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2019 NFL Draft: League execs, scouts, coaches assess QB class

How do NFL executives, scouts and coaches rank the quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft?

No two boards are going to be the same, especially this year. Four different players -- at least! -- are the top-graded QB prospect for someone. They all have different skill sets, so fit is important. And there are some intriguing developmental options all the way through Day 3.

Here's my best effort at a composite for the league, based on recent conversations with officials from over a dozen teams, all speaking on the condition of anonymity for competitive reasons and to provide a blunt assessment:

Composite projection: Round 1

It's not unanimous, but Murray is the consensus top QB here, if you're willing to commit to his style of football. "I see Russell Wilson all over again," an executive in personnel for an NFC team said. "[The Seahawks] did (with Wilson) exactly what you should do with Kyler: limit some of his throws, get him out in space, play-action him, let him use some of his improvisation skills and don't make him throw it 40 times a game. When you do that, he'll be really good."

Murray breaks the mold in many ways, starting with his size (5-foot-10 1/8, 207 pounds) -- even smaller than his former teammate who went No. 1 overall a year ago. Like Baker Mayfield (who checked in at 6-0 5/8, 215 pounds at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine), Murray has a good arm for his size and won the Heisman Trophy, completing 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in his only year as the starter. None of the top QB prospects put up better numbers on downfield passes (41-of-80 for 1,631 yards and 18 TDs on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, per Pro Football Focus). "The ability to grab it, throw it, move around, slide in the pocket, create on the run, throw guys open, the threat of running," an NFC scouting director said. "He's just a dynamic playmaker. He's not for everybody. Like, he would really struggle, in my opinion, in Jon Gruden's offense, that old West Coast with the timing and accuracy. But in an offense like Kliff (Kingsbury)'s, he could really excel."

As every scout who hit Oklahoma over the past couple years already knows, Mayfield and Murray are different players and people. "Baker has an elite skill, and that's accuracy. And Kyler's accurate, but not anywhere near Baker," said a quarterbacks coach who studied both players. "Baker's like a gym rat, everybody loves him, competitor. Kyler -- I don't think he's a big film football guy. He's just like, Hey, I'll do what the coaches say and I'll go make plays. But now, his skills, his f---ing film -- unreal." Scouts who went through OU last fall weren't surprised by the relative low energy of Murray's combine interviews, which reflected his quieter leadership style. "He's consistent," an NFC scout said. "He is who he is. He doesn't say a lot, but it's not a bad thing." Still, some were left with questions about whether Murray understands how difficult it is to be an elite NFL quarterback. "I'd be scared to death to take him," said an offensive coordinator who has met with Murray and done background work on him. "Now, he's a really good player. But he doesn't know what he doesn't know. He does not like the process of Monday to Saturday. He loves Sunday." I covered the question of Murray's baseball career, how he'll respond to adversity and his father's role in his decision-making process back in February. Only time will tell with regard to how all that plays out.

In terms of pure football ability, though? "He can throw the ball accurately at all three levels. He's rare in terms of his elusiveness and quickness," an AFC scout said. "He shows enough of being able to do it, but the guy he took over for was a little bit more polished. There's times he's reading the wrong side of the field and you wonder how much he really understands the whole picture of coverages and being able to set protections. He's behind a couple guys in terms of the football IQ. But the physical tools are there."

Composite projection: Round 1

The cannon arm is just one reason multiple coaches' assessments of Lock included a reference to the reigning NFL MVP. "Drew Lock is probably the most arm talent (in the draft), but he is (Patrick) Mahomes-like in that you think he's a year away, and you've got to really rein him in in terms of footwork and all those type of things, where he's not going to be ready right away," one offensive coordinator said. "All of his above-the-neck stuff checks out. It's not going to be perfect. There's a learning curve, but I think he'll get there."

Like Mahomes coming out of Texas Tech two years ago, Lock is unpolished, but he's an excellent athlete with strong bloodlines (father and grandfather played at Mizzou) who excelled in another sport (Division I basketball recruit) and has innate playmaking ability and an engaging manner that people gravitate toward. "If you're going to hang out with one guy, you want to hang out with Drew Lock. And that does go a long ways with those guys in the locker room, if you want to spend your time around him," an NFC scouting director said. "He's not the most consistent passer. He's not placing it where guys are running through the ball." Said an AFC scout: "He'll stand in there and look like a pro-style quarterback and deliver and do some good things and read the right coverage and anticipate. He'll stay in, take hits. And then there's other times he looks like he's gun-shy, he's drifting, falling back, he's loosey-goosey a little bit with the fundamentals and his game. I think that's his personality."

Lock (6-3 3/4, 228) completed just 56.9 percent of his college passes -- though that number jumped to 62.9 last season, while playing for his third different coordinator at Mizzou. Forty-two of his 99 career touchdown passes covered 20-plus air yards, according to PFF. The talent around him wasn't terrible, but it wasn't close to the best in the SEC, either.

Lock's skeptics point to uneven accuracy and underwhelming development for a guy who played in 50 college games (46 starts). Footwork was a big focus of his pre-draft work with former NFL QB Jordan Palmer. "He'll make a throw off his back foot, three dudes in his face -- just plug a guy who's not even open, put it right on his face," a QBs coach said, "and (then he'll) have a guy wide open and he's got no pass rush, he's got a clean pocket, and he's going to throw it the exact same way. He makes it a lot harder than it needs to be, but he can make hard throws that other guys can't throw."

Composite projection: Round 1

Teams were impressed in interviews with Haskins' football IQ, especially for a one-year starter. He has been trained well by Ohio State coach Ryan Day and has plenty of arm to make all the throws. "He's a guy that got better every single week," a QBs coach said. "I think his future's bright if he could sit (as a rookie). He's just kind of a big pocket passer. When he climbs in the pocket and takes one hitch and delivers a strike, it's like, OK, that's what it's supposed to look like. You see a little bit of Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich where you maybe would like to see a little bit more body quickness, but it's there. He's got all the ability."

One offensive coordinator called Haskins the best passer in the draft, but quickly echoed the biggest concern scouts and coaches have: "He cannot move." It's not about running, which Haskins did sparingly for the Buckeyes, but his ability to slide around well enough in and out of the pocket to survive against NFL defenses. "Haskins has a quick arm, but he's got slow feet," another coach said. "He moves a little bit, but when you're like that, everything with your mind and your arm has to be perfect. You don't have the margin for error." A source familiar with body-composition testing at the combine said the results on Haskins (6-3 3/8, 231) were the worst among the QBs. "Even Daniel Jones is more mobile (than Haskins)," an NFC scouting director said. "He's a little more of a pocket passer with a wide stride to him, and he gets flat-footed."

That didn't stop Haskins from completing 70 percent of his passes last season for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdown passes (both school records and NCAA bests for 2018). Against statistically the three best defenses he faced -- Michigan State, Michigan and Washington in the Rose Bowl -- Haskins threw 10 TDs with no interceptions, and the Buckeyes won all three games on the way to a 13-1 finish.

As one executive pointed out before the combine, Haskins' tape shows a lot of pre-snap decisions, which he often could get away with in the more wide-open college game because his arm is so good. Reviews are mixed on Haskins' personality -- some see a good, quiet confidence, while others say they'd like a little more juice. Two other OCs said they consider Haskins a risky bet because of his small body of work, which means less film showing how he functions under duress. "There's some questions about leadership and whether he can really carry the team, or if he was asked to carry the team there," an AFC scout said. "You're talking about one year of film. If he's surrounded by lesser talent, how good is he without some of those guys catching the balls and making some big-time runs? But he's still making the big-time NFL throws you want to see. He's got a big arm and has the instincts and smarts to do it."

Composite projection: Round 1

Some NFL people rank Jones as the No. 1 QB in the class. Others don't have him in the top five. Jones (6-5 1/8, 221) is polarizing for a variety of reasons, including his training under David Cutcliffe, who also coached Peyton and Eli Manning. Is he more equipped to play immediately because of his experience in a pro-style offense? Or has he been coached so well that he's already closer to his ceiling than the others? "He's probably got the highest IQ out of all of them, as far as what they ask him to do at the line of scrimmage," an AFC scout said. "It sounds like he has complete control. Yeah, he was trained by Cutcliffe, but it's more than just the Xs and Os. It's the details about being a quarterback -- the leadership, the preparation. He's got his own issues, like his deep-ball accuracy could be better. But he's playing with not a lot of talent around him."

In 36 college starts, Jones completed just 44 of 157 passes (28 percent) of 20-plus air yards, with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, per Pro Football Focus. But drops and a general inability of his overmatched receivers to get open color the evaluation and lend context to Jones' career 59.9 percent completion rate. "They might not all be polished, but [Haskins] had some great athletes out there," an NFC scouting director said. "Daniel Jones is throwing to a bunch of guys that are going to be accountants in a year."

Jones' athletic ability is good, though his feet don't always match. His arm is average to slightly above, so he's probably a better fit for a West Coast, timing-type offense than one that pushes the ball vertically. He's a different personality -- think Eli Manning, with a little less pizzazz -- but they love him in the Duke program. He has shown toughness, too, while taking a beating behind his overmatched O-line, returning from a broken collarbone in less than three weeks last season and an ankle injury in the Blue Devils' Independence Bowl win.

"His drop's a little different than most because he was coached to play at 7 1/2 yards and he never got past that, because if they got high-rushed, they were getting beat," a QBs coach said. "If he's got to play right now, can he go out and do it? I don't know. But you watch him, and you can tell this kid's incredibly coachable."

Composite projection: Round 2-3

If anyone has a chance to be a surprise pick in Round 1, it's Grier -- though most have him at the front of the second tier. "He's just a little bit older (24), a little more mature, a little ahead of the other kids," an NFC scouting director said. "And the guy's a good thrower." Said another high-ranking scout: "I just think he's a notch below on everything -- arm talent, athlete. There's a little more development period with him."

Grier put up big numbers over two years with the Mountaineers -- including 71 TD passes against 20 interceptions -- though the nature of their offense was a factor in his high completion rate (67 percent in 2018). Those who like Grier (6-2 1/2, 217) point out he made big throws in big games, citing stuff like his 539-yard, four-TD outing last season in a 59-56 shootout loss to Murray and Oklahoma. "Grier just has it," a QBs coach said. "I really liked his film. And then when you meet with him, you see him throw live, you see him interact with people -- you're like, you want this guy around you. He's got a great personality. He's super smart. He doesn't come from a real complex system, but his base football knowledge is very good. He's very confident."

Teams dug into Grier's one-year suspension for PED use and transfer from Florida and didn't find much concerning there. He's married now with a daughter and seems to have grown up. Son of a coach and intangibles are a plus. "Their coaches there rave about him -- coach on the field, that type of thing. But I think physically he's behind some of the other guys," another coach said. "At the same time, he's a guy you wouldn't want to bet against. He went to Florida and won. He went to West Virginia and won. The Texas game, he came back and won (42-41). All those types of things stick in your mind."

Composite projection: Round 2-3

More than any other, this is the name NFL people kept telling me to move up the board. Several coaches and executives referred to Finley as a Day 2 lock. "It wouldn't shock me if somebody took him earlier, just because you see some of the stuff on third downs where he's making plays and throws and reads that look like what you run in an NFL system," a QBs coach said. "He's a better athlete than I expected him to be, just seeing a tall, skinny guy. He's got a light frame (6-4, 213), which doesn't bode well right now. Just in terms of the passing game, you see a lot from him."

After following OC/QBs coach Eliah Drinkwitz from Boise State (where draft classmate Brett Rypien won the starting job) to N.C. State, Finley started 39 games over three seasons and threw for 10,501 yards and 60 touchdowns. "To me, Finley is better than Grier," an offensive coordinator said. "Because he's accurate, he throws on time and he's tall. The frame scares you, but he's not a starter in this league -- he's a backup. And he's smart."

His arm is good but not great. One NFC scout said it shows up when Finley tries to drive the ball deep to the opposite hash and his velocity wanes downfield. Leadership is a question mark; even those who like Finley acknowledge he's not a typical alpha-male QB. "I have a hard time warming up to the person a little bit more than anything," an NFC personnel director said. "Just a little bit different personality. Some stuff that happened at Boise, an immaturity thing -- nothing bad. North Carolina State goes to bat for him, they vouch for him." Said an AFC scouting director: "Is he a real guy's guy? No. Maybe the relatability isn't the greatest. I don't think it's like a huge issue."

One AFC scout's comp for Finley: Kirk Cousins. "Knows how to read coverages, kind of a game manager, takes care of the ball, execute the offense, throw the ball accurately," the scout said. "He just doesn't have a big arm, and he's lean -- you wonder how he's going to hold up. He'll need some talent around him."

Composite projection: Round 3-4

Gifted natural passer who was in the conversation as one of this class' top prospects before a rough redshirt junior season last fall, during which Stidham completed a career-worst 60.7 percent of his passes and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn faced questions about whether the QB would be benched. An AFC scouting director said "everything postseason here, the all-star game, the combine -- all of it's been positive" for Stidham, though some scouts felt the Senior Bowl showing was underwhelming.

Those who have gone back through the tape say they're left wanting more, given that Stidham (6-2 3/8, 218) has all the tools. One coach's description of Stidham sounds a lot like the scouting report on former Vikings first-round pick Christian Ponder coming out of Florida State. "Great guy, looks great in workouts, can throw the s--- out of the ball," the coach said, "but when it's live bullets and if his first read's not open, his eyes go down and he starts to scramble." A scout who has done a lot of work on all the quarterbacks put it this way: "If it's easy -- if [Stidham]'s got half the field to look at -- he's good. People were saying [he struggled] throwing in the face of pressure; I thought he did OK throwing in the face of pressure. He didn't have the best protection. But I just thought whenever he had to reload and come to the back-side third or fourth read, he'd get [frazzled]. If you keep it simple for him, he'll look great and throw some dimes."

Everyone brings up Stidham's easy, natural stroke. Whether he can do it in an NFL offense amidst inevitable chaos is the question. "You can kind of pick him apart, too, for some big-game stuff," a high-ranking scout said. "But I looked back at Alabama (a 52-21 loss for Auburn) again just the other day, and he had three or four drops in the early portion of the game, and he's getting his d--- knocked in the dirt. You know what? This son of a gun keeps getting up. And he spins it as well as anybody. Him and Lock are the guys that throw it the best, just purely out of their hands. And there's something to it with the accuracy and what Stidham can do."

Composite projection: Round 4-5

Rare size (6-7, 249) and a big arm, but there's no doubt Jackson is a project. "He's the prototype guy that somebody is going to look at him and say, 'I can turn him into a player,' " an AFC scouting director said. Jackson started 31 college games, but several sources said they wished he had gone back to school rather than briefly entering the transfer portal and then declaring for the draft. "He's good in the quick passing game. He's pretty good in the RPO world. And then he's got a big arm," a QBs coach said. "I thought [Buffalo] did some good stuff, utilizing his strengths the best they could. But he's got a long ways to go."

Accuracy is the biggest issue. Jackson completed 55.8 percent of his college passes. Working with QB trainer Jordan Palmer in the pre-draft process, he began overhauling his mechanics, and the whole operation looked unnatural during his Senior Bowl showcase. "I'm not a big Tyree Jackson fan, but I know some people are," an NFC scouting director said. "For every unbelievable flash play he has, there's about eight passes where he just flat misses guys. But you love the 6-7. He's a good athlete on the run for 6-7 -- he's not Joe Flacco back there. And he's got a strong arm."

Multiple people raised a comparison to Logan Thomas, a fourth-round pick by the Cardinals in 2014 who switched to tight end in his third season and is now on the Lions. (No team asked Jackson to do tight end drills during pre-draft workouts, a source said.) At least one team has Jackson graded as a free agent. But his measurables will get him drafted, perhaps higher than a lot of people think. "He could be Logan Thomas, and he could be Colin Kaepernick," an AFC scout said. "He's got to be in the right spot with the right coach and right situation. He's a wild card."

Composite projection: Round 4-5

The numbers weren't great last season -- 17 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions -- but Thorson did enough for a Northwestern program that isn't exactly a perennial powerhouse to reach the Big Ten title game. "There's no questions, mentally," an NFC executive said. "Polished. Good leader. Been in somewhat of a pro-style scheme. They've put a lot on his plate in terms of protections and things like that." Said a quarterbacks coach: "You put on the film against Ohio State and Michigan where he's clearly outmatched, his team is clearly outmatched, and he's f---ing playing his ass off. He was hurt at the beginning of last year (coming off ACL reconstruction), but he still played and you could tell by the end of the year how he was so much better because he's a really good athlete and he's a big (6-4, 222) athlete."

Scouts who watched Thorson throughout his career just would've liked to see more development and production from a guy who started 53 career games (most ever by a Big Ten quarterback). He impressed in interviews. "Phenomenal kid. And he looked great at his pro day, which you expect. He's working out with Terry Shea, and all the throws were on the money, good roll-out," a high-ranking scout said. "The hard part with Thorson is where there's these complete meltdown-type games where you're like, That guy literally cost them a game."

He isn't the most natural passer -- one QBs coach described Thorson as "kind of that bigger, muscled-up guy where the mechanics are just a little different" -- but accuracy is considered a plus. The consensus is Thorson projects as a No. 2, but potentially a good one. Lower ceiling, high floor. "He's a guy who's going to work hard and he's going to do all the things you need and be a solid backup, maybe a guy that can come in and manage the game," an AFC scout said. "You've just got to try to limit the turnovers a little bit."

Composite projection: Round 5-6

The man with the mustache is, in the words of one NFC personnel director, "the perfect backup quarterback." Smart. Tough. Competitive. Oozing with confidence and charisma. He's just on the smaller side (6-0 7/8, 225) with average all-around traits. "He's not the biggest. He's not the fastest. He's not the most gifted passer. Arm strength is an issue, and accuracy down the field is an issue," an NFC scout said. "But in that system, he was really, really good at getting it out underneath -- quick, decisive, finding the open guy, limiting his mistakes and doing enough in terms of extending plays."

A graduate transfer from East Carolina, Minshew stepped into a challenging situation with a program reeling from the suicide death of quarterback Tyler Hilinski in January 2018. Word out of the school is that, almost immediately, Minshew became the leader and the guy everyone drew energy from. He led the Cougars to a school-record 11 wins, averaging an FBS-best 367.6 passing yards per game in Mike Leach's notoriously wide-open Air Raid offense. "He looks like he knows how to read coverages," an AFC scout said. "He didn't have the best Senior Bowl game, but I thought his week was solid."

Though physical traits aren't his strength, Minshew at least is solidly built in the lower body, as evidenced by his recent jean-shorted appearance at Wazzu's spring game. And he has a natural stroke. "I like watching Minshew throw. It's just pretty. It's pure," a QBs coach said. "He's undersized. He played in a different system. But he's got that kind of moxie. It's hard to bet against this dude."

Composite projection: Round 6-7

He doesn't have the passing ability of former college teammate Carson Wentz. But Stick's athletic ability and makeup give him a shot to find a way onto an NFL roster. "I fricking love the athleticism. I love him being a winner," an offensive coordinator said. "I just don't think he throws it well enough to get drafted." Said a QBs coach: "Somebody's going to draft him knowing he's got to sit and develop in the passing game. But he ran for (41) touchdowns in college. The second they got in the red zone or they got in four-minute mode, he was the running back, basically, which is kind of like what the Panthers do with (Cam) Newton, and you see (Mitch) Trubisky doing that. That kind of a system that values that even more, it gives him a better chance, too. And then [his] off-the-charts intangibles."

Stick (6-1 1/4, 224) did throw for 8,693 yards and 88 touchdowns with 28 interceptions while playing in a pro-style system. Several coaches said they could see him in a multipurpose role initially, along the lines of how the Saints use Taysom Hill. "His film's impressive, and then you saw him like East-West and at the combine as an arm and you're like, Ehhh," an AFC scout said. "But he's a gamer, as opposed to like a workout guy. He ran (4.62) at the combine. And there's times he breaks like 40- or 50-yard runs for a touchdown. Nobody's catching him. And he's super tough, runs between the tackles."

Composite projection: Round 7/Priority free agent

Nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien won the starting job over Ryan Finley as a freshman and threw for 13,581 yards and 90 touchdowns in 50 college games (49 starts). He put up his best numbers as a senior and had a good showing at the East-West Shrine Game. "He's like 6-1 [5/8], [210], so he's not the athlete those guys are, but he can really throw it," a QBs coach said. "He's accurate and he's played a lot of football. I think he's a guy that could really potentially play, too. He was one of the best guys throwing it at the combine as far as ball placement."

The physical limitations have him on the edge of draftable range. "I wouldn't see it, unless somebody fell in love with the kid," an NFC scout said. "He's not quite the charismatic type of kid. He just does everything well enough."

Composite projection: Round 7/Priority free agent

Three-year starter, school record-holder in several major categories and a big-time gamer. "Trace McSorley is Baker Mayfield, mindset-wise. He's the toughest, most competitive dude in the draft," a QBs coach said. "He's just 6-foot [1/8], [202] and he throws it good, but not great." One OC said he believes McSorley only gets drafted if a team has plans to cross-train him at another position; he was asked to do defensive back drills at the combine, but declined.

An AFC scout who has studied McSorley extensively pointed out his mobility helped him put up the second-best TD-to-INT ratio in the red zone (42:2) of any Power 5 QB in this class (minimum 100 attempts), even though his accuracy overall is spotty. McSorley's senior year was one of his worst as a passer (53.2 percent completions, 2,530 yards), but he also ran for almost 800 yards. "Technique, footwork is just off enough," the scout said. "Granted, he ran quite a bit and used his feet, so somebody who's playing more of that spread-style, RPO [offense may like him]. He just lips out too many 2- or 3-foot putts where you're like, Come on."

Composite projection: Round 7/Priority free agent

Think of the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year as a blocking version of Taysom Hill, at 6-3, 230. "He'd be some sort of like special teams (contributor), projection to fullback to H-back," an AFC scouting director said. "He's definitely not a quarterback." But there's legitimate buzz about Lovett, who threw for 1,833 yards and rushed for another 894 as a senior after sitting out the entire 2017 season because of an injury.

Composite projection: Round 7/Priority free agent

The son of Giants coach Pat Shurmur started 43 college games, setting school records in several major categories for an often-overmatched Commodores team. "He's got the size (6-4, 230). He played in a pro-style offense," an AFC scout said. "Maybe he can be a solid backup. He's going to do all the right things. Another guy who played in the SEC and got 'em to a bowl in two of his three years." Said a quarterbacks coach: "I think he has a shot to get drafted just from his tape. Now, you line him up at the combine, he stands up next to all those other guys and they throw, I don't think his arm's the same as all those guys. He's a tall, long guy. Sometimes it takes a little more time to get the ball out."

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.

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