Comparing the top five 2020 QBs to recent college stars
For the next two weeks, Rivals.com is launching a series comparing the top five players at each position with current college players or those who were selected in the 2019 NFL Draft to better give fans an idea of who these players are and what to expect from the next round of superstars in the game.
Today we start with quarterbacks.
1. D.J. UIAGALELEI
Overview: Starting off the series with a player who has no recent comparison might sound like a cop out, but there is no one in college football or in this year’s NFL Draft that compares to Uiagalelei, who can throw a ball 80 yards, is a stud baseball pitcher and is already 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. Two sources told me at the same stage Uiagalelei is ahead of former St. John Bosco five-star quarterback Josh Rosen, who was a first-round draft pick in 2018. If there was an NFL comparison, it would be a mix between Carson Wentz, Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger - a big, sturdy pocket passer with an absolutely huge arm who can also escape pressure and throw on the run.
Farrell’s take: Let’s start it off with a guy who has no comparison in college or the 2019 NFL Draft! There is no one in college football that reminds me of Uiagalelei nor any of the quarterbacks who were drafted, so we go back to guys like Newton and Ryan Mallett when it comes to former five-stars out of high school. Newton was more mobile that Uiagalelei and Mallett had a stronger arm but you get the point – a big quarterback with a strong arm who can move around the pocket and extend the play. He’s going to be a good one.
2. HARRISON BAILEY
Comparison: K.J. Costello
Overview: Bailey is a prototypical pocket passer who feels most comfortable sitting behind the line of scrimmage and finding receivers all over the field. Then he has the dynamic arm strength to deliver passes into tight windows and he’s learning to put touch on the ball as well.
The Tennessee commit is not going to blow anybody away with his speed and all those traits are similar to Costello, who had a really strong arm in high school but dealt with accuracy issues at times. However, during his strong career at Stanford, he’s learned to harness that in a little bit but can still fire it all over to open receivers. Bailey has all of those similar attributes and his accuracy is probably a little better at the same stage.
Farrell’s take: Bailey and Costello are very smart quarterbacks who were pure pocket guys coming out of high school and relied on timing and smarts to make big plays. Tennessee is a great fit for Bailey and he will be a success there as Costello has done a great job at Stanford. Costello has a quicker release but Bailey is probably more cerebral at the same stage, but I love this comparison.
3. BRYCE YOUNG
Comparison: Kyler Murray
Overview: Comparing anyone to the No. 1 overall draft pick is heady stuff, but Young has many similar qualities and it’s a huge reason why Oklahoma, Alabama and others continue to pursue the USC commit. Young is like a point guard on the football field as he orchestrates the offense, never gets flustered and almost feels more in his element when the play breaks down and he can look downfield while escaping pressure. In the biggest situations, against the best opponents, Young never cracks under pressure and plays the game with a coolness rarely seen at the high school level. He does need to get thicker and stronger but let’s not forget that Murray was listed at 170 pounds in high school and got to 207 at the combine.
Farrell’s take: Who better to compare Young with than Murray as both are very undersized players coming out of high school but are dynamic. Murray proved us wrong and showed he should have been a five-star prospect while the jury is still out on Young. I like Young a little better as a passer at the same stage, but Murray was much quicker and athletic. If Young can have a year like Murray did, his career will be made.
4. JACK MILLER
Comparison: Drew Lock
Overview: When we were coming up with these comparisons, there was a fear Lock didn’t make sense for Miller because of height. But after looking at the measurables from the combine it’s a dead-on match as both are 6-foot-4. And they in a similar way even if Lock is more vocal about it. They both love playing in the shotgun, they love throwing the deep ball and Miller is excellent putting the ball up high especially down the seam where his receiver or tight end could go up and get it. Both quarterbacks put up prolific stats as well as Miller had 27 touchdowns in eight games last season. Lock threw 28. What Lock did for Missouri’s offense, Miller will have the chance to do in Ohio State’s in the coming years.
Farrell’s take: Miller is a bit more filled out than Lock at the same stage but his has similar mechanics and both have excellent arms coming out of high school. Lock was thrown into the fire early at Missouri and Miller will likely get more time to get adjusted and the jury is out on how well that will work out. I’m a fan of throwing quarterbacks right into the mix and letting them swim or sink, but I like the quarterback situation at Ohio State for Miller regardless.
5. JAY BUTTERFIELD
Comparison: Daniel Jones
Overview: Butterfield is also a hard comparison because he’s unique physically at 6-foot-6 and 206 pounds. Even though he’s on the lean side, the four-star quarterback has a terrific arm, outstanding accuracy and he surprises a lot of people when he shows up to events and dominates. He was arguably the most consistent quarterback last year at the Steve Clarkson event in May and there was some serious competition there. In that way, he’s a little overlooked just like Jones, who went sixth overall to the New York Giants and some analysts are still questioning whether that was a good pick. While many other quarterbacks are discussed more, Butterfield has been tremendous in every event for years as well.
Farrell’s take: Jones was a walk-on out of high school who developed into a first-round pick while Butterfield was heavily recruiting, but beyond that the comparisons are obvious. Jones was a cerebral quarterback who had great size and a live arm and Butterfield is the same way. Butterfield reminds me of Jones during his junior year, so he’s ahead of the curve but it will take a great career for him to be a top-10 NFL Draft pick.