NFL clubs that are considering taking a quarterback with one of the top 10 picks of the 2017 draft do so at their own peril.
Clemson's Deshaun Watson, North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer are considered three of the most promising options in a relatively weak pool of draftable quarterbacks, and NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock left little doubt about whether any of them merit a top-10 selection in the draft.
"All three of these quarterbacks, to me, I would be scared to death in the top 10," Mayock told The College Draft podcast.
The Cleveland Browns certainly have a need at the position, and hold the No. 1 overall pick, as well as the No. 12 pick. If NFL clubs see the quarterback field as Mayock does, the Browns could potentially address a different position with the No. 1 pick and still have their pick of any quarterback at No. 12. Other clubs with a top 10-pick and a quarterback need include the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and New York Jets.
Mayock addressed concerns on each of Watson, Trubisky and Kizer. Whether Watson has the ability to maintain accuracy when his first read is not open, particularly while remaining in the pocket, is among the questions NFL clubs will want answered about him, per Mayock. As for Trubisky, who was a backup at UNC to Marquise Williams for two seasons prior to 2016, a lack of college experience for a one-year starter is a top concern.
"If (Trubisky is) so talented and gifted, and a top-10-type pick, one of the first questions a lot of teams are asking is, why couldn't he beat out Marquise Williams the last couple years at North Carolina? What's the answer to that one?," Mayock said.
Mayock believes Kizer has the highest ceiling of the three, but his play at critical times for the Fighting Irish wasn't impressive.
"The problem I have is that (Kizer's) pocket mechanics seem to break down at the worst times. He got removed in the fourth quarter from two or three games last year. He got replaced at Stanford, he got replaced at USC. I've watched five of his games so far, and in almost every game at critical times, the pocket mechanics, the feel in the pocket, the decisions you're making with the football, seems to break down when the team needs him the most."
As tempting as it might be for an NFL club to address the most important position on the field with the best any given draft has to offer, drafting for need over value is reputed to be a bad strategy.
And if the teams needing a quarterback stick to value-based picks early in the draft, the top QBs could slide for a while.