football Edit

NFL Draft watch: Quarterback

Ranking: From Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) Walsh Jesuit, Cook was a three-star prospect and the No. 13 pro-style quarterback in the 2011 class.
Recruiting: Michigan State offered Cook during Junior Day in February of his junior year and the Spartans immediately became the favorite. He committed in April before his senior season with Miami (Ohio) being Cook's only other offer at the time.
Overview: Cook hasn't been incredibly accurate, completing 58 percent of his passes -- and that against some weaker competition including Air Force and Central Michigan -- but he has thrown for 838 yards with an impressive 9/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In an offense where the rushing and passing yards are pretty even, Cook does a nice job of moving the ball in the passing game when needed. A big test comes at Michigan on Oct. 17.
Farrell's Take: I like Cook a lot and appreciate the way he has developed at Michigan State, a program that is earning a reputation as one of the best in the country for taking prospects to the next level. In fact, Cook was as recruited like a kicker and punter to some extent early in his high school career, but he has flourished in East Lansing. OK, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but he was lightly recruited. We liked him a bit better than most schools, having him top 15 nationally and as a high three-star. However, he has certainly panned out better than expected and I like his leadership and toughness.
3
QB
Cody Kessler
USC
Ranking: Kessler was rated as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the 2011 class. The former Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial standout was No. 71 overall and sixth in the California state rankings.
Recruiting: Washington was possibly minutes away from landing Kessler's commitment when USC offered. UCLA offered the same day but after visiting with the Trojans they won out. Then-USC coach Lane Kiffin called Kessler a "spitting image" of former Trojans star QB Mark Sanchez.
Overview: Kessler is having a phenomenal start to the season and could see himself climb up draft boards if he continues to play so well. In a 42-14 thrashing of Arizona State last weekend, Kessler threw five touchdown passes. On the season, Kessler is completing 73 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards with 15 TDs and only one pick. Nationally, he's sixth in passing yards and tops in the Pac-12. It doesn't get easier, though, with Washington, Notre Dame and Utah coming up.
Farrell's Take: Kessler doesn't make mistakes. He's so smart with the ball and doesn't force things and the NFL loves good decision-makers. As a high school prospect, he was in a weak quarterback class and was clearly one of the best in 2011. But given the fact that he was No. 2 at quarterback and all the way back at No. 71 overall, you could see we had some questions. So far, he has proven to be about on track when it comes to his expected progress or maybe slightly ahead. His size questions are fading as he continues to excel and more smaller quarterbacks impact the NFL.
4
QB
Chad Kelly
Ole Miss
Ranking: Kelly, out of Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Joseph's, was rated as the fourth-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2012 class. After transferring from Clemson to Scooba (Miss.) East Mississippi C.C., Kelly was rated as a three-star recruit.
Recruiting: Florida State was considered the leader late in his recruitment, but then Clemson made its final push and then-assistant coach Chad Morris played a big role in landing Kelly. When off-the-field issues made things not work out at Clemson, Kelly transferred to junior college and then to Ole Miss.
Overview: Kelly has been dynamic in Ole Miss' offense this season and with only four games under his belt looks completely comfortable. He has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards with 10 TDs and three interceptions, averaging more than 300 passing yards per game. The Rebels have already beaten Alabama -- and Kelly played well -- and have another tough test this week at Florida before two games (New Mexico State and Memphis) where Kelly should be able to pad the stats.
Farrell's Take: Kelly has been a tough evaluation at two spots, out of high school and then out of JUCO, because he's had so many different off-field issues. His play on the field to go along with his size, mobility and accuracy will get him looks from the NFL, but can he overcome the character questions and scrutiny of the NFL scouts? No matter how well he does on the field, those questions will follow him and need answering. But his on-field skill has never been questioned and he would have been ranked higher out of high school and JUCO without the other issues.
5
QB
Trevone Boykin
TCU
Ranking: Boykin was rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the 2011 class.
Recruiting: Other than his offer from TCU, Boykin had one from UTEP and he was receiving interest from Baylor and Louisiana Tech. There were some questions whether he projected as a quarterback or athlete in college, TCU gave him a shot at QB and it has worked out.
Overview: In a 55-52 shootout win over Texas Tech last weekend, Boykin completed 34 of 54 passes for 485 yards and four touchdowns, his last one coming off a tip in the end zone. For the season, Boykin is completing 65 percent of his throws for 1,470 yards with 14 touchdowns and three picks. He has also rushed for two scores. Boykin's passing yardage is third in the FBS behind only Bowling Green's Matt Johnson and Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty.
Farrell's Take: Boykin wasn't a polished passer in high school and still isn't, which is why he wasn't heavily recruited, but he's a dynamic playmaker and will get looks. We liked his athleticism and felt he could change positions if quarterback didn't work out because we felt there was a chance that his sidearm delivery would hurt him down the line. Scouts won't like his mechanics, but the kid is used to being the dominant one on offense. He was a one-man show for West Mesquite, so a lot of pressure was put on him and he tried to do too much at times. That led to some mistakes, but TCU is the perfect offense for him and the attention he gets as he develops will help his stock.
Two to watch
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma | Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Overview: In three games, Mayfield has thrown for 1,062 yards with 10 TDs and two interceptions, leading the Sooners to a gutsy come-from-behind overtime victory at Tennessee and then setting school records two weeks ago in a win against Tulsa. As for Hackenberg, he has completed 53 percent of his passes for 668 yards with four touchdowns and two picks. Once considered a possible top-3 pick, the Penn State quarterback hasn't lit up the scoreboard this season mainly because of an iffy offensive line and a methodical offense.
Farrell's Take: Mayfield is a gamer with that "it" factor that NFL teams covet and may help him overcome some other questions, mainly decision making and trying to do too much. As for Hackenberg, he entered this season as the potential No. 1 pick in the draft but he has shown zero mobility, made some poor decisions under fire and his offensive line has been worse than last year, which has hurt him. The decision-making was a question mark out of high school as well, but he didn't look like the deer-in-headlights we see now, even with a weak offensive line at the prep level.
Adam Gorney
National Recruiting Analyst
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