Big 10 QBs in Need of Bounce-Back Seasons
We may not have reached Memorial Day but, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to talk 2020 draft, right? Right? We’re under 100 days until the college football season starts so, it seems like the perfect time if you ask me.
While the Big 10 is littered with extremely good prospects at offensive line and linebacker, as well as hosting my top 4 EDGE rushers in the upcoming class, the QB class representing the conference is… substandard at best. Of the seven draft eligible starters in the conference, two- Hunter Johnson of Northwestern and Peyton Ramsey of Indiana- are relative unknowns to most of the draft community. Of the remaining five, only Nathan Stanley of Iowa would have likely been draftable in the 2019 class. The other 4 are going to need to step it up this coming year if they have any hope of hearing their name called come April 2020.
Brian Lewerke – Michigan State
I wanted to like Brian Lewerke heading into last season. He was vastly different from anything the Spartans had put out in all my years of watching college football. Unfortunately, his offensive line couldn’t block the staff at WNS if their lives depended on it. Lewerke spent most of 2018 running for his life which drastically affected his production. He missed two games (Purdue & Nebraska) and only attempted 1 pass against Rutgers. Below are his more egregious lines:
– 24 of 52 (46%) for 259 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT vs Penn St.
– 5 of 25 (20%) for 66 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs vs Michigan
– 11 for 20 (55%) for 87 yards, 1INT vs Maryland
– 11 for 28 (39%) for 128 yards, 1INT vs Ohio St.
It’s worth noting that all of these games were in a row, only separated by the DNP against Purdue. Overall Lewerke finished 2018 completing 54% of his passes, throwing for 2040 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 11 picks.
What Lewerke has to look forward to is another year behind that offensive line which should hopefully improve. In addition, wideouts Cody White and Darrell Stewart Jr., who Lewerke had a good connection with, are back. He obviously needs to improve on his accuracy and decision making this coming year. Last year looks to be more of a blip on the radar for Sparty than the norm. Ultimately, Lewerke is the key to the team’s success. A big year from him and Michigan State could find themselves ranked at season’s end. Another stinker and he may ultimate be nothing more than a camp body
2019 stat projections: 59% completion percentage, 2,500 yards, 18 total TDs, 10 INTs
Josh Jackson – Maryland
Raise your hand if you forgot that Jackson existed temporarily. It’s understandable. Jackson only played in 3 games this past year for Virginia Tech and once his season ended, due to injury, everything went up in flames for the Hokies. Tech didn’t run a pass-happy offense, which did not allow Jackson to put up flashy numbers before getting injured in the fourth quarter in week 3 against Old Dominion.
He finished the season 36 for 58 (62.1%) for 575 yards, 5 TDs and 1INT.
Jackson transferred to Maryland as a graduate with 2 years remaining of eligibility. He has to first beat out returning starter Tyrell Pigrome which, should not be much of a challenge. The Terps have lost several starting offensive linemen from last year and should compete for bowl eligibility this coming year. While Jackson may have been they key to the Hokies offense in while at Virginia Tech, he has a great running back in Anthony McFarland that he can lean on this year. Staying healthy is of the utmost importance for Jackson’s draft stock. He has the accuracy and decision making to be draftable. If he can help right the ship for Maryland he can potentially find a future in the NFL.
2019 stat projections: 65% completion percentage, 3,250 total yards, 20 total TDs, 10 INTs
Shea Patterson – Michigan
Once the prized recruit for Ole Miss out of IMG back in 2016, Patterson is heading into his second season at QB for Michigan.
Last year was serviceable but not outstanding, much like Michigan’s reputation under Jim Harbaugh. He finished last year completing 64.6% of his passes for 2,600 yards with 22 touchdowns and 7 picks. This is by far the best of any QB to this point. The problem with Patterson is that he seems to have already maxed out. I don’t see much improvement coming. Not to mention he’s undersized for the QB position (not that it matters after we just saw Kyler Murray go #1 overall) and does not possess adequate enough arm strength.
This year, Shea Patterson enters the season hoping to be the next Trace McSorley. A productive and undersized Big 10 QB hoping to be drafted late day 3 with a chance of making an NFL roster. Another year with similar numbers from last year would seal it. However he needs to take the next step if he hopes for anything better. He also has 2 of the better receiver prospects in the draft with Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black. You would hope he doesn’t waste this opportunity
2019 stat projections: 68% completion percentage, 3,300 yards, 27 total TDs, 8 INTs
Elijah Sindelar – Purdue
In a case of “he can only go up from last year”, I present Elijah Sindelar of Purdue. I put out a tweet after watching his game against Northwestern. I watched that game live and thought that Sindelar seemed in over his head. When rewatching that game a few days ago, it was worse than I thought. He looked nervous every time he took a snap, stared down receivers, and had bad placement with his passes. He was intercepted 3 times but honestly, he could have been intercepted a few more times. It didn’t get much better the next week against Eastern Michigan as he went 8 for 14 for 87 yards. While he didn’t get intercepted against EMU, Jeff Brohm had seen enough. Sindelar did not see the field the rest of the year after losing the job to David Blough.
Sindelar finished the season 26 for 44 (59%) with 283 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 picks. That’s what the kids refer to as YIKES.
This year has to be different for Sindelar. The Boilermakers have a very solid team that could be a 7 or 8 win team but, that won’t happen if Sindelar plays like a blindfolded Clayton Thorson. The tools are there for him to be a decent quarterback and it’s all on him to unlock his potential.
2019 stat projections 62% completion percentage, 2500 yards, 18 total TDs, 15 INTs