Cluster Busters: Ranking top college QB prospects entering 2019

With the start of the college football season just around the corner, and on the heels of Mike Sando's fascinating recent QB tiers piece for The Athletic, I thought it would be a great time to take a similar look at the top QB prospects in the college pipeline.

Since I'm still in the early stages of studying the next wave of passers, I reached out to several personnel executives around the NFL to get a sense of how they view these players. Here's a look at the top four clusters of college signal-callers heading into the 2019 campaign based on the feedback -- some of which I've included below -- I received from the execs.

NOTE: We limited our scope for this list to seniors and underclassmen who will be eligible to apply for early entry into the NFL draft after the season. That's why you don't see Clemson's Trevor Lawrence mentioned below -- he's a sophomore and won't be eligible for the draft until 2021 at the earliest.

Cluster I

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

 **Analysis:** I think Tua is going to be the most over-scrutinized player in the country. He played nearly flawless football until the end of the season and then he struggled. I think health was the major reason for his slippage (he underwent ankle surgery in December). He has rare instincts and accuracy. 
 **Exec's take:** "I think he's special. His ability to anticipate and accurately throw the ball is outstanding. He doesn't have ideal size but that doesn't really matter anymore." 

School: Oregon | Year: Senior

 **Analysis:** You could put together a cut-up of plays and make Herbert look like the best quarterback in the last decade. You could put together another cut-up and make him look like a late-round pick. The talent is there. He just needs to put it all together for an entire season. 
 **Exec's take:** "I love him. He's the next great one. He's big, athletic and has a huge arm. I saw him in camp and he's made improvements with his accuracy. He hasn't scratched the surface of how good he can be. Also, he has amazing character." 

School: Utah State | Year: Redshirt junior

 **Analysis:** The scouting community starting really buzzing about Love last fall. I talked to a respected scout who had just left the school on a visit and he told me he liked Love more than Herbert. I haven't done a full workup on him yet, but I like what I've seen thus far. He is very much in the mix to be considered the top guy at the position. 
 **Exec's take:** "This dude flashes on tape. I watched the Michigan State game (from last season) and was blown away. He's not a finished product but the tools are incredible." 

Cluster II

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

 **Analysis:** Fromm will end up being a very polarizing player around the league. Some see what he can do -- play with poise, throw the ball accurately and exhibit ideal leadership skills. Others will obsess over the negatives -- lacks ideal arm strength and athleticism. I want to see him throw live to get a sense of his arm strength. That's tough to evaluate off the video. 
 **Exec's take:** "He can really see the field and throw the ball on time with good placement. He doesn't have elite traits but he will be an efficient starter in the NFL." 

School: Iowa | Year: Senior

 **Analysis:** While there's been a healthy difference of opinion on most of these quarterbacks, everyone says the same thing about Stanley -- they really like him. Most teams have him right here in this range and believe he's only going to climb higher as we go through the fall. 
 **Exec's take:** "I'd put Stanley up there right behind (Herbert) and (Tagovailoa). He has the size and arm talent that you want. I was at practice last year and saw him rip a seam route and came away thinking he was a legit NFL guy." 

School: LSU | Year: Senior

 **Analysis:** I haven't spent much time studying Burrow yet, but he did flash some when studying LSU's other offensive players last fall. I was told he's an excellent athlete but his athleticism didn't really stand out to me when I studied LSU. He'll have plenty of opportunities to impress evaluators with the schedule LSU will face this season. 
 **Exec's take:** "Burrow is interesting. He's very competitive. This is a big year for him. I think he's better than most people think. He could be a fast riser." 

Cluster III

School: Stanford | Year: Redshirt junior

 **Analysis:** I studied Costello last fall after I was told he might consider leaving Stanford early. I really like his size, toughness and velocity. He makes some big-time drive throws. I thought he needed to improve his quickness working through progressions, underneath touch and pocket awareness. 
 **Exec's take:** "I'm not quite as high on Costello as some others around the league but I recognize his traits. He's big, smart and tough. He just needs to be more consistent." 

School: Colorado | Year: Redshirt senior

 **Analysis:** I've seen Montez play in person and he does have plenty of velocity to complement his ability to create with his legs. He's just too inconsistent with his placement and decision-making. He has the potential to move up to Cluster II or down to Cluster IV by the end of the season. 
 **Exec's take:** "He has the size and athleticism you want but he's got to get better functioning inside the pocket. He's too scattered right now." 

School: Michigan | Year: Senior

 **Analysis:** Everyone I talked to agreed that Patterson is an excellent athlete, but they have questions about his ability to transition to the next level. Is he just a run-around guy or can he make things happen from within the pocket? We still need an answer to that question heading into the 2019 season. 
 **Exec's take:** "I can't figure Patterson out just yet. I know he's a playmaker but I'm anxious to visit the school and learn more about him on and off the field." 

School: Washington | Year: Redshirt junior

 **Analysis:** I've followed Eason's career since his high school days. There was an enormous amount of hype surrounding his arrival at the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, Jake Fromm took control of the starting job there and that led to Eason's transfer to Washington. Physically, he looks just like Justin Herbert. I'm anxious to see if he can emerge as a premier prospect or if he'll end up being another Christian Hackenburg, a highly touted player who never lived up to lofty expectations. 
 **Exec's take:** "There was some buzz on Eason when I visited the program last year. He is massive and he's got a ridiculous arm. Honestly, I'm excited to see him in this offense. It's very QB-friendly." 

School: Notre Dame | Year: Redshirt junior

 **Analysis:** When I peeked at Book last year, he reminded me of 
 Trace McSorley, the former Penn State QB and sixth-round pick of the 
 Ravens. Book lacks ideal size, but he just finds a way to get the job done with both his arm and legs. He sees the field well and will take the free yards when the defense gives him room. Can he really drive the football? I'm looking forward to getting that question answered this fall. 
 **Exec's take:** "I saw Book {play) live and I really like the kid. He's flying under the radar right now but he won't be for long." 

Cluster IV

School: Michigan State | Year: Redshirt senior

 **Analysis:** Some scoffed at Lewerke being on this list, but I received enough intrigue from executives to include him. Nothing went right for him or the Spartans last fall. At this point in time, it seems he'll likely be a late-round pick or free-agent signee, but there's still a chance he'll be more highly valued by NFL teams. Hopefully he has a bounce-back year and climbs up the ranks. 
 **Exec's take:** "Last year wasn't pretty but he's got ability. He was a different guy in 2017." 

School: Oklahoma | Year: Senior

 **Analysis:** Hurts has a long way to go as a passer, but I love the way he fights and leads his team. I watched him throw live at the 
 Elite 11 camp last year and thought he spun it better than anticipated. He just needs to improve his touch and anticipation. He will find his way onto an NFL roster in some capacity. It's up to him to determine whether or not that will be at the quarterback position. 
 **Exec's take:** "I'm not sure if he'll play the position in the NFL but he's a special competitor and he's going to be productive in this Oklahoma offense. Can he consistently make throws from the pocket? That's to be determined. I know he's the kind of leader you want. Great kid!" 

School: Texas A&M | Year: Junior

 **Analysis:** After watching Mond play against Clemson early last fall, I was fired up. He made some big throws and displayed his toughness. His season was very up and down after that performance, though. I think he has real upside. He just needs to do a better job of making decisions within the pocket. 
 **Exec's take:** "He's on the watch list for me. I think (Aggies head coach) Jimbo Fisher does a great job with quarterbacks and I expect to see some improvements from Mond this fall. He's worth monitoring." 

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content