Alexa, Who Are the Top Returning Quarterbacks for 2017

These are the names I got from Alexa. If you are skeptical, try it out for yourself. College football did take a beating, but it was a weak senior Quarterback class.

These are the best college Quarterbacks and not the best NFL prospects. Sam Darnold is the best NFL Draft prospect on this list, which is just a coincidence.

1. Sam Darnold – USC: The Trojans turned their season around when they inserted Darnold at Quarterback. Darnold is cool and calm and at the same time a dynamic leader. He’s ideal size and has a strong arm. Darnold is a super athletic Quarterback with not only a strong arm, but able to escape the rush and run for a needed first down. Darnold was a cool cucumber when he lead his Trojans from behind in the Rose Bowl against Penn State. He reminds of the Trojan Quarterbacks under Pete Carroll that won Heisman Trophies.This is a post I wrote about Sam Darnold right after the Rose Bowl come back win: Darnold

2. Lamar Jackson – Louisville: Extremely talented physically, Jackson started off with a bang, but fizzled at the end of the season. Jackson has Running Back or Wide Receiver speed and Quarterback skills. His leadership abilities are in question, but not his raw, God given talent. Jackson put up amazing numbers throwing for over 3,500 yards and 31 Touchdowns and running for over 1,500 yards and 21 Touchdowns. There hasn’t been a two time Heisman winner since Archie Griffin and Jackson probably doesn’t repeat, either. But, the raw talent is definitely there.

3. Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma: The Mayfield story is well known and I would not be surprised at all if Mayfield won this year’s Heisman Trophy. Either Mayfield, or Sam Darnold may be the early

favorites. As a junior, Mayfield threw for 3,965 yards and 40 Touchdowns. But, next season, Oklahoma will be without both of it’s super Running Backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Plus, it’s super Wide Receiver Dede Westbrook. Mayfield’s rushing numbers were down in 2016 from 2015, but the Sooners really didn’t need him to run so much. He is able to escape the pass rush and is an excellent athlete. Mayfield is listed at 6-1, 212 which is not too small to play in the NFL, but is not ideal for the pro scouts.

4. Jake Browning – Washington: As a true freshman, Browning started immediately and it was clear right away that he was a young talent. He improved in leaps and bounds as a sophomore in 2016. The strong armed athletic Browning threw for 3,430 yards and 43 Touchdowns. Browning can run, but they don’t use the 6-2, 210 drop back passer in the running game. The Huskies were 7-6 during his freshman season, but finished 12-2 in 2016 winning the Pac 12 and making the playoffs. They did get pounded by Alabama in the first round, but they are still a program being built by head coach Chris Petersen. Regardless of what happened against Alabama, Browning is a top Quarterback.

5. Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State:Talk about your prototype NFL Quarterback and Rudolph’s name should come up. He’s listed as 6-5, 235 and he has everything else that a good Quarterback needs such as the arm and the mobility. Last season, while leading his team to a 10-3 record, Rudolph threw for 4,091 yards and 28 Touchdowns. Rudolph has good mobility, but they don’t use him as a runner, preferring instead a pro style passing game. He is likely to be the first Quarterback drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. His younger brother, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is a beast at Defensive End and has committed to national champion Clemson. Also, Oklahoma State returns Rudolph’s favorite receiver, James Washington, so it should be another big season for the Cowboys and their offense.

6. Josh Allen – Wyoming: Allen was something of a sleeper, but I can guarantee that the NFL knows all about him. Even though this list is not about the best NFL prospects, Allen is a really good college Quarterback and he led his team to the Mountain West Championship game where they lost to San Diego State. Allen played his first year of college football at Reedley College and was unranked when he signed with Wyoming. Some were expecting the 6-5, 225 to announce he was leaving for the NFL. He started at Quarterback at Wyoming in 2015, but he was injured and missed the entire season. In his only full season as a starter at Wyoming, Allen threw for 3,203 yards and 28 Touchdowns. He also ran for 523 yards and 7 Touchdowns. His only problem was throwing 15 Interceptions and that will need to improve and may be the reason he decided to return for another

season in college.

7. Trace McSorley – Penn State: An undersized Quarterback that could just be described as a winner. In the 2014 recruiting class, the Nittany Lions signed 4 star Quarterback Michael O’Connor. Further down their list, they signed a little known 3 star Quarterback out of Virginia named Trace McSorley. In high school, McSorley was a 4 year starter leading his team to 3 straight state titles. O’Connor didn’t stick around for long and McSorley replaced former Quarterback Christian Hackenberg. McSorley doesn’t have the big arm, but he is scrappy and gutsy and somehow gets it done. In 2016, McSorley threw for 3,614 yards and 29 Touchdowns. He also ran for 365 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Now, he won’t remind a person of Lamar Jackson with his running, but McSorley has enough speed to get that necessary first down to keep a drive going. McSorley is 6-0, 205 and he just has that special ‘it’ factor.

8. Josh Rosen – UCLA: Last year’s darling was a victim of a bad team and injury this past season, but look for ‘the Rosen one’ to revive his career this season and he might even move up this list next season. As a true freshman, Rosen was magnificent, throwing for 3,669 yards and 23 Touchdowns and looked like the best young Quarterback in the West. In the 2016 season, Rosen was injured and only played 6 games and Darnold at USC and Browning at Washington passed him by. But, the game is not over yet and Rosen has the chance to rebound into the forefront again. Physically, he kind of reminds me of last year’s first round draft pick Jared Goff. But, Rosen is a lot different with a somewhat cocky attitude. Rosen is listed as 6-4, 218 and he will probably leave for the NFL after this season.

9. Luke Falk – Washington State: Falk surprisingly returned for his senior season at Washington State, but his season did not finish well. He, and his Cougars were crushed by rival Washington and then they were shut down in their bowl game against Minnesota who was without most of their starters in the secondary. Anyone that plays Quarterback for Mike Leach is going to put up big numbers and Falk is no different. He threw for 9,000 yards in the past two seasons. Falk is a tall, thin Quarterback that seems a little better than a normal Leach Quarterback.

10. Quenton Flowers – South Florida: The 6-0, 210 Miami native should probably be much higher on Alexa’s list with his athletic ability. Flowers led his South Florida Bulls to a rather impressive 11-2 record with losses only to Florida State and Temple. Flowers was a true difference maker with 2,812 yards passing and 24 Touchdowns. He ran for an incredible 1,530 yards and 18 Touchdowns. Flowers is coming back for his senior season as a 3rd year starter, but he has a different head coach because last year’s left to take the Oregon job. Former Texas head coach Charlie Strong takes over the program and hopefully, Flowers maintains his momentum from the past two seasons.

11. Deondre Francois – Florida State: Francois was a redshirt freshman last season and he got

pounded early on because of poor Offensive Line play. But, Francois kept getting up and finished the year strong with 3,350 yards and 20 Touchdowns. Francois has excellent speed, but didn’t run much until late in the season when he made some big runs at opportune times. He only ran for 196 yards and averaged less than 2 yards per carry. But, a lot of that was from taking quite a few sacks. Francois is 6-2, 205 with the ability to make most any throw and as a freshman, he has a really bright future ahead of him. For the 2017 season, Florida State does lose special Running Back Dalvin Cook and some receivers led by Travis Rudolph. But, they return many Offensive Linemen and some young talent at Wide Receiver and 5 star Running Back Cam Akers coming in.

12. Jacob Eason – Georgia: The son of former 1st round pick and long time NFL Quarterback Tony Eason. He was regarded by many as the top Quarterback recruit in the country last year. He didn’t start the first game against North Carolina, but he started the rest of the year. Eason is 6-5, 235 with a really strong arm. Not the best of runners, he posted negative yards rushing, but his arm strength and size will make up for his lack of mobility. Georgia loves to run the ball and Eason threw for 2,430 yards and 16 Touchdowns. Eason probably plays two more years of college football and then is a first round draft pick.

13. JT Barrett – Ohio State: Barrett and the Ohio State offense had it’s struggles this season. Urban Meyer made some Offensive changes which should benefit Barrett greatly. Barrett is 6-2, 225 with good strength and he’s an excellent runner. He does not have a super strong arm, but it is adequate. As a junior this past season, Barrett threw for 2,555 yards and 24 Touchdowns. Barrett also ran for 845 yards and 9 more Touchdowns. Meyer hired former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as his new Offensive Coordinator and if Wilson did anything right at Indiana it was his offenses. This should be a good thing for Barrett and the Ohio State offense.

14. Jalen Hurts – Alabama: What’s great about last year’s true freshman Hurts is his cool disposition. He is also a really strong young Quarterback and an outstanding runner. His passing

consistencty needs a little work and he will get there. Alabama will be a national title contender as long as Hurts stays healthy. Hurts is a really strong young player at 6-2, 210 and has done some power lifting. He’s just a really strong runner.

15. Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State: Speaking of strong runners, Fitzgerald ran off and left speedy Defensive Backs for 1,375 yards rushing and 16 Touchdowns. Fitzgerald has surprising speed for a 6-5, 230 Quarterback. He doesn’t really look the part, but 5-11, 180 Defensive Backs can’t run him down. He ran for 258 yards and 2 Touchdowns against rival Ole Miss. Against South Carolina, he ran for 195 yards. He ran for 182 yards and 2 Touchdowns against Texas A%M. Arkansas gave up 131 yards to him and 4 Touchdowns. In other words, the kid can move.

As a passer, he has a way to go, but he did throw for 2,423 yards and 21 Touchdowns

Others that could move up:

Taylor Lamb – Appalachian State

Austin Allen – Arkansas

Sean White – Auburn

Stephen Johnson – Kentucky

Shea Patterson – Ole Miss

Drew Lock – Missouri

Jake Bentley – South Carolina

Kyle Shurmur – Vanderbilt

Manny Wilkins – Arizona State

Steven Montez – Colorado

Justin Herbert – Oregon

Keller Chryst – Stanford

Justice Hanson – Arkansas State

Matt Linehan – Idaho

Brett Rypien – Boise State

Nick Stevens – Colorado State

Riley Neal – Ball State

Tyree Jackson – Buffalo

Logan Woodside – Toledo

Mike White – Western Kentucky

Brent Stockstill – Middle Tennessee

Chase Litton – Marshall

Richard Lagow – Indiana

Wilton Speight – Michigan

Clayton Thorson – Northwestern

David Blough – Purdue

Giovanni Riscigno – Rutgers

Alex Hornibrook – Wisconsin

Zach Smith – Baylor

Jacob Park – Iowa State

Jesse Ertz – Kansas State

Kenny Hill – TCU

Shane Buechele – Texas

Daniel Jones – Duke

Ryan Finley – North Carolina State

Eric Dungey – Syracuse

John Wolford – Wake Forest

Haydon Moore – Cincinnati

Bryant Sheriffs – UConn

Riley Ferguson – Memphis

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