Discovering Devys: Quarterbacks Part II

Newman

By Alex Kurpeski, Oz Jones, & Tzali Nislick

Before we get around to the intro for this piece I’d just like to thank Jesse Reeves @JesseReevesFF for inspiring this series and supplying us with some of his own data and research for future sections. If you haven’t checked out Jesse’s work then you’re missing out on some of the best insight there is. – Alex

Finding the right devy is arguably the toughest task imaginable in fantasy football, as your choice must depend on some combination of a player’s measurables, level of competition, college production, high school production, flexibility, floor, ceiling, median, injury history, off-field issues, athletic pedigree, etc, etc. It’s a tall task to determine all of these things accurately without the tools and advanced access allowed to NFL scouts (who are prone to making mistakes even with their resources). At a certain point, gut feeling needs to be placed on the back burner, replaced by the data-driven lizard brain that lives deep inside of our pink, squishy command center. Today, we here at 3CoSports are looking to provide you with a small sample size of devy prospect analysis, with fingers crossed that our self-scouting is as accurate as we believe it to be. There will be some aspects of this analysis that are a bit arbitrary, but we feel as though these parts are warranted. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at our finite list of devy targets for 2020 and beyond. 

Rubric for Devy Analysis Grade 

  • Level of Competition → 1 (Big 10, SEC), 2 (ACC, Pac-12, Big 12), 3 (American, C-USA, MWC), 4 (other FBS conferences), 5 (Non-Div 1A)
  • Athlete Scale →  1 (elite athlete), 2 (above average athlete), 3 (average), 4 (below average), 5 (poor athlete – rare)
  • Production → 1 (elite level production), 2 (above average production), 3 (average production), 4 (below average production), 5 (poor production)
  • Experience →  1 (played in > 75% of eligible games), 2 (75-65%), 3 (50-64%), 4 (25-50%), 5 (<25%)
  • “Fit” (how well a player’s skill set translates to the NFL) → 1 (fits in any system), 2 (fits in majority of systems), 3 (fits in certain systems), 4 (fits in few systems), 5 (fits in almost no system)
  • Breakout Age (using Jesse Reeves data) → 1 (18), 2 (19), 3 (20-21), 4 (22), 5 (23+)
  • “Help” (strength of team around them) → 1 (top tier team + coaching staff in all relevant areas related to player), 2 (above average), 3 (average), 4 (below average), 5 (poor)
  • Grade Scale: (1-1.99 = A+ to A-), (2-2.99 = B+ to B-), (3-3.99 = C+ to C-), (4-5 = D+ to D-)

QB Rankings 

A+ Tier

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Bryce Young, Alabama

A Tier

D.J Uiagalelei, Clemson

Kedon Slovis, USC

Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

A- Tier

Justin Fields, Ohio State

Sam Howell, North Carolina

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

B+ Tier

Brock Purdy, Iowa State

B Tier

J.T Daniels, Georgia

Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

Sam Ehlinger, Texas

D’Eriq King, Miami

Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

B- Tier

Mac Jones, Alabama

Jamie Newman, Georgia

C+ Tier

K.J Costello, Mississippi State

Ian Book, Notre Dame

Today we continue our QB portion of this series with the B- tier of prospects, populated by Mac Jones and Jamie Newman.

Jamie Newman, Georgia (ETA: 2021)

jamie-newman-wake-forest

A player who many draftniks had poised to be the top sleeper QB prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft, Newman threw a curveball by electing to enter the transfer portal rather than relinquishing his final year of eligibility, announcing his decision to transfer from perennial ACC bottom-feeder Wake Forest to Georgia, a program with championship aspirations. Newman was excellent for the Demon Deacons last season, throwing 26 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions in his first full season as the team’s starter. Considering what he was able to do for a rather mediocre offense — outside of WR Sage Surratt, who we will be sure to discuss in the receiver section of this series — I’m extremely optimistic about Newman’s chances to succeed for the Bulldogs this fall. 

At 6’4, 230 lbs, Newman is a big pocket passer with enough mobility to get himself out of trouble as a scrambler. In many ways, Newman’s build and overall skill set are precisely what an NFL team would like to see in a “franchise QB”. A PFF darling, here are just a few metrics that show why Newman has such become such a valued commodity, seemingly out of nowhere.

  • 96.5 passing grade on deep throws in 2019 (second only to Joe Burrow)
  • 0.77 WAR in 2019 (14th in the nation)
  • 77.2 passing grade in tight windows (second only to Burrow)
  • 88.0 passing grade on scrambles (third behind Tanner Morgan and Justin Fields)
  • Only one turnover worthy play on 72 deep passing attempts

While it remains to be seen what will become of Newman when facing SEC defenses on a weekly basis, his dominance for Wake Forest against similarly talented ACC defenses suggests that he can continue to produce with an upgraded cast of weapons. Unlike former Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm, Newman has some pop in his arm and can make a variety of NFL level throws, while also knowing when to play it conservatively and lean on his check downs.

As a transfer entering a new system with a bevy of young playmakers at his disposal, Newman may have the best case to be “this season’s Joe Burrow”, although it will be worth monitoring how well he transitions to his new program following a pandemic-shortened offseason. 

It’s hard to envision Newman ever becoming an “elite” NFL quarterback, as his game tape displays some rather glaring holes. A late bloomer, to say the least, Newman’s experience prior to his 2019 breakout campaign was rather iffy, as he often deferred to his running ability rather than sticking in the pocket, as evidenced by his final high school season when he ran more often (99 rushing attempts) than he passed (81 passing attempts). Newman eventually developed into a far more dangerous passer, though his performance tailed off significantly last season following Wake Forest’s scorching 7-1 start. Newman displayed spotty accuracy on deep throws, often allowing passes to sail when targeting this part of the field. Though he has arm strength for days, Newman will have to tighten up these throws if he hopes to develop into an NFL caliber passer.

A huge beneficiary of Wake Forest’s heavy RPO usage, Newman’s dual-threat abilities opened up passing lanes for him quite often, keeping defenses honest. Newman’s decision-making abilities, as well as his ability to read defenses, give him a solid floor for the NFL. While the former three-star recruit has some huge flaws to overcome, his rapid development last season suggests that he can make the transition from good to great if he puts his mind to it.

– Alex

Devy Analysis Grade: 2.83 (B-)

Player Comparison

Ceiling: A More Mobile Joe Flacco

Newman manages to convince a team that he is a franchise passer and even leads an organization to some successful seasons while averaging out as a middle of the pack QB for fantasy. His weaknesses are masked by a strong supporting cast and he is allowed to play his style of football.  

Median: Josh Freeman

Newman’s tools don’t quite translate to the NFL and his experience as a starter gets derailed along the way. He manages to stick around the league as a higher upside backup for a few seasons but fails to live up to his initial billing as a prospect. 

Floor: E.J Manuel

Newman proves to be another example of a decent college QB with nice tools failing to translate to the NFL.

Mac Jones, Alabama (ETA: 2021/2022)

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama
Oct 19, 2019; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

After appearing only in the relief of injured Tua Tagovailoa in 2019, Mac Jones will likely be named Alabama’s starter in Week 1. Jones’s first real test as a starter last season came against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The then-sophomore was able to keep Alabama in the game for four quarters, but his 335 yards and 4 touchdowns were overshadowed by a pair of pick-sixes, one of them coming on a throw into Auburn’s end zone. With the exception of his second interception, Jones was very poised when facing pressure, making multiple throws with defenders in his face, while also using his legs to pick up a couple of first downs as well. Jones showed off his deep ball against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, with a couple of strikes to Jerry Jeudy and Devonta Smith to put the Crimson Tide into scoring position. It’s worth noting that Jones actually had a better passer rating in those two games than Joe Burrow and Justin Fields did against Auburn and Michigan respectively. 

Jones’ performance in 2020 will be vital in determining his future draft stock. It won’t be easy, as Alabama is currently scheduled to face five ranked opponents, per 247Sports, and now opposing teams will have Jones’ film to work off of. He won’t be given a long leash either, with five-star recruit Bryce Young — who we will be talking about soon enough — waiting in the wings. But Jones’ instincts in the pocket, deep-ball ability, and underrated athleticism give us a reason to believe that he’ll have a productive junior season with the Crimson Tide (if he can remain the starter). Assuming Alabama tailors their offense to suit Jones, he may very well be in store for a monster season, especially with the return of key playmakers like Najee Harris, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle.

 

Though our sample size of Jones’ body of work is fairly small, he definitely has the tools to develop into a draftable prospect.

– Tzali

Devy Analysis Grade: 2.86 (B-)

Player Comparison

Ceiling: Joe Burrow

Jones makes the most of his situation with the Crimson Tide, developing into one of the best passers in the NCAA thanks to his supporting cast, eventually parlaying those efforts into an early-round selection in the NFL Draft. 

Median: A.J McCarron

Like McCarron, Jones earns a reputation as a game-manager who can win games, becoming a steady backup QB in the NFL. 

Floor: Greg McElroy

Jones becomes an afterthought following an underwhelming career with the Crimson Tide, where he likely gets displaced by Young as the starter. 

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