All of the top quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft participated in throwing drills at the NFL Combine on Saturday, giving teams, draft analysts and reporters an opportunity to watch their deliveries, arm strength and ball placement in a controlled setting. Here’s a quick breakdown of several of the top prospects — at least six of whom have had formal interviews with the Chiefs this week — and how they fared Saturday, with the help of CBS draft analyst Rob Rang and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.
Josh Dobbs, 6-3, 216, Tennessee: Long, athletic dual-threat quarterback with a strong arm and quick delivery. Ball really jumped out of his hand Saturday. Aerospace engineering major with all kinds of developmental tools. Showed some touch on the deep ball. Beat out Nathan Peterman (a top prospect in this draft from Pittsburgh) for the starting job at Tennessee. Intriguing developmental candidate.
Jerod Evans, 6-3, 232, Virginia Tech: Strong, athletic dual-threat quarterback with only one year of FBS experience. Has a long delivery and is not used to taking drops from under center. Arm strength is solid. Accuracy needs to be refined on all throws, but like Dobbs, has some interesting developmental tools.
Brad Kaaya, 6-4, 214, Miami (Fla.): Smart pro-style passer with experience spitting out real plays. Generally makes good decisions and takes care of the football. Footwork on drops was clean and balanced Saturday, though his arm strength is only adequate and he struggles with the strike zone, especially deep. He missed on some deep throws Saturday, much like he did during the course of the season, but it was a good performance overall. “The two guys I’d want to develop in the third or fourth round that have potential starter characteristics are Kaaya and Dobbs,” Mayock said. “Both of them are highly inconsistent in the pocket but they’ve got size and arm strength.”
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DeShone Kizer, 6-4, 233, Notre Dame: Good athlete whose size and relative youth — he declared after his redshirt sophomore season and just turned 21 — will work in his favor. Has a very strong arm and flashes the ability to throw with touch, but his footwork is inconsistent, leading to accuracy issues. Decision-making needs refinement, as well as his ball placement. Has the tools and physical profile to be the first quarterback taken. “The ball jumps out of his hand but the footwork was erratic,” Rang said.
Patrick Mahomes II, 6-2, 225, Texas Tech: Gunslinger with a cannon for an arm. Ball jumps out of his hand, and he will use a sidearm sort of motion. Struggled with the strike zone some Saturday, both long and short, but is a rhythm sort of passer capable of getting hot. Refuses to give up on plays and will occasionally make bad decisions. Mechanics need work. Never had to spit out wordy play calls. Everyone says his intangibles are rock-solid. Beat out Davis Webb (a top prospect in this draft from California) for the starting job at Texas Tech. “The velocity was good,” Rang said. “He showed better footwork than I expected. For him to be as smooth as he was dropping back, that impressed me.”
Nathan Peterman, 6-2, 226, Pittsburgh: Is perhaps the most NFL-ready of any of the quarterbacks. Comes out of a play-action-heavy, pro-style system in which he made adjustments at the line, spit out actual play calls and had to throw with anticipation. A capable thrower on the run. Arm strength is good enough on out routes.. Deep ball strength and accuracy is a question mark. Didn’t throw it much in college and didn’t connect much Saturday.
Mitchell Trubisky, 6-2, 222, North Carolina: Nice, easy gas out of a three-quarters delivery. Ball jumps out of his hand and he generates RPMs on outs and digs. Also has quick feet when dropping back, despite operating primarily out of the shotgun. Throws a nice deep ball. Will need to prove he can stand tall amid pressure in the pocket and be an alpha leader of men after starting only one year in college. “Pretty solid day,” Rang said. “I think he checked off all the boxes.”
Deshaun Watson, 6-2, 221, Clemson: Footwork is a work in progress but was much smoother Saturday. Has enough heat to make most of the throws. Deep ball looks good, throws a nice, catchable spiral. Ball-placement was good, too. Will need to prove he can identify underneath coverage and command NFL verbiage when he reaches the pros. Proven winner who wins over people once they meet him. “He really looked good today,” Mayock said. “His footwork was better than I expected and his accuracy was consistently outstanding.”
Davis Webb, 6-5, 229, California: Has an absolute gun. Air-Raid quarterback who is not completely comfortable taking drops; footwork was inconsistent Saturday. Air-mailed a throw or two, as well. Everyone says nice things about his intangibles. Very, very confident player who drew laughs with his answer when asked by a reporter when he knew he’d be in the NFL. “He continued the positive momentum since the Senior Bowl,” Rang said. “You can see that he has tools.”
Others: Iowa’s C.J. Beathard (6-2, 219) could be an interesting backup candidate. His arm strength is solid and he has football in his blood as the grandson of former Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard. … Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight (6-1, 219) battles accuracy issues but he also generates some RPMs pretty easily and looks pretty athletic. … Central Michigan’s Cooper Rush (6-3, 228) won’t wow you with his arm strength but his accuracy and anticipation on the short throws was noticeable.