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Move The Sticks notebook: Draft could be devoid of franchise QB

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share a compilation of what they're hearing from their NFL sources and what they're excited to see as the regular season gets underway.

An NFL executive has taken a look at college football's top quarterbacks, and he's not seeing much in the way of high-end talent.

"This isn't a great quarterback class. There are two or three prospects that can eventually become starters, but there isn't a marquee guy that can take over from Day 1." -- AFC personnel director

While we don't know who will be in the 2017 quarterback class (underclassmen have until mid-January to declare for the draft), no player has emerged as a true franchise quarterback among those who could be available next year. The top player (Deshaun Watson) is an underclassman, so you want to wait and see how he develops throughout his junior year before ruling him out as a franchise talent. He has shown that he possesses the "it" factor in the team's biggest games (see North Carolina, Oklahoma and Alabama), but he must answer questions about his ability to transition from a spread offense to a traditional system as an athletic playmaker.

The rest of the field is littered with unproven commodities with Miami's Brad Kaaya, Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs and Iowa's C.J. Beathard topping the list. Each prospect has a host of positive qualities, but questions persist about key parts of each of their games. Until they are able to address those concerns, scouts will continue to pause before suggesting there is a marquee player at the position in next year's draft. -- Bucky Brooks

First Look:
NFL Media analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at college football's top players for 2016.

Week 1 matchup scouts can't miss

UCLA OT Conor McDermott vs. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett: This is one of the best individual matchups of the season. Garrett has a variety of moves and elite athleticism. McDermott has ideal size and he's athletic enough to cut off speed rushers. Can he handle the power? We will find out. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Prospect in the spotlight

I'm excited to see if Alabama TE O.J. Howard continues to play at a high level after teasing the football world with his potential in the national championship game. The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash has always intrigued evaluators with his athleticism and movement skills, but he hasn't dominated the game on the perimeter as a swift pass-catching tight end. I want to see if he can put his tools to good use and produce a number of explosive plays as the TE1 for the Crimson Tide. If he can post good numbers against USC on Saturday and flash the route running, hands and receiving skills that he displayed against Clemson, I would feel better about his potential to be a difference maker at the next level. -- Bucky Brooks

What we're hearing

"Oklahoma probably has the best backfield in the country. Everyone focuses on (RB) Samaje Perine and (QB) Baker Mayfield, but Joe Mixon is their most talented player. He is the complete package as a running back and I like the fact that he doesn't have a lot of tread on his tires. He's a special player." -- NFC executive

Jeremiah's take: I agree with this executive. Mixon jumped off the tape when I studied Perine this summer. He is very elusive in tight quarters and he has outstanding instincts.

"Don't underestimate Utah this season. They have one of the best defenses in the country. They have tremendous depth up front and Lowell Lotulelei is a stud. He is going to get after interior offensive lineman because of his quickness and power. He's a load. Marcus Williams is one of the best safeties in the country, too. Great ball skills and range." -- NFC executive

CFB 24/7 is marking the days to the start of the 2016 season by counting down the top 25 players in college football.

Jeremiah's take: Utah's defense is certainly off to a fine start after pitching a shutout in their season-opening win against Southern Utah. I've done a little work on Lotulelei and he's very impressive. I think he can excel in both 3-4 or 4-3. I haven't studied Williams yet, but his production stands out (he had a pick in the season opener). DE Kylie Fitts is another good player on this Utah defense and recorded 1.5 sacks vs. Southern Utah. He is a polished pass rusher.

Welcome back ...

Clemson WR Mike Williams. I loved him on tape two years ago, but he suffered an unfortunate neck injury in the season opener last year and missed the rest of the 2015 campaign. He has all of the tools to be a No. 1 WR at the next level -- size, burst, ball skills and toughness. -- Daniel Jeremiah

We've been waiting all summer for ...

Saturday's USC-Alabama game.

I spoke to several scouts that have already visited USC and Alabama this summer and asked for their thoughts on the matchup in Dallas. Every scout thought Alabama would dominate the Trojans. USC has a veteran offensive line, but they don't believe they match up well with the 'Bama defensive front. Everyone loves DL Jonathan Allen and they think OLB Ryan Anderson deserves more attention than he's getting.

I'm looking forward to watching this game live. Allen destroys offensive guards when he reduces inside, but USC has a lot of size and power along their interior OL. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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