that Nick Saban has ever had during his tenure at the university. That is high praise for a player that had completed just 21-of-41 passes for 295 yards in three seasons with the Seminoles. In seven cameo performances for Alabama, Coker was successful on 38-of-59 tosses for 404 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in 2014.

Coker’s Competition…It appears that Coker has yet to gain a firm grasp on the starting job coming out of spring drills. The White Team was led by the quarterback, who completed 14-of-28 for 183 yards and one touchdown with one interception, while his challengers did not fare much better. Alec Morris relieved Coker and hit on 7-of-11 tosses for 60 yards, but failed to score. The Crimson squad saw David Cornwell get picked off twice while scoring once behind 12-of-24 chances for 110 yards.

On evaluating the quarterbacks, head coach Nick Saban stated, “You kind of take the plays that the quarterback couldn’t make because he didn’t have a chance to make, and you really can’t fault him for that. You take the opportunities that maybe they had where they had protection, they had time and they had open people. Did they throw the ball the right place? Were they able to throw it accurately? Did they make good decisions? I think you have to separate the things that they can control and the things that they can’t control and sort of evaluate it that way.”

 

SHOULD I STAY, OR SHOULD I GO

BRAXTON MILLER     The Ohio State University Buckeyes     6:01.4-215-4.42

Miller is regarded as the best athlete in the Big Ten Conference at the quarterback position, but after missing the 2014 season when he sustained another injury to his right shoulder while throwing a short pass in a late 2014 August practice, he faces serious competition from his replacement, J.T. Barrett, along with further battles from Barrett’s eventual replacement, Cardale Jones.

At first, the impact of Ohio State losing Miller was met with “doom and gloom,” but the performances delivered by both Barrett and Jones make for a “crowded house” in the huddle. Widely tabbed as a 2014 Heisman Trophy contender, Miller suffered the injury during a noncontact portion of practice just hours after the senior declared himself 100 percent healthy following offseason surgery to the shoulder.

Miller threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 12 more scores in leading the Buckeyes to the Discover Orange Bowl last season. “I told our offensive coaches that we lost a hundred yards of offense, so let’s figure out how to find a hundred yards of offense that Braxton gave us every game, on his own. So we have to do that,” head coach Urban Meyer stated when Miller’s injury was announced prior to the start of the 2014 season.

“The good thing is that when you look to your right, look to your left, it’s kind of exciting. If I’m a young player, that’s four more touches that I get now. We’re taking the opposite approach: We’re not worried about November, we’re worried about tomorrow.”

The reigning two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Miller first hurt the shoulder in the 2013 Orange Bowl. He had surgery that prevented him from contact in spring practice and was held out of several practices and scrimmages in August. “I love Ohio State and Buckeye nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever,” said Miller, who took a medical redshirt season. “I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season [2015].

“In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.” Miller did not practice this spring and had been limited by athletic trainers and coaches in the number of throws he was making this fall.

Miller missed most of his senior season at high school in Huber Heights, Ohio, and has frequently been sidelined with injuries at Ohio State. As a freshman, he sprained an ankle against Nebraska — a game in which the Buckeyes built a big lead but blew it — but was able to play in subsequent games.

Three years ago, he missed time during the game at Michigan State when he fell into an equipment case on the sideline and later in the game hyperextended his left knee. He was hit hard by Purdue’s Josh Johnson later in the season and missed the rest of that game, with Guiton leading a stirring march in the final minute for a touchdown and the tying two-point conversion. The Buckeyes won in overtime.

During the 2013 season, after the knee injury, Miller partially tore the labrum in his right shoulder on the first possession against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. He played the rest of the game. When the injury was discovered later, he had surgery in February. Ohio State said at the time that Miller had “minor, outpatient surgery.” But he has had problems with the shoulder since.

Miller has a $1 million total disability policy that he could collect if he never plays football again, a source told ESPN. That premium has been paid by Ohio State, according to the source, but Miller does not have loss-of-value insurance that would cover him if he significantly slipped in the NFL draft. “This is our fourth year together,” Meyer said of Miller. “When you spend that much time, especially with your quarterback … A lot of people see No. 5, and they see that face mask and they barely see his face. This kid is a wonderful guy. There’s no issues – he’s a great kid who’s an extreme competitor. … He will play in the NFL, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

While Miller’s passing numbers improved in 2013 from the previous season, his mechanics are still viewed as a “work in progress.” There is no questioning his overall arm strength, but he did struggle with ball placement and touch, as his receivers were often seen having to adjust on their routes. More than a handful of his pass attempts were batted down at the line of scrimmage, a product of poor/low trajectory.

Miller seems to lack patience standing tall in the pocket, perhaps due to him being sacked 88 times for losses of 513 yards through 36 games as a Buckeye. Rather than improve upon ball security, he regressed as a junior, posting a career-worst ten fumbles. He has fumbled the ball twenty-seven times during his career and has little desire to fight for recovery, as the opposition secured thirteen of those fumbles, leading to ten scoring drives.

In early May, 2015, Meyer continued to say that his QB was returning to the team in 2015, but Alabama and Florida State have been frequently mentioned landing spots for Miller, with even Miller’s visits to Birmingham for shoulder surgery and rehab becoming a talking point. Meyer said that he doesn’t listen to the “hearsay,” and said all indications point to Miller playing for the Buckeyes in the fall.

“That surfaced in January and I asked him and he said ‘absolutely not’ and obviously young people, anyone is allowed to change their mind,” Meyer said. “I have not heard it, I did not ask him, one of our strength coaches did and he said I don’t know where that’s coming from. So I would say Braxton is staying is all indications that I’m getting. And all I can go by is — I don’t go by hearsay, I just talk to the people involved and he seems to be extremely happy and excited for 2015 as a Buckeye.”

Miller’s Competition…Until he suffered a broken leg in the regular season finale, J.T. Barrett had led the Buckeyes to twelve straight victories, connecting on 203-of-314 tosses (64.6%) for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was picked off ten times, but scored eleven times and ranked second on the team with 938 yards rushing. Cardale Jones emerged during Ohio State’s three postseason contests, as he threw for 860 yards with seven scores on 56-of-96 attempts, also posting 296 yards and a score rushing.

 

OTHER NOTEWORTHY TRANSFERS

JOSH GRADY     University of Florida Gators     5:11.6-202-4.54

The former Vanderbilt quarterback/receiver decided to join the Florida Gators and is already enrolled in classes, making him eligible to play this fall. Grady graduated from Vanderbilt in May, 2015, and the Southeastern Conference approved his transfer. He is a versatile athlete who could play receiver or provide quarterback depth for the Gators, who are down to just two scholarship signal callers following Skyler Mornhinweg’s and Jeff Driskel’s recent transfers.

The Tampa native played receiver and quarterback at Vanderbilt, but didn’t see much action at either spot. He completed 3 of 7 passes for 27 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also caught seven passes for 89 yards, and ran 11 times for 20 yards.

 

JEFF DRISKEL     Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs     6:03.2-230-4.72

Things did not go as planned for Driskel during his time as a Florida Gator, leading to his decision to leave the university and join Skip Holtz as the Louisiana Tech head coach’s new starting signal caller. With great promise when he was first recruited at Florida, there were no divisional titles, no conference championships, no national title, and no Heisman Trophy after the previous staff predicted that Driskel would deliver on all when he first signed on with the school.

He certainly didn’t end his Florida career the way he began it. All told, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,411 yards at Florida, with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards and nine scores. He threw for 1,140 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions during the 2014 season, but battled injuries throughout his career with the Gators.

Driskel, who was rated among the nation’s top quarterback prospects out of high school in 2011, joins a Louisiana Tech team coached by Skip Holtz that finished 2014 with a 9-5 record. The Bulldogs lost in the C-USA championship game to Marshall, but defeated Illinois 35-18 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

“I look forward to the upcoming chapter of my life. I have nothing but good things to say about the University of Florida and the football program there,” Driskel said in a statement released by the Gators. “… Although things did not play out on the field as I would have liked, I have no regrets on the choice I made to attend UF.”

 

SKIP MORNHINWEG     Columbia University Lions     6:02.3-212-4.92

Following Driskel out the door, Mornhinweg’s departure leaves Florida with just two scholarship quarterbacks. New head coach Jim McElwain said that Mornhinweg left the program and that leaves the Gators with just redshirt freshman Will Grier and sophomore Treon Harris on scholarship. Citing NCAA rules, McElwain declined to say whether former Notre Dame quarterback, Everett Golson, visited Florida before he decided to enroll at Florida State instead.

Former Alabama and Oregon State quarterback Luke Del Rio is expected to land at Florida later this summer. Del Rio is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguars coach and current Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. He played high school ball in nearby Jacksonville and Denver.

 

GREYSON LAMBERT     6:04.5-225-4.98

The red-shirt junior was named the starting quarterback for the Virginia Cavaliers coming out of 2014 spring drills. He completed 154-of-261 passes (59.0%) for 1,632 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions before a head injury vs. Virginia Tech ended his season after nine appearances. He was replaced by Matt Johns, who continued to apply heat for the starting job during 2015 spring drills.

Sensing that he had lost his position as Virginia’s starter, Lambert announced in mid-May that he was leaving the school, as the co-captain joined the run of prominent players transferring from Virginia. Lambert announced his intention on the same day he received his degree. The redshirt junior becomes the third consecutive incumbent starting quarterback to leave the Cavaliers since 2012, and leaves Johns as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster until June.

Since 2012, seven quarterbacks have transferred, including 2012 starter Michael Rocco, 2013 starter David Watford, Ross Metheny, Phillip Sims, Michael Strauss and, earlier this week, redshirt freshman Corwin Cutler, who made a similar announcement on Twitter.

Lambert thanked London and the coaching staff, support staff and academic staff for their impact on his time at Virginia, but gave no reason for his decision.

As a graduate, he will be available to play immediately when he chooses a new program to join. His departure comes less than a year after he was heralded as the answer to Virginia’s long-running search for a quarterback. But he was benched before halftime in the opener against UCLA and shared the job with Johns the rest of the season. Johns won the starting job this year in spring practice.

In a news conference after releasing the depth chart, London said the battle for the top spot “wasn’t close.” Lambert played in 16 games at Virginia, starting nine last season. For his career, he completed 187 of 336 passes (55.7 percent) for 1,972 yards with 11 touch-downs and 13 interceptions. Blessed with a powerful arm, he had moments of brilliance but struggled with poor decision-making.

 

 

 

MORE TRANSFER NEWS

CONNOR BREWER, formerly with the University of Texas and the University of Arizona is transferring to Northern Arizona. The red-shirt junior will join the Lumberjacks with two years of eligibility remaining. Brewer redshirted in 2012 after signing with Texas before transferring to Arizona. He had to sit out the 2013 season due to transfer rules and was buried on Arizona’s depth chart behind Anu Solomon and Jesse Scroggins last year. Brewer appeared in two games with the Wildcats, scoring on a 3-yard run against Nevada-Las Vegas, but did not attempt a pass. He was released from his scholarship at Arizona in January and will be eligible to play immediately at Northern Arizona because he has already graduated.

 

JAKE RUDOCK and JOHN O’KORN are both transferring to the University of Michigan. Rudock, a fifth-year senior leaves the Iowa Hawkeyes after receiving a Big Ten Conference waiver and will be eligible to play this season for the Wolverines. He started the past two seasons at Iowa and needed a waiver to play in his first year at his new school. Rudock had to actually graduate at Iowa before the move becomes official. He was once recruited to Miami by Jedd Fisch, Michigan’s new quarterback coach/passing game coordinator. Michigan has added quarterbacks to its roster since head coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in January. Freshman Alex Malzone enrolled early to take part in spring drills. Freshman Zach Gentry will join the team this summer.

Rudock started 25 of the past 26 games as a Hawkeye, but he dropped behind junior C.J. Beathard on a depth chart the team released in January. Rudock completed 61.7 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Also, former Houston starter John O’Korn plans to transfer this summer, but won’t be eligible to play until the 2016 season. He threw for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns as a freshman in 2013, but was benched in favor of Greg Ward last season after throwing six touchdowns against eight interceptions in five games. Korn must sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have two years of eligibility remaining. He elected to transfer after a difficult 2014 season and the Cougars replacing former coach Tony Levine with Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman. A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native, he had reportedly been considering transfers to either Florida or Texas among other programs.

 

DAXX GARMAN, formerly of Oklahoma State, has yet to decide what school he will attend in 2015. As the Cowboys kicked off spring practice, head coach Mike Gundy confirmed that Garman has decided to transfer out of the football program and continue his playing career elsewhere. Gundy stated he appreciated the quarterback’s contributions to the Cowboys, and doesn’t know to where he will transfer. The move comes after reports first surfaced that Garman was considering a transfer. The head coach went public with an ultimatum that a decision, one way or the other, had to be made by the start of spring practice.

Garman replaced J.W. Walsh, who sustained a season-ending leg injury in Week Two, and started the next eight games at quarterback last season before going down with a concussion in a November 15th loss to Texas. Freshman Mason Rudolph went 2-1 in three games as Garman’s replacement.

Because of that three-game stretch, and because a Garman-led offense failed to score more than 27 points in five of eight starts, Rudolph became the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job heading into spring practice. In fact, Rudolph captured the job, as Walsh will serve as his backup.

This is not the first time that Garman bolted a major college program in a quest for more playing time. Coming out of high school in Southlake, Texas, as a three-star prospect, Garman originally signed with Arizona in 2011. He announced in December of that year that he would be transferring from the Wildcats to the Cowboys.

“I really want to thank him for what he’s done for Oklahoma State football,” Gundy said. Gundy also said that he does not know where Garman will transfer. Garman is scheduled to graduate this spring, which means he’ll be eligible to play immediately for his new school in 2015.

 

 

PRESEASON QUARTERBACK ANALYSIS – PART II

 

 

THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE STAKES CLAIM TO TOP BILLING

Currently, thirty college passers have received draft-ready grades from our staff. The leader of the pack is the Big Ten Conference, placing six members on that list, including four ranked among the top six rated quarterbacks, led by Michigan State’s Connor Cook (first), Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg (second), returning Indiana injured star Nate Sudfeld (fourth) and 2014 postseason surprise, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones (sixth).

 

Cook is probably the most “pro ready” quarterback in this draft class, but some scouts think that he is what they refer to as a “mechanic” – a player that manages an offense, but is more safe-than-sorry in his game approach (Similar to KC’s Alex Smith). The Spartan was successful on 58.1% of his passes, good for 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns, but as his completion percentage indicates, he is not the most accurate passer you will find.

 

Still, he is one of the few pro-style passers in the collegiate ranks and does a very good job of avoiding the rush, evident by his ability to power his way into the end zone as a ball carrier or scramble away from pressure to connect on the move. He does a masterful job reading defenses and following through his progressions, but while he excites with his long ball ability, he still lacks touch on his routine tosses.

 

Hackenberg is a bit of an enigma, as he was expected to continue to excel last season based on the promise he showed in 2013. The problem was, he was greatly misused in the James Franklin offensive scheme and had one of the worst offensive lines in football blocking for him. He also had very few tools to work with under the new coach and seemed lost without offensive minded coach Bill O’Brien having bolted the Nittany Lions for the NFL and Houston.

 

Under O’Brien, Hackenberg was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013, gaining 2,955 yards with 20 touchdown passes that year. Last season, he saw his pass completion percentage drop to .558, managing 2,677 aerial yards and 12 touchdowns, but he also threw for 15 interceptions. He has the athleticism, field vision, pro-caliber arm and ability to move the chains via the pass or on the run. The problem is, another season like 2014 could see him earn the Blaine Gabbert “bust” label. If he reverts to 2013 form, he could end up being the draft’s top pick.

 

Sudfeld is a stud – he of the best pure throwing motion for any quarterback in college. Just ask the Mannings about that lofty praise. He led the team to a 4-2 record before shoulder woes knocked him out of action for the final six contests last year. Without him in the lineup, the Hoosiers closed out losing five of the six games that Sudfeld missed.

 

Jones will have to fend off the challenges from two other NFL-caliber Buckeyes for the starting job. Braxton Miller (16th on the list) returns from several issues with his right shoulder that sidelined him for the 2014 schedule. J.T. Barrett is also not willing to give up the starting job he held throughout the 2014 regular season before a broken leg ended the year for him before Ohio State mounted their national championship march. One other Big Ten passer who could leave school early for the NFL is Illinois’ Wes Lunt (23rd).

 

OUT WEST, THE PAC-12 CONFERENCE CARRIES ON THEIR TRADITION

Tradition shows that the Pac-12 Conference will continue to produce professional quarter-backs on an annual basis. While they do not have anyone that shows the pedigree and caliber to perform in the Marcus Mariota mold, the California Bears certainly have their first valid blue chip passer since Aaron Rodgers in junior Jared Goff (rated third on the QB chart). If Goff performs at the level he showed last season, he should be one of three passers eligible for the draft who will likely go in the opening round.

 

The arrival of Steve Sarkasian saw Cody Kessler emerge as a valid challenger to Goff for the top rung among quarterbacks in the Pac-12. The Southern California passer (fourth on the list) lacks ideal size and won’t keep defenses honest with his scrambling ability, but many see his chain-moving approach as similar to that of Cincinnati’s Andrew Dalton.

 

Goff took over the starting job as a freshman, hitting on 60.3% of his attempts for 3,508 yards and 18 scores in 2013. As a sophomore last season, he completed 62.1% of his passes for 3,973 yards with 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has excellent field awareness, drawing comparisons to former Bears QB Aaron Rodgers for his ability to move with ease and distribute the ball, despite playing with limited weapons from his teammates.

 

Scouts seem to be getting more frustrated by the minute when it comes to evaluating Stanford’s Kevin Hogan (rated 14th), who, despite completing 66% of his passes last year, has been wildly inconsistent since his breakout campaign in 2012. Even though he gained 2,792 yards with 19 touchdowns passing, he often rushed his throws and was highly inconsistent, as six of his eight interceptions came with the team in excellent scoring position.

 

Oft-injured Travis Wilson (26th ranked) returns to the helm for Utah, but you might need to contact the Aflac Insurance Duck for this guy. In November, 2013, doctors feared that the Utes passer’s career had ended after he suffered a concussion vs. Arizona State that revealed a pre-existing condition discovered during a post-concussion exam. He was diagnosed with a head-related condition that is not life-threatening at the moment, but coach Kyle Whittingham said it could put Wilson at higher risk if he continued to play.

 

Undaunted, Wilson received clearance to return to the game in 2014 and despite a few more injuries, including another shot to the head, he led Utah to a 9-4 record and the team’s first bowl appearance since 2011. He completed 60.7% of his attempts for 2,170 yards and 18 touchdowns vs. five interceptions, also scoring five times on the ground.

 

The NCAA Football Championship Subdivision’s leading active passing efficiency leader, Vernon Adams (rated 29th), leaves behind the confines of Eastern Washington to try and replace Mariota in the lineup at Oregon. At 5:10, he is not considered to be a viable NFL prospect, but then, Russell Wilson heard those same whispers a few years ago and I am sure that Seattle won’t toss their quarterback out of the complex any time soon.

 

Injuries limited Adams to ten games last season, but behind a pass completion percentage rate of .661, he threw for 3,483 yards, 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2014, adding six more scores as a ball carrier.

 

MORE QUANTITY THAN QUALITY IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

The Southeastern Conference saw five of their projected starting quarterbacks receive draft-ready grades on our preseason list, but the highest rated player, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (eighth-ranked) was a viable Heisman Trophy candidate last year before the then top-ranked Bulldogs saw their field general self-destruct behind three interceptions in a tough 25-20 loss to Alabama last year.

 

Coming off a 2013 season that saw Prescott share QB duties and compile 940 yards with ten touchdowns and seven interceptions, the powerfully built passer was a threat on the ground, as well as in the air, in 2014. He amassed 3,449 aerial yards that included 27 touchdown passes and scored 14 more times while posting 986 rushing yards last season.

 

A new leader among league passers appears to be emerging in Wildcat territory, where Kentucky’s Patrick Towles (ninth rated) is receiving tremendous praise in the scouting industry. The junior helped coach Mark Stoops “right the ship” behind a 5-7 record last year, scoring six times on the ground while tossing for 2,718 yards as the full-time starter. He also has a highly capable backup in Maxwell Smith ready to step in if Towles gets hurt.

 

While he steps in as a starter a year later than he anticipated, 2014 Florida State transfer, Jacob Coker (ranked 15th), takes over for departed Blake Sims as Alabama’s starting quarterback, but he needs to “amp it up” during fall camp to stave off a challenge from a slew of incoming four-star recruits. Coker failed to receive a solid endorsement as the team’s starter from head coach Nick Saban after an inconsistent showing during spring drills. Still, he is also a four-star prepster and at 6:05, 230, he certainly looks the part and has the arm strength to stretch the field.

 

Keep an eye on Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, who has been called the “best quarterback I’ve ever coached” by Razorbacks leader Bret Bielema. That is high praise, considering that the coach had Russell Wilson leading his Wisconsin Badgers before taking the Seahawks to a pair of Super Bowl encounters. Allen will never be known for his scrambling skills, but he did manage 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season.

 

Also look for the Tennessee Volunteers to keep Josh Dobbs in the lineup. Having started the last five games on the 2014 calendar, he ran for 469 yards and eight touchdowns, also tossing nine scoring passes and finishing with a .633 pass completion percentage last year. Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson is also expected to be named the Tigers’ starter, but the 6:05, 230-pound junior has just 436 yards and three touchdown passes to show for the 2014 campaign, even though he hit on 28-of-37 attempts.

 

YOUNG AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MIGHT FEATURE THREE SURPRISES

With the Big Ten (six), Pac-12 (five) and SEC (five) holding more than half of the top thirty places on the quarterback ratings charts, that leaves eight major college conferences, four FBS independent schools and the college lower level ranks to fill out the remaining fourteen slots. While Conference USA (one player) and Big Twelve Conference (two listed) are the more established leagues, the AAC has three passers that could be playing in the NFL by 2016.

 

It looks like Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville has a “keeper” on the rise in Gunner Kiel (rated tenth) – that is, if the quarterback decides to stick around. Kiel committed to the Bearcats after first telling Louisiana State that he was joining the Tigers, only to change his mind and enroll at Notre Dame. He bolted the Irish and sat out the 2013 season under NCAA transfer rules, but went on to complete 59.7% of his passes that included 13 touchdowns in 2014. What is a bit troubling is his performance vs. top-level competition, though. Among his thirteen interceptions, a total of eight came in his combined efforts vs. Miami, East Carolina and Virginia Tech.

 

Central Florida might be developing another blue chip quarterback prospect after sending Duante Culpepper and Blake Bortles to the NFL as first round selections. Now, it is Justin Holman’s (ranked 13th) time to seize that opportunity. Leading the team to a 9-4 record that included a 7-1 mark in league play, he threw for 2,952 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, like Bortles, he has had trouble turning over the ball and needs to reduce the total of fourteen interceptions he was charged with last year.

 

Another junior who has impressed our staff is an unheralded talent at Memphis, Paxton Lynch (ranked 25th). The Tiger is a pro-style passer with impressive size (6:05, 225) who is a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands, running for thirteen scores while hitting on 62.7% of his passes that included 22 touchdowns in 2014. That performance helped the team turn around their fortunes under former Murray State quarterback/Memphis head coach Justin Fuente, going from 3-9 in 2013 to a 9-4 record last year.

 

OTHER MAJOR COLLEGES, INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS LACK QUALITY UNDER CENTER

The rest of the major college ranks offer little, as far as blue chip quarterback talent is concerned. Among the FCS independent schools (none rated among the top 30 QBS) and institutions in the Atlantic Coast Conference (two ranked), Big Twelve Conference (two), Conference USA (one), Mid-American Conference (one) and Sun Belt Conference (none), the top-rated quarterback is North Carolina State’s Jacoby Brissett, who slides into the 11th spot, followed by Trevone Boykin of Texas Christian (12th), Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky (18th) and possible tailback conversion prospect, Marquise Williams of North Carolina (20th) the only signal callers to make the top twenty on our chart.

 

Brissett (rated 11th) was a “one-&-done” recruit at Florida, bolting the Gators program after then offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss would not even give him the time of day in 2012. Under NCAA transfer rules, he sat out the 2013 schedule, but connected on 60% of his throws, good for 22 touchdowns and just five pass thefts while gaining 2,344 yards in 2014. Throwing for 359 yards and three scores on 32-of-48 tosses vs. Florida State last year was Brissett’s “coming out party,” where scouts were concerned.

 

Williams (ranked 19th) is getting some attention from scouts more for his running ability and they feel he could find better success in the pros as a ball carrier. He led the Tar Heels in rushing last season, averaging 4.1 yards with 788 total while reaching the end zone thirteen times on the ground. But, do not discount his passing ability – as he features a line that reads 270-of-428 passes (63.1%) for 3,068 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2014. A hip injury suffered during spring drills bears watching when fall camp opens, though.

 

The Atlantic Coast Conference could see a few new full-time starters at the quarterback position in 2015. Louisville’s Will Gardner stepped into the lineup late last season and hit on 127-of-221 tries (57.5%) for 1,669 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in eight appearances and enters fall camp as the projected starter.

 

Notre Dame castoff Everett Golson transferred to Florida State and is eligible to play immediately, but has a veteran cast already in place ready to thwart his challenge for the top job. Michael Brewer at Virginia Tech and Steve Spurrier’s “secret” at South Carolina, Connor Mitch, both show that they could be the league’s future.

 

The best passer in the Big Twelve Conference is Trevone Boykin at Texas Christian (rated 12th). Not even projected as the team’s starter entering the 2014 season, he threw for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns, scoring three more times while gaining 417 yards rushing. His ten interceptions are a bit of a concern, but he’s a mobile passer with 4.57-second timed-speed. It remains to be seen how he performs this year, as he played last season with a broken bone in his left wrist, undergoing surgery to repair in February, 2015.

 

Davis Webb (rated 27th) of Texas Tech is the only other Big Twelve passer to receive a draft-ready grade from our staff this preseason. The team struggled to a 4-8 season, as Davis underwent late season left shoulder surgery, but he should be fully recovered for the start of the 2015 schedule,. In eight appearances, his average of 317.4 yards per game passing ranked sixth in the nation. He had 2,539 aerial yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore.

 

Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty (ranked 18th) is the best passer that Conference USA has to offer, and he did nothing to disappoint last season. He led the team to eight victories in each of his last two seasons as the starter, tossing 14 touchdowns, but also 14 interceptions in 2013. He really emerged in 2014, connecting on 67.9% of his attempts for school records of 4,830 yards and 49 touchdowns vs. just ten pass thefts.

 

SMALL COLLEGE RANKS HAVE THREE HIDDEN GEMS

While NFL teams seem to prefer quarterbacks coming out of the major college programs, the Football Championship Subdivision might have three quarterbacks that should at the least, see themselves in an NFL camp in 2016. This group is led by blue chip prospect Carson Wentz of North Dakota State (ranked seventh), who I feel could make a serious mount for first round honors.

 

After waiting three seasons for Brock Jensen to graduate, Wentz, a 6:06, 231-pounder, not only has the size of a Joe Flacco, but also that powerful of an arm. Where he separates himself from the Ravens All-Pro is as a ball carrier, finishing second on the team with 642 yards and six scores rushing in 2014. He captained NDSU to a 15-1 record and its fourth straight Missouri Valley Football Conference and NCAA Division I FCS titles, as the first-year starter, rallied the Bison out of a 14-0 deficit in the season-opener at Iowa State and orchestrated two late game-winning drives in the playoffs.

 

The only North Dakota native to ever quarterback the Bison to a national championship, he is an intelligent player who poses a dual threat to opposing defenses with good speed and a strong arm. His rushing yards were the most by a Bison QB since the veer-option offense of 1996 and he enters his senior year as the team’s career leader averaging 7.54 yards per play. He also set school single-season records for passing attempts (358), completions (228), yards (3,111) to go with 25 touchdowns.

 

Villanova’s John Robertson (ranked 20th) might lack the size NFL teams look for (stands 6:00.5), but there is no doubting his ability to move the chains – whether as a passer or as a ball carrier. He finished the 2014 season by completing 197-of-301 (65.4%) for 2,846 yards with 35 touchdowns and three interceptions to go with 227 carries for 1,078 yards and 11 scores. In seven of his 13 games in 2014, he threw at least three touchdown passes.

 

For his efforts last year, Robertson won the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in FCS Football. The previous season, he led the FCS quarterbacks and his team, piling up 1,405 yards and a 6.5-yard average on 217 carries that included 20 touchdowns, adding 13 more scores and 1,957 yards while completing 68.4% of his tosses in 2013.

 

It’s been what seems like a millennium since the late Steve McNair (1992-94) terrorized defenses as the star of the Alcorn State program. Flash forward to 2015 and you can see striking similarities in the way McNair and John Gibbs Jr. operate under center. Both were recruited by major colleges, but to play running back. Both decided they wanted to remain quarterbacks – thus the step down in the level of competition to realize that dream.

 

Gibbs is a highly instinctive player, one that is not prone to making many mistakes, evident by his low interception rate the last two years. As a sophomore, he averaged 4.5 yards per carry with four scores, making 56.78% of his passes for 2,567 yards, 21 touch-downs and just five interceptions in 2013. He followed by ranking 13th in the nation in points responsible for (192) while completing 58.33% of his attempts for 2,482 yards, 21 scores and seven thefts in 2014, adding 1,006 yards (7.5 ypc) with 11 touchdowns rushing in 2014.

 

 

INJURY QUESTIONS FOR TEAMS BEFORE THE 2015 SEASON BEGINS

Team doctors kept very busy during the 2015 offseason, with several projected starters either sidelined during the spring or having undergone “the knife” after the 2014 schedule. From the news wire services, below is a look at some of the injured players that will bear further watching when fall camps commence in August;

 

Trevone Boykin-Texas Christian…In late February, 2015, CBS Sports reported that Boykin underwent surgery on his left wrist )non-throwing hand) to repair a fractured bone. Boykin suffered the injury last season but played with a soft cast on the wrist and played well enough to lead TCU to a share of the Big Twelve Conference title and finish fourth in the Heisman race. Right now, the only effect the surgery really had was that the red-shirt senior missed TCU’s final three spring practices after undergoing the procedure. The doctors say that Boykin’s recovery time will be only five weeks, which means he’ll be ready to participate in voluntary summer workouts.

 

Michael Cummings-Kansas…In April, 2015, the Associated Press reported that Cummings underwent surgery on his left knee, which he injured over the Jayhawks’ annual spring football game. Coach David Beaty said Cummings, a senior, will get back on the field “as quickly as possible” but did not provide a specific timeline. Even though he was wearing a red jersey to prevent getting hit, Cummings was tackled by senior safety Michael Glatczak in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. Beaty called the tackle a “freak accident.” He says Glatczak was being blocked and was turned around for most of the play. He says Glatczak turned and made the tackle “without having any idea who was carrying the ball. He is a great kid, a great teammate and again it was just a very unfortunate accident.”

 

Taysom Hill-Brigham Young…BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall believes this year’s Cougars can have the most prolific offense in school history. Those are strong sentiments about a program that has had one of the “Top Five” total offenses in Division I thirteen times since 1972, including the best offense in the nation during the 1984 national championship season.

However, it all hinges on the return Hill. “Just having him around changes everything,” Mendenhall said. “We were on the verge of breaking into the elite level of teams a year ago with Taysom, and when he goes down we struggle. Just by having him around, our team is more confident. They feel more capable and they’re certain we can score points against any team that we play. Just having that, changes the outlook of what the season can be.”

BYU wrapped up spring practices in late April and Hill was limited throughout due to his recovery from a broken leg and torn ligaments. He did not participate in 11-on-11 periods or any contact drills. However, Hill worked the rest of the periods with a focus on improving his passing skills.

Hill threw for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2013 while running for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was in the Heisman conversation last year as BYU went 4-0 before he went down with the injury against Utah State on October 3rd. The frustration set in as Hill was forced to watch his teammates struggle without him. It took close to four months before Hill could properly plant and throw the football. He said the mental and emotional parts of seeing the season spiral were worse than the physical rehab.

 

Chuckie Keeton-Utah State…It was not until early February before the NCAA and the Mountain West Conference office granted Keeton a medical hardship for a fifth year of eligibility. Keeton missed the final eleven games last season after reinjuring his surgically repaired left knee in Utah State’s home victory over Wake Forest on September 13th. In 2013, Keeton tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament in the knee against BYU. In three games last season, Keeton completed 51 of 92 passes for 426 yards two touchdowns and ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

 

 

Patton Robinette-Vanderbilt…The Commodore quarterback has decided to end his football career and enter medical school. The Vanderbilt passer, citing health concerns, abruptly ended his playing career and told head coach Derek Mason he planned to enter Vanderbilt School of Medicine this summer to study orthopedics. Robinette started the 2014 season opener, but was pulled out for an injury. He played in just six games last season because of injuries. The 6:04, 205-pound Robinette started five of his 16 career games, throwing for 1,096 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions during his two seasons. He rushed for 277 yards and nine touchdowns during his career.

Robinette said his decision was influenced by a history of injuries, including a knee sprain in last year’s opener against Temple and a concussion he suffered against South Carolina on September 20th that forced him to miss six weeks.

“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” Robinette said in a statement released by the university. “This team means the world to me and I love playing football more than anything. It’s been tough coming to a decision that is right for my family and I, and protects my health and future. “I’ve been very deliberate in coming to this decision. It’s difficult but I’m really excited to move forward to the next chapter of my life and really to see what the field of medicine has in store for me.”

 

Cyler Miles-Washington…In mid March, the coaching office announced that Miles had left the team and was taking a leave of absence, missing spring practices. He had started 12 of the Huskies’ 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, throwing for 2,397 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

However, he was expected to face strong competition for the starting job in 2015 from redshirt junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning, a highly-touted recruit from California. “Cyler is dealing with some things in his life that are more important than football, and he felt it was important to take some time away from the game,” coach Chris Petersen said in the announcement.

“We are working to support him in any way we can and hope he returns to the football field soon.” The school announced the leave is for “personal reasons” and that Miles will remain enrolled at the school. Miles was suspended from the team in February 2014 following an alleged assault in an incident following the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. He was reinstated to the program in May but sat out the team’s season-opening victory at Hawaii. Miles was recruited by former Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, who left to take over at Southern California last season.

 

Marquise Williams-North Carolina…In early March, the school announced that Williams would sit out spring practice because of a hip injury. One of the top quarterbacks in the ACC last season, Williams “will return full speed in August,” the school announced. As a redshirt junior last season, Williams threw 21 touchdown passes and nine interceptions and ran for 788 yards and 13 touchdowns.

North Carolina went 6-7, 4-4 in the ACC. With Williams out this spring, Mitch Trubisky ran run the first-team offense. “There’s a lot of continuity with ‘Quise coming back,” quarter-backs coach Keith Heckendorf said. “Marquise is our starting quarterback, and it’s been that way since the middle of the season when he kind of took the reins and went with it. But that’s not going to eliminate the competition.

 

NOTE-rSr/rJr indicates player redshirted/graduating class…# indicates major injury that could impact draft grade…CL indicates college class… HT indicates height of the player…WT indicates weight…40 indicates 40-yard dash time…225 indicates repetitions in the 225-pound bench press…VJ indicates vertical jump…BJ indicates broad jump…SH indicates 20-yard shuttle…3C indicates three-cone drill…PRO-indicates The NFL Draft Report’s projected pro potential grade (see chart below)…RND indicates the round we project the player to be selected.