These are the guys I think have the most potential to be the best Quarterbacks in 2016:
1. Deshaun Watson – Clemson: Clearly the top returning Quarterback with outstanding stats as a true sophomore. Watson has a rocket launcher attached to his body and throws a beautiful pass. He’s also just another outstanding runner coming out of the backfield. The Clemson Tigers lost a lot of underclassmen to the NFL, but they still have a lot of guys returning especially on offense and they will be rated #1 by just about everybody going into the season. Watson has one more shot at a
national title before leaving for the big bucks of the NFL.
2. Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma: The former walk-on is one of the bigger stars in the country and was one of the main reasons that the Sooners improved so dramatically in 2015. I wrote more detail about Mayfield here: Read
3. Brad Kaaya – Miami: The Hurricanes have been down lately, but it’s not really a reflection of Kaaya. He is much like the Cane Quarterbacks of yesteryear. With every Offensive Lineman returning and new coach Mark Richt coming into the picture, Kaaya could have a fantastic season in 2016. Kaaya is pretty much strictly a drop back kind of passer and is listed at 6-4, 210 which is pretty thin much like Jared Goff from this past season. He’s relatively thin, but he has enormous potential to take his talent to the highest level.
4. DeShone Kizer – Notre Dame: Kizer was a back up to Malik Zaire until Zaire went down in the 2nd game and was lost for the season. Kizer became a star at that point. Kizer will have to beat out Zaire to keep his job and both players are big time type of guys. Kizer is 6-4, 230 making him that prototype that the NFL is always looking for. With the size and athletic ability that Kizer possesses, he could take his game to another level in 2016. If he does win the job.
5. Josh Rosen – UCLA: Josh Rosen just might have been the very most impressive true freshman in his first college start last year against Virginia. He was almost perfect. On the season, Rosen hit his receivers for 3,669 yards, but sometimes it goes way deeper than the stats. I hate to use an overused term, but Josh Rosen just has that ‘it’ factor that people always rant and rave about. There’s just something special about the guy and it starts in his head with his self confidence and knowledge of the game.
6. Joshua Dobbs – Tennessee: This guy can best be described as a difference maker since the day he started was the day that the Vols became competitive. Dobbs is equally adept at running and passing, plus he’s apparently a talented team leader. The Vols finished strongly last season after a disappointing start. But, all 4 of their losses were really close including a 5 point loss to national
champion Alabama. A couple of breaks going the other way and the Tide would never have made the playoffs. Dobbs will be a senior this season and this could be his year to lead his teammates to a championship.
7. JT Barrett – Ohio State: Cardale Jones is no longer in the picture and the job totally belongs to Barrett. The former redshirt freshman standout now has 2 years of experience under his belt and the Buckeyes will be hungry again in 2016. Urban Meyer and staff have more losses to the NFL than any other team, but they also return a lot of talent thanks to excellent recruiting. Barrett is one of the better combinations of passing and running at the Quarterback position in the country.
8. Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are an explosive team and even more so with Mahomes in the lineup at Quarterback. Mahomes is not like the typical Quarterback in this system as he can really run as well as being a top passer. Mahomes is 6-3, 220 and is really a powerful and athletic runner. Their defense is awful, but the Red Raiders are an exciting team to watch for the typical fan.
9. Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State: The 6-4, 220 junior to be threw for 3,770 yards in his first full year as a starter. Rudolph moved into the starting role late during his true freshman season in 2014 and has not relinquished it. Rudolph should continue improving in 2016. He needs to add a little muscle to become a top draft pick, in my opinion but he has the tools.
10. Chad Kelly – Ole Miss: Kelly has a super arm and is very athletic and mobile, but he is also a
little bit inconsistent. He has moments where he looks like his Hall of Fame Uncle, Jim Kelly, and he has his moments where he looks like former Ole Miss Quarterback Bo Wallace on his worst days. But, if he can eliminate his bad plays, Kelly could be among the best Quarterbacks of 2016.
11. Lamar Jackson – Louisville: This guy is a super athlete with almost sprinter’s speed. He also has a super arm which is really impressive. He played like a freshman at times, but that speed gets him out of a lot of trouble. He threw for over 1,800 yards last season and ran for just under a 1,000 yards. It will be interesting to watch and see how much he improves over the off season.
12. Reggie Ward – Houston: The problem with Ward is that he is 5-11, 185 which is going to be too small to be a top Quarterback. But, Ward has plenty of game. As a junior he threw for over 2,800 yards and he rushed for over 1,100 yards as well. Ward helped lead the University of Houston to a really impressive 13-1 record.
13. Brett Rypien – Boise State: The true freshman nephew of former Washington Redskin Quarterback Mark Rypien was really impressive last season. Although not quite as jaw dropping good as Rosen of UCLA, the 6-2, 200 youngster can fling it and has a bright future if he continues to improve. Rypien threw for 3,350 yards his freshman season.
14. Luke Falk – Washington State: Whoever plays Quarterback for Mike Leach is going to put up huge numbers and Falk is no different. He is a tall, skinny junior to be at 6-4, 205 who can make most of the throws. I can’t think of a single Mike Leach Quarterback that has moved on to the next level and Falk may not either and he will need to muscle up quite a bit to take the hits in the NFL.
15. Nate Peterman – Pittsburgh: Not many surprised me more in 2015 than Nate Peterman. He was not good at all at Tennessee, but he was a graduate transfer to Pitt an he looked pretty good for the most part. Peterman showed a better arm than I expected and greater mobility. He is 6-2, 225,
supposedly, with another year of eligibility.
16. Chase Litton – Marshall: Litton was another talented true freshman Quarterback a year ago. He is 6-6, 210 with an impressive arm. He is going to need to put on some weight to be a top prospect, but the talent is there.
17. Jake Browning – Washington: Browning was another true freshman that excelled last season. Browning got off to a slower start, but kept improving as the year progressed. He does not own that incredible arm, but he has a strong one and he is an excellent runner out of the pocket.
18. Gunner Kiel – Cincinnati: If not for injuries and his propensity to change schools, then Kiel would be much higher on this list and maybe even top 5. Seriously, Kiel has some outstanding talent.
19. Thomas Sirk – Duke: In 2014, Sirk was Duke’s goal line Quarterback and he is a powerful runner. But, he can also sling the ball around a little bit throwing for over 2,600 yards while running for 800. He’s a talented athlete with one more year under Duke coach David Cutcliffe to polish his passing.
20. Riley Neal – Ball State: I really like this young guy that came in as a freshman and threw for 2,200 yards and ran for almost 400 yards. Neal is 6-5, 215 with the tools to improve.
Skler Howard – West Virginia
Mitch Leidner – Minnesota
Eric Dungey – Syracuse
Transfers or new starters with most promise:
1. Max Browne – USC: The former 5 star recruit has had to wait his turn but he has as much
potential as anyone in the country and he could be USC’s next big Quarterback star. He has only thrown 19 passes in 2 years and is not very experienced at the college level. But, he has the size at 6-5, 220 and has that strong arm that most great Quarterbacks possess.
2. Richard Lagow – Indiana: Lagow signed with UConn initially, but coaching changes made him decide to transfer. He wound up at Oklahoma State, but as a walk-on was never given much of a shot. He transferred again to a Junior College in Texas. After watching this guy play, I am very impressed with him and I believe he will be a standout at Indiana. The Hoosiers lost a 6-6, 240 Quarterback to graduation, but gain another one in Lagow except that he is much more athletic and mobile than former Quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
3. John O’Korn -Michigan: Rumors out of Ann Arbor say that O’Korn is the next in line at Quarterback for the Wolverines. He transferred last year from Houston after starting as a freshman in 2013 when he threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 Touchdowns. Jake Rudock, the previous starter at Michigan, did nothing but get better as the 2015 season progressed which is understandable with Jim Harbaugh coaching. Rudock came from Ft Lauderdale Saint Thomas Aquinas High School and so did O’Korn.
4. Patrick Towles -Boston College: I don’t think Towles was responsible for Kentucky problems. They replaced him the lineup with Drew Barker who had basically the same issues. Towles had graduated and decided to transfer to Boston College. Towles is 6-5, 240 with a good arm and he is a very good runner for his size. I can visualize him having a banner season for Boston College.
5. Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State: I’ve only seen clips of this guy in high school and limited
playing time as Dak Prescott’s back up. But, I like what I have seen of him and I think he will be better than Prescott before he’s done in Starkville. At 6-5, 225 or 230, Fitzgerald has that size that coaches covet. From what I have seen he is a superb athlete with quick feet and a live arm. He may not be the runner that Prescott was, but he can run for a big guy.
6. Davis Webb – Colorado: The former starter at Texas Tech has graduated and is moving on looking for playing time. Boulder might be the perfect place for him since returning starter Sefo Liufau broke his foot and was lost for the season. Supposedly, Tennessee Volunteer Quarterback Sheririon Jones is also transferring to Colorado but he will have to sit out 2016. It’s just a matter of time before Buffalo coach Mike MacIntyre has them competitive again and transfers like these may turn out to prove my point.
7. Chase Forrest – California: Probable heir apparent to 1st round draft pick Jared Goff. Forrest played high school football at Mater Dei High School which has been a Quarterback factory over the years from Heisman winner John Huarte to Heisman winner Matt Leinart with Matt Barkley, Colt Brennan and Max Wittek. Forrest is probably not going to be as accurate of a thrower as Goff, but he is much more athletic. Don’t assume that Forrest does not have a strong arm because he does, but he can also take off and gain big yardage with his feet. Cal coach Sonny Dykes is going to put a good Quarterback on the field.
True freshmen with a chance to play early:
1. Feleipe’ Franks – Florida: I don’t think that Franks will turn out to be the most talented Quarterback in this class, but he’s walking into a great situation. The Gators have been struggling at Quarterback for a while and Franks might have the opportunity to play right away.
2. Jacob Eason – Georgia: Unlike Franks, Eason might just be the best and most talented Quarterback in this class. Plus, he might also have a shot to play right away with the Quarterback
situation. Another thing is Eason’s favor is the changing of coaches. Kirby Smart may want to start over with his own Quarterback instead of trying out Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey who were inconsistent last season. Eason is the son of former NFL Quarterback star, Tony Eason. I’m not sure he will be this year’s Josh Rosen, but time will tell.
3. K.J. Costello – Stanford: I really think that Keller Chryst will start at Stanford next season, but should he falter then Costello looks like a special talent. The 6-4, 220 Costello was one of the top rated Quarterbacks in his class and he looks the part. Whoever wins the job inherits Christian McCaffrey at Running Back, but will need to throw the ball well to take pressure off of the running game.
4. Shane Buechele – Texas: Buechele is one of the highest rated Quarterbacks in the 2016 class, but he is also walking into a great situation for a freshman. The Texas Quarterback position has been unstable since Colt McCoy used up his eligibility. At the end of the 2014 season, Texas was down to 1 healthy Quarterback. Last year, there were two. This Spring, the Horns should have 5 Quarterbacks competing for the starting job.
5. Messiah DeWeaver – Michigan State: DeWeaver is also a talent and he’s also walking into a favorable situation with the loss of 3 year starter Connor Cook. The Spartans have Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry returning, but DeWeaver is already in East Lansing and will compete for a starting spot in the Spring. I can’t wait to see him in action. I wrote about the Messiah here: The chosen one
6. Brandon Peters – Michigan: O’Korn should start and the Wolverines have other upper classmen to choose from. But, in my opinion, Peters is one of the very best Quarterback prospects out there. I have seen all of his highlights and I have seen him in actual game time and he is a super talent and could be a future big time player. I am very, very impressed with Brandon Peters, but there are a lot of factors that go into a starting role.