NFL

2016 QB NFL Draft Prospects Are No Match For Last Year’s QB Prospects

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As the draft nears closer, all types of reports from anonymous scouts begin to surface.  Some of them are “smoke,” in the hopes that a player might drop, and some are simply opinions.

As of late, the top signal callers in this draft class have been lauded for their potential.   One anonymous report even stated that North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and California’s Jared Goff, the top two quarterbacks in this class, have less question marks than last year’s top two quarterbacks.

It’s easy to point to hindsight being 20/20 when both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota had stellar rookie seasons.

Winston and Mariota are superior prospects to Wentz and Goff, and it isn’t particularly close.

When evaluating NFL prospects, collegiate stats, wins and accolades matter very little.  With that being said, the top two selections in the 2015 Draft had all the hardware, and the pro skill sets to go with it.

Sure, there were questions about both quarterbacks.  Winston had plenty of off the field concerns after his rape allegation, a separate shoplifting incident as well as an on-campus expletive that caused him to be suspended for a game.  The eventual No. 1 pick, Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion also saw his interception total skyrocket in his second year of starting.

The questions revolving around Mariota had nothing to do with off the field, as one scout actually knocked him for being too “nice.”  Although a stellar individual away from the gridiron, the former Oregon Duck had plenty of detractors mostly due to the spread offense he played in.

After one season, both quarterbacks look like they will be fixtures for their respective teams for years to come.

As for this years dynamic duo, it seems that their floors might be higher, but the ceilings are considerably lower.

Wentz is trying to make the transition from small school FCS quarterback to the NFL.  Although there are a few that have done it successfully somewhat recently like Steve McNair and Joe Flacco, there is plenty of risk and real questions about the lack of competition he faced.

The North Dakota State product more than held his own at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

“It showed I can handle that game speed,” Wentz said about his week in Mobile. “Obviously there’s still going to be a big jump going forward, but that was probably the big question everyone wants to know: Can he adjust? He was playing FCS ball. All these guys are FBS guys. I think I went in there and proved that I could handle it.”

Sure, there were future NFL players at the Senior Bowl, but three non-padded practices where you don’t embarrass yourself does not an NFL superstar quarterback make.

“Do they dominate?” Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said when asked about prospects making the jump from FCS. “They need to dominate at that level. They can’t just be a good player at that level. They have to dominate the competition, and they have to have a swagger about them to be able to come into a locker room of SEC guys and other guys with a chip on their shoulder.”

Wentz has prototypical size at 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, and has the adequate hand size at 10 inches, but there are major questions about how he’ll handle the speed of NFL defenses and adjust to complex schemes.

As for Goff, although he went to the same school (California) as Aaron Rodgers, he pales in comparison.

That’s not a complete knock on Goff, as it’s difficult to be compared to one of the best quarterbacks in recent history.

“I would pump the brakes on that one,” former NFL Scout Daniel Jeremiah said about the Goff-Rodgers comparison on the Rich Eisen Show.  “They’re different guys, Aaron Rodgers, you’re talking about arm strength that’s a different level than Goff, and even the natural feel for the position that Aaron had and some of the pinpoint accuracy he had, those are rare traits. But Goff is very poised. He can move around a little bit and extend plays. … The game looks like it’s slow for him, and that’s what you want to see at his position.”

It’s tough to find a true comparison for Goff.  He doesn’t do anything at an elite level. Although that doesn’t mean he can’t be a very good quarterback, the lack of hand size (nine inches) is just one of the knocks.

“It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow, and it’s different,” Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson said about Goff’s hand size. “I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations, and so we’ll look for a guy that fits what we’re looking for in a quarterback, and, is hand size important? Yes, it is.”

Goff is resistant to the criticism.

“I’ve been told I have pretty big hands my whole life. I heard I have small hands yesterday, apparently. No, I’ve never had a problem with that or expect it to be a problem at all,” Goff said.

No quarterback prospect is perfect.  The closest thing to it was Andrew Luck, and there were some who questioned his arm strength, which has not been an issue.

There will be criticism of every quarterback that enters the draft because of the value and scrutiny of the position.  That’s something to keep in mind.

Wentz and Goff are flawed-Just like Winston and Mariota last year-and they might turn into solid NFL quarterbacks, but they are considerably behind where Winston and Mariota were a year ago at this time.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.