NFL draft QB rankings: Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson lead questionable group

Shutdown Corner

There are as many as five quarterbacks who could be taken in the first 50 picks of the 2017 NFL draft — which, surprisingly, only has happened once in the past nine drafts. The last time we had five taken in that range was 2011, following the NFL player lockout, which was a unique year where teams clearly felt the need to reach for quarterbacks without having had the free-agency/trade period that typically preceded the draft.

So is this year considered a good draft for quarterbacks? A deep one? We’re actually not willing to go quite that far.

It is a fascinating class with upside, and our top four all should be projected as eventual starters with the chance to prove themselves. A fifth, Cal’s Davis Webb, has certain fans in league circles but is not roundly beloved by any means. Beyond them, there are a few other passers who mildly intrigue some league talent evaluators, but the depth is somewhat similar to an average QB draft class.

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North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky could be the first QB drafted in 2017 despite a lack of experience. (AP)
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky could be the first QB drafted in 2017 despite a lack of experience. (AP)

But on the whole, this is a group with more questions than answers, even with a couple of prospects in North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who could end up in the first 10 picks.

Positional grade: C-plus

It would not stun us if only two eventual starters emerge from this QB class, perhaps three, as questions of experience and college system mar this group a bit too much for our liking.

Shutdown Corner’s Top 10 quarterbacks for 2017

1. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina — 6-foot-2, 222 pounds — Athletic thrower with zip who likely must adapt to pro-style offense, prove experience (13 starts) isn’t an issue
2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson — 6-2, 221 — Clutch touch passer with athletic gifts who leads quietly but can carry team on his back despite lacking rare arm talent
3. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame — 6-4, 233 — Smart, confident project with big arm, big frame who likely needs a year of marinating before he’s ready to lead an NFL offense (Full scouting report)
4. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech — 6-2, 225 — Strong-armed gunslinger with special traits but also maddeningly bad habits who will need some rewiring before he’s ready to take over (Full scouting report)
5. Davis Webb, Cal — 6-5, 235 — Inconsistency a major concern, but nice physical ability, good intelligence and rare confidence will fascinate a handful of teams to perhaps overdraft him
6. Nathan Peterman, Pitt — 6-2, 226 — Career arc might be slow to develop, but he has very good instincts and nice touch. This year’s Kirk Cousins perhaps?
7. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee — 6-3, 216 — We might like him more than others, but elite character and football IQ, great athletic ability and his work ethic should make him a terrific project
8. Brad Kaaya, Miami (Fla.) — 6-4, 214 — Could have used another year in school, but three years starting in pro system will get mentally tough but talent-deficient QB drafted in the middle rounds
9. Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech — 6-3, 232 — Traits are raw but fascinating; Evans did himself a disservice by declaring early after one year in D-I, but keep an eye on him if he works on his craft
10. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss — 6-1, 224 — Small frame, character concerns and risky playing style are worries for teams, but he’s aggressive and has a good arm to sling it

Alek Torgersen, Penn

The 6-3, 230-pound three-year starter in the Ivy League passes the eye test, throws a nice, clean ball and has improved the past two seasons especially. One team said it was painful to watch how slow his delivery is and that his processing speed also will need to be quickened as he adapts from a very stripped-down system he ran for the Quakers.

But we think a team could use a Day 3 pick on Torgersen and give him a few years to develop. He has applied his intelligence better toward improving his craft and could be an interesting late bloomer.

Small-school wonder
Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin

He’s certainly had some big eyes on him the past few months after going relatively unknown much of his college career. Despite breaking records at the D-II school as a four-year starter, Pipkin only emerged onto the scene when he was a surprise Senior Bowl participant. He had some rough moments during the week, as expected, and was built more like a big running back at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds.

Tiffin QB Antonio Pipkin is raw but has stepped up in competition in recent months. (AP)
Tiffin QB Antonio Pipkin is raw but has stepped up in competition in recent months. (AP)

But Pipkin also was given a chance to throw at Ohio State’s pro day (attended by a slew of NFL heavyweights) and after struggling on his first few throws, he settled in nicely. It allowed NFL teams another look at what could be a late-round flier on a player who does have some discernible skills worth taking a longer look at.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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