12. Jake Luton – Oregon State: The Beavers have already opened their season and they were blown out by Colorado State. Luton turned the ball over 3 times on interceptions. He looked good in the spring and he also completed 27 passes out of 47 attempts for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is 6-7, 235 and a junior. He has a chance at improvement, but as of now he has a ways to go still.
11. Brandon Dawkins – Arizona: Dawkins is a great runner which was demonstrated by his 944 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. However, he is really inconsistent as a passer. Rich Rod had some success at Arizona, but this basketball school is not going to put up with many more 3 win seasons. Dawkins and company will need to light up this season to remove coach Rodriguez from the hot seat.
10. Ross Bowers – California: Bowers is now listed as the starter on the latest depth charts over
Chase Forrest who was expected to win the job. Bowers has never thrown a pass in an actual live game before and Forrest threw 18 passes back in 2015. Going into the season, Bowers is completely untested. It could be a long season for the Golden Bears as they adjust to new head coach Justin Wilcox.
9. Justin Hebert – Oregon: The 6-6, 225 Hebert came in last season and started by the 6th game of the year as a true freshman. He threw for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions. The Ducks fired their coach and brought in Willie Taggart from South Florida and there will be changes in both the offense and defense. Hebert has some ability and he probably responds well to the change plus the Ducks should have a better defense.
8. Blake Barnett – Arizona State: Manny Wilkins might still be in the race with the first game still ahead. The Alabama transfer, Barnett, does have an arm. His problem at Alabama was turning the ball over mostly. Wilkins started last season, but it was not a pretty sight as the Sun Devils finished 5-7. In all fairness, most of that was on the defense which finished almost last in the country in total defense. Barnett has a chance to help things improve in 2017.
7. Tyler Huntley – Utah: Huntley played briefly last year as a freshman, but he won the starting job over returner Troy Williams and another Alabama transfer, Cooper Bateman. Huntley has only thrown for 60 yards and run for 15 in his playing days at Utah, but he is a superior athlete and has more upside.
6. Steven Montez – Colorado: Sefo Liufau was a 4 year starter at Colorado and Montez is next in line. As a redshirt freshman last season, Montez had to come in and bail out Liufau when he was injured. The 6-5, 225 Montez was a hero helping the Buffaloes to the South Division crown of the Pac 12. He threw for over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns while completing nearly 60% of his passes. He’s also a much better athlete than anticipated and ran for 231 yards. This year the job is his and he should be up to the task.
5. Keller Chryst – Stanford: The nephew of Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is a smart guy that knows
how to play the game. Ryan Burns started last season, but struggled and Chryst took over. He was injured in the Sun Bowl win over North Carolina but he bounced back strongly and now Burns is the back up. In the Cardinal’s first game which was a big 62-7 win over Rice in Australia, Chryst took up where he left off throwing for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stanford is a power running team and he will not put up huge numbers, but he will be called on to lead the team.
4. Josh Rosen – UCLA: At the beginning of last season, Rosen would have been at the top of this list. He did not have a good sophomore season after an incredible freshman year and then he was injured. The Bruins slipped a long way, but if Rosen can stay healthy this season he has a shot at bouncing back. As a true freshman, Rosen threw for an impressive 3,500 yards, or so, and looked phenomenal. He probably declares for the NFL after this season, but might slip a bit from where he might have initially gone if not for last season. He could come back for his senior season, but probably not after what he said about football and school mixing together.
3. Luke Falk – Washington State: Any Mike Leach quarterback is going to have huge numbers, and Luke Falk is no different. He already has 2 and a half years of starting under his belt. Some think that Falk is different than most Leach quarterbacks and has a shot at being big on the next level. He is about 6-4, 215 and has about 12.000 passing yards already.
2. Jake Browning – Washington: Browning was considered by some as the 2nd best true freshman quarterback in the Pac 12 in 2015. By the end of last season, he had passed Rosen in the hearts of many. But, the emergence of Sam Darnold put that to rest. Browning still had an amazing season, throwing for 3,439 yards and 43 touchdowns. Browning is ‘only’ 6-2, 210 which doesn’t make him the ideal size for the NFL and hopefully we have him two more years in college ball.
1. Sam Darnold – USC: Going into the 2017 season, Darnold is the leader for the Heisman Trophy even with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson returning. After inserting Darnold in the lineup, the Trojans became a different team than the one that started the season. Throwing for just over 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns, Darnold still found the time to run for 250 yards. He has it all, the size, the arm, the coolness under pressure, the leadership and he’s a winner. Unless he has a bad season, or somebody steps up huge this season, he should be the very first player picked in the NFL Draft in 2018.