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Scouting Notebook: Quarterback Edition

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Which QBs could the Colts’ pursue in the 2020 NFL Draft?

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Scouting Notebook is back for 2019 as we take a weekly look at college prospects who could fit the Colts. If you are unfamiliar with this series, the Scouting Notebook highlights four prospects each week that Colts fans should have their eye on for the upcoming NFL Draft. Now that Chris Ballard has three Colts’ drafts under his belt, it is much easier to identify his types at most positions and really target guys that he may like.

Today’s Scouting Notebook will be focused on the Quarterback edition. Regardless of how the Colts’ finish this season, they could be in the discussion for a QB in this upcoming draft if they feel unsure about Jacoby Brissett’s future with the team. Luckily, there are a few good options in this upcoming draft if they decide to move on from Brissett or if they want to find a high upside backup for him next year. Here are five QB prospects the Colts may look at in the 2020 NFL Draft:


Justin Herbert, Oregon

NCAA Football: Colorado at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Background:

The prototypical mold for an NFL QB, Herbert looks every bit the part. Highly touted since his Sophomore year at Oregon, he has been on the NFL radar for years as he finishes up his Senior season. After surprisingly coming back to Oregon for his final year, he has put together an impressive 2,329 passing yards to go along with 24 TDs and just 2 INTs in only 9 games. He also has a completion percentage of 69.4 and a yards per attempt of 8.1.


Analysis:

Herbert is a very talented quarterback with the arm strength to make any NFL throw when asked. He throws with great velocity on his passes and shows the ability to throw with anticipation. Herbert is a very good athlete as well, able to get out of a collapsing pocket and make plays with his feet. He possesses natural accuracy when his feet are set, and can make throws down the field with good touch and anticipation. He’s also very smart in the classroom, and is a quiet leader of the locker room.

Herbert does Struggle with his mechanics and footwork at times. There are too many occasions on film where he misses open players due to footwork and mechanical issues. He needs some work on the cerebral side as well, as he does struggle a bit to read defenses and that results in a lot of missed opportunities down the field. His biggest concerns, however, are the mechanical and footwork issues that cause inaccurate misses far too often.


Highlights:


Fit with the Colts:

If the Colts want to get Herbert in this draft, they will have to be aggressive. He looks the part of an NFL QB and has the arm talent and natural accuracy to be a long term starter. His ability to thread the needle and throw with anticipation could be a major boost to a rather lifeless Colts offense. If the Colts are concerned with his raw play, they could also elect to sit him for a year while Brissett runs the offense in 2020. Either way, the Colts could have their future at the QB position with Justin Herbert.


Jacob Eason, Washington

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Background:

A once highly-regarded high school recruit, Eason’s college career hasn’t gone exactly to plan. The former 5 Star had an up and down start for Georgia before he transferred to Washington after losing his job to Jake Fromm. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, he began showing his immense talent for the Huskies. So far, he has thrown for 2,472 yards, 20 TDs, and 8 INTs in 10 games. He has also completed 63.7% of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt.


Analysis:

Eason has a big arm with a gunslinger mentality. He’s not afraid to force the ball into tight spaces as he plays with great confidence in the backfield. He makes NFL throws with ease as he has the velocity and anticipation to make them. Eason’s not a great athlete, but mobile enough to make plays out of the pocket and on the move. He stands tall in the pocket and will take a hit if it means completing a pass downfield.

Eason’s gunslinger mentality can go wrong too often, and his decision making needs some work. He needs to understand when to take a risk and when not to. His throwing motion is also a bit elongated, and isn’t as quick as one would like. Eason needs to work through his progressions a bit quicker and not hold on for the deep ball as much in the NFL.


Highlights:


Fit with the Colts:

With Eason, the Colts could have a traditional gunslinger with a ton of potential. He may be an unfinished product at the moment with his decision making and anticipation, but the upside and aggressiveness in his game can’t be ignored. The Colts could either sit him behind Brissett for a year or elect to play the youngster and roll with the ups and downs. If the Colts go QB in this next draft, getting a player with Eason’s talent would be a huge plus.


Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Background:

One of the craziest college football stories will come to an end this year. A Freshman Starter and National Champion for Alabama, Jalen Hurts was forced to transfer to Oklahoma as a Senior after to losing his job to the talented Tua Tagovailoa. He has put together his best collegiate season under Lincoln Riley, throwing for 2,742 yards, 24 TDs, and 4 INTs. He has also rushed 125 times for 869 yards and 15 TDs on the year.


Analysis:

An outstanding athlete, Hurts is basically a running back playing quarterback. He has the ability to make defenses pay with both his arm and his legs. Hurts is excellent outside of the pocket, as he thrives when the playcall is broken down. He’s also strong in the pocket and does a good job of maneuvering around oncoming rushers. He has good arm strength and the natural accuracy necessary to survive in the NFL. He’s shown the ability to improve over time as a passer, and is a quintessential leader of a football team.

Throwing with anticipation is a major concern, as he struggles to throw players open. Hurts’ arm strength is good enough to survive, but he won’t often threaten a defense deep with his arm. He can often be too reliant on his legs to make a play, and tends to stare down receivers and struggles to get through his reads.


Highlights


Fit with the Colts:

With Jalen Hurts, the Colts would be getting a potential difference maker in year one at QB. He may not have the best natural accuracy or anticipation in his game, but he makes up for it with his dual threat ability. Frank Reich could be truly creative with Hurts, as he can do so many things for an offense. If the Colts truly want to move on from Brissett and don’t want to move up in the draft for a new QB, Hurts would be the perfect fit for the team both on and off the field.


Nate Stanley, Iowa

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Boston College vs Iowa Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Background:

The strong armed QB of the Hawkeyes looks to carry his play over to the NFL. Stanley may not be a household name but he has led one of the better teams in the Big 10 the last three seasons. As a Senior, Stanley has passed for 2,158 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in 9 games. He has completed 60.7 percent of his passes and has 7.4 yards per attempt. Additionally, he will likely be a Senior Bowl addition, so he checks off a few “Chris Ballard boxes” from the beginning.


Analysis:

Stanley has all the talent and ability to run a Frank Reich led offense. He has a big arm and can make NFL throws with velocity and touch. He is mobile in and out of the pocket, and can make plays on the move, as well. He really needs work with his throwing mechanics and facing pressure in the pocket, but he has the traits and demeanor to be a good project quarterback as a backup.


Highlights:


Fit with the Colts:

Stanley may not be the short-term answer for the Colts but he has long-term potential. With a big arm, decent mobility, and ability to make NFL throws, there is a lot there to work with. He may take some grooming from Reich, but he could maybe become the guy one day. If they decide to take Stanley in this coming draft, the Colts would at the very least have a strong armed, young backup behind Brissett going forward.


Brian Lewerke, Michigan State

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Background:

Another big armed/big body QB, Lewerke hopes to raise his draft stock at the Senior Bowl in 2020. He started his career strong at MSU, gaining fans in the draft community early in his Junior season as a result. As his play tapered off a bit, his stock fell as well, but the talent is there. As a Senior, Lewerke has thrown for 2,012 yards, 12 TDs, and 7 INTs. He has completed just 55.7% of his passes and has a yards per attempt of 6.8.


Analysis:

While the last two seasons haven’t been pretty, he has shown the ability to be an NFL quarterback back when he was a Sophomore. He has great arm strength and velocity on his throws, and he can make NFL throws with ease. He has shown the ability to throw with anticipation and won’t shy away from difficult throws. He needs a lot of work pre-snap, and his accuracy issues will always be a problem, but with the right coaching, he could be something in the NFL.


Highlights:


Fit with the Colts:

Like Stanley, Lewerke fits that big-armed yet moldable backup model. He is not at all ready for the NFL at the moment, but he does have the talent to eventually be something in the league. If he can work on his play from the pocket and throwing mechanics as well as some other cerebral aspects of his game, he can be something in this league. He would be a low-risk investment for the Colts to take a flyer on and hope to develop into something.