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 the 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-)
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Bryce Young, Alabama
D.J Uiagalelei, Clemson
Kedon Slovis, USC
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
K.J Costello, Mississippi State (ETA: 2021)
Costello will have the golden opportunity to reinvent himself as a passer this season, as he joins the now Mike Leach-led Mississippi State Bulldogs as a graduate transfer. At 6’5, 240 lbs, Costello is the typical statuesque pocket passer that has become taboo in recent years due to the success of more mobile passers. Truth be told, the best thing that Costello has going for him right now is the fact that he will be playing for Mike Leach, the Air Raid innovator who has launched no-names like Luke Falk, Gardner Minshew II, and Anthony Gordon to college football superstardom, which those passers have then parlayed into NFL careers.
Mike Leach’s 2019 WSU team was the only offense to pass on 80.0%+ of plays.
Enter K.J. Costello.pic.twitter.com/xNFrhXhIAQ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 4, 2020
Should Costello succeed as the signal-caller for the Bulldogs in his lone season as the team’s starter, he could very well follow suit. Despite his limitations as an athlete, Costello possesses tremendous arm strength while also having some previous big game experience following his stint as the starter for Stanford. But the SEC is, as we know, not the PAC-12 – and it has yet to be seen how Leach’s Air Raid system can adapt to SEC defenses. If nothing else, Costello and Mississippi State will be an interesting watch this year (though maybe not as “fun” as their in-state rivals).
While the traditional pocket passer archetype has been slowly dying out, Costello could very well elevate himself to an early-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft if he can manage to dissect the staunch defenses of the SEC under Leach’s guide. With a fairly strong supporting cast behind him, it would not be surprising to see Costello throw for over 5,000 yards this season.
– Alex + Oz
Devy Analysis Grade: 3.14 (C+)
Ceiling: Carson Palmer
A standard pocket passer, Costello overcomes his lack of mobility to emerge as a viable starter in an offense with a vertical passing scheme, offering nice fantasy value when protected by a decent offensive line.
Median: Mason Rudolph
Costello maxes out as a “meh” backup on a team that doesn’t intend to make him their long-term starter, reminding NFL scouts that the limitations of a non-mobile QB are quite tough to work around.
Floor: Nathan Peterman
Costello washes out like most immobile pocket passers from mediocre programs, hanging around as a third-stringer for a couple of seasons.
Ian Book, Notre Dame (ETA: 2021)
Book has been steady, but not necessarily spectacular, for the Fighting Irish since taking the reins as starting QB from Brandon Wimbush four games into the 2018 season. Wimbush would later transfer, leaving the starting gig all Book’s heading into 2019. His touchdown to interception ratio was excellent at 34:6; then again, he also had both Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet, two players who would go on to be second-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, catching passes. But, his completion percentage dropped eight points from ‘18 to ‘19, despite upping his attempts by only 27%, and his YPG dropped almost 30 yards as well (262.8 to 233.9). Moreover, Book had five games in 2019 where he finished with a sub-60% completion percentage (compared to only one such game in 2018), including a horrendous performance against Michigan where he went 8/25 for 73 yards (with one TD pass). Yet even with some stinkers last season, Book was one of the most efficient deep passers in college football, trailing a trio of impressive passers in the category of completion% on downfield throws.
Completion % on throws 20+ yards downfield last season:
1. Kedon Slovis, USC – 57.1%
2. Joe Burrow, LSU – 56.6%
3. Tanner Morgan, Minn – 56.1%
4. Ian Book, Notre Dame – 52.5% pic.twitter.com/lXlJlqbYQe
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 6, 2020
Given the COVID-related game cancellations, the Fighting Irish currently have nine games on their schedule. Notre Dame is currently favored in all of these contests other than Clemson, which should bode well for Book’s potential to put up numbers. (Look out for the season finale against Louisville in South Bend, however.) While Book will need to play with much more consistency and poise than he did last season, his familiarity with the Irish system should allow him to improve overall. Though undersized, Book is the kind of playmaker that certain NFL teams could turn to as a starter in a pinch, which gives him Day 2 upside.
– Oz & Tzali
Devy Analysis Grade: 3.14 (C+)
Ceiling: Rich Gannon
Book makes the most of his skill set, parlaying his accuracy and comfortability in West Coast schemes into a decent career as a starter.
Median: Case Keenum
Book maxes out as a bridge-QB type, providing decent depth as the second passer on a team’s depth chart.
Floor: Jake Browning
Book’s decorated collegiate career means little to NFL scouts and he fails to do anything of note at the Pro Level.
Jamie Newman, Georgia (ETA: 2021)
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.
Jamie Newman a name to watch for the 2021 Draft at Quarterback. Transferred to Georgia for his Senior year and looks like a 1st round talent. I’m a big fan! pic.twitter.com/ZwMlhSZum3
— Cleeb (@calebschmitz7) July 29, 2020
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.
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.83 (B-)
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)
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.
Alabama used play action at the highest rate in the SEC in 2019.
While filling in for Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones was especially dominant on play action passes. pic.twitter.com/iTS4JX5akD
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) July 29, 2020
Though our sample size of Jones’ body of work is fairly small, he definitely has the tools to develop into a draftable prospect.
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.86 (B-)
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.
J.T Daniels, Georgia (ETA: 2022/2023)
It’s already been a winding road for Daniels, who entered USC in 2018 ranked as the 6th overall prospect in the nation coming out of high school. He was an early-enrollee as well; when he walked on campus he was still only 17. And at that age, talented though he was, there were, predictably, some growing pains. The Trojans went 5-6 overall, losing their last three in a row. In those losses, Daniels had a 6:8 ratio; for the season he had a completion percentage of just 59.5. But 2019 rolled around, a new OC appeared in the form of Graham Harrell, and for the first half of their 2019 opener against Fresno State, Daniels looked in command, displaying poise and maturity. He’d miss the second half of the game, however, with an ACL/meniscus injury, which would go on to keep him out for the rest of 2019. Enter Kedon Slovis…and the rest is history.
Daniels has since transferred to UGA, and been granted immediate eligibility. But does he start immediately? Probably not, given that grad-transfer Jamie Newman is also in the fold, coming over from Wake Forest. Assuming Daniels takes the QB2 role, the earliest he’ll be the starter – still, however, with two years of eligibility – is 2021. That would put him almost two full years removed from the last time he walked on the field as a full-time starting college QB. Moreover, 2021 will see 5-star QB recruit Brock Vandagriff enter Athens, not to mention 4-star QB Carson Beck who has already arrived this year. Simply, Daniels is a hold. The talent is there, and he can get the ball out quick. But the situation? Dicey at best.
Regardless, Daniels is an incredibly talented pocket passer who will most likely overcome his circumstances due to his pure talent. While Newman was excellent for the Demon Deacons last season, there’s no guarantee that he can hold off Daniels for the starting position this season, especially if he struggles against the better defenses in the SEC.
— Rivals (@Rivals) July 19, 2020
If the former-five star recruit can claw his way to the starting role sometime in the near future, he will have the benefit of throwing to one of the top young receivers in College Football (George Pickens) while playing behind a perennially solid offensive line unit. With the talent that Daniels has, his upside is as high as any Devy QB prospect, though he will need a few lucky bounces to achieve that upside.
– Oz & Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.28 (B)
Ceiling: Matt Ryan
Daniels becomes one of the best pocket passers in the league, finishing as a QB1 in fantasy multiple times. His NFL success stems from the decision to transfer to Georgia where he taps into his full potential, dominating the SEC during his tenure.
Median: Sam Bradford
Daniels has a mildly successful NFL career but fails to live up to the hype that surrounded him as a collegiate passer. Lack of elite athleticism holds him back from becoming an elite passer.
Floor: Josh Rosen
Daniels becomes another casualty of the new era of football where pocket passers are a completely outdated model.
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota (ETA: 2021/2022)
Morgan took several steps forward in his development last season, taking his game to a whole new level in his second season with the Golden Gophers. While Morgan did have the benefit of throwing to one of the best receiver duos in the nation (Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman) in 2019, his growth as a passer was evident, as the redshirt sophomore improved his completion percentage from 58% in 2018, a year in which he split starting time, up to 66% while throwing 21 more touchdown passes and only one more interception. While Morgan brings savvy and maturity to the position, it’s fair to wonder how high his ceiling is, especially in a Minnesota offense that saw him average just over 16 attempts per game. Then again, he also had an AY/A of 11.1, which speaks to how efficiently he was able to run the offense. Now, in his fourth season at Minnesota — though just his second as a full-time starter, no longer splitting time with Zack Annexstad — Morgan should solidify his position as the second-best QB in the Big 10 behind Justin Fields.
Highest % of positively graded plays among power 5 QBs:
1. Jalen Hurts – 37%
2. Tanner Morgan – 35%
3. Justin Fields – 34%
4. Joe Burrow – 31% pic.twitter.com/xowov8CZOg
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 28, 2020
Call him a product of Minnesota’s system if you want, but Morgan has displayed many of the tools that NFL teams covet in a starting quarterback. Fearless and efficient, Morgan may very well find himself coming off of the board as a top QB prospect when he decides to enter the NFL Draft. With a safe floor and a relatively high upside, you could certainly do worse than Morgan as a potential investment in Devy Leagues, though you could also do much better.
Update: We like Morgan significantly less with his top receiver (Rashod Bateman) announcing his decision to sit out the 2020 season.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.28 (B)
Ceiling: Andy Dalton
Morgan becomes a capable NFL starter with some above-average fantasy potential at certain points in his career. If you give him the talent to work with he can be a very high upside passer, though he won’t have the skill to create offense on his own.
Median: Case Keenum
Morgan finds himself as a fringe starter, often being called into action as a “Band-Aid” for teams in need of a bridge quarterback.
Floor: Matt Barkley
Morgan’s college success is clearly attributed to the fact that he got to throw to two future NFL wideouts and he maxes out as a third-stringer in the NFL.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas (ETA: 2021)
Respect? Ehlinger would like a word with both Rodney Dangerfield and Aretha Franklin. Following a position battle between Ehlinger and Shane Buechele that seemed to last the entire 2017 season, Ehlinger was officially handed the keys to the Longhorns’ offense in 2018 (causing Buechele to transfer to Southern Methodist, where he’s since been highly productive). Ehlinger’s numbers improved pretty much across the board from ‘18 to ‘19: last year he threw for almost 282 YPG, an increase of +45 YPG from the previous season, while also improving his completion percentage. Both Ehlinger’s Y/A and ANY/A increased as well, and he finished the year with a 32:10 touchdown to interception ratio, with four of those picks coming in a loss to TCU in what was by far his worst game of the season. Moreover, he’s a beast in the open field, as evidenced by his 663 rushing yards and seven TDs scored on the ground. Simply put, as he goes so goes UT.
Best full-time starting QBs (by PFF passing grade) when blitzed this season:
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
2. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
3. Joe Burrow, LSU
4. Sam Howell, UNC
5. Jake Fromm, UGA
Will Clemson or LSU blitz more than 25% of the time tonight? Will it even matter?
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) January 13, 2020
So where does Ehlinger go this year? While he’s had little to worth with since taking over as the starter for the Longhorns, his ability to improvise and extend plays has kept the offense afloat. However, it seems like, for every positive play that Ehlinger pulls out of his ass, there’s a play where he sails an easy throw over his receiver’s head. If he can limit his mistakes in 2020, we may be in store for a very special campaign from the young gunslinger. Then, it’s the no-defense-played-here conference play of the Big 12, which should enable him to continue his strong play. If he can show that he’s more than a gunslinger (albeit a big one who can run), it’s highly possible he’ll be drafted higher than expected. But potential NFL star? That’s another question entirely. Draft him if you like the Longhorns, or if you like Ehlinger as a player, or if you want to just roll the dice.
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.42 (B)
Ceiling: Jake Plummer
Ehlinger’s inconsistencies carry over to the NFL where he mixes dazzling displays of skill with puzzling moments of utter incompetence. However, in this instance, his best days would give him QB1 upside in fantasy football.
Median: Kevin Kolb
Ehlinger manages to sneak his way into some starting opportunities but fails to deliver upon his potential, proving to be just another toolsy passer with a deficiency in the intangibles department.
Floor: Kyle Allen
Another high profile recruit who fails to develop into the player his college coaches envisioned him becoming, Ehlinger gets a few chances as a UDFA before bouncing out of the league.
D’Eriq King, Miami (ETA: 2021)
King’s best trait is easily his running ability, as the former Houston standout made his mark as a dual-threat in the University of Houston’s explosive offense. If King brings the game he displayed in 2018 to Coral Gables, huge things can happen. While the four games that King played in 2019 were a different smell from what we had come to expect from him (his YPG dropped 2.6 yards, and his completion percentage dropped by roughly 19% from 63.5% to 52.7%), we have reason to believe that a change of scenery could do wonders for him. Still, even if King’s passing isn’t at ‘18 levels, his legs and mobility still make him the most dangerous weapon Miami has had taking snaps at the position in quite a while. And, in his four games in 2019, he still averaged 5.7 yards per rush, lending him further upside as a playmaker even if his passing is not up to par. Simply put, King is electric on the field and downright fun to watch. And, the good news is that OC Rhett Lashlee’s offense should be much more suited for King’s game than Dana Holgerson’s Air Raid attack, where he was asked to do a bit too much as a passer.
If that’s the case – where QB and OC are simpatico – and if the receiving corps can help King out (having Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory as legitimate TE options is an absolute plus), this could be the year that both King and the “U” return to dominance – or, at least, the ACC Championship Game. While it’s questionable whether his game translates to the NFL in the way that other smaller, more mobile quarterbacks’ games did (thinking specifically of Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray), the upside is certainly there. Even if King fails to become an NFL-level passer, he could still have a role in the league as a convert to RB or WR.
No QB has averaged more yards after contact since 2018 than D’Eriq King.
Get your popcorn ready, Miami🍿pic.twitter.com/vFHK1XRLQ2
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 1, 2020
With his upside as an athlete, taking a shot on King as a devy selection is extremely worthwhile. If he can manage to put everything together you may have an excellent QB on your roster next season.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.28 (B)
Ceiling: Robert Griffin III (pre-injury)
A dynamic runner with just enough skill as a passer to get by, King could be an exotic weapon in the right offensive system, particularly one derived from the Greg Roman-style scheme used by Baltimore last season. With the NFL moving more towards running QB’s, King may be a sought after commodity in the 2021 Draft.
Median: Greg Ward Jr.
King converts to a receiver role upon entering the league and manages to carve out a role as a middling option on a team’s depth chart, like Ward.
Floor: Pat White
King proves to be a mobile QB with subpar passing ability. Becomes relegated to a Taysom Hill-like role, which would have been perfectly suited for a player like White.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana (ETA: 2022/2023)
A rare left-handed passer, Penix Jr. has earned the praise of various draftniks in recent months after displacing Peyton Ramsay as the Hoosiers starting quarterback. An elite athlete with advanced instincts for his age, Penix had stretches of dominance as a freshman, highlighted by a performance during which he completed 78% of his passes for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns against a ranked Michigan State team. Unphased and unafraid when faced with some of the best defenses in the Big Ten, Penix looked like a future Heisman candidate in the five games that he played in last season.
Top % of throws where the WR had a step or more of separation(returning QBs):
➤ Justin Fields – 73%
➤ Mac Jones – 72%
➤ Adrian Martinez – 71%
➤ Michael Penix Jr – 69% pic.twitter.com/XU2jedmUCp
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 25, 2020
Among qualified Big Ten passers, Penix accounted for the fewest percentage of turnover worthy plays with just 1.9%, while throwing the highest rate of accurate passes (59.6%) among the same group. Tremendously mobile without being too overzealous, Penix showed great anticipation and pocket awareness for a player with his athleticism. Quite often we have seen athletes of his caliber develop improper instincts that lead them to scramble before rolling through their progressions properly. Penix is the opposite.
Indiana’s wide-open spread offense is catered precisely to Penix Jr.’s skill set, as the system allows for him to hit open receivers in stride within seconds of the hike more often than not. When presented with the opportunity, Penix can hit every part of the field with high velocity throws that would be deemed “NFL-caliber” by almost any scout. If he can continue to tap into those tools while remaining confident as a pocket passer, Penix Jr. could very well be a future top-five selection, he’s that talented.
Michael Penix, QB, Indiana
A couple of publications, including @PFF_College, have identified the Indiana quarterback as a potential breakout star for the (hopefully) upcoming 2020 college football season.
— Felix H. Sharpe II (@sharpereview) July 3, 2020
While we’ve only seen a small sample size from the young lefty, the poise that Penix displayed in his first season of college ball was quite reassuring, giving us hope that he will pick up where he left off this season. In more ways than one, he has the makeup of a future franchise QB and his development will be intriguing to monitor as he looks to put Indiana back on the map. Penix Jr. will definitely be a “wait and see” type of Devy prospect, but that wait could very well be worthwhile for those with patience.
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.71 (B)
Ceiling: Tua Tagovailoa
Penix builds an impressive college portfolio based around his accuracy and mobility, parlaying those traits into a first-round selection. What lies ahead of him in his NFL career would be determined by the teammates that his organization surrounds him with.
Median: Teddy Bridgewater
Penix becomes a trustworthy game manager at the NFL level, earning the chance to start at some point in his career. While not the most exciting passer, he gets the job done when he’s out there.
Floor: Kellen Moore
Penix proves to be the latest victim of left-handed QB bias, averaging out as a backup.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State (ETA: 2021/2022)
It seems as though the archetype of the undersized Big-12 quarterback is here to stay in the eyes of NFL Draft scouts, as recent draft classes have produced players like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Will Grier as early-round selections. Purdy appears to be the next-in-line for this distinction, as the Cyclones star’s name has become synonymous with the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in recent months. At 6’1, 210 lbs, Purdy isn’t the smallest passer we’ve seen gain traction as a potential first-round selection, as evidenced by the fact that Murray was able to parlay a tremendous season with Oklahoma into a first overall selection while barely standing above 5’8.
Purdy threw for almost 4,000 yards in 2019, despite losing big-time weapons Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery to the NFL. And, in a season where he more than doubled his attempts (from 220 in 2018 to 475 in 2019), his completion percentage dropped only 0.7%. Not too shabby. It wasn’t all roses, however. He threw three picks in a loss to Oklahoma State, though he followed that up the next week by dropping five TDs on Oklahoma, albeit in another losing effort. Purdy’s last two games – the Big 12 closer against Kansas State, and Camping World Bowl against Notre Dame – saw him average just over 200 yards passing, complete a smidge over 50% of his passes, and throw only one total TD.
An up-and-down season has not deterred NFL scouts before, as we’ve seen much more mercurial passers taken in the first-round with much more glaring inconsistencies. Unfortunately, many of the passers in that category were guys like Daniel Jones, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert, who “checked all of the boxes” physically while showing flashes of brilliance on occasion in-game. For a smaller passer like Purdy, the path to the first round will be paved by an unquestionably dominant performance on the pitch, with a high-end completion rate being a necessity. The Cyclones offense should allow Purdy to be his best self, as he should benefit from the return of tight end Charlie Kolar and running back Breece Hall.
Most big-time throws in a two minute-drill situation last season:
➤ Brock Purdy, Iowa State – 5 pic.twitter.com/uWLoD3rFMG
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 19, 2020
In 2020 the Cyclones find themselves (currently) favored in 5/9 Big 12 matchups. If Purdy shows off this year, he’ll most likely declare for the 2021 draft. However, if his play stays the same or improves only marginally, it’s not unlikely he comes back for 2022.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 2.14 (B+)
Ceiling: Jimmy Garoppolo
A relatively accurate passer with a nice, quick release, Purdy succeeds in a run-first offense that allows him to work in rhythm. While he may never be a top-end fantasy option, Purdy becomes a consistent mid-tier starter for a team that maximizes his strengths.
Median: Gardner Minshew II
Purdy is placed in a situation where his team needs him to throw the ball in order to win games and he does so semi-successfully while mixing in some moments of greatness. Not quite a franchise QB, Purdy hangs onto his role as the starter for as long as his contract is affordable.
Floor: Colt McCoy
Purdy becomes a trustworthy career backup who maxes out as a decent bridge starter thanks to his ability to improvise.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (ETA: 2021)
A great athlete with the arm strength required of an NFL quarterback, Mond’s experience as a long-term starter in the SEC is one of his top intangible qualities, as he understands the concept of big-game atmosphere. That being said, Mond is a player who may have a variety of different outcomes for his career, quite simply because he has yet to show his tools consistently, especially against the highest caliber competition. Though 2019, his second year as a full-time starter, saw him improve his completion percentage Mond’s total yards, TDs, and yards-per-attempt were all down from 2018. Moreover, against Texas A&M’s six ranked opponents in 2019 (including the bowl game) Mond topped 60% passing just twice (in a September loss to Auburn, and a Texas Bowl win against Oklahoma State). Mond had a 7:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in that stretch (though in fairness three of the picks came against LSU) – and perhaps most importantly, TAMU was 1-5 in those games.
While there were lots of underwhelming moments last season, Mond has continuously displayed an aggressive mentality as a passer that could allow him to take his game to a new level in 2020. Mond’s game has shades of a young Dak Prescott, who funnily enough managed to take the SEC by storm in his final collegiate season — something Mond will have to opportunity to do this year. Considering the NFL’s emphasis on mobility at the quarterback position, a player like Mond could easily parlay a strong senior season into an early selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Rushing yards per scramble among returning QBs:
1. Trey Lance – 9.9
2. Kellen Mond – 9.6
3. Trevor Lawrence – 9.3 pic.twitter.com/nGkY3uuSBj
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 24, 2020
The easiest thing to say about Mond is that it’s difficult to truly predict how good (or bad) he’ll be in 2020. As of right now his toughest opponents only look to be Auburn and Alabama. His schedule, frankly, looks packed with games that should allow him to show off his potential – and the undeniable talent around him at the skill positions should serve him nicely. If he can put it together this year, the draftable QB field behind Lawrence/Fields/Lance is wide open, and he could easily find himself jockeying to be the fourth QB drafted.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.85 (A-)
Ceiling: Jeff Garcia
Mond settles in as a mid-tier starter on a team with a decent infrastructure to set him up for success. Rushing upside gives him lower-end QB1 upside on his best days.
Median: David Garrard
Inconsistent but exciting, Mond becomes one of the bigger boom-or-bust QBs in the league.
Floor: Deshone Kizer
Mond’s upside is overshadowed by his lack of instincts and his tendency to turn the ball over.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State (ETA: 2021/2022)
Lance is a relative newcomer to the stage, as his hype train didn’t really kick-off until the conclusion of the 2019 season. Whether Lance’s performance to that point had been overlooked due to the record-setting season of Joe Burrow, the never-ending debate regarding Fields and Lawrence, or the headline dominating injury suffered by Tua Tagovailoa is open for debate, but it was clear in retrospect that his breakout season was something quite special. Perhaps the fact that he played for North Dakota State, a subdivision powerhouse that we rarely give attention to — until ESPN shows a clip of them blowing out their opponent in the championship game — is the primary reason why we took so long to realize Lance’s greatness. Regardless, Lance’s athleticism and mechanics are some of the best we’ve seen from a non-power conference passer in a while, leading many to believe that he will be the best passer selected in 2021 if he chooses to declare.
Not to brag, but I was in on the Trey Lance hype way before your favorite NFL draft analyst. https://t.co/2pKKUeVTLC
— Titans Tape (@TitansTape) August 3, 2020
While a one-year sample size from a guy who played against non-FCS schools is not the strongest base for a prospect’s portfolio, Lance’s skill set jumps out on tape in the same way that Carson Wentz’s did back in the day. While comparing Lance to the only other NDSU QB of note may seem like a cop-out, the two passers do have very similar play styles and build, though Lance may is a superior athlete.
The simple fact that Lance managed to play a whole season’s worth of games without throwing an interception speaks to his instincts as a passer. With a minuscule turnover worthy play rate of 1.2% on 288 passing attempts, the combination of athleticism and efficiency is the driving force behind the Lance hype train. Protecting the ball is a trait valued by every team in the league and being able to supplement that with an explosive running style and elite arm talent is essentially the design for the ideal modern QB. If Lance can sustain his performance from last season he may very well be the first QB off of the board in 2021.
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.85 (A-)
Ceiling: Lamar Jackson
Lance’s elite rushing upside and passing efficiency carry over to the NFL and he becomes one of the best up-and-coming passers in the league. Would be predicated on Lance landing with a healthy organization that possesses the infrastructure to build an offense for him.
Median: Mitchell Trubisky
Lance’s athleticism gets him a starting gig but his lack of experience playing against legitimate defenses shows up and ultimately dooms him to backup status.
Floor: Brett Hundley
Lance flops with the media’s attention on him and earns the label of “project”, leaving him to be “developed” in QB purgatory for the rest of time.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma (ETA: 2022)
Next in line for the QB throne at Oklahoma, Rattler may very well be the most talented passer Lincoln Riley has gotten the chance to work with. A highly touted recruit, Rattler’s upside is apparent. If all (or most) goes right this year, the OU offense shouldn’t miss a beat, and Rattler’s development should only be helped by the quality receiving talent around him. While he’s undersized for the position at just over six feet, we’ve seen Riley turn smaller guys (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield) into Heisman Award-winning passers. Being in a system that has catered to similarly equipped (and similarly limited) passers can only bring out the best in him. This will be necessary, as he’s only attempted 11 passes in his college career so far. Still, sitting behind and learning from Jalen Hurts last year must have certainly helped his approach to the game. Rattler is as exciting a QB prospect as there is in college football and his upside in Oklahoma’s system is worth chasing in Devy and C2C leagues.
— Brandon Drumm (@BrandonDrumm247) June 9, 2020
While Rattler is obviously a bit of a wild card in Devy drafts due to his almost nonexistent sample size of playing time, I find it reassuring that there has been little debate regarding his place as the team’s starter this fall. Though he won’t have CeeDee Lamb at his disposal, the Sooners will almost certainly put up a ton of points and yardage on offense regardless.
– Alex + Oz
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.75 (A-)
Ceiling: Drew Brees
Like Brees, Rattler projects to be an undersized passer with elite accuracy. It remains to be seen whether Rattler has the same intangible leadership abilities that Brees possesses, but I think his upside is as high as any of the passers who have come through Norman and that’s saying something.
Median: Nerfed Kyler Murray
While Rattler doesn’t quite have Murray’s wheels, he could become a similarly system-specific QB at the NFL level due to his size, shining in an offense with several college concepts.
Floor: Trevor Knight
Rattler ends up being the first starting OU signal-caller since Knight to go undrafted.
Sam Howell, North Carolina (ETA: 2022)
Howell showed out as a freshman, throwing 38 touchdowns against just 7 interceptions, looking much more comfortable than a typical 19-year-old college passer should when faced with some of the best defensive units in the nation. Howell’s thick frame should allow him to take hits that most young quarterbacks would not be able to shake off. At 6’2, 235 lbs, the young gunslinger is often reminiscent of Matthew Stafford, being unafraid to take risks while also managing to (mostly) avoid careless mistakes. But while Howell, like UNC, might have snuck up on some teams last season, this year the target is firmly on their back. They’ve already declared their intention to win the Coastal Division and (likely) play Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Howell can certainly get them there, and WR weapons Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown should help the cause immensely. If Howell is able to build on 2019’s performance, a year that saw him throw for over 3600 yards, he’ll likely be in the driver’s seat for top-touted draft-eligible QB come the 2021 season.
Bo Nix pic.twitter.com/H0sucJb0Cm
— matthew bruening (@SportsfanaticMB) August 5, 2020
While there are definitely some negatives that we can nitpick about Howell’s game, it’s hard to put much stock into those things when you consider the fact that our only season of work from him came as a true freshman. Barring an extreme regression in the next two seasons, Howell should be in-line for a run of dominance with the Tar Heels, during which he should improve the few flaws that he has in his game.
As impressive as the statistics may be, our favorite thing about Howell has to be his fearless nature. Taking risks is one thing, but taking calculated risks is another thing altogether. In this way, Howell’s game bears semblance to former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, particularly when he manages to create something out of nothing with his improvisation. It’s rare to see such a young passer possess the instincts that Howell showed off in his first season, though we’ve seen shining star freshmen quarterbacks deteriorate rapidly in the past (Christian Hackenberg), so it may be a bit early to call him a lock for sustained superstardom. Though he was surrounded by some dynamic weapons and a top tier coaching staff, some credit has to go to Howell for carrying the Tar Heels offense, which has often found itself in the middle of the pack.
The most valuable freshman QB in college football last season:
Sam Howell, North Carolina pic.twitter.com/h4LxF5lnq3
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 3, 2020
In both Devy and C2C Leagues Howell should be a coveted asset, as he has the tools and instincts to develop into a true QB1 at the NFL level.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.85 (A-)
Ceiling: Matthew Stafford
A big-armed QB who can put up a ton of points with the right weapons surrounding him, Howell develops into one of the better fantasy QBs in the league.
Median: Sam Darnold
Howell’s risk-taking limits his upside in an offense that doesn’t feature the weapons necessary to find success with that playstyle. His shortcomings get exposed as the starter on a subpar offense though his upside shines through on occasion.
Floor: Will Grier
Howell is exposed as a high-volume college passer without the tools to become an NFL starter.
Justin Fields, Ohio State (ETA: 2021)
Another former five-star recruit, Fields excelled in his first season with the Buckeyes following his transfer from Georgia. Fields will be forever linked with Lawrence, as the two passers belonged to the same recruiting class while also having faced off in the College Football Playoff last season. While Lawrence gets all of the attention for having led his team to consecutive National Title Games, Fields is an equally impressive passer, having completed 67.2% of his passes while boasting a 41:3 TD to INT ratio in his first year with the Buckeyes. At 6’3, 230 lbs, Fields has drawn comparisons to Dak Prescott, as his combination of size, pocket presence, above-average accuracy, and dynamic rushing ability makes him an ideal modern-day NFL quarterback. Fields displayed tremendous poise and decision-making as the starter for OSU in 2019, accounting for the lowest rate of uncatchable passes (3.7%) among qualified passers.
Highest-graded returning Big Ten players:
1. Justin Fields (QB) – 91.5
2. Rashawn Slater (OT) – 89.9
3. Peyton Ramsey (QB) – 86.4
4. Tanner Morgan (QB) – 85.5
5. Chris Olave (WR) – 85.1
6. John Michael Schmitz (C) – 85.0
7. Michael Penix Jr (QB) – 84.0 pic.twitter.com/BETcBGTu1F
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 5, 2020
While he’s no Lamar Jackson, Fields has displayed some impressive skills when forced to tuck and run. Fields was used often on option looks for the Buckeyes, logging 137 carries for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns, effectively assuming the role of a short-yardage back in many instances. Perhaps the most impressive element of Fields’ game was the fact that he was undaunted when countered by elite defensive units, as evidenced by his performances against Wisconsin, Michigan, and Clemson, where he avoided the pitfalls of a typical first-year starter. Fields’ domination in the wake of Dwayne Haskins leaving school early for the NFL was reminiscent of Jameis Winston in some respects, as Winston too managed to come in as a first-year starter, taking an already elite offense and making it better despite replacing a player who had been drafted in the first round of that year’s NFL Draft (you may have forgotten that E.J Manuel was, in fact, a first-round pick in 2013).
With his accuracy, determination, and (+) athleticism, it’s clear that Fields has the potential to be a franchise QB once he reaches the NFL. So long as he can carry over his performance from last season as the Buckeyes look to replace several starters from their offense, Fields should be one of the first QBs off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. He should be a first-round lock in SuperFlex Devy leagues.
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.71 (A-)
Ceiling: Dak Prescott
A tremendous passer who can also do damage with his legs, Fields develops into a top-ten fantasy QB after landing in a great spot. Doesn’t quite reach “elite” status but does manage to become a high-quality NFL starter.
Median: Marcus Mariota
A dominant college QB who lands with the wrong team, leading to a somewhat mediocre run as a starter. Dual-threat abilities allow Fields to maintain fantasy relevance, but his development as a passer becomes hindered by the system he lands in.
Floor: Jalen Hurts
Fields become a high-upside backup with the rushing ability to do some damage when he checks into games. Leadership and character keep him around as a bridge quality QB.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State (ETA: 2022)
An extremely mobile passer who can protect the ball while also operating as an explosive fulcrum for a team’s offense, Daniels has the chance to become a super prospect if he makes the proper strides in his development. As a true freshman last year, his numbers were nothing to sneeze at, especially the 17:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. While he didn’t throw for 3000 yards, the Sun Devils also heavily relied on the run game last year. With running back Eno Benjamin and first-round WR Brandon Aiyuk gone to the NFL, it will fall on Daniels’ shoulders to take the reins of leadership for ASU’s offense. Increasing his completion percentage from 60.7% should be a point of emphasis, as should getting his weight up: he’s currently listed at 175 pounds, and he simply needs to put on good muscle weight if he’s going to absorb hits and stay healthy.
Daniels’ worst game last year came against Utah; he was 4/18 for 25 yards. Then again, against 6th-ranked Oregon, he dropped 408 yards for 68.8%, plus 3 TDs passing. Best game, best opponent – and players who play their best, especially as a true freshman, in the biggest games are tough to ignore. It’s worth noting that Daniels also led the NCAA in game-winning drives last season, which speaks to his ability to play under pressure.
Among returning Power-5 passers, Daniels had the third-most completions of 25+ yards (37), while also registering the third-highest passing grade on throws of 30+ yards downfield among the same group, per PFF. While he had moments where he disappeared, Daniels has the skillset to absolutely dominate college football in these next couple of seasons. I’d go as far as to compare him to Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson in terms of his approach to the position, though Daniels is significantly taller than those two, which can only help him once he reaches the NFL.
— thehojo (@thehojo) August 1, 2020
This year, ASU opens at USC, which should be better (we’d hope); more importantly, it should provide an immediate test for Daniels, as he probably won’t be tested until the last four games of the season: home against Cal, at Oregon, home against Utah, and at rival Arizona. If Daniels shows his stuff in those key games, he should position himself well to be one of the top QBs for 2022, and thus a potential NFL first-round pick.
– Oz + Alex
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.71 (A)
Ceiling: Russell Wilson
An excellent dual-threat who excels in a West Coast scheme, Daniels has some high’s as an efficient heat check QB in fantasy while deferring to his teammates when he has to. A true QB1 thanks to his legs and his arm.
Median: Tyrod Taylor
As dynamic of a bridge starter as you can imagine, Daniels manages to stick around as a low-end starting QB for a few seasons, serving as a trustworthy backup when there’s no role for him.
Floor: Tahj Boyd
Exposed as a conservative passer from a scheme filled with NFL talent, Daniels fails to become anything of note as an NFL QB.
D.J Uiagalelei, Clemson (ETA: 2023)
A giant at 6’6, 245 lbs, Uiagalelei has the build and skillset of a young Cam Newton. While Trevor Lawrence is entrenched as the Tigers starting QB for the foreseeable future, Uiagalelei is the next in line for the throne, and he should have plenty of success from the get-go as he will likely be paired with more experienced versions of Joe Ngata and Frank Ladson upon his promotion. While I wouldn’t typically project a Heisman winner from this far out, I would not be surprised if Uiagalelei hoisted the award in 2022, as he has the chance to become one of the best QBs in the history of Clemson football. Big praise for a big man, but we like D.J a lot.
Dabo Swinney on D.J. Uiagalelei: “Sometimes he just kind of makes Trevor look normal with his ability to rip that football… never really seen a guy quite like him.” Um, hello. That’s a heck of a statement.
— Matt Connolly (@MattatTheState) April 3, 2020
Though we’ve yet to see him throw a pass as a college QB, few players possess the natural talent and athleticism that we’ve seen from Uiagalelei’s high school tape. With Trevor Lawrence likely off to the NFL following this season, we could see this super prospect unleashed relatively soon. Based on upside alone, Uiagalelei is worth investing an early Devy pick on.
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.57 (A)
Ceiling: Daunte Culpepper
Equipped with a cannon for an arm and a body built to withstand even the league’s hardest hitters, Uiagalelei could develop into one of the league’s most dominant passers just as Culpepper did in the early 2000s.
Median: Justin Herbert
It’s entirely possible that Uiagalelei suffers from the same issues that plagued Herbert throughout his collegiate career, as well as the same biases that larger QBs tend to face nowadays. While Clemson’s spread offense is catered more towards Uiagalelei’s strengths than Oregon’s was for Herbert, it’s possible that the “fit” with Clemson could be a bit weird.
Floor: Jacoby Brissett
Considering Brissett has proven his value as a spot starter on multiple occasions in the past, this floor is not nearly as low as it could be. While it would be disappointing for Uigalelei to be merely a bridge starter, we’ve seen worse fates for players with his hype.
Kedon Slovis, USC (ETA: 2022/2023)
Like the aforementioned Howell, Slovis was a standout freshman from last season, called into action following a season-ending injury suffered by former five-star recruit J.T Daniels in the Trojans’ first game. As a true freshman, Slovis completed 72% of his passes while registering a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio, efficiency that’s unheard of from a player of his age, let alone one ranked 705th overall coming out of high school. But command the offense he did, to the tune of 3502 passing yards, and a 30:9 ratio. He was accurate, too, as he had only one game with sub-60% passing (56.1% against Oregon, where he also threw three picks); his next lowest completion percentage was 67.9 against Arizona.
USC QB Kedon Slovis (@Kedonslovis) Highlights
Slovis finished the regular season with four 400-yard performances in his final 5 games, including a record-breaking 515-yards against UCLA. His 3,242-yards are most for a Freshman #FightOn
— JustBombsProductions (@JBP_Official) November 30, 2019
Among qualified passers last season, Slovis threw the lowest percentage of uncatchable passes (12.1%) and the highest percentage of on-target throws of 10+ yards (35.8%), displaying his outstanding accuracy. You wouldn’t call him a scrambler, but Slovis possesses some highly developed pocket awareness and movement. Though we only have a one-year sample size of his work, Slovis may have had the best season we’ve ever seen from a college freshman. Yes, there’s going to be much more tape on him for defenses to study this season. But when you look at the weapons that surround him, it’s hard to imagine Slovis taking many steps back before he becomes draft-eligible, if any at all.
Certainly, having Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown to throw to last year made his life easier; but though Pittman is gone to the NFL, St. Brown is still there, along with a bevy of talented wideouts including Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford. The PAC-12 may be better this year – the potential is certainly there – and if Slovis can put together a sophomore season similar to or better than 2019, he could enter the 2021 season competing with Sam Howell to be the top draft-eligible QB in the 2022 draft.
– Alex + Oz
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.57 (A)
Ceiling: Kurt Warner
An accurate passer with tremendous leadership abilities, Slovis becomes one of the better quarterbacks in the league thanks to his consistency and reputation. Becomes a highly capable fantasy QB in the process.
Median: Kirk Cousins
An accurate passer who thrives in a clean pocket, Slovis develops into the type of QB who can win you enough games to be a playoff team. Solid but unspectacular, the USC product winds up as a perennial QB2 for fantasy.
Floor: Chad Pennington
An accurate passer who has a few other good traits, Slovis meanders about as a middle to lower-tier starter for a mediocre team. In this scenario, Slovis is more a victim of circumstance than a victim of his own shortcomings.
Bryce Young, Alabama (ETA: 2023)
A highly touted dual-threat, Young may very well be the starter for the Tide as soon as this fall, although the delays brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak may hinder his grasp of the playbook a bit. And, admittedly, it might simply be easier for Nick Saban to turn the reins over to Mac Jones this year, given the fact that Jones took over as the starter when Tua Tagovailoa went down. Either way, Young will be in a great situation once he does eventually start for the program, as his decorated high school career suggests that he may become a Deshaun Watson-level playmaker if he develops properly.
Roll the tape. ▶️
Bryce Young just dropped his senior highlight reel and it’s 🔥🔥🔥
— Hudl (@Hudl) July 8, 2020
While Young has yet to play a game of college ball, his arrival in Tuscaloosa was impactful enough to drive Taulia Tagovailoa out of town. Like Kyler Murray before him, Young comes from a program that turned him into a winner. With his impressive tools and the resources that Alabama will provide for him, there’s no telling how great this kid may be. Like Spencer Rattler and D.J Uiagalelei, Young’s upside is high enough that he’s worth taking with an early Devy pick despite his lack of tangible production.
– Alex + Oz
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.25 (A+)
Ceiling: Deshaun Watson
Young blossoms as a creative playmaker in Alabama’s offense, playing to his strengths and learning how to take calculated risks. From there he builds a compelling case to be the QB1 in 2023, landing in the NFL on a team that allows him to play his style of football.
Median: Baker Mayfield
Young does what he can with his size and excels when placed in offenses that allow him to make quick reads and pick up yards on option runs. Though he may be a bit system dependent, he averages out as an above-average NFL QB.
Floor: Everett Golson
Young’s dual-threat abilities prove to be his best quality and he fails to become an impact player for Alabama, tanking his draft stock along the way. Though this path likely has him putting up decent college numbers, his skill set fails to garner much NFL attention.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (ETA: 2021)
You could know absolutely nothing about college football and still be able to recognize Lawrence, a player who was once referred to as the best high school quarterback prospect ever. Somehow, even with these lofty expectations placed upon his shoulders, Lawrence has managed to excel as the starter for Clemson. At 6’6, 225 lbs, Lawrence has the ideal size that scouts look for in a prototypical pocket passer while also possessing the natural athleticism that has become requisite of the QB position in recent years. Like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and John Elway before him, Lawrence is as close to a perfect quarterback prospect as you could find and he will fit in with whichever team drafts him. In his two years as the starter for Clemson, Lawrence has been both a winner and a dominant performer in the clutch. While you can certainly knock him for the fact that he’s been surrounded by some unreal talent at the receiver position — from current NFL talents like Tee Higgins and Hunter Renfrow to future stars Justyn Ross and Joe Ngata — it’s impressive to see how Lawrence has worked with what’s been given to him. On an offense buoyed by a terrific ground game (led by future NFL draft pick Travis Etienne), Lawrence was incredibly efficient, with a touchdown to interception ratio of 66:12. Considering his first loss as a collegiate player came in the 2019 National Title Game, it’s fair to label the young signal-caller as a “winner”. It would take a serious injury or a complete regression for Lawrence to tank his status as a top prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence earned a PFF grade of 90+ in both of his first two seasons, a feat accomplished by only one other player: 2020 first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa. The paramount quality of Lawrence’s profile at this stage in his career is his ability to perform in big games, which is best evidenced by his tremendous performances against Ohio State, Alabama, and LSU in the two College Football Playoffs he has participated in.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 31, 2020
While Lawrence’s resume is incredibly impressive on its own merit, watching him play the quarterback position is simply a thing of beauty. The former five-star recruit combines an outrageously powerful throwing arm with a lightning-quick release, which he can supplement with an uncanny ability to throw on the move. Even at a young age, Lawrence has displayed a keen understanding of how to read defenses, while also sensing pressure better than any passer his age. As far as NFL-ready passers go, Lawrence fits the bill better than any QB from the last decade.
Devy Analysis Grade: 1.14 (A+)
Ceiling: John Elway
Lawrence delivers upon the hype surrounding him and becomes one of the best passers we have ever seen grace the gridiron. Given the amount of help he would need to reach this ceiling, we can only hope he doesn’t end up somewhere like Jacksonville or Detroit.
Median: Andrew Luck
Lawrence becomes an excellent QB with the occasional turnover-prone game. Struggles to reach his full potential due to flawed team-building strategy by the front office and leaves experts wondering what could have been.
Floor: Daniel Jones
Lawrence is debunked as little more than a toolsy prospect who was boosted by a strong supporting cast in both college and high school. Becomes a middling NFL starter but is seen as a “bust” due to the outrageous expectations surrounding him.
Bonus Devy Profiles:
Kyle Trask, Florida (ETA: 2021)
Trask’s road to starting for the Gators was a long and winding one to say the very least. Trask spent 75% of his high school career playing behind fellow Discovering Devys list mate D’Eriq King, but still managed to get recruited to play at Florida. Following another slow start by Feleipe Franks, Trask managed to usurp the role of starting quarterback in 2019 and never looked back. In 12 games Trask threw for nearly 3,000 yards while completing 67% of his passes for 25 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the Gators went 11-2, with losses to only LSU and UGA. Importantly, those losses weren’t statistically bad games for Trask: he averaged 283.5 yards a game, completed 61.3% of his passes, and had a 5:1 ratio. Not too shabby.
This season big things are expected of Trask; and while he may have crept up on SEC opponents last year, this year there’s film on him. Can he take a step forward and build on a 2019 campaign that, frankly, not one person could have seen coming? Gator fans have to hope so – and college football fans, in general, should hope he can elevate his game. A recent 24/7 article named him the 4th-best returning player in the SEC, behind only Derek Stingley, Ja’Marr Chase, and Najee Harris. So, the best QB in the SEC. That would make Gainesville perfectly happy
With another strong season of play against SEC defenses, Trask may very well work his way into the conversation as a potential early-round selection.
– Oz + Alex
Micale Cunningham, Louisville (ETA: 2022)
One of four ACC QBs on the Davey O’Brien watch list (T. Lawrence, S. Howell, D. King), Cunningham also averaged 8.46 yards-per-play. Also, if he attempted just one more pass last year he would have had the second-highest passer rating behind only Joe Burrow. He’s also a threat on the ground, running for 482 yards in addition to 2061 passing yards (he also didn’t start until the third game of the year). The Louisville offense is primed to go, and Cunningham is primed for a breakout year.
Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech (ETA: 2022/2023)
He’s a hold for me, but last year’s campaign, in which he took over as the starter midway through the year, showed that he can play. Does he declare after this year? Unless he absolutely blows the roof off, no. But assuming he continues to improve – and the Hokies offense was markedly better with him as the starter – he can certainly make things interesting in the 2022 draft. Doug Bowman from 24/7 recently named Hooker at the top of his “11 Breakout Candidates for 2020” list.
Myles Brennan, LSU (ETA: 2021/2022)
The offense isn’t changing, and he’s had a year to learn it. He’s mature, has packed on 30 pounds since arriving in Baton Rouge, and is now in his fourth year in the LSU program. Moreover, LSU returns playmakers all over the place, specifically Ja’Marr Chase (currently expected to be the first WR off the board next April) and break-out star Terrace Marshall at WR (along with a host of other 4- and 5-star offensive weapons), which should only help his cause.
Expecting him to replicate Joe Burrow’s amazing 2019 is too much to ask, but the pieces are certainly there for Brennan to help make LSU a top-tier passing offense in back-to-back years, upping his draft stock in the process.
Shane Buechele, SMU (ETA: 2021)
After a few so-so years at Texas, and after being out-played by Sam Ehlinger, Buechele packed his bags and headed north to SMU, where he proceeded to resurrect his career in 2019. He’s the definition of a gunslinger: while he only threw 10 picks, he was pick-less in only four games. Still, a 34:10 ratio is nothing to sneeze at, and he led the Mustangs to a 10-2 regular-season record. Though SMU lost by six to eventual conference champion Memphis, Buechele wasn’t to blame, with 456 yards passing and a 3:0 ratio. If 2020 is a precursor of 2019, his talent alone should net him a Day 3 pick.
Sean Clifford, Penn State (ETA: 2022)
Clifford took over as a full-time starter in 2019, replacing recent PSU legend Trace McSorley. The results? Mixed. While he was named All-Big Ten honorable mention, he averaged just over 221 yards per game, a completion percentage of only 59.2%, and a 23:7 ratio. And though PSU was 10-2 last year, with losses to Minnesota (surprising) and Ohio State (expected), those were Clifford’s worst games: he managed 340 passing yards against the Golden Gophers but threw three picks – and he was 10/17 for 71 yards against the Buckeyes before leaving with an injury. Still, pundits like Phil Steele are high on his leadership. The Nittany Lions should once again be players in the Big Ten, but Clifford will need to come up big if they’re going to truly contend for a conference title (thereby elevating his draft prospects in the process).
Charlie Brewer, Baylor (ETA: 2021)
A player that maybe doesn’t get the recognition his play demands, Brewer has been a gamer since taking over the starting job midway through the 2017 season, consistently playing well, yet just as consistently seemingly battling injuries. He parlayed a more-than-solid 2018 into an even better 2019, improving his numbers in most meaningful categories and leading Baylor to an 11-3 overall record. Interestingly, in 10 conference games, he only threw 13 touchdowns. Brewer was the perfect QB for helping Baylor return to Big 12 competency: 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019. Whether that translates to NFL material, however, is anyone’s guess, but at this moment he’s, at best, a Day 3 pick, with a more likely chance of trying to catch on as a UDFA next year.
Dillon Gabriel, Central Florida (ETA: 2023)
Playing as a true freshman, Gabriel led UCF to a 10-3 record, beating out both Darriel Mack Jr. and Brandon Wimbush for the starting job. While the tools are there, he’ll need to take the mistakes from 2019 and build on them. First, his sub-60% completion percentage needs to be improved upon. Second, he needs to show up in big games. His three worst games came in their three losses; in two of those, he was sub-60% in completion rate and had a 4/7 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s only 5’11” — and that might be stretching it — while lacking the mobility that has helped other petite passers alleviate concerns. But, he’s a name to remember in a couple years if he continues to improve. Though the lack of mobility, especially at his height, will always hurt him.
Brady White, Memphis (ETA: 2021)
This will be White’s 6th year in college football, originally enrolling at Arizona State in 2015. However, after a redshirt year in ‘15, and missing almost all of the next two seasons due to injury (he started only one game while in Tempe), he transferred to Memphis. It was a fortuitous marriage, on both sides. While ‘18 was steady and fairly unspectacular, the Tigers were 8-6. 2019, however, was a different story. Memphis went 12-2, finished 1st in the AAC, and White upped his numbers across the board. Though he finished with only 11 picks the entire year, three of those came in the season-opener against Ole Miss (1) and the Cotton Bowl matchup against Penn State. While he threw two picks against PSU, he hung 454 passing yards on them as well. He’s a bit of a gunslinger – only five games where he wasn’t picked – but still had only three games with a sub-60% completion rate (two of those were against Cincinnati, one of which was in the AAC Championship game).
Do I necessarily think White will get drafted? Ehhh… the jury is out on that. But he’s certainly more than competent and has the tools and the drive to stick around an NFL squad. But don’t take him in a devy draft thinking he’ll be a starter.
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State (ETA: 2022/2023)
Sanders came into Stillwater in 2018 as the 8th-ranked Dual Threat QB in the country. After taking a redshirt year, he led the Cowboys to a 7-3 record before missing the last two regular-season games (plus their bowl game against TAMU) with an injury. Over those 10 games, his numbers were good, but maybe not as good as had been expected. Though he was voted Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, he averaged under 188 passing yards a game and threw 16 TDs to 11 INTs. But it was almost “A Tale of Two Conference Seasons” for him: the first four games – against Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Baylor – he had a 4:8 touchdown to interception ratio, completed 59.8% of his passes, and OSU was 1-3. Three of those four teams were ranked at the time. The last three conference games were considerably better: 5:2 ratio and 64.7% of his passes. This year, OSU returns both Chuba Hubbard at RB and Tylan Wallace at WR. Sanders is a hold based on his talent alone; if he gets dramatically better (and the potential is certainly there) he could be one of the top names to consider going into the 2021 season.
Dustin Crum, Kent State (ETA: 2021)
Crum was incredibly efficient as the starter for Kent State in 2019, completing over 69% of his passes while throwing 20 touchdown passes and just a pair of interceptions. While those numbers may lead you to believe that Crum is destined to be a “game manager” type of passer, the senior actually possesses some unexpected pop in his arm. One of the leading candidates to be this year’s MAC Offensive Player of the Year, Crum could very well be drafted in the 2021 class. Crum was the highest-graded passer in the nation last year when throwing against Cover 4 (per PFF), while also leading the NCAA with 12 big-time throws of 40+ yards, making him an intriguing option for teams that value arm strength (so every team) at the position.