ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay provided their opinions today on the top quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL draft, including Cal junior Jared Goff. Here are excerpts from their online conversation:
— Who are the quarterbacks we’ll be talking about on the first night of the draft?
Kiper: Two for certain, three possible, and a fourth for good measure.
Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Jared Goff of Cal are two possible top-10 picks right now. Lynch has the great range of tools, and Goff has a special arm, moves well and has a ton of experience. The third name to add to the Round 1 mix is Connor Cook of Michigan State, who at his best looks like a first-round lock, but can struggle with ball placement on his throws. The name to watch as a possible late first-round pick, perhaps by some team trading back into the first round, is Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Forget the school name. If Wentz, a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder, were playing for Bama or Florida State you’d think, `Man, that team has a really good QB.’ He can move really well.
— Good QB class, bad QB class, or average QB class?
McShay: It’s a disappointing QB class compared with its preseason potential. The bright spot has been the emergence of Paxton Miller (28 TDs, 3 INTS). If he leaves early, he’s likely to be the first QB drafted. Jared Goff makes some exceptional throws but is still too inconsistent with his accuracy (11 INTs in 9 Pac-12 games). I’d like to see him return to school to improve is footwork and add bulk/strength to his frame, but it appears he has different plans. Neither Lynch nor Goff will receive as high a grade as Jameis Winston last year, but I expect both to be first-round picks if they declare.
— Is there a QB who can start right away and not look bad?
McShay: No. None of the 2016 QB prospects are as NFL-ready as Winston was coming into this season, and we all saw how long it took him to adjust to the NFL. Of this year’s batch, Connor Cook is the most prepared mentally, given his extensive experience in a pro-style offense. But like Mel mentioned earlier, his accuracy issues are a concern. Jared Goff, who plays in a spread system, and Paxton Lynch, who has had a lack of elite competition, will face big adjustments at the next level.
— What about the underclassmen who could use another year of development?
McShay: All the quarterbacks. Seriously. I talked about it above, but none of these guys are ready to be effective Day 1 starters in the NFL. I’d prefer to see them come back and continue to develop their skill sets.